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Transcript: The ReidOut, August 25, 2020

Guests: Julia Jackson, Benjamin Crump, Marq Claxton, Elise Jordan, Miles Taylor, Tim O'Brien, Stuart Stevens


Kenosha braces for third night of protests after shooting. GOP preps for RNC night two. RNC night one was filled with doom and gloom and Trump. Police shooting sparks protests in Wisconsin. Father says Jacob Blake may never walk again. Blake family calls for peaceful protests. Blake family demands officers involved in shooting face justice. Jerry Falwell, Jr., has officially resigned as president of Liberty University, after "Reuters" reported that a business partner of Falwell's said he had a years-long sexual relationship involving Falwell's wife and the evangelical leader.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. We are following two major stories tonight. One is taking place on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, where protests are continuing after another police shooting of a black man. The other from an empty auditorium in Washington is night two of the Republican convention, which has been short on policy and high on fear-mongering. If last night was any indication, buckle up.

Speaker after speaker spread the usual stew of mistruths, half-lies, and outright lies about Donald Trump's accomplishments, or lack thereof, and leaned hard into a message designed only for the base. But the biggest takeaway was the fear-mongering about a dystopian future they claim would unfold under Democrats. In other words, hide your kids, hide your wife, only Trump can save you.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): We may not have realized it at the time, but Trump is the bodyguard of western civilization.

The woketopians will settle for Biden because they will make him an extra in a movie written, produced and directed by others. It's a horror film, really.

PARICIA MCCLOSKEY, WAVED RIFLE AT BLM PROTESTERS: They're not satisfied with spreading the chaos and violence into our communities, they want to abolish the suburbs all together.

DONALD TRUMP JR., PRESIDENT TRUMP'S SON: Joe Biden is basically the Lochness monster of the swamp. It's almost like this election is shaping to be church, work school versus rioting, looting and vandalism.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, TRUMP CAMPAIGN OFFICIAL: They want to destroy this country and everything that we have fought for and hold dear.

Ladies and gentlemen, leaders and fighters for freedom and liberty and the American dream, the best is yet to come.


REID: OK. There's a very different reality at this hour in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Just a short time ago, Jacob Blake's family spoke out for the first time after he was shot repeatedly in the back after reportedly trying to break up a dispute.


JACOB BLAKE SR., JACOB BLAKE'S FATHER: They shot my son seven times, seven times, like he didn't matter. But my son matters.

JULIA JACKSON, JACOB BLAKE'S MOTHER: Let's use our hearts, our love and our intelligence to work together to show the rest of the world how humans are supposed to treat each other.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was not treated like a human that day. He was treated like some foreign object that didn't belong. How much more inhumane treatment are we going to have to deal with before the world makes a change?


REID: His family says Blake is now paralyzed from the waist down. And doctors don't yet know if the paralysis is permanent.

Protests in support of Blake and against police brutality took place in cities across the country. Some took advantage of those peaceful protests to commit acts of destruction overnight. National Guard troops will be deployed for a second night in Kenosha, where more protests are expected.

Also today, the justice department announced that it will be assisting in the investigation and we'll leave it to you, the viewer, to decide what extent you believe an agency headed by William Barr will be helpful.

So far, Kenosha Police have had little to say about the shooting. The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.

And joining me now is Jacob Blake's mother, Julia Jackson, and Ben Crump, the family's attorney. And, Ms. Jackson, thank you for taking the time, and, Ben, it's always great I want to start with you as well.

But I want to start with you, Ms. Jackson and first ask you if you can give us any of the latest updates on Mr. Blake and how he's doing.

JACKSON: He is currently still in surgery.

REID: And I mentioned toward the end here that the justice department has said that they're going to get involved in the case. Have you heard from anyone at the justice department so far?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, JACOB BLAKE'S FAMILY ATTORNEY: We have not. The governor's office reached out, but we haven't heard nothing from the department of justice.

REID: So the governor's office has reached out, and what did the governor's office say that they're willing to do for the family?

CRUMP: Well, at this point, they haven't went into details about that aspect. But Ms. Jackson is very grateful to the governor's assistance for cutting through the red tape so she could visit her son in the hospital, because, initially, her and her pastor were turned away at the door.

REID: Were turned away?


REID: Can you describe how police treated the family? Because one of the things that's so jarring, Ms. Jackson, when you look at the video is the fact that you can see that members of the family or the other -- people were there. There were witnesses all around. You could hear people screaming. You can see them really close to the officer when the shots rang out. What did police say to your family members? What did they say to your children? Did they try to comfort them? Did they say anything to the family at that time?

JACKSON: I wasn't there obviously. So, I can't really say exactly what was said or wasn't said.

REID: But did your family members indicate that police had any explanation for what was happening, or have you heard that they said anything to your family members?


CRUMP: No, not at all. But what we have heard is that the person who videotaped the encounter, the police harassed that individual. And that's the trend, Joy. As you know, in George Floyd, the young lady who was filming, she got targeted as well. So what is wrong with transparency?

REID: Right. And your grandchildren were there. Am I correct?

JACKSON: Three of them, yes, three of Jacob's sons.

REID: And how are they? How are they doing today -- tonight?

JACKSON: As to be expected. And asking a lot of questions, they miss their dad, they want to see him. And they told me, grandma, the police shot my dad, and why. And I have no answers.

REID: How did your grandkids, if you know the answer to that, in general, feel about police before this happened? What were their impressions of police?

JACKSON: Well, even with my children, when I was raising my children, I taught them as I was taught as a child, officer friendly. So I did that with my grandchildren as well. I can't really tell you how they feel inside at that age. They are very young.

I want it to be known that I have the utmost respect for our police departments, and I don't believe that all police officers are monsters or anything like that. There are bad apples in every walk of life. And people make bad decisions, and they have a horrible job and it's scary, I get that.

I just wish there was more training, more something that they would choose better and learn how to diffuse a situation instead of shooting people when not necessary. In some cases, it may be necessary. But in this case and several others, it was not.

So I'm not trying to -- just for the record, I'm not trying to demonize police. I have some officers that I am very close to and have a good relationship with them. And --

CRUMP: And you are afraid (ph) to get at the hospital.

JACKSON: Oh, yes, we did. And we had a nice conversation and all of the officers assisted me and escorted me to and from Jacob's room were phenomenal.

REID: And do you know the details of what Jacob was trying to do when police arrived? I think for a lot of people, they're wondering how this began. Do you know the details of what sort of a dispute he was trying to intervene in? What was he doing before this shooting took place?

JACKSON: No, I don't. I know that Jacob called me -- video-called me earlier that morning. He and Israel, whose birthday it was on that day, were picking out toys and other things for his birthday party. Outside of that, I know nothing.

REID: And, Ben, the thing I think for a lot of people is that the whole incident seems very murky. It's very difficult to understand what would -- how things would escalate to the point where an officer would get so close to a man, an unarmed man and just begin shooting him. Have police explained from their point of view what happened and why he was shot, why Jacob Blake was shot?

CRUMP: They have not, Joy. And what they have said is don't rush to judgment and we have to put it all in context. And that is so shocking, Joy, because they always use a video when it's a person of color who is accused of something nefarious, they say, well, we have video. But now that we have video of the police doing something, shooting a man seven times in his man at point-blank range when he's going away from them, they say don't rush to judgment, even though they rush and shot him.

And why is it, Joy Reid, that the video is not enough? We saw what happened. The video speaks for itself. So, we are saying these police officers should be held accountable. Her son should not be lying in surgery or fighting for his life.

REID: And the last question to you, Ms. Jackson. Do you want to see the officer arrested?

JACKSON: Most definitely. I'm sorry that all of this has happened. But there has to be some serious consequences. Like when we make bad decisions, there's consequences no matter who you are.

REID: Julia Jackson, Ben Crump, I really appreciate you both. We're so sorry to see that this happened to your family. And best of luck to you and your family. Ben, thank you, as always. I really appreciate you being here.

CRUMP: Thank you, Joy.

JACKSON: Thank you.

REID: And joining me now is Marq Claxton, retired NYPD Detective and Director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance.

And I guess I'll just ask you the same question, Marq. Because I think for a lot of people, it's very difficult to understand how supposedly professionally trained police officers can get to the point where in a crowded area with lots of people watching, with witnesses, with people screaming, right nearby, would feel comfortable shooting a man multiple times in the back.

It doesn't sound to me like anything any police officer would be trained or allowed to do but they do it. Can you give us some explanation as to how this possibly could have happened?

MARQ CLAXTON, RETIRED NYPD DETECTIVE: I think it's wise to start off and say if only police officers felt a sense of compassion and empathy and respect for humanity for black and brown people that Ms. Jackson showed towards police officers just now, we wouldn't be in this predicament.

What causes these incidents and how this happens is because of a toxic police culture, a police culture that grants automatic absolution without the burden of confession or even acknowledgment of culpability, a police culture that cultivates an air of invincibility in police agencies and entities, where police operate in a bubble where they have no situational awareness.

Who could imagine that in the midst of what we're going through as a nation, discussions about the role of law enforcement and race as it pertains to law enforcement, that police officer would engage in this level of brutality and criminality, alleged criminality towards an individual in the midst of what is going on across the nation?

That's toxic police culture, where the culture of policing subsumes humanity. It doesn't allow you the breathing room for compassion or full understanding. It establishes and affirms us against them regardless of what's happening across the nation.

REID: And can I just play -- I want to play LeBron James, who has had a lot of comment about this today. And I think he speaks for a lot of people. Take a listen.


LEBRON JAMES, NBA STAR: Quite frankly, it's just (BLEEP) up in our community. I know people get tired of hearing me say it, but we are scared as black people in America. Black men, black women, black kids, we are terrified.

As you watch the video, there was multiple moments where if they wanted to, they could have tackled him. They could have grabbed him. They could have done that. And why does it always have to get to a point where we see the guns firing?


REID: It's hard for, I think, most people to imagine that if this had been a white gentleman that was being confronted on the street that they wouldn't have just tackled him. So can you answer that question? I mean, it doesn't sound to me like this is something -- are police officers trained? Skip the tackling and go ahead and shoot him? Is that what police are trying to do or is this something that you think is happening because they're seeing a black person reacting differently?

CLAXTON: Too often, and we see it time and time again. In this case, it's a clear example of it. The mere presence of a black person, the black presence, the black body is too often perceived as a threat to the officers. We have a situation here where both officers had their guns unholstered pointed towards Mr. Blake, following him as he walked away, both of them.

At what point did they perceive him to be that level of a threat where they were prepared and did actually use deadly physical force? You see, it's the mere presence of the black body that these police officers react to. And it's the mere presence of the black body that is established as a threat to them. And that's why these things escalate to the point too often fatalities. Thank God Mr. Blake has his life right now.

REID: Yes. It's hard to think of any other explanation. Marq Claxton, thank you so much. I really appreciate you being here tonight. Thank you.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, night two of the Republican Convention, where we can expect much more from the Republican's disinformation machine, such as this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One leader took decisive action to save lives, President Donald Trump.


REID: Misleading America and still not taking the pandemic seriously.

Plus, Miles Taylor joins me. He's the former Trump official who's helping launch a major effort to defeat Trump. And he says other senior officials will be joining him.

The new details in Jerry Falwell Jr.'s pool boy scandal and what it tells us about Trump's base.

More of THE REIDOUT after this.


REID: Night two of the Republican Convention is set to take off in about an hour, once again showcasing that this isn't the old Grand Old Party. It's the Trump party.

Typically, we'd be hearing from leaders of the religious right, like, say, Jerry Falwell Jr. But he is, shall we say, preoccupied.

Instead, we will be hearing from the sitting head of the State Department, Mike Pompeo, broadcast from Jerusalem. One diplomat told NBC News that, "It's all just shredding the Hatch Act," the law prohibiting government employees from engaging in political activities on the job, which, by the way, Pompeo himself scolded other diplomats against doing.

Other than Pompeo, it's a real Trump family affair, with speeches from first lady Melania Trump from the newly altered Rose Garden, and son Eric and daughter Tiffany, who are also speaking from government property.

We will also hear from Senator "let the rurals wait for their mail" Rand Paul, in an unusual choice for a political convention, the president's impeachment attorney, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Tonight, the Republican Conventions theme is "Land of Opportunity." After a night of genuflecting to Trump and fear-mongering, we will see if that extends to the low-income minorities who are apparently invading the suburbs that you heard about so much last night.

I am joined now by Elise Jordan, former aide to the Bush White House, and State Department and former RNC chair -- and State Department -- I'm separating -- I'm merging them together -- and Michael Steele.

You didn't work at the State Department. He's former RNC chairman.


REID: Thank you, guys, for both being here. Really appreciate both of you.

I want to go back really quickly, and go backwards just a little bit. We just got a chance to speak with Julia Jackson and Ben Crump, Julia Jackson, obviously, the father (sic) of Jacob Blake, who we see protests that were going on again because of what happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Apropos of that, Michael, Michael Steele, tonight, there's going to be one of the speakers at the convention whose name is Abby Johnson. And this is what she said. She is an anti-abortion activist. And she says that police would be smart to racially profile her biracial son. She has several children, and one of them is an adopted biracial son.

And she said it would be smart for a police officer to racially profile her biracial son, because -- quote -- "Statistically, my brown son is more likely to commit a violent offense over my white sons."

Her son's name is Jude. She adopted him in 2015. And that's the way she speaks about him.


REID: I don't have a question. I'm just going to throw it to you for your reaction.


And I am recalling my seminary training right now, as I prepare my answer.

REID: Look to Jesus. Look to him.


STEELE: I am. I'm looking to the lord on this one.

So, I guess the only question that pops into my mind is, then why did you adopt him? And why would you even begin to raise a child in which you would be OK to sic the police on your child because of his skin color or because of his racial mix, or you have the expectation that, well, the police would be good to profile them, because I don't expect him to grow up to be nothing than a thug or something that they -- someone they should be suspicious of?

So, we will just leave that at that, Joy, because after this period, I -- it gets ugly fast for me. So...

REID: Yes. See, that seminary training really works.

STEELE: It does. It does.


REID: Not as good.

Let's go over to you, Elise. Let's talk Pompeo.

So, Mike Pompeo -- this is number three for my wonderful producers. The State Department put a memo out signed by Mike Pompeo. And it said the following: "Presidential and political appointees and career SES are subject to significant restrictions on their political activity. They may not engage in any partisan political activity in concert with a partisan campaign, political party or partisan political group, even on personal time and outside a federal workplace."

Can you explain what Mike Pompeo is doing in Israel speaking at the Republican National Convention?

ELISE JORDAN, FORMER AIDE TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, Joy Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is using government resources, a government plane, government security. He is in government-paid lodging, and he is giving a political address tonight.

I had read that it was going to be from the rooftop of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, but the idea is to highlight President Trump's initiatives on Middle East peace.

But that is distinctly political when you are speaking at the RNC Convention. And no prior secretary of state has done this. Colin Powell specifically spoke out in 2004 and said he would not be part of the convention.

Certainly, Condoleezza Rice did not speak at the 2008 convention. And it's just yet another example of how Mike Pompeo really flouts ethics rules that had been norms and had been abided by, and rank-and-file State Department employees are expected to abide by.

But the rules do not apply to him, apparently.

REID: And you have Colin Powell, General Colin Powell, who has been secretary of state.

As we know, he's a big man in the Republican Party. He did endorse previous Democratic -- Democratic candidates for president. He endorsed President Barack Obama. But he spoke at a convention. But it was a Democratic Convention.

What is going on with your party, Michael? I know that you have now joined The Lincoln Project. So, now I guess you're on the -- you're in the bucket of evils that Donald Trump will probably be trying to attack on Twitter.


REID: But your party has lost Colin Powell, and they have gained people who were ranting and raving and screaming about Donald Trump being the savior of Western civilization.

What is happening and what is this convention's message?

STEELE: Well, I think that's the unfortunate part of this, because I was reading a number of journalists, conservative journalists and others, this past day and sort of assessing how they saw this.

And it was interesting how they put the best spin they could on that very question, and sort of found the kernels, the nuggets and the little bread crumbs or whatever you want to call it they could to sort of cobble together a sandwich of -- that they think is palatable to the American people.

The problem is that, even if you put all that together, it still ain't going to taste right. It's still -- it still won't have flavor to it. It still will not be out of the spirit of Reagan. It still won't reflect the spirit of compassionate conservatism. It still won't understand or give resonance to the kind of leadership that we saw with Dwight Eisenhower.

So, when you when you have this thing that -- this message that's being developed -- and Elise knows a lot about this. She had to communicate policy and translate it in a way that the American people could see what the agenda was, what the ideas were, what the value was, right, not just the value of doing it, but the value underlining -- the values underlining it.

And that's missing here, because Trump doesn't have any of that. There are no values coming from Trump on anything. So how do you put together the message?

You put your children on the stage. You put your family on the stage. And you find people, like this woman who thinks her son should be profiled by the police because he has black roots or whatever. This is what you do.

Oh, and then you line up African-Americans. You put them out, and you say, see? We connect. Between the combination of low unemployment and having black voices on a political stage for one night, yes, we connect to the community.

And that just -- there's no value to that.

REID: Well, and, Elise, the message is supposed to be designed to, they say, the suburban housewife, which is -- it's interesting that Ronna McDaniel, who's the most powerful woman in the Republican Party, she's right now -- she has the job that our friend Michael had.

She's chairman of the RNC, and she's not a housewife, and she's a Romney. But she's out there. And then you have got all these people like the McCloskeys saying, hide your kids, hide your wife, the vegans from New Jersey who are black are going to come. Cory Booker is coming to get you.

Like, does this work? Do they -- do Republicans behind the scenes, off-camera, when they're not -- when they're not flacking, do they really think that this is going to add people? We know that Trump people like it, but do they really think this is going to add new people to his roster in November?

JORDAN: Well, just look at how it played out in the 2018 midterm -- 2018 midterms, Joy.

You saw the suburbs flee Donald Trump and other Republicans in the blue wave. And you saw these lifetime Republicans, educated voters that the Republican Party had counted on. They had moved Democratic. And are they going to move back? Are they going to stop voting for Democrats after this Trump era?

That remains to be seen, but it has been a pretty appalling experiment to watch the ways in which Trump has tried to appeal. And he used the caravan last go-round. And then this go-round, he's using a suburban horror story that the suburbs don't seem to be buying.

I'm betting on rage moms.

REID: Yes.

And he picked the nicest person, Senator Cory Booker, and used him as the -- anyway. And both you all know Rand Paul. Could one of you all please call him and let him know that rural people need their mail and that they shouldn't have to only get mail three, four days a week?


REID: Just saying, if you all get a chance, if you see him.

Thank you, Elise Jordan and Michael Steele. Appreciate both of you.

And up next: More high-profile Republicans are jumping ship from the party of Trump. We will talk with one of them next.

Stay with us.


REID: The Republican Convention continues in Washington with its mix of fear-mongering and loyalty oaths to Donald Trump.

A group of conservative current and former administration officials are issuing a warning about electing Trump to a second term. The group is called REPAIR. and is led by former Homeland Security Official Miles Taylor and launched the same day more than two dozen former Republican members of Congress endorsed Joe Biden.

In an op-ed in "The Washington Post" last week, Taylor sounded the alarm about Donald Trump, saying: "At Homeland Security, I saw firsthand how dangerous Trump is for America."

And joining me now is Miles Taylor, former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff and co-founder of the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform, or REPAIR.

Mr. Taylor, thank you so much. Really appreciate you spending some time here tonight.

And I just want to -- I want to jump right in and sort of dig in a little bit on one -- on some issues regarding Homeland Security.


REID: But I want to start just by asking you if you can give me your reaction to the indictment of Steve Bannon, who was indicted for allegedly defrauding people who were donating $25 million, it turns out, to build the wall.

And if you know anything about whether or not at the time that the whole build the wall sort of fixation was taking place inside the White House, a company that Mr. Bannon was involved in called Fisher Sand and Gravel that supposedly this fund-raising was meant to benefit, is that something that was coming up, that this is the company that should be used to build the wall?

TAYLOR: Well, Joy, first of all, thanks for having me tonight.

REID: Of course.

TAYLOR: I really do appreciate it.

And it's interesting that you bring up Fisher, because I do have recollections about that.

As I recall, the senator from that home state -- I believe that was Senator Daines at the time -- sent a letter to the president and said: I have got a company that works in my state who can build the wall so much cheaper than it's being built.

And I think, if I remember correctly, it was something like they said: We could build it for a third of the cost.

This was problematic, for a few reasons, all right? When you go into government, one of the first things they teach you in the bureaucracy is, when it comes to procurement, you have got to be very, very careful, right? People can protest, and they can sue, and it has to go through an impartial process and a competition.

Then there's awards and selection. Rarely, if ever, do presidents of the United States get involved in that process, because that can lead to political unfairness and corruption and kickbacks and all kinds of bad things.

So, I remember sitting in his office, and he actually raised this. He said: "Look, he's telling me that his company can do it for a third of the cost. Why don't we go with them?"

And everyone's hair kind of stood up on edge, because the last thing you want is the president involved in a procurement, especially when a political ally has sent him a letter for a company in his district.

So, it was red flags all around. Now, look, what we told the president was: "Mr. President, it all goes through the same process. If their bid legitimately is the best bid, then they will win the competition."

But it doesn't work by just raising a letter from your favorite politician and saying he's got a company that's going to do great, and then we pick them. That's not how government works, but it definitely raised alarm bells.

REID: So, a lot of the ways in which the whole Homeland Security process worked, I think, alarmed a lot of people, one of which was this idea that Donald Trump wanted the border closed, that he essentially said, do what you got to do to close it, and I will pardon anyone who commits a crime in the process.

Is that something that was being said openly inside DHS by the president?

TAYLOR: Yes, not widely within the department.

But when that episode happened in April of 2019, at least for me, that was a moment where I decided, I have to go. I mean, I can't stay in this administration any longer.

The president wanted officials to do things that were illegal. He wanted us to say that people seeking asylum at the border could not come into the country. He wanted us to tell them, you can't come in, even though our law affords asylum seekers the opportunity to make their claim, when they're fleeing violence and persecution and they're seeking a better life.

The president said: I don't care. Don't let any of them in. And if you get in trouble, I will pardon you.

That's pretty damning. And I went back to the department after that. I talked to our chief lawyer, and I said, did what we just hear come across as illegal? And, if so, what do we do about it when it's the president of the United States?

Now, ultimately, our lawyers determined, we don't think that him saying that is illegal, but it's certainly corrupt and it's wrong. And at that point in time, like I said, it was time to get out.

REID: Kirstjen Nielsen, who emerged as sort of a villainous of these separations of children from their parents, what a lot of people say is the stealing of children, because it's not clear that those children, all of them, have been returned to their families or reunited with their families, she has tried to insist that she was against this policy.

My understanding is that she was opposed to it, at least in a show of hands, but she still did it. Did you get the sense that there was a strong opposition to what was done to these children inside of the agency? Or was there more of a motivation to do it because they knew Donald Trump wanted it?

TAYLOR: Yes, so this is where it gets tricky. And it's really hard to explain this publicly.

But what happened was, in year one of the administration, there were people in the White House who wanted to do a deliberate policy of ripping children away from their parents at the border, so no matter where they showed up. If they came across illegally or showed up at a port of entry, which is legal and safe to do, they wanted to just pull them apart.

When that was suggested to the department, we said, hell no, that's the craziest thing. That's cruel. That's un-American.

So, then Jeff Sessions, the next year, proposed a zero tolerance policy. Fine, he said, everyone who crosses illegally will be prosecuted.

Now, if that worked well, and the system was efficient, it would be a few hours that a parent would be away from their child, which happens every day. It happened under the Obama administration. It's still happening now. But then, quickly, they're reunited, once the case is adjudicated.

REID: Right.

TAYLOR: The problem here, Joy, is, when the attorney general said 100 percent, you're talking about thousands of additional people overnight being prosecuted.

So, the secondary consequence, and a predictable consequence, was that you would have thousands of children that might not be able to be reunited in time.

Now, the secretary saw that disaster coming. In fact, that's the reason the White House got so frustrated with her is, the attorney general announced the policy, and weeks and weeks go by, and they said, DHS, why aren't you referring us these cases?

And we said, because we're not ready to do it, until you tell us there's the resources to make sure we won't have this problem and that people will get put back together.

That meeting happened. And, of course, the White House said, we're going to take a vote. Everyone outvoted the secretary. Even agencies within our department said, we think we can do it. We think we have the resources.

A few weeks later, it became true that that was not the case.

REID: Yes.

TAYLOR: There weren't the resources.

And this should have been a disaster that never happened in the first place. But it shows you what happens in a culture and an administration where policy-making isn't taken seriously.

They don't run a good process and the president's willing to sign onto anything before it's been vetted.

REID: I wish I had an hour to talk to you. I know that -- I mean, I was going to ask you about Donald Trump wanting to exchange Puerto Rico for Greenland, which is insane that that is the case.

But very quickly before I let you go, what's the thing you fear most? You have a new organization to make sure that Donald Trump is not elected again. What's the thing you fear most if he gets four more years?

TAYLOR: Well, look, I'll say this, as a Republican, Joy, and I'm still a Republican, I think the party is on life support. If Donald Trump wins a second term, at a minimum, the Republican Party will be on hospice, OK? We'll be near death as a party.

But my bigger concern is what this is going to mean for the republic. I don't say that to try to sound high-minded and above the fray. But genuinely, I think the president has done such great damage to American institutions that our concern will be that four years will take decades to recover from.

So, I worry about his attacks on the justice system. I worry about his attacks on America's civil service. I worry about his attacks on Americans themselves.

I mean, look what happened this summer. The president was more interested in using DHS to protect Confederate statues than he was to protect the lives of black Americans who feel like they're still being targeted in some corners of our country because of the color of our skin. If that man is still president for four more years, it'll be a damage to our national security most certainly, but it will do damage to our national character.

That's what I worry about. That's why I'm going to fight against him. That's why even as a Republican I think Joe Biden should win on November 3rd.

REID: We are out of time. Do you want to tell us who the other officials in your organization are? Do you want to break that they wills tonight?

TAYLOR: We'll tell you very soon, but I'm excited to say we've even got some people inside the administration. And the president's really not going to like that.

REID: OK. Well, feel free to come back and tell us on the show. We very much appreciate it. Thank you for being here. Miles Taylor, appreciate you.

And still ahead --

TAYLOR: Thanks, Joy.

REID: Cheers.

And still ahead, the fall of Jerry Falwell Jr. and his bizarre almost symbiotic relationship with Donald Trump. What a long, strange trip it has been.

We'll be right back.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm leading every poll with the evangelicals. Evangelicals like Donald Trump. They like Donald Trump.


And I want to thank, by the way, Jerry Falwell Jr. who has been so instrumental in this.

We won with the evangelicals, which is very important to me. Very important to me. You know, the evangelicals have been amazing, and Jerry Falwell Jr., who's an incredible guy from Liberty University, he endorsed me.

Jerry Falwell Jr. has had so much to do with my success with the evangelicals.


REID: The evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr.'s endorsement of Donald Trump in the 2016 campaign played a large role in cementing Trump support among evangelicals.


JERRY FALWELL, EVANGELICAL LEADER: Trump reminds me so much of my father who says exactly what he thinks no matter what anybody cares.

In my opinion, Donald Trump lives the life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the great commandment.

He says what he believes in his heart.

I really believe Donald Trump is uniquely qualified to run this country. And I'm proud to be endorsing him.


REID: As "The New York Times" put it, Falwell's endorsement became a permission slip for deeply religious conservatives who are attracted by Mr. Trump's promises but weary of his well-known history. He made that endorsement mainstream at the 2016 Republican convention.


FALWELL: We are at a crossroads where our first priority must be saving our nation. We must unite behind Donald Trump and Mike Pence.


REID: But he won't be speaking at this year's convention. Up next, we'll have new details on the scandal involving Falwell, his wife and their pool boy.


REID: Jerry Falwell, Jr., has officially resigned as president of Liberty University, after "Reuters" reported that a business partner of Falwell's said he had a years-long sexual relationship involving Falwell's wife and the evangelical leader. Falwell confirmed his wife had an affair, however, he denied participating in it.

Liberty has a strict honor code that prohibits sexual relations outside of a biblically ordained marriage.

Joining me now is Tim O'Brien, senior columnist for "Bloomberg Opinion", and Stuart Stevens, chief strategist for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign and author of "It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump".

Tim, I'm going to go to you first. Just for those that have not been following the poll boy story closely, "Reuters" in 2019 said that Michael Cohen, this is actually partly a Michael Cohen story, that Michael Cohen had claimed he had racy photos of Jerry Falwell, Jr., and that he had these personal photographs and a source said the person who possessed the photos destroyed them after Cohen intervened to help Falwell. And we know that the other thing that happened around that time is Falwell endorsed Donald Trump, and there's another story in "Politico" saying that Falwell sought to cut ties to the pool attendant, not too long before Donald Trump's campaign.

What does it say about the Trump campaign that part of the thing they had to do to get prepared was to clean up the pool boy thing so that Falwell could cleanly endorse?

TIM O'BRIEN, BLOOMBERG OPINION SENIOR COLUMNIST: Well, I mean, it says that president Trump and everyone around him are grifters, and they know how to spot other grifters. And it's pretty clear from all -- from the fact pattern that's emerging in all this that Falwell himself was a grifter.

We know that Ted Cruz's campaign was shocked that Falwell suddenly spun around and endorsed Donald Trump. I think that's because they had the goods on Falwell, according to what's in all of the stories being reported right now.

REID: Yeah.

O'BRIEN: And they know how to leverage people. This is where Donald Trump operates. It does not come from a place of Christian goodwill. It does not come from love or generosity.

Donald Trump is a racist, a bigot. He's corrupt. He lies. He doesn't go to church. He doesn't read the bible. He doesn't love others like he loves himself, and he doesn't do unto others as he does upon himself.

He is the farthest thing from a Christian imaginable. But he knows how to put people in corners and try to leverage them. I think it's pretty clear that's what happened to Falwell.

REID: And, you know, Stuart, your book is all about -- you know, the title is "It's All a Lie," but, I mean, the evangelical support for Donald Trump is so solid. I mean, we've seen Jerry Falwell get into some trouble from taking like a racy photo. That doesn't change the way people feel about him about him as an evangelical leader. Donald Trump's support among evangelicals is 82 percent now, it was 81 percent in 2016. It's hard to believe this will change it.

So what should we make of the sort of white evangelical world? If -- I'm just assuming it won't change, their attitude, toward Falwell, toward Trump, any of it.

STUART STEVENS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, I'm glad you said white evangelical, because that's a distinction that's often lost in this. African-American evangelicals are overwhelmingly against Donald Trump. They were overwhelmingly against Roy Moore. And I think they're the ones that have emerged here as being truer to their faith.

Look, there's sort of an industrial evangelical, white evangelical complex out there that is about power and money. And the thing about President Trump is, as Tim was saying, he realizes weakness and he's completely transactional. So he gave them, promised them and then gave them what they wanted, which was power.

And I think the most disturbing thing to me about this is not the sexual stuff, but it's just that the cruelty that Donald Trump represents, that is so anti-Christian, and the cruelty of Falwell. They have weaponized Christianity.

I write about this in the book. It's not about how you should live your lives. No one really wanted to live like that, most of them didn't. They just used it as a weapon to beat Democrats.

REID: Yeah, you know, Tim, I mean, President Trump is not an evangelical Christian, right? You're a biographer of his. I mean --

O'BRIEN: He's not any version of Christian, Joy, much less evangelical Christian. I think Stuart really put his finger on it, about this distinction between white and black evangelicals.

Donald Trump grew up essentially with the prosperity gospel. Norman Vincent Peale telling wealthy people they could get into heaven by getting rich. He aligns himself with Paula White in Florida who preaches the prosperity gospel. There's a long foundation of this in his life and none of it has anything to do with Christianity.

Christianity is a simple message, we should love one another, we should be tolerant. We should be forgiving. He's none of those things. But he uses -- what he's interested in is the institution at a path to power.

REID: Yes.

O'BRIEN: And he's done it politically and socially.

REID: And very quickly before we go, Stuart Stevens, what is going to happen to the white evangelical movement if President Trump loses?

STEVENS: You know, that's a very good question. I would like to say that they'll have a moment of reckoning with God. But I don't know. I'm pessimistic about it, let's put it that way.

REID: Yeah, we'll have to have you back on to talk about the book.

Tim O'Brien, Stuart Stevens, thank you both very much.

And that's THE REIDOUT for tonight.

But stay here. After the break, I will be back with Rachel Maddow and Nicolle Wallace for full coverage and a fact check of the second night of the Republican National Convention.

Stay right there.


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