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Transcript: The ReidOut, August 31, 2020

Guests: Mike Baker, Naveed Jamali, Jennifer Rubin

Summary

Biden says Americans are less safe under Trump. Biden says Trump is rooting for chaos and violence. Trump supporters flood downtown Portland, clash with protesters. One has been killed in clashes between protesters and Trump supporters. Portland mayor slams Trump for creating hate and division. Trump is ignoring Kenosha shootings and vigilantism. Trump will visit Kenosha despite plea from governor. Conway says it out loud, more chaos and violence helps Trump. Following the unprecedented move by the director of national intelligence to no longer hold in-person briefings on threats to our election, NBC News has learned that the FBI and DHS plan to brief Congress on cyber threats to election security and disinformation but not on the plans and intentions of foreign adversaries.

Transcript

YASMIN VOSSOUGHIAN, MSNBC HOST: Look at this photo, they are a very lucky couple to have a Supreme Court justice officiating their wedding.

Despite the coronavirus will not happening at the Supreme Court, RBG made the time to do this. Congratulations to the new couple and to Justice Ginsburg.

That does it for me. You can catch me tomorrow morning at 5:00 A.M. for "MORNING JOE," First Look. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid is up next.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden is striking back against Donald Trump's attempt to fear monger his way to re-election, despite the fact that he, Donald Trump, is very much the current president of the United States.

In a speech today in Pittsburgh, Biden forcefully condemn Trump's false claim of a nation rife of lawlessness and disorder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a sitting president of the United States of America, he's supposed to be protecting this country, but instead he's rooting for chaos and violence. The simple truth is Donald Trump failed to protect America. So now, he's trying to scare America.

These are not images of some imagined Joe Biden America in the future, these are images of Donald Trump's America today. He keeps telling you if only he was president, it wouldn't happen, if he was president. He keeps telling it, if he was president, you would feel safe. Well, he is president, whether he knows it or not, and it is happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: That is true. At last week's Republican Convention, which was really just a four-night infomercial for Donald Trump, the claim was repeatedly made that no one will be safe in Joe Biden's America. And Republicans, including members of the Republican leadership, are trying to bolster that claim, using manipulated images of Donald Trump's America.

Biden went on to note, rightfully, what is really scary for most Americans. That would be the coronavirus pandemic, which Donald Trump has failed to stop. It continues to ravage this country with a staggering and growing sickness account. As of today, there are more than 6 million coronavirus cases on his watch, and nearly 200,000 deaths.

And instead of doing something about that, Trump is doing everything he can to blame everyone and everything for the health and economic catastrophe that's happening on his watch. And he's applying the same tactic when it comes to the violence that he himself is unleashing, as evidence by the scene in Portland, Oregon over the weekend.

As New York Times Reporter Mike Baker captured a caravan of Trump supporters on Saturday, drove hundreds of trucks through the city and got into clashes with counterdemonstrators who had been peacefully protesters. Those Trump supporters in trucks reportedly shot paintball guns at counter-protesters, who threw objects back at them. Mike Baker tweeted that he personally was hit.

A man was shot and killed amid those clashes between the pro-Trump caravan and Black Lives Matter protesters on Saturday. Portland's mayor, Ted Wheeler, slammed Trump for creating the, quote, hate and division that led to the violence. But Trump has refused to condemn the violence. Instead he tweeted and re-tweeted more than 100 times through the weekend while he wasn't golfing, and this morning praising the pro-Trump activists who appeared just before violent protests in Portland. He praised them as great patriots.

Trump has yet to mention 29-year-old Jacob Blake who was shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha. And his -- shot by a police officer while his children watched. Nor has he mentioned the two victims killed allegedly by Kyle Rittenhouse during protests that followed Blake's death (ph). The 17-year-old vigilante now stands charged with murder. But just last hour at the White House, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, president of the United States actually defended him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: That was an interesting situation. You saw the same tape as I saw. And he was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like, and he fell. And they very violently attacked him and it was something that we're looking at right now.

I guess he was in very big trouble. He would have been -- he probably would have been killed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Very interesting? It was interesting? Trump plans to go to Kenosha tomorrow, whereby, most accounts, he is most certainly not welcome. In a letter yesterday, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said, I write today to respectfully ask you to reconsider, adding, now is not the time for divisiveness. Now is not the time for elected officials to ignore armed militants and out-of-state instigators who want to contribute to our anguish. And today, Trump doubled down on his plans to visit despite the request that he stay away.

I'm joined now by Seattle Bureau Chief for The New York Times, Naveed Jamali, Newsweek Editor-at-Large, and Jennifer Rubin, Opinion Writer for The Washington Post.

Let's start with you, Mike. Describe the scene what you saw amid those protests, and which apparently included you yourself being hit with a paintball blast.

MIKE BAKER, SEATTLE BUREAU CHIEF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, they really started out in the suburbs. And the Trump supporters there gathered by the hundreds. I mean, they had hundreds of trucks with flags on them. And then they were intending to drive around the outskirts of Portland, just staying on the highways, but a lot of them broke off and came right downtown. I mean, at that point, there's all the protesters downtown, they're ready to confront them and have some sort of conflict there.

And then you saw these paintballs being fired from the backs of these pickup trucks into the crowd. People were responding by throwing things back. I mean, the whole evening really devolved pretty quickly at that point. I mean, there were fist fights in the streets. We saw a car that had run over a bike or people tried to push back against vehicles getting -- and then the vehicles are driving through the crowds at a pretty rapid rate. I mean, it was escalating throughout the night.

REID: And did you, at any time, see Black Lives Matter marchers attack the men in the trucks?

BAKER: I mean, at that point, when the paintballs were being thrown, there are things being thrown back, and people are lighting Donald Trump flags on fire. As I said, there were sometimes where there were vehicles being blocked and some people were getting out on the street and there were fist fights right in the middle of the street.

I mean, it was -- there was sort of a lot of mutual conflict at some point there, but a lot of frustration from the protester's side that these trucks would just drive down into the middle of the city with guns and with bear mace and paintball guns, clearly ready for some sort of conflict.

REID: So, to be clear, the men in the trucks had guns, right?

BAKER: I mean, there were some people -- when I was out in the suburbs getting ready, there were people who were, one, getting their paintball guns ready, but two, there were others who had body armor and longer guns, real firearms that they were openly carrying. And the organizers of the event were encouraging some level of concealed carry.

REID: Okay. The organizers of the event, not the organizers of Black Lives Matter, you talk about the organizers of the caravan, right?

BAKER: Yes, exactly right. Yes.

REID: Yes, okay. Naveed Jamali, I am glad that you're here, because not only do you have a history with the FBI, so you have a good background to talk about this. Donald Trump liked a tweet was lauding the Kenosha shooter, the vigilante, also one, blasting Portland's mayor. He re-tweeted a video of a Trump supporter shooting paintballs, so he is encouraging it.

Here is Kayleigh McEnany. She denied that Trump actually saw the video of anyone shooting paintballs, the same thing that Donald Trump re-tweeted. Here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: What about the video of them scuffling and shooting paintballs at people, getting into the mix with people, is that (INAUDIBLE)?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think the president has seen that video, nor have I.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: When leaders -- let's say in the Muslim world -- talk a lot of violent talk and encourage their supporters to be willing to commit violence, including on their own bodies in order to win against whoever they decide is the enemy, we in the U.S. media describe that as they are radicalizing those people, particularly when they're radicalizing young people. That's how we talk about the way Muslims act.

When you see what Donald Trump is doing, is that any different from what we describe as radicalizing people?

NAVEED JAMALI, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, NEWSWEEK: I don't believe so. And, in fact, at the RNC, we had Mike Pence talk about a protest, the shooting of a court officer in Oakland. And he failed to mention that the actual shooter was a boogaloo, someone associated with a far-right extremist group. So, again, not only, Joy, is he radicalizing it, he's taking a page out of Putin's playbook, which is he's taking a kernel of truth and using disinformation to really take the context of that fact away. And that's what we're seeing.

I mean, you and I have talked about Russia for years and, really, this is exactly what's happening. They are taking context and they're just deleting it. So you hear that outsiders are coming into a city and causing mayhem. What they don't tell you, what the Trump campaign doesn't tell you, is the outsiders in this case are actually associated or Trumpists.

And I have to say that it just feels like, besides Putin, now we have Trump, the only person that he won't condemn is heavily armed white men who want to storm the capitol or the center of the city. And that's just the depth of context.

REID: It's not even just not condemning them. Here is Kellyanne Conway actually giving away the whole game. One thing I do appreciate about Trump is they actually tell you exactly what they're doing. They don't like to hide it. Here is Kellyanne Conway over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who is best on public safety and law and order.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: And to stay with you just for a minute, Naveed, they're doing this and trying to frame it for white voters, to say, scary black people are going to ride into your city and burn down Wendy's, even though the people who are actually breaking windows, shooting people, getting -- shooting paintballs at people, walking around with long guns armed are Trump people, white Trumpists who, in the case of Kenosha, shot two young white men. They didn't shoot anybody black. It's intra-racial violence that Donald Trump is encouraging.

You talk about that, you live in Seattle, right? And here are the demographics of these cities. Kenosha, Wisconsin, is 12 percent black, Portland, Oregon, is 6 percent black, Seattle, Washington, is 7 percent black. These are not places that have very many black people. Let's just be clear. So these are not black people that are -- that you need to be afraid of, these are intra-racial crimes being committed by white men, do I have that correct?

JAMALI: That's right. And, in fact, what Trump will do when he rails against Democrats and Antifa and BLM, what he is really underlining is the B in BLM. And what he is failing again to mention is part of the reason, Joy, that the Black Lives Matter movement -- it's not a group but a movement, the ideology that has taken such root, is that it's transcended just the black community. You have in Portland and Seattle, these are protests that are, in many cases, majority white, but Trump wants to paint a picture that it is primarily black people.

And then he wants to paint another picture that says that these are -- most of these protests are peaceful, but he wants to associate rioting and looting and violence. In this case, in Portland, the violence that was perpetrated was actually from groups associated with Trumpism and outsiders and they weren't black. But this is exactly the point, is that you're right, I think that this is an appeal not to the MAGA-wearing flag-carrying -- Trump flag pickup truck-driving supporter, but rather it's to middle class white suburban voters.

And I think, Joy -- you know, I think that it's not going to work. I really believe that. I think that most white suburban voters right now are worried about schools. And when you have a president who is talking about racism and offering no policy, no solution to the fact that many schools across the country are using remote learning, it's a pretty stark contrast in what's happening.

This rioting and looting, the reason that United Airlines, American airlines, are having layoffs and furloughs is not because of rioters and looters, it's because the economy has come to a screeching halt and that has nothing to do with rioters and looters. I think most voters are going to see through that and, frankly, they're going to be offended that he's trying to appeal to them with racism.

REID: Let me get into this, Jennifer. I think you wrote the best column this weekend. I've read it twice, it was very good. Talk us through it a little bit. You wrote, Democrats will not win by cowering in fear that Trump will blame them for the violence he provoked. They win by making the case that Trump has made America more violent and increased racial tension for his own political benefit.

And you talked about a specific kind of radicalization that white nationalists do. Can you just lay that out for those who didn't read your column?

JENNIFER RUBIN, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Sure. There is a term for what Trump and his supporters are doing. It's called accelerationism (ph), which essentially says is they want to bring about conflict, they want to bring about a race war. This is Charles Manson kind of stuff. And that is precisely what Donald Trump and his followers are doing. They're looking for trouble, trying to increase casualties, if you will, trying to scare white America. But it just shows you what 24 hours will do.

Over the weekend, my Democratic friends were in slight meltdown form and some of my never Trumper friends were as well, saying, Biden better go to Kenosha. Biden is going to get blamed with this. The Democrats better defend themselves.

And today, Joe Biden walked out there confidently and he slammed Donald Trump for being the cause of mayhem, the cause of violence, the cause of unnecessary deaths from COVID, and he did exactly what he's supposed to do, which is to hold Trump accountable and say, you're the president. This isn't about a Biden America, this is Trump America right now.

And what's more, he dared Trump to condemn the white violence. And lo and behold, in the press conference, as you said, Donald Trump delivered an in-kind contribution to the Biden campaign by refusing to do so, by defending white alleged murderers.

But, again, this was the guy who brought two people to his convention who are indicted for waiving weapons at Black Lives Matter people. This is the party now of white vigilantism, of white supremacy. And because the Republican Party has rolled over, didn't bother to come up with a platform or agenda of their own, every single Republican was therefore bought into this notion of Trump, bought into the incitement of racial conflict, bought into this really George Wallace-ish race baiting.

And I think they are going to pay a heavy price. I do not think that this is what people in the suburbs are looking for. I do not think this is what women are looking for when they want security and safety. They can tell that Trump, Donald Trump is fomenting chaos, that he's fomenting violence, that he's fomenting a rise in racial bigotry in this country. Now, hate crimes are up, all sorts of other indicators.

So I think it's a misplaced strategy on Donald Trump's part. He's trying to not be president and yet be president, playing (ph) credit for having conquered every imaginable horror yet tell us things are terrible and they will be so under a President Biden. So it becomes a bit incoherent, to put it mildly.

REID: I will tell you, it's very hard to find a George Wallace voter. No one ever admits to it any more. And I think a lot of suburban white women are concerned that their sons, a lot of whom support Black Lives Matter, will get hurt and shot at a protest not by liberals, by Trumpists, the people who are carrying the guns. Black Lives Matter kids have skateboards and a bullhorn. That's who -- their mothers are those women in the suburbs. So, Trump may want to think about that.

Mike Baker, Naveed Jamali, Jennifer Rubin, thank you all very much. Everybody read Jennifer's column, it was really good.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, what the right is getting horribly wrong about protesters and the violence that Trump is inciting and exploiting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If you begin the radical left power, what you're seeing in the Democrat-run cities will be brought to every city in this country.

No one will be safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Your president do.

Meanwhile, Trump's cronies are pushing the door wide open for Russia to help him in this year's election, just like he did last time. Former CIA Director John Brennan joins me.

And a tribute to Chadwick Boseman, he was as iconic to his fans as the legend he portrayed on screen. We will share some of the conversation that I had with him when THE REIDOUT continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Beware the power of tribe.

We human beings have an inherent flaw that's easily exploited by those who are willing to hurt people to benefit themselves. It's our tendency to sort ourselves into tribes.

In Germany in the 1930s, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis convinced Christian Germans that their economic suffering was caused not by the run-off from World War I, but, rather, by their Jewish friends and co-workers. By the time the Second World War was over, six million European Jews had been systematically slaughtered.

For 100 days in 1994, tribalism caused Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda, who are barely different ethnically, but whose class distinctions were exploited by their Belgian colonizers, to try and kill each other off. In the end, some 800,000 men, women and children were massacred, often by people they knew.

In our country, the economic ambitions of the European men who broke from the British crown left millions of black and indigenous people either dead in the Middle Passage, massacred on their own land or enslaved, while the newly minted Americans used their Christian faith to justify kidnapping, beating, breeding, and selling black adults and children.

Male slave owners freely raped the black women they claimed ownership over, and, without a second thought, often sold their own resulting children.

Tribalism makes monsters of men. So, beware the leader who exploits it to secure his own power.

We have seen very few images of actual Black Lives Matter protests over the police shootings and killings of black people. But we get lots of images of the aftermath of those protests, businesses and police cars burning, looting, fighting, and armed men firing on protesters, almost all at night.

And the assumption is too often made that these two things are one thing ,that the protests are fueling the violence.

But that is a lazy assumption. In any controversial event that you see, particularly in a political season, always ask yourself, who benefits? In this case, who benefits if lots of white voters believe that Black Lives Matter is threatening and violent?

No one more than Donald Trump. Trump is losing to Joe Biden, full stop. So, to sneak back in through the Electoral College, he needs to win back those American Brexit states that put him over the top in 2016. So, his fixation Kenosha in Wisconsin is relevant.

Or he needs to add a new state to his map. This Sunday alone, he posted more than six dozen tweets harping on fringe polls showing him winning Michigan and praising his supporters who were showing up armed with AR-15s, the murder weapon of choice for mass shooters, at protests in Portland, Oregon.

So, let's be clear. If Trump wanted to end the violence in American cities, he could simply go on his Twitter feed and tell his supporters to go home. It's a personality cult, so they would do whatever he says.

There is no anarchist group on the left who listens to Joe Biden. There is no Antifa for Biden/Harris armed militia. So this is not a both sides thing.

But Trump is openly doing the opposite, encouraging more violence and cowing his party into refusing to condemn the violence, while his media friends laud the Kenosha shooter, because they all know that's Trump's only chance of winning, with 200,000 Americans estimated dead by Election Day and the post office and the economy in tatters.

It's to drive the coronavirus off the front page. That's the best they can do.

Now, Trump plans to go to Kenosha tomorrow, but not to try and calm the city or to bring comfort to Jacob Blake's family or the families that he -- as he lies paralyzed in the hospital, or to Joseph Rosenbaum or Anthony Huber, the families of those two men who were killed, allegedly, by the teenage Trump supporter in Kenosha.

But, rather, he's going to meet with law enforcement, and, based on past behavior, we can assume to hype up his followers even more. Maybe he will even hold a COVID rally.

We know that white supremacist groups are organizing online and swarming these protests, often fully armed, to whip up violence and mayhem. White nationalists have been arrested for breaking windows, starting fires, getting into fights and, yes, shooting and killing people.

And their ranks have only grown. They have grown 55 percent since Trump's first year in office, 2017.

Meanwhile, the arrest of Black Lives Matter protesters have been mainly for things like breaking curfew. There is no both sides here. This is not even new in America.

In 1991, David Duke took off his Klan robe, put on a business suit and ran for governor of Louisiana, whipping up fears of black people, crime and taxes as his argument for why Louisianians should elect him.

Now, thankfully, he lost because black voters came out in droves. But he did get 55 percent of the white vote. Duke was so hyped for Trump's 2016 campaign, he bragged that they share the same supporters, and he ran for the Senate and lost again.

Preying on white voters' tribal loyalties and fears has been used from the bullhorn of Nixon's Southern Strategy to George Wallace's three presidential bids. The French kiss of anti-blackness was even evident in Reagan's welfare queens, Bill Clinton's Sister Souljah moment, and the Willie Horton ads that helped elect George H.W. Bush.

It wasn't even about these men's personal views on race. It was a campaign tactic that tends to actually work. Trump is just re-upping the strategy, just like the alt-right recycled David Duke's khaki white nationalism, before they got exposed in Charlottesville.

Black Lives Matter is Trump's Willie Horton, even though the violence he's luxuriating in, in these cities is largely white-on-white and perpetrated by his supporters. It's a campaign tactic, you all. He's pimping tribalism for votes.

Black Lives Matter is no threat to the suburbs. A lot of the multiracial groups marching for black lives are from the suburbs.

Now, when we come back, I'm going to tell you what is really putting the suburbs at risk.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?

Mr. Trump, you want to talk about fear? Do you know what people are afraid of in America? They're afraid they're going to get COVID. They're afraid they're going to get sick and die.

And that is no small part because of you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: As Trump tries to distract with his dire warnings of death and destruction in American cities, he continues to actively ignore the death and destruction brought on by COVID-19 and his own mishandling of it.

Over the weekend, we blew past another mind-blowing milestone. More than six million Americans have been diagnosed with the virus, about a million-and-a-half in the past month alone. And the death toll is inching closer to 200,000.

The devastating human toll isn't the only thing that has wreaked havoc on America. Just last week, a million more Americans signed up for unemployment benefits. They joined the roughly 27 million Americans who were already unemployed.

Extended unemployment benefits have decreased since the last initial $600 in supplemental insurance lapsed in August, because the White House refused to negotiate with House Democrats. And the federal moratorium on evictions is already over. Housing experts project that between 30 and 40 million Americans could soon be evicted from their homes.

Economists and federal officials are also warning that, without an additional stimulus from the federal government, the country faces a long-term recession.

For more, I'm joined by Dr. Lipi Roy, internal medicine physician, Jason Johnson, professor of politics and journalism at Morgan State University, and Charlie Sykes, editor at large of The Bulwark.

I'm going to go in reverse order.

I want you to listen, Charlie, to another thing that Joe Biden said today about whether we would be safer under Donald -- Joe Biden himself or Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: We're now on track for more than 200,000 deaths in this country due to COVID. More than 100,000 seniors have lost their lives to the virus.

More cops have died from COVID this year than have been killed on patrol. Nearly one in six small businesses is closed in this country today.

Do you really feel safer under Trump?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: You know, and, Charlie, we looked it up.

Our great producers here at THE REIDOUT looked it up. So, 9/11-related cancer, police -- this is police officer deaths. There have been 172 deaths this year, three from 9/11-related cancer, one from an aircraft accident, three from drowning, duty-related illness, two, gunfire, 29, and inadvertent gunfire, only four.

And then you go down, and there's lots and lots of other ways that people are killed. There are -- there have literally been more police officers who've died from COVID than have died from anything on duty.

I wonder how long this Donald Trump narrative, this made-up narrative, can last, when people's actual real lives are being lived, and they actually see the death and destruction in their own -- in their own families sometimes.

CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE BULWARK: Well, that was an extraordinarily interesting question that Joe Biden posed.

The question often is, are you better off than you were four years ago? But to ask, do you think that you're going to be safer under Donald Trump, I think that takes the case to him.

And, Joy, I think that what you're doing here is very, very important, because we need to understand that this is a distraction from a distraction, that Donald Trump very clearly wants to talk about -- he wants to talk about urban violence. He wants to talk about Black Lives Matter, because he does not want to talk about the deaths from COVID. He does not want to talk about what's going on in the economy.

He does not want to talk about his failure and the fact that we're about to hit 200,000 dead Americans.

But I think people do need to understand the cynicism behind this, where the president the United States is putting politics ahead of actually protecting us from the pandemic and is willing to inflict this kind of damage on the American political scene, using the tribal division that you -- that you were discussing just a few minutes ago.

REID: And I didn't give the police officer number who have died from COVID. It's 1,993. So it's 1,993 vs. 172, right?

SYKES: Yes.

REID: So, it's a lot more.

Jason, the ways that Donald Trump has dealt with COVID, because it is the biggest threat to his reelection. Let's just -- full stop. The thing that's the most threatening to him staying in power is his mishandling of COVID.

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Right.

REID: But he's just resisted even believing COVID is real, or doing the sort of logical things that one would do if you wanted to both help people and stay in power.

Here is what Jared Kushner said. This is a quote. Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and adviser -- this is during the real supply chain chaos -- said: "We're an organization with 56 clients," referred to the U.S. states and territories. "It's not our job to secure supplies for them. It's our job to help them."

Instead, the federal government's approach turned hospital systems and state governments into rivals. This is as medical providers were begging for supplies. One doctor, worried about his shipment of masks and gowns would be seized by another state, divided the supplies between two trucks to make sure at least one could get through.

Hospitals are having to sneak supply chains through to try to get -- to try to save -- trying to save lives.

Can -- do you understand, just as a political scientist, why the Trump administration would be so resistant actually doing the thing that would actually help them and help people?

JOHNSON: Well, because, Joy, as we saw that report several weeks ago, because, at least initially, they thought it was only going to attack blue states, like having a smoking section of an elevator.

(LAUGHTER)

JOHNSON: For some reason, they thought that COVID would only affect major cities in blue states, so they didn't do anything about it.

And then, when the problem got out of control, states were sort of forced to compete in this sort of "Hunger Games" feudalism. In Maryland, remember, the governor had to send the National Guard to protect a shipment of masks because he was afraid that Trump and FEMA would steal it from the BWI Airport.

So that's why we have seen this sort of absolute incompetence. But I'd say it's three levels of distraction. So, distraction one is, Trump wants to scream about Black Lives Matter and scare the suburbs. I don't know. I'm a suburbanite. I'm more terrified of white-on-white crime. I have seen a lot of white people been shooting each other lately. I'm concerned.

The second level is, he doesn't want to talk about COVID. But all of that isn't even that it's a distraction from the economy. It's a distraction from the fact that he's destroying the post office and wants to steal the election.

Trump wants to talk about anything other than the fact that he's trying to rig an election, because he knows the polls say he's going to lose.

REID: Yes, I mean, his son Eric, the other one -- I guess they call him the other son -- he was literally like, all people ever want to talk about is COVID, COVID, COVID.

Yes, man, six million people have it.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: It's like the biggest threat to American life. Everybody just talks about COVID. Yes, that's right. That's what we want to talk about. It's killing people.

Dr. Roy, it seems that now they're sort of belatedly deciding, oh, my God, we have to try to look like we're fixing COVID. So, here's the kind of things that they are proposing. They're trying to say there's suddenly going to be a vaccine, which I don't think a lot of people are going to trust.

In an interview with "The Financial Times," Stephen Hahn, who's I guess one of Donald Trump's favorite new authorities, said his agency was prepared to authorize a vaccine before phase three clinical trials were complete, as long as officials believe the benefits outweighed the risks.

But he defended the embattled organization against accusations that he's rushing the process to boost Trump's reelection prospects. That's the FDA playing ball.

Would you give your own patients a vaccine that was rushed through with that -- before they finished phase three trials?

DR. LIPI ROY, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Hey, Joy.

Well, no, I mean, I wouldn't give it. I would recommend it for my patients. I wouldn't recommend for my family or for myself.

While I do believe and most health care professionals do believe that vaccines in general, all the vaccines that we have pretty much had thus far over the course of human history have been very safe and are highly recommended.

No, but those vaccines that we highly recommend have gone through a rigorous testing process, clinical trials. What's happening now what and what the FDA, unfortunately, is getting pressured to do is authorize vaccines to be released to the public without going through the appropriate channels.

I also just want to say that that clip that you showed of Vice President Biden, what I heard, and what's so critical for physicians and health care professionals, is the sense of empathy.

REID: Yes.

ROY: I heard the vice president talk about elderly Americans, people in nursing homes, like, genuinely caring about the most vulnerable people.

He talked about black and brown people. He talked about communities of color, whereas the other clip that you showed of -- you talked about the president's son, as well as the son-in-law, talking about supply chains and the business side of it.

Those are two very different narratives.

REID: Yes.

ROY: And you pointed out very clearly, Joy, nothing else matters.

There's really -- topics one through 10 are all about coronavirus.

JOHNSON: Right.

REID: Yes.

ROY: We have to get a handle on that first, before we can solve any other problem.

REID: Including the economy.

Very quickly, before I let you go, Charlie Sykes, you know the right. You used to do right-wing radio. Donald Trump is now pushing herd immunity, his people, Scott Atlas, who is his new favorite of his physician-type person.

You -- it would take 2.13 million deaths to reach 65 percent herd immunity; 2.13 million people would have to die. They're also pushing a weird theory that, because a lot of the people who died of coronavirus actually also had, like, another thing, they had a couple of different things, that, really, it's only 9,000 people have died.

Can they put that over on right-wing voters? Will right-wing voters really say, uh-oh, 2.13 million people can die, I'm cool with that, uh-huh, it's only 9,000 people, even though the news, even FOX, is telling me it's 200?

Can that work?

SYKES: The bad news is, it will work with some people. The bad news is, there are a lot of people who get their news from Facebook, from within that alternative reality bubble.

JOHNSON: Right.

SYKES: And I'm seeing it already.

But that base is not enough to win an election.

JOHNSON: Yes.

SYKES: That base is not enough to get Donald Trump another four years, because, while he is doing that, you have other -- you have millions of Americans, including in the suburbs, who are looking at that, and saying, this kind of misinformation could kill me, could kill my grandmother, my mother, my sister, will put my children at risk.

And that's the real problem when you have the president of the United States willing to traffic in this kind of deadly toxic misinformation.

REID: Yeah, a lot of people are going to die in the suburbs listening to him.

Dr. Lipi Roy, Jason Johnson, Charlie Sykes, thank you guys very much.

Trump's director of national intelligence cancels briefings on foreign interference. What are they trying to hide?

THE REIDOUT continues after this.

(COMMRECIAL BREAK)

REID: Donald Trump has repeatedly dismissed the conclusion by multiple intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 election on his behalf. And now, with just 64 days until the election, the person he appointed as a director of national intelligence says he's going to stop in person briefings to Congress on foreign election interference. DNI John Ratcliffe says the committees will still have access to classified written intelligence reports, the members of Congress will not be allowed to question individuals about what's in those reports.

In a letter to lawmakers, Ratcliffe said the change was an effort to keep intelligence from leaking to the public and becoming politicized. That's exactly what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Chairman Adam Schiff, Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff are accusing this administration of doing.

Quote: This demonstrates that the Trump administration is engaged in a politicized effort to withhold election-related information from Congress and the American people, at the precise moment that greater transparency and accountability is needed.

And it's not just Ratcliffe who will be holding back election related information from Congress. I'll talk about that next with former CIA Director John Brennan.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Following the unprecedented move by the director of national intelligence to no longer hold in-person briefings on threats to our election, NBC News has learned that the FBI and DHS plan to brief Congress on cyber threats to election security and disinformation but not on the plans and intentions of foreign adversaries.

In a statement to NBC News, the FBI said, quote: The FBI is committed to keeping Congress informed on election security and malign foreign influence threats. Protecting our elections remains a top priority for the FBI. We decline to comment further.

DHS has yet to respond to NBC News.

Joining me now is John Brennan, former CIA director.

Director Brennan, what do you make when you just put it all together, the DNI and FBI now saying, we're not going to give specific threats with Q&As to Congress. I think people worry these agencies have been co-opted to try to leave the door open for Russia to interfere? Do you see it that way?

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Yes, Joy. I think we all should be worried.

As a former intelligence professional, I am concerned that Donald Trump continues to try to manipulate and suppress any information that could be detrimental to him and his re-election prospects.

And I was heavily involved in briefing Congress in 2016 when we saw Russia try to interference in that presidential election. And I'm very concerned that the Congress is now going to be prevented from accessing the information that they need in order to better understand the nature of the threat posed to our presidential election.

And the fact that Donald Trump I think is handpicking individuals such as John Ratcliffe to be director of national intelligence, who had no real experience in the intelligence community, I think he's having these individuals operationalized his interests in terms of, again, suppressing and suffocating the intelligence community.

And so, it's -- I think it's very worrisome as we have more than 60 days left before the election. And I just worry about what Donald Trump plans to do in that time.

REID: And, you know, he's not doing it by himself. Let me play you really quickly Ron Johnson, Senator Ron Johnson, who's been very openly sort of touting the same kind of misinformation that Russia has been pushing on places like Ukraine. Here he is talking about the reactions to the news of the non-briefings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): This is being blown so way out of proportion. I can probably count on one or two fingers the things that are actually classified in those briefings. There is no surprise here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: And, you know, I want to just remind our audience that Ron Johnson was one of the senators that took that weird trip to Moscow in July of 2018 over 4th of July and has seemed to be co-opted of this effort to get Russia involved.

Do you worry that there are people in the party, the Mitch McConnells, the Ron Johnson who also want Russia to interfere.

BRENNAN: I'm worried that there is no one left in the Republican Party who is going to stand up to these authoritarian actions of Donald Trump. Senator Romney, I think, has been a lone voice.

But what has happened to the Republican Party, what has happened to the members of the Republican Party in Congress who were so concerned during my career about national security issues and very, very worried about what Russia was doing to undermine our democracy. They now have fallen in line behind Donald Trump.

And Senator Johnson and Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham and others just continue to be sycophantic when it comes to Donald Trump and they're allowing him to get away with these actions. And I just shake my head. I'm sure the intelligence professionals and law enforcement professionals whose duty and obligations it is to protect this country are just feeling very much under pressure --

REID: Yeah.

BRENNAN: -- to, you know, not share this information with Congress.

REID: You know, one of the people that a lot of folks worry about is Jared Kushner who Donald Trump went over and above in order to get him a top secret security clearance, even though Michael Schmidt has a new book out from "The New York Times" that talked about -- there was a lot of concern about him getting security clearance. On the details of the highly sensitive intelligence that raised alarms with Kelly, Mr. Schmidt writes, are not revealed in the McGahn memo. In Schmidt's book, Trump ultimately intervened on behalf of his son-in-law.

There is a lot of worry because there is a lot of off the record sort of conversations and relationships in the Middle East. Do you worry about it? I mean, Donald Trump took away your security clearance. He went after you for security clearance, but he gave his son-in-law one even though he has his fingers in all of these spots (ph).

Do you worry that Jared Kushner is a threat to national security?

BRENNAN: Well, this is such an example of how authoritarian leaders around the world actually carry out their activities. They appoint family members and cronies to these important and sensitive positions. They co-opt the intelligence and security services. They delegitimize the press or any type of opposition.

And so, Jared Kushner and others are just implementing what Donald Trump wants done. And again, the fact that we have our elected legislators in the Congress who are allowing this to happen, I think it is unconscionable. And as we get closer and closer to an election, which is the foundation stone basically of our democracy that allows the American people to select who they want to lead our country and the fact that Russia seems to be poised to do the same thing they did in 2016, which is to help Donald Trump get elected.

And it's about time that the members of Congress stopped these actions as far as what Donald Trump is trying to do, and whether it's through Jared Kushner or through his other cronies.

REID: Yeah. A very sage warning. I hope people listen.

John Brennan, former CIA director, thank you very much. Really appreciate your time tonight.

And up next --

BRENNAN: Thank you.

REID: Thank you.

And up next, a tribute to the late actor Chadwick Boseman.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Wakanda is quiet and so many people are devastated after Chadwick Boseman's untimely death at just 43 years of age.

Boseman was a constant inspiration to others while privately battling cancer for years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHADWICK BOSEMAN, ACTOR: I don't know what your future is, but if you're willing to take the harder way, the more complicated one, the one with more failures at first, then successes, the one that has ultimately proven to have more meaning, more victory, more glory, then you will not regret it. Now, this is your time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: He even stayed in touch with children with terminally ill cancer and got emotional while talking about what "Black Panther" meant to those kids.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOSEMAN: Just to experience those two little boys anticipated of this movie, and when I found out that they -- yeah. It's -- it means a lot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: After his death was announced, kids from all over paid tribute to Boseman, including five-year-old Charter Sweeney whose mom posted this photo of him sitting in a circle with other Avengers super heroes with the Black Panther figure laying down.

Not only was Boseman a great actor, but he was also politically active. I was lucky enough to get to interview him on 2017 on his portrayal of Thurgood Marshall and the state of race in America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOSEMAN: You can always do better. I can always be a better actor. I can always be a better person. So America has never been as great as it should be. So, you know, I don't feel like I'm tired of talking about it if it's not done. It has to be done. It has to be fixed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: In his last tweet before he died, he tweeted a photo of himself with Kamala Harris with the #vote2020.

Well, in that spirit, Wakanda forever.

Make sure that you are registered, and please, please vote early. For everything you need to plan your vote in your state, go to NBCNews.com/planyourvote.

And that is tonight's REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.

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

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