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

Transcript: The ReidOut, November 20, 2020

Guests: Bina Venkataraman, Lawrence Wilkerson, Ngozi Ezike, Chris Coons, Mary Trump, Steven Hassan


Election officials confirm Biden won Georgia. Trump falsely claims he won the election. Geraldo Rivera suggests vaccine be named after Trump. Michigan GOP lawmakers meet with Trump at White House. Most GOP leaders silent on Trump's refusal to concede. Trump and allies push ahead with efforts to overturn election.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Today, Donald Trump and his cadre of paid conspiracy theorists received another blow in their bid to steal the election. Georgia officials certified President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the state about an hour after Trump emerged from his White House hiding hole to say this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The campaign, which I won, by the way, but, you know, we'll find that out.


REID: I just to be crystal clear, Trump is lying, again. Here again is the electoral map that shows Biden beating Trump by a landslide, beat him like he stole something, beat, whooped, defeated, choose your euphemism, Trump lost.

It's important to note that said losers said this today nearly two weeks after Biden was declare the winner, revealing that Trump's entire cabinet and the Republican Party are -- they really are taken in by the delusion that Trump won and that the moon is made of cheese, or they're just hoping that their mad king's temper tantrums dissipates sometime before January 20th so he won't tweet mean things at them. In other words they're cowards.

And what they're not doing in any way is taking a stand for their country. What we are witnessing it that democracy is a system that only some Americans profess to hold dear, or that some Americans going to profess to hold dear, because at this very crucial and alarming moment as Trump blatantly tries to engineer what amounts to a coup, the Republican Party has chosen to remain silent.

Sure, there are some of them like Mitt Rommy and Ben Sasse have tweeted out, doc-tier (ph) statements and waited for those statements to accomplish exactly nothing and fade away like yesterday's news.

And within that silence, enter Geraldo Rivera, as if emerging from Al Capone's vault battling with his state news comrade, Jesse Watters, for legitimizing Trump's unhinged conspiracy, saying, they're giving them all faithful false hope, only to provide this chaser this morning on Fox.


GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT-AT-LARGE: With the world so divided and everybody, you know, telling him he has to give up and time to leave and time to a transition and all the rest of it, why not name the vaccine the Trump. You know, make it like, have you gotten your Trump yet? No, it will be a nice gesture to him.


REID: I mean, even if people laugh. Okay, so, Geraldo, let me get this straight, you want every sensible American to refuse to get vaccinated? Is that what you want? I mean, would you let even the best doctor on earth vaccinate you with the Trump? It's a no for me, Dog.

And that kuku for Ku Klux idea isn't even the worst of our problems. Look at today's devastating headlines. Words like sedition and coup are being used regularly every day to describe the state of this country. And the conspiracy theories are now even too bonkers for voter fraud mouthpiece, Tucker Carlson, who said last night that even his show, which literally does UFO segments, could not give credence to Trump lawyer Sidney Powell's outrageous claims that the ghost is Hugo Chavez is haunting our election.

Do you know how off the rails you have to be for Tucker Carlson to give you a hard pass? Election fraud, dead people voting, servers seized in Germany that showed Trump won the election by a landslide of 11 billion votes. None of this is real, America.

What is real is that today, Republican state lawmakers from Michigan arrived in Washington to meet Trump in the White House, where Trump is expected to pressure them to overturn Biden's victory in that state. In a statement tonight, the leader said, they have not been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election, no, it's (INAUDIBLE), and that they would follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan electors. Yes, because they have to.

I mean, trust me, there is nothing normal about state lawmakers getting summoned to the White House days before certifying votes. These states have laws, which I know Trump doesn't believe in laws and things, but they require the electors of the winner of the popular vote in their states to be seated, period. That's the law.

The crazy thing is that we in the media shouldn't be the only ones saying this. And each day, elected Republicans fail to condemn and fight this rot. Beyond their little come together tweets is another day that we march towards the very real possibility that American democracy, as we know it, will one day come to a crashing halt.

Joining me now, Jonathan Lemire of the Associated Press, Bina Venkataraman of the Boston Globe, and Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Collin Powell, back when there was a Republican Party one could respect.

Let's start with you -- I'm going to start with you first, Jonathan. Inside the White House, are there advisers that are really telling Donald Trump that he can get state lawmakers to break the laws that are explicitly written in their states to hand him the electors? And then, what, is he going to pardon them after they break the law? Like, what is -- what are people telling Trump that is making him think that he can get these people to break the law?

JONATHAN LEMIRE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Joy, I just left the White House a few minutes ago. Those Michigan Republicans were there for about an hour or so. And as you just said, you read from their statement which seems to suggest that there will be no change, and, of course, there could not be any change to the result in Michigan.

And I think we should note here, the west wing these days is kind of a ghost town. A lot of staffers have stopped coming into work after the election night coronavirus outbreak that infected Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and others. And even those who weren't sick had to quarantine and isolate for two weeks.

And also according to our reporting, the aides I've talked to, very few advisers are in the Oval Office these days, where is the president, as described to me as, he's been so temperamental and, frankly, in a foul mood, sort of a barking and angrily demanding suggestions and solutions to his predicament. There's no one really close to president who believes that these measures will overturn of the some of the election.

We noted what happened in Georgia as well. But this is still his last gasp, this idea trying to fight this. But it's much of a performance, aides have said to me, as it is any actual should even to show his followers, his supporters that he is still fighting, rather than a real belief that it will happen.

And I should note, he made a rare appearance today, first time we've seen him in over a week. He's spoke in the briefing room about prescription drug prices, alluded to the fact that he still believes he won the election. But then, of course, when we tried to ask him about that, he turned on his heels and left the room, taking no questions.

REID: Yes. Very quickly to stay with you for a second, Jonathan. because there is reporting that Trump is trying to prevent a certification of vote, that there is a stalling game going on, to push it back as far as he can. There's other reporting, including for the New York Times, that part of this is about his fear of being prosecuted and there are plenty of cases he could face after he leaves office.

How much of this is trying to essentially create so much havoc and death and fear that he may be able to somehow convince the incoming Justice Department to give him a deal that would pardon him, that would excuse him from crimes? How much of this is just the usual Trump bullying to get out of having to face the courts?

LEMIRE: Well, certainly, he's sowing chaos here, and, frankly, doubt in our very democratic process of what he's done, undermining faith in the election and abandoning his day job when the coronavirus is surging to out of control heights. Certainly there are those. Whether it's a deliberate strategy or not, there are those that are close to president that are nervous about what could lie ahead when he does leave office, what the state of New York could do, whether it's the president personally or his business or his children, that is something they're eyeing right now and doing it so wearily.

And also, of course, the president is now trying to chart his future. And whether that is a 2024 run or the very least trying to keep that flirtation alive for relevance, but also Joy, let's remember this, this is a president who is in debt. He needs to make some money. And I think that's the other play here as well. Is how to try to keep his followers loyal to him for whatever that next venture is, whether it is a media company, or perhaps as somebody who suggested giving rallies but charging for them, or whatever his next step is, trying to monetize this while still keeping relevant as he makes a decision down the road about whether or not he reenters politics, all the while, we're really watching prosecutors might do.

REID: I'm just telling you, you would pay to go to a rally. I'm going to do rallies and you have to go and pay me, to pay some college debt. Are you getting me? But you know what though, his supporters, maybe they would go.

Bina, let me bring you into this. You have the Trump going into court and saying you know we think that there was fraud in Wisconsin and Michigan. And then they presented evidence that they didn't have to do with Wisconsin and Michigan, and there being more votes than voters and all sorts of stuff, and then they presented info about Minnesota. They don't even -- they're not even coherent in the things that they are doing. It is absurd at this point.

What do you make of the fact that despite the clear absurdity, the absurdity of Rudy Giuliani, but just in general, no Republicans are willing-- very few Republicans are willing to walk away from this or even inch away from it?

BINA VENKATARAMAN, THE BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: You know, Joy, you can be a dyed-in-the-wool conservative politician, Republican elected official in this country and you might like the appointees that Donald Trump made to the federal judiciary, his Supreme Court nominees. He might like his 2017 corporate tax cut and say, you might even have a theory of why that's good for the economy.

But there is no reasonable way that any Republican elected official in this country can look at what Donald Trump is doing around this election and think of that as credible and think of it as anything but an attack on American values and attack on democracy itself. Our free and fair elections are the basis by which American is a model for democracies around the world.

So the fact that so many Republican leaders in state houses around the country and Washington have been silent is deafening. And it's staggering to see how Republican officials go along for the ride, Newt Gingrich, from speaker of the House, feeding the conspiracy theory that there has been fraud, when, obviously, these legal suits have been proven to be nothing but vacuous.

Having Lindsey Graham interfering, calling state officials in Arizona, Nevada and Michigan -- sorry, in Georgia, trying to insinuate that there's something awry with the election results which should be certified. Donald Trump lost Arizona. He lost Nevada. He lost Michigan. He lost Georgia. There's no changing those facts. And what's happening here is a GOP sanctioned attempt to undermine the results of the election and subvert the will of the American voters.

And I think it's one thing to say that Donald Trump has his own alternate reality where Barack Obama, wasn't born in the United States, where climate change is a hoax, where the pandemic is not that big of a problem. It's one thing you have one delusional man elected to the highest in the land of the United States, it's another thing to have spores of GOP officials willing to sacrifice the very values that they swore to uphold when they swore to uphold the constitution and to be complicit in this.

And I think history is going to judge them harshly. They may be appealing to some fraction of the base that's for Trump, but future generations --

REID: Oh, absolutely, they're going to be savaged in history. Let me play for you Colonel Wilkerson, this is a new ad from The Lincoln Project. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most Republican leaders are refusing to accept the outcome of the democratic process. It's shameful, cowardly and un-American. If a president wasn't elected legally, then no one was elected legally.

Call your Republican officials and to start acting like Americans and support democracy. The question in 2020 was America or Trump. America won. It's time for Republicans to put America first.


REID: Coronel Wilkerson, we counted exactly three Republicans who have criticized Trumps false claims that he won the election. One of whom won her re-election, Joni Ernst, by less than the margin that Biden won in Michigan. But she thinks -- she doesn't think her election was rigged. So she says like my election was great.

I don't understand what this is. You know, you worked for Collin Powell, for General Collin Powell. What is the point of this other than a coup?

COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL: Let me say first that I agree with what Jonathan said, in general. And I have to add that I'm not really concerned about this election process much anymore, because I am really proud of all these people in all 50 states and the district. They did a marvelous job. And the law is being followed basically. And I don't care of whether Rudy Giuliani makes a fool of himself or not. He certainly is. They are to be applauded for the free and fair election and with very minimal fraud, if any, that occurred. And we need to move on.

What I'm concerned about is the transition process. I went through a truncated transition process with George W. Bush. Collin and I didn't get into the State Department until 20th of December. And we really didn't start briefings and transition in substance until a week or so later.

This is dangerous. We -- I think we in the 9/11 commission said this. We missed the emphasis on Al Qaeda that we should have taken from those transition briefings. And you know what we had in September. We didn't have a National Security Council meeting with Al Qaeda on the agenda until August. This is dangerous.

I'm giving some confidence by Biden's experience. George Bush had the experience of a red ant. Joe Biden has extensive experience on foreign and security policy but we need the transition to take place and we need the briefings to take place. I'm even afraid if they said today, the briefings could take place, there would be no one there confident enough to give a briefing. So that's what I'm concerned about.

And as for the Republicans, I'll tell you what they're doing, Lindsey Graham, this whole group, they think if they come out against Trump, the evangelical core and the other, shall I say, mad elements of the core that are for Trump will desert them, and I understand that. They can't get elected in the future. So they have to act like pusillanimous idiots in order to keep that core intact for their future political careers.

REID: But the thing is, Colonel Wilkerson, that there's a present and you rightly stated the 9/11 commission was very clear that the delay made us vulnerable, and then we had 9/11. We have a present situation, a pandemic that has now killed a quarter of a million people-plus.

And we have to do a virus roll out when people don't even have confidence in the virus, in the -- you know, not the virus, I'm sorry -- in the vaccine because Trump had anything to do with it. And so you're going to have to convince people to take that seriously. And then there's the obviously the physical rolling of it out, which will be incredibly complicated. So and then you have Steve Mnuchin trying to essentially tank the economy.

It looks at least to be from the outside looking in like Republicans almost want to hand Biden mega crisis in a country that is completely broken and destroyed. That's what it looks like.

WILKERSON: I couldn't agree with you more. And I fault Mitch McConnell more than anyone else for that. And if this comes to be the case, what you just described and possibly even worse, I'm going to fault him even more so. I wish Kentucky had discarded him. But we've got him. And if he doesn't change his modus operandi, we're going to be in real trouble.

And Biden is going to find it extremely difficult to govern, not just because of the COVID-19 but because of all of the damage Trump has done overseas, domestically or in many place he hasn't touched with his awful hand. And Biden is going to have to try to pick up the pieces and move out. And it's going to be extremely difficult particularly if McConnell is an obstructer in the Senate.

REID: Yes. It's not looking good. Jonathan Lemire, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Bina Venkatarman, thank you all three very much. You guys are great.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, Trumps new binky is claiming credit for the vaccine while accepting zero responsibility for the out of control pandemic that has now killed more than a quarter of a million Americans.

Plus, the cult of Trump, even after he lost decisively to Joe Biden, some of his MAGA supporters say they're willing to die for him. What's up with that?

Back with more of THE REIDOUT after this.



RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": Susan has been sick with COVID these past couple of weeks.

And, at one point, we really thought that there was a possibility that it might kill her. And that's why I have been away.

What you need to know is that whoever is the most important person in your life, whoever you most love and most care for and most cherish in the world, that's the person who you may lose.

Whatever you're doing, however you have calibrated risk in your life, don't get this thing. Do whatever you can to keep from getting it.


REID: That was my friend and colleague the dear and wonderful Rachel Maddow, who, in her remarkable open last night, revealed that her longtime partner, the clearly amazing Susan, got so sick with COVID-19 that Rachel feared for her life.

They now join 11 million Americans who have had to live with this virus. According to experts at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, the United States is projected to hit 470,000 COVID deaths by March.

And just to give you a reference for that death toll, that would be about 65,000 more Americans than were killed in World War II.

Yesterday, more than 193,000 new cases were reported, and nearly 2,000 deaths, adding to the horrifying toll of 254,000 Americans taken by this pandemic. We have vaulted over the quarter-million mark.

And, like most previous weeks, we have new cases in the Republican Party. An hour ago, we learned that Donald Trump Jr., Trump's eldest son, has tested positive for the virus. He joins Florida Senator Rick Scott, who was on the campaign trail for his Georgia colleagues. Also, Rudy Giuliani son, Andrew, who is a special assistant to Trump, has also tested positive. He attended yesterday's shameful press conference, where people were packed into a room for more than an hour.

A White House official tells NBC News that, in addition to Andrew Giuliani, at least three lower-level White House aides have tested positive.

For more, I'm joined by Dr. Vin Gupta, critical care pulmonologist and affiliate assistant professor at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, and Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Thank you both for being here.

And, Dr. Gupta, I am going to go to you first on this.

I mean, we had Trump's lawyers that are trying to fight these fake cases for him on the election not even wanting to go into the meeting with those Michigan lawmakers because they're like they don't want to take the risk of COVID.

I mean, at this point, going to the White House is, in and of itself, a health risk. And yet you have a president that's still having meetings, that is still flying people in to come and meet with him, and acting as if it's business as usual.

What message does this -- I mean, we know what message it sends. But I don't even know what to say at this point. I will just let you talk.

DR. VIN GUPTA, NBC NEWS MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Joy, good to see you. Good evening.

You know, what I will say is that the IHME estimates that you mentioned, one thing for all your viewers to keep in mind is that that number balloons to 670,000 American souls lost by the end of February if states don't do commonsense things, given the current situation, like they have done in Illinois, thanks to Dr. Ngozi, who's joining us here.

If they don't if they don't post social distancing mandates, if they don't, for example, close indoor dining, something that most states are probably going to end up having to do some form of in the coming months, as we get through the worst of this.

So, 660,000 live lost by the end of February if those things don't happen, that's number one. Number two, let me just quickly say about holiday travel, we have already said, most people -- nobody should travel unless it's an emergency.

Do not travel for the holidays. Having said that, I have heard Gallup Poll says one in five Americans may travel, college students especially. If you're a college student watching this, for the benefit of your loved ones, do not -- don't go home, and then come back and go back home again.

Stay home, stay put, once you arrive home, masking in the presence of loved ones for at least 72 hours and get tested. That's going to be critical.

REID: Yes.

I mean, and the thing is, people are taking risks, Dr. Ezike, because they either just don't believe COVID is real -- I mean, you heard Rachel last night just go into just detail about how terrifying it is. I know people who've gotten it. It is terrifying, painful, the worst they have ever felt.

And the people I know who have got it thought they were going to die. And it's just somehow not getting through. People were partying in Atlanta last night. There are pictures of it online of people just partying away, thinking that everything is fine.

Meanwhile, here's a few of the statistics that my producers kindly gave to me. People in New York are waiting roughly three hours just to get tested. People in Los Angeles are waiting in long lines outside Dodger Stadium to get tested. Laboratories are warning that our shortages of key supplies are making it difficult to even get tested at all.

The U.S. is now testing more than 1.5 million people per day, on average, which is more than double the rate in July. But there still aren't enough tests for everyone.

So, I don't know what else we can tell people about trying to stay away and not having to eat one meal for Thanksgiving, and risk the rest of their lives and their families' lives. I don't even know what else to do. What are you doing as a doctor? What do you think we can say?

DR. NGOZI EZIKE, DIRECTOR, ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH: No, we have to keep handing out that same message. And we need to find credible messengers in the community. Maybe they're tired of hearing from the same people.

And we need to find -- we have been trying to identify COVID ambassadors, people within their sphere who have lots of -- a big social media president, that they can say the same message, but maybe coming from someone, they can understand that this holiday, which we're trying to give thanks, and usually at the top of everyone's list of what they consider the thing they're most grateful for is their family.

And how would you want to treat your family by putting them at risk for not being here for a future holiday, that we -- Thanksgiving is not canceled. I want to be clear, Thanksgiving is not canceled, but the way we are going to celebrate it is going to be different, so that there will be future Thanksgivings that will look closer to what we're used to from the past.

REID: Yes, absolutely.

I mean, people are out there saying that the Democrats are trying to cancel Christmas. Christmas happens whether or not you sit around with non-family members who aren't in your house right now and open presents. Like, I don't think people understand what Christmas is or understand what the whole Christ business is.

But, anyhoo, we will move on from that.

Let me play Dr. Fauci, who is, according to the polls, a very trusted voice. People ain't listening to him either. But here's Dr. Fauci.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: One of the great things and beauties of our country is this federalist approach, where the states can do things individually, and they have their own leeway to do things and make a decision.

There's good things about that, because the states differ in so many ways, that you want them to have that independence of being able to do what they feel is best for the state.

But when you're dealing with something that's an extraordinary outbreak of an infectious disease that doesn't know state boundaries, that doesn't know county boundaries or city boundaries, then you have got to pull together as a whole and do things consistently.


REID: I want to give each of you a chance, first Dr. Gupta and then Dr. Ezike.

The Associated Press is reporting that Pfizer is looking for emergency authorization for its vaccine. This is going to have to get rolled out.

I wonder if the communication on a vaccine is going to be even more difficult than the communication on the virus itself? Are you concerned that it will ultimately be ineffective because people are taking this very American attitude of, I don't have to do what anybody tells me?

Dr. Gupta first.

GUPTA: Well, Joy, I think there's going to be a lot of need for effective communication on this specific issue.

One in two Americans, per some polling, are concerned about the process underlying the development of this vaccine. So, Dr. Ezike, myself and others in public health are going to have to really double down on communication, find community ambassadors, as Dr. Ezike mentioned.

It's going to be really vital. But what I can say clearly and what Dr. Fauci has said multiple times in the last few days is that the science undergirding the Pfizer vaccine, Moderna and others is strong. There's independent oversight. There are experts who have weighed in, who gain nothing from saying that, yes, this is a safe vaccine, no political or financial gain.

So, we can -- I think we can feel certain that, once this vaccine gets rolled out to priority groups initially, and then hopefully to the American people by end of Q1 2021, that people are going to start taking it.

But we need to lead by example.

REID: Dr. Ezike, I -- most of the black people I know are giving it a hard-stop no. It had anything to do with Trump, if Trump -- it came -- these vaccines were created during the Trump administration.

All -- with Trump, all that they see is racism. There's a long history of black bodies being abused by the sort of medical science system in this country. You go back to the Tuskegee experiments, et cetera.

There are a lot of black people who are just going to say, I don't trust this. If it came -- if it was created during the Trump era, then it's no.So, that's going to be an additional public health challenge.

And I'm sure there are a lot of other communities as well. I mean, I'm sure -- I'm not sure the indigenous community is feeling super trustful right now, the brown folks are feeling super trustful -- trusting right now.

What do we do?


No, we have some significant hurdles to climb. Some of the groups that are most impacted, our black and brown communities, are the ones that might be wanting to take a hard pause on that. And so we really just have to increase our ground game with this and make sure that people understand everything, all the processes that go into the vaccine and the authorization and the recommendations.

They need to know that experts within our own state, that we have a panel that will be looking at all the information that's presented, and that we will be able to verify or support things that come out.

But we really need to have everyone know the facts, know what the risks are, what the potential benefits are, and hopefully make the right decision.

REID: Yes, it's going to be tough.

Dr. Vin Gupta, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, you guys are great. Thank you very much. Stay safe.

And still ahead: If you think Joe Biden has it bad now and has it rough now, wait until he's inaugurated. Republican leaders are already signaling they have no interest in bipartisanship and intend to obstruct Biden's agenda, just like they did to President Barack Obama.

Stay with us.


REID: Inauguration Day is exactly two months from today.

And our toddler in chief is continuing his obstruction of a peaceful transfer of power to the next president, Joe Biden.

In her first appearance in the White House Briefing Room in nearly two months, Kayleigh McEnany excused Trump's behavior, claiming he was never given an orderly transition of power.

Well, that isn't true, of course. Just ask Donald Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power.

And we are grateful to President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.


REID: Well, this, of course, isn't stopping Biden from moving forward. Today, he met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

But the head of the GSA, Emily Murphy, still refuses to recognize Biden's win, leading House Democrats to demand a briefing from her on Monday.

And joining me now is Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.

And, Senator, I know this is a House request, but, at some point, you have had Senator Lankford and others of your colleagues say, well, if no action is taken to give president-elect Biden access, I'm going to, I'm going to, I'm going to, and then Friday went by, and he did nothing.

Is there anything that senators can even do to force this woman's hand?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, Republican senators can begin publicly recognizing reality and saying that they know Joe Biden is the president-elect.

They can press President Trump to accept reality and begin this transition. And, frankly, all of us can and should be speaking up about how the GSA administrator 10 days ago should have made her determination and begun the transition process.

REID: And yet they're not.

And, meanwhile, what they're doing instead, what we're -- what the sort of team is doing, you have Steve Mnuchin cutting off this vital money and saying, no, rescind these hundreds of billions of funds that are supposed to save small businesses, rather than spend that money to try to save these businesses.

Paul Krugman has called it an attempt to deliberately create a financial crisis or make one more likely, so that they can essentially sabotage the Biden agenda and say, oops, sorry, no more money. We're not passing anything, let the recession happen, so we can win more Senate seats and more House seats.

I mean, this is as cynical as it gets.

Do you just -- at this point, are you convinced that there's anyone on the Republican side that cares about the country, to be blunt, more than they do about their own power?

COONS: Joy, this has been a disheartening period, because it is so clear, especially today, after Georgia certified the outcome of the election, that there is no pathway for any efforts by President Trump to overturn the results of the election.

He's abandoned his legal actions. He has no way to change the certification of the vote in Georgia. And, frankly, every day that we wait, that we wonder, that we grind our teeth at Republicans who are refusing to stand up is a day that puts our security at risk, is a day that puts our public health at risk.

And, as you say, it's a day that makes us more and more convinced that the Republicans in the Senate and President Trump himself are not acting in the best interest of the country. It's long past time for us to be in the middle of a functional transition.

This is hurting our reputation as a democracy overseas. And it is putting behind the eight ball the transition team that is serving president-elect Biden and vice president-elect Harris, because they're not getting vital security briefings and critically needed information about plans for distributing the vaccine.

REID: It feels, though, like it's deliberate sabotage, though, Senator.

I mean, here's just a list of the things they're doing. Trump is blocking agencies from even talking to Biden's transition team, denying information on the vaccine distribution plan, which is critical, denying classified intelligence briefings, as you just mentioned, withholding federal funds.

You had in the House -- on the House side the guy who was unanimously elected on Thursday to become the next chair of the Republican Study Committee, which is a really pretty important conservative group. He said, I'm not -- we're not looking for bipartisan cooperation.

This is Mr. Jim Banks, dismissing Biden as a lame-duck from day one, as if Trump is not a lame-duck, saying he expects Trump will lead Republicans in or out of the White House, and the House Republican Conference is really the party of Trump.

So, what they're basically saying is, it's going to beat Trumpism forever, and that -- so, to you, do you think they are deliberately trying to sabotage the economy and sabotage national security to create crises to try and destroy the Biden presidency?

COONS: Look, Joy, that's a pretty hard thing to accept.

But Steve Mnuchin's actions, the secretary of the Treasury, of saying, no, we don't need the Main Street Lending Program, we don't need the municipal lending program, even in the face of the Fed chairman, Jay Powell, saying, absolutely, our economy badly needs another round of stimulus, leads to no other conclusion.

Today, Joe Biden, president-elect, whose birthday is today, spent the day working hard, meeting with experts and meeting with Speaker Pelosi and with Minority Leader Schumer to talk about how to take over from this Trump non-transition, this temper tantrum transition denied, and how to get us back on track to deal with the pandemic and to recover our economy.

I see one president-elect who's behaving in a responsible way and planning for leading our country, and I see an outgoing president who's simply refusing to take responsibility and lead, even as we had 185,000 new COVID cases today.

REID: Yes, it's sad.

Well, Senator Chris Coons, and thank you for giving us the chance to say happy birthday to one president-elect Joe Biden.

And Chris Coons, who sits in the Senate, in the Senate seat vacated by one Joseph Robinette Biden in Delaware, thank you very much, sir. Have a great weekend.

And still ahead: Some of his super fans say that they would die for Donald Trump.

Trump's niece Mary Trump and cult expert Steven Hassan join us and help us to understand this bizarre cult.

That's next on THE REIDOUT.


REID: If you ever wonder where Donald Trump's delusional optimism about, well, almost anything comes from, just listen to Trump at the Iowa Family Leadership Conference in 2015, just after he said John McCain wasn't a war hero, mind you.


D. TRUMP: Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Frank, would give us survey -- would give a sermon.

I'm telling you, I still remember his sermons. It was unbelievable. And what he would do is, he'd bring real-life situations, modern-day situations into the sermon.

And you could listen to him all day long.

When you left the church, you were disappointed that it was over. He was the greatest guy.


REID: Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, a minister and 1950s self-help guru who famously wrote "The Power of Positive Thinking" in 1952, in which he said -- which he said -- quote -- "was written with the sole objective of helping the reader achieve a happy, satisfying and worthwhile life."

He adds: "Obstacles are simply not permitted to destroy your happiness and well-being."

That philosophy, of course, was completely in line with that of Donald Trump's father, Fred Trump, who like many other self-made rich men, was so enamored of Peale's prosperity gospel that he and his family joined Peale's church.

Peale preached a message of relentless optimism and a hypnotic obsession with confidence, mantras like believe in yourself in everything you do and change your thoughts, change your world.

He even officiated Donald Trump's 1977 wedding to first wife, Ivana, and both appeared with Peale at his 90th birthday party in 1988.

In a 1982 interview with "The Today Show," Peale explained the positive mind-set he preached.


NORMAN VINCENT PEALE, MINISTER: We are better than we think we are. We're better than we tell ourselves that we are. I think it tries to say that there is, as Thomas Carlyle once said, a hero in everybody.


REID: Donald Trump wasn't the only conservative politician drawn to him. He was also a longtime friend of another ignominious president, Richard Nixon. And Ronald Reagan gave him the Medal of Freedom back in 1984.

But he did have critics. NPR noted that a Methodist bishop of the 1950s called Peale's following a cult, saying it worshiped success, rather than Christ.

So, of course, Donald Trump credited him with helping him through the financial ruin, his financial ruin in the 1990s. In 2009, he told "Psychology Today" reading Peale's book helped him -- helped him, added, "I refuse to be sucked into negative thinking on any level," which goes a long way towards explaining this particular moment of Trump derangement, refusing to concede the election to Joe Biden.

Don't believe me? Well, according to the introduction of Peale's famous book, "You need be defeated only if you are willing to be."

Well, now Trump is using his positive thinking to dupe his supporters.

And we will talk about that with his niece Mary Trump and cult expert Steven Hassan after the break.


REID: Since losing the presidential election to Joe Biden, Donald Trump has leaned hard into the power of positive thinking, which he learned from the self-help guru Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, who claimed, "You need be defeated only if you are willing to be."

Since November 3, Trump has repeatedly peddled the unreality that he won the election. And that kind of magical thinking, along with his bogus fraud claims, has hypnotized some of his supporters into going along with the charade, big time.

A Texas chiropractor told Reuters, "No way in hell," his words, that Trump lost. He added that he would go to war for Trump. "If President Trump comes out and says, guys, I have irrefutable proof of fraud, the courts won't listen, and I'm now calling on Americans to take up arms, we would go."

Well, if that's terrifying enough, he also insisted he wasn't being manipulated by Trump at all.

Meanwhile, another Trump voter broke down, declaring his fealty to Trump in a teary call to Rush Limbaugh.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one stands for us, Rush, only you and Donald Trump.

God forbid, what do we have left? I love my president. I'm not -- I am not a revolutionary, Rush, but I will die for my president.


REID: Whew.

Joining me now is Mary Trump, niece of Donald Trump and author of "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man," and Steven Hassan, cult and authoritarian control expert, and the author of the book "The Cult of Trump."

Thank you both for being here.'

And, Mary, I have to go to you first, because you -- you wrote a lot about your family and sort of the things they believe. And they -- just from reading it, they didn't -- your family didn't strike me as religious. But to the extent there was a religion, Norman Vincent Peale was it.

Can you just walk us through that? And in your mind, has Trump kind of become Norman Vincent Peale to his supporters?

MARY TRUMP, AUTHOR, "TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH: HOW MY FAMILY CREATED THE WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS MAN": Well, Donald didn't learn the power of positive thinking directly from Peale, who, in my mind, was a charlatan.

He learned it through my grandfather's interpretation. And he took it to such a degree that there was this atmosphere of toxic positivity in my grandparents' house, so that any -- being sick, any kind of weakness, losing, was considered absolutely unforgivable.

So, we see how Donald dealt with his COVID-19. We see how he's dealing with this loss that he cannot find his way out of. So, I don't think he's Norman Vincent Peale, although he does represent that to these people who are taking such extreme allegiance to him, it's rather disturbing.

REID: And that allegiance is the thing, I think, that it sort of blows people's minds, Steven Hassan.

And welcome to the show.


REID: It is almost as if he is a cult leader, and one who you heard people say they will die for him. They're willing to risk COVID for him. They express their -- they don't care.

They will -- they almost seem to want to get COVID for him. Can you just walk us through how that develops, from a political allegiance to a kind of cult?

HASSAN: Well, I guess we have to start with a malignant narcissist, the personality type of a destructive cult leader.

And, in my book, I describe the stereotypical profile of Trump with Jim Jones and with Moon, the leader of that the cult that I was in back 45 years ago.

And people don't knowingly join a cult, but they get deceived. And the pathological lying that Trump does and the conspiracy of the media and the right-wing authoritarian cults that are part of the cult of Trump is what's driving the mess that we're in right now.

And I just hope that Americans can step back and get past the, I can't believe he's doing this phase, into, yes, he's very predictable. Michael Cohen has predicted it. Mary Trump has predicted it.

REID: Yes.

HASSAN: Bandy Lee has predicted it.

So, the point is, is, we need to do everything within our power to reach out to people who've been under the spell of Donald Trump, explain hypnosis, explain the authoritarian control mechanisms that are being used through our smartphones and through the platforms where people are being constantly indoctrinated with fear that somehow Biden and everyone else is Satanic, and we're part of this conspiracy with QAnon and everything.

But the good news, I woke up from my cult, and people will wake up, but we need to do a lot of work and get past just saying it's a cult.

REID: Yes.

HASSAN: We need to understand what's underneath.

REID: And I think that's a very good point, is that you have to sort of un-indoctrinate people. And it's difficult with all these stimuli that are coming at them at all times.

But, Mary, I want to play for you a bite. This is actually Trump. And this was actually in 2015. And this was actually after praising Dr. Peale, believe it or not, and him talking about -- this was after also saying John McCain wasn't a hero. Here's what he said next, your uncle.


FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: Have you ever asked God for forgiveness?


D. TRUMP: I'm not sure I have. I just go and try and do a better job from there. I don't think so.

I think I -- if I do something wrong, I think I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't.


REID: And I think about that, because we have more than a quarter-million people dead. And that doesn't seem to faze Donald Trump at all.

I can't imagine him -- you got the sense that George W. Bush felt pain at the mistaken war that he had led Americans into, whether or not he still agreed with the war, but the dead seemed to bother him.

This level of death doesn't seem to bother Donald Trump at all.

M. TRUMP: It doesn't.

The only thing that surprised me with that clip is that he was willing to go even a little bit towards having made a mistake at some point in his life. But, of course, he comes back and he fixes everything. And that's why we are where we are with COVID, because changing anything would mean, course-correcting would mean admitting he had done something wrong.

He would much rather have 2,000 Americans dying every day than admit he was wrong. That's only going to get worse as this loss becomes more and more inevitable.

So, we need to buckle up.

REID: And, Steven, does -- how come that doesn't shake people?

That's what has surprised me, I have to be honest with you, that after a quarter-million people die, or when we got really close to a quarter-of-a-million people dead, 72 million people said, yes, let's get four more years of that, that the death didn't shake them.

It shakes me, and all I do is report on it. And I don't -- I don't understand why the death doesn't -- look at what 9/11 did. It changed our whole lives. These dead -- all of this death doesn't seem to shake his supporters at all.

HASSAN: Right, because they're tuned in to completely different information flows, and not alternative facts, lies.

And what's happening is, they have this black-and-white, all-or-nothing, good-vs.-evil frame, where we're in doomsday, and Joe Biden and all the Democrats are Satanic, and they need to do this.

But any religious Christian will speak out against prosperity gospels, will speak out against the type of cult groups that are in Trump's base.

REID: Yes.

HASSAN: And they need to amplify that message and say, you know what, judgment day is coming, and you will be held accountable.

REID: Yes. Yes.

HASSAN: And the Bible even says that even the elect will be deceived, a little bit of a message for my religious friends.

REID: Yes, amen. It does, indeed.

Thank you both so much, Dr. -- thank you, Mary Trump. I'm giving you a doctorate here. Steven Hassan, you guys are great. Steven Hassan, thank you very much. You guys are great. Thank you.

That is tonight's REIDOUT.



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.