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Transcript: The ReidOut, September 1, 2020

Guests: Mandela Barnes, Letetra Widman, Benjamin Crump, Alicia Garza, Ash- Lee Woodard Henderson, Craig Spencer, Ari Berman


President Trump visits Kenosha, Wisconsin, amid policing protests. Community rallies continue as Trump visits Kenosha. Trump pushes back on charges of systemic racism in policing. President Trump defends Kenosha vigilante charged with murder. Trump falsely takes credit for deploying National Guard. Trump visits Kenosha despite governor's plea to stay away. Wisconsin's GOP-led legislature refuses to consider policing reforms. "Politico" reports that the Department of Health and Human Services is bidding out a more than $250 million contract to a communications firm as it seeks to, quote, defeat despair and inspire home about the coronavirus pandemic. Half of Democrats will vote by mail and 54 percent of Republicans will vote in person, but not every state starts counting those mail-in ballots until Election Day and some are warning of a potential red mirage on election night.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We love when you do it because then you won't any episode of THE BEAT right on your DVR.

That does it for us. We'll be back here at 6:00 P.M. Eastern. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid starts now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Donald Trump took his message of division and alternate reality to Kenosha, Wisconsin, today, despite repeatedly being asked not to come. And he made it very clear exactly whose side he's on when it comes to issues of police violence in America.

Before departing for Wisconsin, Trump, who has trashed federal law enforcement for doing their jobs and is an unindicted co-conspirator of his jailed former lawyer -- formerly jailed former lawyer, told reporters that the trip was for law enforcement.

And virtually the same time he arrived in Kenosha at the corner where 29-year-old Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha police officer, Blake's family, activist, held a community gathering and celebration, calling for justice for Jacob and to promote healing in the community.

But that's not the reality of Kenosha that Donald Trump wants you to see or to hear. Instead, Trump's first stop accompanied by his chief henchman, Attorney General William Barr, was to business damaged in the protests that followed Blake's shooting. Then he met with local police officials.

Trump did not meet with Blake's family during the visit. He didn't even actually say his name either. Instead, he did what New Yorkers would call a Full Giuliani, repeatedly praising and pledging his support for police and banging on about riots and unrest, accusing local elected officials of encouraging violent protests.

A reminder, the vast majority of protests in Kenosha have been peaceful, and the violence has come from an outside Trump supporter who allegedly shot two people -- three people, actually, killing two of them. But go off, Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Reckless far-left politicians continue to push the destructive message that our nation and our law enforcement are oppressive or racist. They will throw out any word that comes to them. Actually, we must give far greater support to our law enforcement.


REID: Trump's visit to Kenosha comes less than 24 hours after he not only refused to condemn but actually defended Kyle Rittenhouse, the armed teenage vigilante for whom Trump has been kind of sounding like outside counsel more than like a president.

In an interview with Fox last night, and if you don't -- you can't make this stuff up, Trump actually compared police officers who shoot people to golfers missing putts.


TRUMP: Shooting the guy in the back many times, I mean, couldn't you have done something different? Couldn't you have wrestled him? I mean, in the meantime, he might have been going for a weapon. And there's a whole big thing there. But they choke. Just like in a golf tournament, they miss a three-foot putt.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You're not comparing it to golf, because, of course, that's not what the media --

TRUMP: No. I'm saying people choke.


REID: Not even a friendly host could help him with that one. And at his event in Wisconsin today, Trump, once again, attributed police violence to a few bad apples.


TRUMP: I think the police do an incredible job. And I think you do have some bad apples. I think you'd agree every once in a while you see something. And you do have the other situation too where they're under this tremendous pressure and they don't handle it well. They call it choking, and it happens.


REID: Trump went on to claim credit for deploying the National Guard to Kenosha, which he did not, in fact, do. That was actually Governor Tony Evers who authorized the use of the Guard to support local law enforcement last week, because it's actually governors who activate the National Guard.

But, of course, Trump wouldn't acknowledge that and neither he nor anyone else in his office reached out to the governor's office regarding his visit today.

And joining me now is Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes. And Lieutenant Governor Barnes, Donald Trump did not reach out to your office. Did he respond to the governor's request that he not come even to say, I don't care, I'm coming anyway?

LT. GOV. MANDELA BARNES (D-WI): Well, he certainly didn't reach out to my office. And to my knowledge, he didn't respond to the governor's request that he didn't show up. But the word no has never stopped Donald Trump before, as we see this time played out in his visit to Kenosha, which, you know, served to create even more tension in a community that is on the road to healing.

REID: And let's talk about the event that Jacob Blake's family held today. How did that event go, and what was the message that you think came out of it?

BARNES: The message was unity. And, like I said, we've been on this track for a while this past weekend Saturday, that Jacob Blake's family held a rally and a march downtown. It was so much solidarity because there are people from all walks of life, people of different races, different ages, different generations all coming together to support justice for Jacob Blake.

The following day, you saw a big cleanup project that was led by a bunch creatives in the Kenosha area to come out to support the community, to support struggling businesses. But today, look at these pictures, you see children, food, family, fun, all the things that we want to see in society here in the good times.

And that was what I put into my speech. I said let's come together not in the face of tragedy. Let's come together during the good times. Let's celebrate the community that already exists and let's strengthen it. Given how awful the situation was last week, I think right now, this is the moment that will actually define Kenosha, how people are coming together, learning how to live together and understand and appreciate each other.

REID: Yes. And I think it's great that we got a chance to show those pictures because Donald Trump is sort of painting a picture of Kenosha that is this sort of violent hellscape. But what I saw, there were kids getting haircuts and people doing positive things.

There is an NBC report that the Republican leaders in your state legislature, they did a 30-second meeting on Monday. Republicans left the session open rather than adjourn it, which allows them to take action at a later date, giving no insurances they would actually do anything about it. Is police reform going to actually happen? Because there is this proposal -- I'm assuming there are great proposals to make change, but looks like Republicans aren't -- they're not interested.

BARNES: Is police reform going to happen? Is anything going to happen? They continue to ignore the needs of the people of the state of Wisconsin. It could be the dairy crisis. It could be the climate crisis. It could be unemployment. It could be the health care crisis.

All these issues, Republicans leaders in the legislature continue to ignore. They have not done their job. They have not met in four months. They have completely ignored our state in great times of crisis. Like I said, there is no crisis too large for the Republican majority in the Wisconsin State legislature to ignore.

People have stepped up and demanded that they act. The Milwaukee Bucks called them out. They called them the task (ph) to say, it is time for you to do your job. They have still refused to do so. And they will just sit on the couch because I assume they're at home right now because they aren't doing anything else but to point fingers and say the Evers administration is or is not doing this when they had a chance to come to the table, and they did not.

And it's also important to note that the legislation that they were supposed to take up in that special session, the governor proposed two months ago. So they had a time to comb through, to find the things that they like, to find the things they didn't like and come to the table and discuss. They chose not to do that.

And that is what happens when you have this extreme gerrymandering that we have in the state of Wisconsin right now. It allows them to have even less accountability than we were seeking to have for our police officers. There is no transparency. They don't have to face a true electorate. They only have to worry about a primary channel.


REID: All right. I want to apologize for the gremlins. That was a weird sort of eventuality but it happened, and we are now back. I want to thank Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes. We did lose his shot and sort of the whole shot. So, thank you -- oh, there he is. Lieutenant Governor Barnes, thank you very much. I really appreciate you being there and sitting through the ghost story that just happened. All right, thank you very much.

Meanwhile at today's community celebration at the site where Jacob Blake was shot, Blake's uncle said that nothing could justify what happened to Jacob. And here is what he said when he was asked about Donald Trump's visit to Kenosha.


JUSTIN BLAKE, JACOB BLAKE'S UNCLE: And I'm sucking up all the pain we have just to stand on our square until we get justice for Little Jake, which means we get indictment and a conviction of the man who shot him seven times in the back.

REPORTER: What would you have wanted to tell the president today?

BLAKE: We don't have any words for the orange man. All I ask is that he keep his disrespectful, foul language far away from our family.


REID: Joining me now are Letetra Widman, Jacob Blake's sister, and Ben Crump, attorney for the Blake family. Thank you both for being here.

And, Letetra, I want to go to you first. First of all, I want to say that your comments after what happened to your brother, I think, were so profound, I think, for a lot of people. You could have taught a class in two and a half minutes. So I just want to commend you just for the way you expressed the rage that I think a lot of people feel.

I wonder what you make of the fact that Donald Trump came to Kenosha today. Your Uncle Justin said it was not necessary for what he called the orange man to talk to your family. Do you agree or disagree? Do you think that Donald Trump should have tried to connect with you guys?

LETETRA WIDMAN, JACOB BLAKE'S SISTER: Well, number one, my main interest is seeking justice for my brother. So, I'm only interested in talking to people about that issue. I want to see really change and reform in the policies. And if that's not the subject matter, then, I mean, it really is none of my concern.

I mean, he is the president of this country. He can't do whatever he is going to handle, whatever business he is going to handle in Kenosha. And if it's not about my brother and getting justice and for all of the African-American people who have been subjected to this kind of thing, getting justice, then it really isn't any of my concern.

REID: Inside the Joe Biden sort of campaign, you know, booklet is they want to do something about police reform if he is elected president. Would you want to talk to Joe Biden if he came to Kenosha?

WIDMAN: I'm not trying to (INAUDIBLE) to vote for anybody. I only want to talk to people that are truly interested in reform. So if Joe Biden is interested in that, then we can have a conversation. That's not a problem. I want to do any and everything I possibly can to make sure that my brother didn't get shot seven times in his back and lose all of his lower functioning in vain. This has to stop.

REID: And let's talk with the people who are directly involved in law enforcement and in what would be or should be seeking justice for your brother, for your family. Sheriff David Beth, here he is today. He was at that law enforcement roundtable. There's been a lot of Black Lives Matter opposition to him. Here he is talking today with Donald Trump.


SHERIFF DAVID BETH, KENOSHA, WISCONSIN: Thank you for being the president that likes law enforcement. On behalf of law enforcement, I am telling, you the group that's here, I hope you can feel the love that they have for you and everybody who came.


REID: And just for the audience, just to know who this man is, this is somebody who in 2018 said some people aren't worth saving and that after five people were arrested for shoplifting, he said that they should be locked up in warehouses, build a warehouse and lock them away for the rest of their lives. That's who this guy is. Do you trust law enforcement in Kenosha as led by Sheriff Beth to seek justice for your family?

WIDMAN: Well, I can't put trust into law enforcement as a whole being an African-American woman who has been brutalized by police myself. And, really, (INAUDIBLE) to a situation and that they should be de-escalating or that they, instead, turn to violence. And I've seen that happen where in plenty of situations where they need to all of my life.

So there is a disconnect of trust within African-American people and the police because of how we are treated on a daily basis. I am not a criminal and I get racially profiled all the time. I'm actually anything but a criminal. I'm young, I'm educated, I am a business owner. And I still experience that maybe not on the level that my brother now has, but this is something that's been a problem in our country for a long time.

And Trump nor Biden is the solution or the problem. This is a problem that has been ongoing for so many years. And we all know that. But we want to try to keep pointing the finger at these couple of people when it's going to take our country as a whole to put a stop to this.

REID: Very well said. Ben, to that very point, you and I have been doing this since 2006, I think, when the victim was 14 years old in Florida. And so I think Letrita is absolutely right. There is a long-term problem. But let's talk about the short-term problem for just a moment, which is that Donald Trump is the president. He is sort of setting the tone. And law enforcement is very, very supportive of him because he is very, very supportive of them no matter what happens. Here he is talking about whether or not he had a message for Jacob Blake's family today.


TRUMP: I feel terribly for anybody that goes through that. As you know, it's under investigation. It's a big thing happening right now. I guess it's under local investigation.

I hope they come up with the right answer. It's a complicated subject, to be honest with you.


REID: I mean, he's sort of claiming he doesn't have any power now. But he also tried to claim that he sent the National Guard to Kenosha when he didn't. It's hard to tell whether or not he thinks he's powerful enough to do anything about this. But do you think that a federal intervention can actually start to change the way that police behave? Or do you think that it's got to be at a local level, just given all your experience, Ben?

WIDMAN: There absolutely needs to be some -- that's my idea. But it does have to start locally. But if the local police cannot handle the situation and are not dealing with the situation appropriately, then, yes, then, obviously, someone else needs to step in.

REID: Yes. And, Ben, your thoughts on that as well?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, BLAKE FAMILY ATTORNEY: Yes. Historically, Joy, it has always been the federal government to come in even during the civil rights things with Martin Luther King and John Lewis where the locals would not give equal justice under the law to black people, then the federal government would do it.

But right now, the person who we have in office, it seems that there is nothing that the federal government will hold law enforcement accountable for. They support them even when you have something as outrageous (INAUDIBLE) police being shot seven times in the back.

And so we need the systematic reform that we talk about with the Justice and Policing Act, Joy, that you know so much about because you've sat at these issues. And until we get this reform, I agree with Letetra, until we get this reform, we're going to keep saying hashtag after hashtag after hashtag.

REID: Yes. Unfortunately, I think that is the case. Letetra Widman, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time tonight. Ben Crump, my friend, always great to talk with you, even under these circumstances.

Okay, and up next on THE REIDOUT, divide and conquer, Trump's us-versus-them strategy, defending violent right wing militia-types while threatening to prosecute Black Lives Matter.

Plus --

TRUMP: Well, Biden, I don't even like to mention Biden because he is not controlling anything.

INGRAHAM: Who do you think is pulling Biden's strings? Is it former Obama officials?

TRUMP: People that you've never heard of, people that are in the dark shadows.


REID: Trump's grim fairytales about Joe Biden, another online conspiracy theory presented as fact by the president.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: Trump continued his campaign to rip the country apart today.

And, like any good instigator, he was flanked by his chosen hand, Attorney General Bill Barr, who he's tasked with executing a retribution campaign against Black Lives Matter protesters.

They were greeted by Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, a man who lately seems to spend more time peddling Russian disinformation to try to make excuses for Trump than he does defending America.

Trump, who is squarely focused on promoting fear for his own self-interest, was asked a more consequential question about systematic racism today.


QUESTION: We're focusing on violent actions, but there have been countless nonviolent protests here in Wisconsin and across the country this summer, people calling for an end to systemic racism. Do you believe systemic racism is a problem in this country?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, you just keep getting back to the opposite subject.

We should talk about the kind of violence that we've seen in Portland, and here, and other places. It's tremendous violence.


REID: Given the opportunity to denounce violence, no matter where it comes from yesterday, Trump refused.


TRUMP: 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 then 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 -- I -- he probably would have been killed.


REID: But let's not forget that, with Trump, it's not a bug, but a feature of his personality.


TRUMP: And you look at both sides, I think there's blame on both sides. You also had people that were very fine people on both sides.


REID: For more, I'm joined by Alicia Garza, principal of the Black to the Future Action Fund, and Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, co-executive director of the Highlander Center.

Thank you both for being here.

And, Alicia, I'm going to start with you.

You have been at this for a long time under two different presidents. What difference does it make if a president is actively refusing to condemn the violence of documented right-wing domestic, potentially domestic terrorism, but constantly harping on Black Lives Matter, none of whom, none of you, none of the activists from Black Lives Matter have been arrested for anything violent?

What difference does it make within the movement? What difference does it make as the way the movement is viewed, in your view?

ALICIA GARZA, PRINCIPAL, BLACK TO THE FUTURE ACTION FUND: Well, let me first say that one of the things that is so incredibly important for people to understand and just to underscore is that this president has refused time and time again to decry white supremacist and white nationalist violence.

He has refused to decry racial terrorism. And so, as a result, what is happening is that he is also actually advancing conspiracy theories of the sort that we have seen on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and some of these accounts that have been rooted out through QAnon.

This president is actually saying, these are very fine people, and that the real problem here are Black Lives Matter protesters who are fighting to ensure that black people have the same rights and dignity that everybody deserves.

And so this is a playbook. It's a technically -- it's a clear piece of Trump's playbook, where he essentially uses violence, white nationalism, white supremacy, sexism, and any other tool he can use to distract from the fact that he is a terrible president, to distract from the fact that more than 150,000 people have died as a result of a pandemic that he called a liberal hoax.

We have some reckoning to do for putting this man into office. And, in November, we have an opportunity to take him Out.

REID: Michael Schmidt has a new book out, in which one of the things that we learn is that Donald Trump was so determined to have Hillary Clinton prosecuted, just because, I guess, he just can't stand her and decided he wanted to shame her by using prosecution.

And then when he was told, well, he really can't do that, he was like, well, can I use my own powers? Well, is there some power in the presidency, because his then attorney general wouldn't do it?

We're now learning that he might be at that again, but this time focused on Black Lives Matter. Here's Chad Wolf, who is the Department of Homeland Security secretary. And here he was on FOX News with Tucker Carlson this week.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Why haven't we seen the leaders of Antifa and BLM arrested and charged for conspiracy under, say, RICO, like the heads of the mafia families were?

CHAD WOLF, ACTING U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, this is something I have talked to the A.G. personally about, and I know that they are working on it.

But, again, this administration, this president is committed to holding individuals accountable.


REID: "It's something that I have talked to Attorney General Barr personally about, and I know that they are working on it."

Ash-Lee, is this something that now Black Lives Matter leaders have to be worried about, that, regardless of the fact that they'd have no reason to do it, that William Barr might try to go after Black Lives Matter leaders, to persecute them, to prosecute them, to -- are you worried about it?

ASH-LEE WOODARD HENDERSON, CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HIGHLANDER RESEARCH AND EDUCATION CENTER: I think this is not the first time that we have seen the state use all of their power to stop public dissent.

And this is definitely not new to the black liberation movement in particular. It frustrates me and concerns me that, as a person who has survived a white supremacist terrorist attack at the Highlander Center, that we are seeing more concern about folks that are exercising their First Amendment right to say that black people being murdered in the streets by police officers with impunity is OK -- is not OK, but what is OK is white supremacist organizations, white nationalist organizations, white paramilitary forces showing up to peaceful protests and murdering people.

I think that it is absolutely a concern of the Movement for Black Lives and our folks and sister organizations like Black Lives Matter, which is a member of the Movement for Black Lives. And I think that it's something we're taking seriously.

However, if the attempt to say these things in the press is to scare us away from actually doing what is right, standing and pushing the moral arc of the universe towards justice, and doing everything in our power to build healthy, sustainable and equitable communities for all people, they are misinformed; 350 million people all across this country have said that enough is enough.

And we believe that is making what was impossible yesterday possible today.

REID: But, wait, there's more, right? There's always more.

I want to really quickly turn for a moment just to the new developments, Alicia, in the Breonna Taylor case. We did learn yesterday that, according to court records, Ms. Taylor's ex-boyfriend -- his name IS Jamarcus Glover -- was actually offered a reduced sentence if he would agree to implicate Breonna in his own alleged drug trafficking.

Now, he insisted that Breonna Taylor had nothing to do with it, was completely innocent. He rejected the plea deal. That is all happening. We will put that to the side. And then next thing is, the current boyfriend, he is suing the police department. His name is Kenneth Walker.

He's suing the city and the Louisiana Police Department, claiming he sustained lifelong trauma and still feels harm from the department.

And, Alicia, he probably should fear harm, right? I mean, if you have law enforcement officials trying to force Breonna Taylor's ex-boyfriend to implicate her after she's been killed in a crime, so that basically the officers would seem justified in busting down her door and shooting her, it sounds like her current -- her boyfriend at the time she died really should be worried.

What do you make of those developments, Alicia?

GARZA: Well, frankly, it breaks my heart.

And one of the things that we see in this case, of course, is that the casualty here was a black woman who was just beginning a new life. She was somebody who cared for her younger sister and for an infant godchild. She was somebody who was an EMT and somebody who was an essential worker during this pandemic season.

Breonna Taylor was someone who deserved to be alive right now. And, as my family Ash-Lee just said, these are not new tactics that we have seen from law enforcement. But, unfortunately, what we are seeing is a lack of leadership from the leaders in this country who have, frankly, a responsibility to set the tone for what accountability needs to look like in this country, as well as what it needs to look like to make sure that there are no more Breonna Taylors, that there are no more Jacob Blakes, that there are no more Tony McDades.

And the list goes on and on. Our country is hurting right now. And we need leadership that can sew this country back together. And, right now, the person who is in office is doing everything he can to not only fear -- stir up fear and division and divisiveness between people who share a common vision for black lives mattering, including Breonna Taylor's life, but he is also sending a signal that there actually are some people who are above law and order.

This president has said that he is all about law and order, but what he actually means is he's for law and order for some and not for others. He's done everything he can to essentially turn Black Lives Matter into Hillary's e-mails.

And now we're in a moment where our country could be led towards healing, and he's continuing to try to lead us backwards and dismantle every single victory that so many of us from the 1960s on have marched for and fought for.

And so, again, I just have to say that my heart breaks for Breonna Taylor, but this is not a new tactic from law enforcement.

REID: Yes, unfortunately.

It is shocking. I thought -- I keep thinking I have lost the ability to be shocked, but this is pretty shocking.

Alicia Garza, thank you so much. Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, thank you both very much.

And coming up: You just keep going. I can't believe I have to say this, but, no, no, no, Mr. President, Joe Biden is not being controlled by the people in the dark shadows.

We will be back after this.


REID: Donald Trump, the person who literally entered politics by manufacturing a birther saga, has a documented history of making up facts out of thin air.


QUESTION: On Lebanon, you called this an attack. Are you confident that this was an attack and not an accident?

TRUMP: Well, it would seem like it, based on the explosion. I have met with some of our great generals. And they just seem to feel that it was.

We have done 55, it'll be close to 60 million tests. And there are those that say, you can test too much. You do know that.

JONATHAN SWAN, AXIOS: Who says that?

TRUMP: Oh, just read the manuals. Read the books.

SWAN: Manuals? What manuals?

TRUMP: Read the books. Read the books.

SWAN: What books?

CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": This video that you linked to appears to be a hoax.

TRUMP: Supposedly, there was chatter about ISIS. Now, I don't know. What do I know about it? All I know is what's on the Internet.


ALICIA MENENDEZ, MSNBC HOST: Hey. It's Alicia Menendez.

We lost Joy's shot. We're going to bring it back in just a moment.

Stick with us.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you feel more comfortable, you might want to take the masks off, otherwise you can leave them on. Look how fast you took that off.


REID: Wow. There have been more than 6 million coronavirus cases in the United States, and more than 185,000 deaths. I still cannot get used to saying that.

The Trump administration continues to pretend that everything is fine, nothing to see here.

"Politico" reports that the Department of Health and Human Services is bidding out a more than $250 million contract to a communications firm as it seeks to, quote, defeat despair and inspire home about the coronavirus pandemic.

Joining me now is Dr. Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Hopefully the gremlins won't get us and we can get through a conversation with you. We've been having little technical gremlins tonight.

Do you think that the problem in the coronavirus pandemic is that there's not enough good feeling? Do we just need an emotional boost, a PR boost, or do we need something else?

DR. CRAIG SPENCER, NEW YORK PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL HEALTH: I think we need -- if you want to defeat despair and inspire hope, I think what we need to do is have a concerted effort to really tackling this pandemic and getting rid of the virus. The way that we do that is with strong public health principles. I think it's crazy that we're spending $250 million to do what the president and what our strong public health and medical institutions are really expected to be doing.

We should have the CDC out front. We should be able to trust what the FDA is doing. The fact that we're going to try to hire a Madison Avenue PR agency to put a spin on what has to date been a really disturbingly bad response to this pandemic is incredibly unsettling, unfortunately.

REID: What do you make of it, Dr. Spencer, that you had Donald Trump there saying, hey, take the masks on. Like, encouraging people, sort of daring them to take them off if they want to look like a strong person.

There's going to be a resumption of public tours in the White House which were halted six months ago because of the coronavirus outbreak. They're going to let people come back in. All guests over 2 years old will be required to wear a face covering. If you've ever done the White House tour, it's not like a massive stadium-sized building.

So I don't know how they're going to do that. What do you make of that? What kind of messaging do you think that sends?

SPENCER: This is just a continuation of the message that we're going to get back to normal, we're over the coronavirus. The problem is that we're still having a thousand people die every single day. We still have tens of thousands of cases every single day. We have more infections than nearly every other place in the face of the earth.

And now that we're seeing a lot of kids go back to school, big outbreaks on college campuses, I'm almost certain in the next few weeks, we're going to end up seeing more of this. We're going to see unfortunately more cases, more deaths. But I'm worried that we're going to see a continuation of the undermining of the strong public health authorities in the medical institutions that we need to trust to get us through this.

And as we get closer to November 3rd, I'm worried that those attacks are only going to increase on those trusted institutions.

REID: Yeah, I think you're absolutely right. I mean, there's a new Monmouth poll out tonight that shows that a majority of Americans believe that we are -- we can see that, not even believe it, they can see that we're doing worse than every other country, 52 percent can see that. Twenty-nine percent seem to think we're doing about the same. This is something else that's happening on the right.

There is this thing of, well, don't mask shake and sort of mocking people who are willing to wear a mask in public and refusing to do it for ideological reasons.

Here's "Fox & Friends" promoting that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was no one around him yesterday. Does it count going on the campaign trail if you go to an empty warehouse surrounded by circles?


(CROSSTALK)UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Read off the teleprompter for 23 minutes and take no questions. Does that technically meet the threshold of a campaign event?


REID: They're basically trying to make it sound like nothing is real unless there are actual people there that Joe Biden speaking in an empty room is not the same as a speech because Donald Trump was, you know, macho enough to fill it with a thousand potential COVID patients.

I just want to note for the audience, "The New York Times" magazine talks about sports events that happen without fans, basketball fans are happening without fans. "Late Night" is happening without fans. "SNL", which actually really quite good, and they're doing it without fans. "The View" doesn't have fans, talk shows.

So, it's not like -- Donald Trump is the only one who seems to need fans. Do -- are you concerned that you do have a big percentage of the public that watch things like Fox and that are taking that message to Walmart?

SPENCER: Absolutely. I'm concerned where people are getting their information. And quite frankly, I'm concerned that this administration and particularly the president has not set good precedent in terms of wearing a mask or even just respecting public health. In addition, spreading misinformation and disinformation from his personal Twitter account. The impact of this is huge.

People bring this misinformation and disinformation into the emergency department where I treat coronavirus patients. They bring it with them into conversations with their family and friends and online.

And the result is that unfortunately people are not as aware as the true impact of this virus in our communities, the continuing impact, the continuing infections that are happening every day, the deaths that are happening every day. And that's all coming from an administration who pretends like this virus doesn't exist, does it in the White House, does it on the campaign trail.

People see that, people think that this is what the public health response needs to be. The problem is that 325 million Americans are continuing to suffer.

REID: Yeah. I mean, they're even doing it from -- and this is the family from Herman Cain's -- the late Herman Cain's Twitter account. His Twitter account is tweeting, the virus isn't that deadly. Herman Cain is dead from coronavirus.

Anyway, that's just my comment. I won't put that on you.

Dr. Craig Spencer, thank you very much for your time. Look, we got through without ghosts. You're magical. Thank you very much.

And up next, strategists warn of a red mirage on election night. What's a red mirage? Stick around and you'll find out.


REID: All right. In the 2016 election, nearly a quarter of all voters cast their ballots by mail. According to the new NBC News/Survey Monkey poll, that number is expected to rise to one-third this November.

When you break it down by party, half of Democrats will vote by mail and 54 percent of Republicans will vote in person. But not every state starts counting those mail-in ballots until Election Day.

So, some are warning of a potential red mirage on election night.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are sounding the alarm and saying that this is a very real possibility. That the data is going to show on election night an incredible victory for Donald Trump. Every legitimate vote is tallied, and we get to that final day, which whether be Sunday after election day.

It will, in fact, show that what happened on election night was exactly that, a mirage. It looked like President Trump was in the lead. He fundamentally was not, when every ballot gets counted.


REID: Joining me now is Ari Berman, senior reporter for "Mother Jones", and I'm also going to bring in Alicia Melendez, my friend and a host of a great weekend show on MSNBC. We're going to have her here as backup in case my shot goes down again, because we're having some gremlins from the dark shadows who are messing with us tonight.

So, Ari, let's talk about this, because, you know, Donald Trump wanting to steal the election is whatever. But he can't do it by himself. But if he were to say I declare victory, let's say because, you know, in all of these swing states, he's ahead or ahead in most of them.

That wouldn't mean a lot unless Republicans went along with it on these states. We reached out, the show, to several swing state that have Republican state legislators to see if they would refrain from counting -- from declaring the election over and refuse to count ballots that were absentee that came in after election day or that they still hadn't counted on election day. That's Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona, Florida, Ohio, Georgia, and Iowa. As of 5:00 p.m., none of those states responded to our request.

Do you worry that Republican state legislators would try to declare their states for Trump, regardless of the actual outcome?

ARI BERMAN, MOTHER JONES, SENIOR REPORTER: Hey, Joy. I do worry about that. I think President Trump and Republicans are laying the ground work to try to delegitimize the results of the election. If President Trump prematurely declares victory on election day results and tries to stop mail votes cast by Democrats from being counted, and Republicans intervene on his behalf, that will be nothing less than an attempted coup in this country.

I don't think they'll succeed. Mail-in votes have been counted in many, many, many elections. There's no untoward about it. But we in the media and other trusted institutions need to say right now it's more important that votes be counted accurately than to do it quickly. And that the election is not over until all the votes are counted.

We have to say that over and over and over again, because to use a sports analogy, Election Day is like halftime. If you just count the in-person votes, you're missing the whole second-half that's going to occur, which is all the mail-in votes that are going to be counted, many states starting on election day and potentially in the weeks after.

ALICIA MELENDEZ, MSNBC ANCHOR: So, Ari, hey, it's Alicia Melendez. Part of that expectation setting comes from us in the media. If you are a Democrat, if you are watching the possibility of this red mirage, how do you prepare for that reality now?

BERMAN: I think one thing Democrats can do is make a commitment if they feel like it's safe to vote in person early, because those votes are going to be counted quicker in many states than mail-in ballots.

But I think people should feel comfortable voting by mail. And we need to say there's nothing wrong with votes being counted after the election. That's a completely normal thing. And many states in fact, ballots don't have to be postmarked until Election Day.

So they could arrive days after the election, and still be counted. The Trump administration is going to make it seem like that's some massive scandal, massive voter fraud. No, that's just the system working.

So if it takes a little bit longer, that's fine. We need to recalibrate our expectations. We might know who the president is on election night, we might not. It might take a week, it might take two weeks.

We in the media have to treat that as normal and not try to normalize the conspiracy theories that are going to come from Donald Trump and his allies.

MELENDEZ: When you say it could be a week, it could be two weeks, is that part of the challenge that we don't know exactly how long it could take?

BERMAN: That is part of the challenge. The closer the election is, the longer it could take to count the ballots. And it's funny, because in many ways, the GOP is trying to weaponize the uncertainty around counting ballots. For example, in Michigan, the secretary of state has called on the legislature to move up the deadline to count mail-in ballots before Election Day. And the Republican legislature in Michigan is refusing to do that, they are refusing to allow election officials to count those ballots bf election day, meaning Republicans want this level of uncertainty, they want mail ballots to be counted later so it could seem like Donald Trump is up on election day.

So we have to do everything we can in the media to push back on this and to say it's fine to take a little bit of time, to count the results. It's not a scandal. It's not fraud. It's just the system working.

We're in an unprecedented pandemic. It might take longer to count the votes in some states this year than in years past. That's just the new reality we're in right now.

MELENDEZ: So much of this comes down to the infrastructure necessary to process all of these ballots. Do you have a sense that things are in place, the way they need to be in place nine weeks out for this election to process the number of mail-in ballots that we're likely to see?

BERMAN: No, I think states need help. The Democrats passed the HEROES Act that gave $25 billion to the post office to help deal with mail ballots. Mitch McConnell and the Senate has been blocking that bill for 109 days. So, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are not giving the states the resources they need to try to run smooth elections. States are doing the best they can.

But if states don't get more money and resources from the federal government, they might have to cut back on mail ballots or they might have to cut back on in-person voting, so a lot of people are still going to vote in person. So, states are doing the best they can in a really difficult situation. But the federal government in particular Republicans in the Senate and Mitch McConnell need to step up and prioritize free and fair elections, because they're trying to sabotage the post office by defunding it and trying to sabotage states by not giving them the money they need to run smooth elections.

MELENDEZ: Ari, you know better than anyone, and this is something that voting advocates say again and again is that on one hand, you want to ring the bell as loudly as you can about the possibility of voter suppression. And on the other hand, you know that the more you talk about voter suppression, the greater likelihood there is of people watching and saying, I give up, I'm not sure my vote matters.

In a moment like this, a critical moment like this, how do you thread that needle?

BERMAN: What I want people to do is make a plan to vote right now. And realize that in 44 states, you can request a mail ballot for any reason. So it's very easy to vote by mail in much of the country. In 40 states, they have early voting.

So, it's very easy to vote early in most of the country. So, if you're proactive about this and make a plan, you can overcome these voter suppression efforts. But we have to start doing this kind of thing now. We can't wait to vote by mail or vote in person. That's when we get in trouble. But many states are set up right now to have smooth elections.

And I'm confident that we will have smooth elections. People make a plan and if states get the resources they need.

MELENDEZ: All right. Ari Berman, all of you at home, thank you so much for bearing with us. Exactly nine weeks from this very moment, polls will be closing with us and ballot counting will begin.

So, make sure your vote counts. Register now, vote early, drop off your absentee ballot at your precinct, if you can, and do not forget your masks.

That's tonight's REIDOUT.

I'm -- "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.


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