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Transcript: The ReidOut, September 10, 2020

Guests: Alex Wagner, Ashish Jha, Ron Klain, Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Pelosi, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff


Trump defends trying to mislead America about pandemic risks. Trump doubles down on didn't want panic defense. Trump says, I don't want to scare people about virus risks. President Trump has campaigned and governed on fear mongering. Trump says, I misled America about virus risks to maintain calmness. Interview with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I want you to know that Donald Trump's niece, Mary Trump, will join us live on THE BEAT tomorrow. I hope you'll tune in or DVR the program, Mary Trump tomorrow. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid starts now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Donald Trump is desperately, desperately trying to explain away the truth of his very own words, recorded on tape, admitting that he knew the dangers of the coronavirus, but chose to lie to the American people about it.

Now, confronted with the reality of his own voice in 18 interviews with Bob Woodward, acknowledging that he knew that the virus was airborne as early as February 7th and admitting in March that he intentionally downplayed it, Trump today, again, road tested this argument, that he simply didn't want to panic the public.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because I want to show a calmness. I'm the leader of the country. I can't be jumping up and down and scaring people. I don't want to scare people. I want people not to panic.


REID: Oh, yes, keep calm and carry on, says the man who has built his entire political career on fear mongering, going back to the very moment he announced his campaign for president in 2015.


TRUMP: When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

How about that caravan? Do you want to let that caravan just pour in? You look at what's marching up, that's an invasion.

Angry mobs, their goal is not a better America. Their goal is to end America.

If the left gains power, they will demolish the suburbs, confiscate your guns and appoint justices who will wipe away your second amendment.


REID: Trump, again, tried to explain away his dereliction of duty today, first in a tweet, bashing Bob Woodward for not releasing the tapes sooner if they were such a problem, arguing that his own words were good and proper. And re-upped that tired argument this afternoon when asked why he didn't just come out and say what he told Woodward in February.


TRUMP: I heard it was an airborne disease. I assumed it early on. The fact is there has to be a calmness. You don't want me jumping up and down screaming, there's going to be great death.


REID: Okay, Donald, as at least one reporter pointed out today, lots of world leaders managed to calmly manage the pandemic without screaming great death.

Meanwhile, here is a stark reminder of what your lies, sir, have brought. Time Magazine's upcoming cover marks our grim approaching milestone, 200,000 American deaths from COVID, with a headline saying it all, an American failure, with a black border, only the second time in the history that the magazine has used a black border. The first was after 9/11.

Meanwhile, Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden slammed Trump for what he called a disgusting decision to downplay the virus.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: And that's why we have no confidence in his leadership. He waved a white flag. He walked away. He didn't do a damned thing. Think about it. Think about what he did not do. And it's almost criminal.


REID: And think about what Donald Trump has done since then. Bob Woodward reports, Trump was briefed by his national security adviser on January 28th, that, quote, coronavirus will be the biggest national security threat that he faced in his presidency. And on that very same day, January 28th, Trump held a rally in New Jersey, one of eight, eight massive gatherings that he held before suspending rallies at the beginning of March, six of which, six, were held after he told Woodward that COVID was, quote, deadly stuff.

Now, imagine in Trump's words in public had matched what he said in private over that same period of time, or even after he'd admitted that he'd intentionally played down the threat.


TRUMP: It's a very tricky situation. It's --


TRUMP: It goes through air, Bob. That's always tougher than the touch.

We're in great shape.

The risk to the American people remains very low.

It's also more deadly than your -- you know, even your strenuous flu.

This is a flu. This is like a flu.

Some startling facts came out. It's not just old -- older.

WOODWARD: Yes, exactly.

TRUMP: Young people too, plenty of young people.

But the children do really well. It's almost the younger they are, the better they do.

Your children should be in good shape.


REID: I'm joined by Ron Klain, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Joe Biden, and former White House Ebola Response Coordinate under President Obama, Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University, and Alex Wagner, co-host of Showtime's, The Circus.

I've got to go to Wags first. It is like a family reunion here to see you. It's so great to see you, Alex. So I'm going to you first.


REID: You know, one of the -- yes, I miss you, girl. So, listen, under better circumstances, it would be better, but this is where are. We are where we are.

Today during this -- whatever you call it, campaign rally/press conference, Donald Trump tried to buck himself up by saying, listen, A, I didn't lie. He said, Bob Woodward should have just told everybody that I said terrible things. That was another argument. Another one was to say, well, we're doing better than Europe. No, we're not doing better than Europe. We're doing much, much, much, much worse than Europe. And Americans can get that information. They know we're doing worse.

I don't know how there's any way to climb out of this. It feels like there's nothing he can say at this point. What do you think?

WAGNER: What we saw today were a string of implausible, sometimes laughable defenses. This is the guy whose brand is predicated, it is built on being a no-B.S. straight talker and all of a sudden, he's America's calmer-in-chief. I mean, the fact of the matter is, Joy, he is running in the middle of a very tight presidential election.

And two weeks ago, the Trump campaign felt like they were on solid ground. They felt like COVID may just be in the rearview mirror and they have the Biden team playing defense on the idea of law and order. They felt like they could gin up fear around race riots and jackbooted Antifa thugs on Delta airlines coming to a city near you, and that was going to be their winning, closing argument heading into the final stretch of the election.

The reality is that North Carolina is voting. Pennsylvania starts voting this week. Michigan is next week. The election is now. And Donald Trump, all of a sudden, thanks to The Atlantic and thanks to Bob Woodward, is playing defense. That is not the position they wanted to be. And the last thing that Donald Trump wanted to be talking about right now is COVID and his mismanagement of a pandemic that has put 200,000 American bodies in the ground.

That is the fact of the matter. There is no getting around it. And he can try and spin. That was a very short press conference, which is an indicator of how well the defense is going right now.

REID: Yes. I mean, he spent more time talking about what T.V. show he watches than explaining himself on COVID. It was something to see.

You know, let's go through a little bit of a calendar here, Dr. Jha. U.S. coronavirus cases on the day which we've now learned he got this briefing, saying this is going to be the most important thing in your presidency. This is a catastrophic case. There were only five cases at that point. There hadn't been any deaths yet. By February 7th, when he's actually talking on the phone with Bob Woodward, there were only 12 cases and there were zero deaths. By June 20th, and this is after they'd resumed back -- they stopped doing rallies at a certain point and then they brought them back. By june 20th, we were almost at 2.3 million cases. We had 120,275 deaths.

Here is what happened on June 20th. This is what was happening on the day there were 120,275 deaths. We'll show a little bit of a video here, a little bit of tape. This is the rally that Donald Trump held indoors with Herman Cain there, by the way, in Oklahoma, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There it is. There are now 120,275 people dead. On this day, Herman Cain was there. He is now dead.

Dr. Jha, there's no -- I don't see how you cannot argue that Donald Trump, had he act on January 28th, could have prevented at least some -- his action by the federal government could have prevented some of those deaths. Is that unfair to say?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Joy, thanks for having me on. Not only is that not unfair, that is clearly the case. A vast majority of the people who have died already, I think, did not need to if we had had an effective federal response. We could have started that effective federal response on January 28th. We could have started on February 7th, March 12th. You can pick any date in the last six months, it would have been really helpful.

Even now, if the president today says, we're going to have an effective federal response, there's a lot he can do to prevent future deaths. It's just very hard in our country to fight this pandemic when the federal government is sitting it out.

REID: You know, and, Ron Klain, there's the would've, could've, should've, right, had they had a response, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But there's also the -- he's not learning. There's no learned behavior here. There's no behavior change.

My producer was just telling me -- my executive producer was just telling me, Donald Trump just landed, we just learned, he just landed in Michigan. I think we have live pictures of it of what he's doing now. This is with nearly 200,000 people dead. He's still gathering people to him, people who still don't want to put on masks. He is the reason they don't want to put on masks. He's downplayed mask wearing, mocked people who do it, mocked journalists who put masks on. He's still doing it.

But I want to talk about some of the other people who have been involved here. Donald Trump isn't the only person who knew. He and Bob Woodward aren't the only people who knew what was happening. In January, there was an intelligence briefing that also included senior senators weeks before the virus panic, intelligence chairman privately raised alarm, and that would be Richard Burr, Senator Richard Burr.

He went to his high-value donors, he and also Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, were either trading stock on the news that this could be a catastrophic pandemic or briefing their high-value donors to warn them that they should prepare themselves for a potential financial crash. So this wasn't just Donald Trump alone, his senior staff, his national security staff, some of these senior senators who acted on the information.

The only people who were not aware were the American people and the voters. I can't even do a what if Obama on this, it seems so completely ridiculous, because no other president would do it, but I'll just make it -- I'll let you comment.

RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, look, Joy, I think that's absolutely right. And I think the thing that's really most galling, we spent a lot of the day debating about this whole ridiculous panic defense. But before you started this show, you showed clips of just Donald Trump out and out and lying to people, straight-up lying, saying that they had nothing to worry about, saying that it was no worse than the flu, saying that children could not get sick, I mean, just straight up lying to people about this threat we faced. There's no defense that's been offered to that.

And as Dr. Jha just mentioned, the saddest truth here is that with what the president, what the White House knew in January, they should have been ramping up testing, they should have been ramping up the production of protective gear. Joy, a thousand medical workers have died in this country because they didn't have masks, gloves and protective gear. A thousand doctors, nurses, health workers dead because or government couldn't provide them the basic protective things they needed. And Trump knew and had months to get the production going and didn't do that.

I mean, it's not just this downplayed thing that has been so much in the news, it's the repeated lies and the failure to use the information he had to prepare this country for what was coming. Even if he hadn't panicked, even if he just said in a calm way, let's get the production going, he didn't, and there are a lot of dead people in America as a result.

REID: And, you know, Alex, there's a lot of sort of attempted to tuck people under the spokes of the bus, so that it can't be Trump because, of course, it can't be Trump. Lindsey Graham should have told him, don't talk to Woodward. Everyone is still making excuses for this guy. I cannot understand that. I know you guys at The Circus -- it is a circus at this point.

To me, it doesn't make any sense. At a certain point, you have to put your own politics first. And these guys have constituents too, whose family members are getting sick and who are facing risks. Can you understand why none of them will still walk away, even now?

WAGNER: Well, because if you look at the polling among Republican voters, they still support Donald Trump. I mean, it defies logic that people will put their lives and the lives of their loved ones on the line for the sake of what has become tribal partisanship, but that's the reality of what we're looking at right now.

I mean, it bears mentioning as we talk about all of this. You listen at the tapes of Trump talking to Woodward, and it's like a Jekyll and Hyde situation. You hear lucidity, you hear caution, you hear reason when he's talking to Bob Woodward. And then you cut that with the sound of the tapes of the remarks he is making to the American public, and it's the same carnival barker Trump whose eyes are on the prize of re-election.

And in that contrast is an American tragedy, because he knew, he actually had the wherewithal to process the information and communicate it to a reporter, but when it came to the American public, the people who have become victims, who have turned into the deceased, the people who we are now grieving, he was never that truthful, he was never that considerate, he never had that empathy and reason.

And I think it should not be lost on the American public, this person was capable of doing the right thing and, in fact, did it in private phone conversations, but when it could have saved lives, he did nothing.

REID: Yes, and, casually, just dropped that bomb on Bob Woodward, oh, yes, I am downplaying. That is remarkable that he would say when he knew he was being recorded, pretty incredible.

Ron Klain, Dr. Ashish Jha, Alex Wagner, thank you all very much. I really appreciate you guys this time tonight.

Meanwhile, it is a big night here on THE REIDOUT. Senator Elizabeth Warren and Speaker Nancy Pelosi will join me on the Trump dumpster fire.

Plus, Melania Trump's former BFF and trusted adviser, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, she will join me to talk about what's really going on inside the White House.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: This past week has been marked by chaos and confusion, which frankly is the hallmark of Donald Trump's presidency. Each day filled with a series of reminders of just how mendacious, corrupt and destructive he is.

And this morning, with the death toll reaching 192,000, and nearly 900,000 Americans still claiming unemployment this week, we're reminded of just what's at stake.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren joins me now. And, senator, let's start with this skinny bill that failed in the United States Senate. There are a lot of people, I think we all know people who are waiting for relief, who are worried that rent relief is done, that they're not getting the extra supplemental unemployment. What is -- what are your colleagues on the other side saying? What is their excuse for not just passing the House bill?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): So, families are hurting and they need help. Small businesses are hurting and they need help. Restaurants are hurting and they need help. And the response of the Republicans in the Senate has been to say, basically, they don't care. They just don't care.

Because what they put together was not a bill that was designed to pass. It was not something that was going to give enough relief to families. It was not something that was going to help schools give enough money so schools could safely reopen. It was not going to help child care centers. It was not going to help people who were crushed by student loan debt. It was not going to help but give enough help to small businesses. It was not going to do anything for state and local governments that are under enormous pressure right now, because their revenues have been cut and they're spending money on safety and health. And so no help in those areas.

But let me tell you what it did do. What it did do, it said, you know, giant operations that put people at risk, that actually kill their own employees, because they won't be safety measures in place, there's going to be no liability for them. It got that in there, and also a provision that said, you know, we need to take more taxpayer dollars and, instead of putting them into public schools, we need to drain the money out of public schools and put more of it into private schools.

That's what that bill had in it. It was never designed to pass the United States Senate, because it was never designed to help the American people.

REID: And I would be remiss not to ask you -- and, Senator, and my condolences. I'm not sure if I have interviewed you since, but I know that you lost your own brother to COVID.

So, we know how serious this virus is and how many people that it's touching personally. And I'm so sorry that that happened in your family.

But, when you, as somebody who has lost someone you love to this virus, when you heard Donald Trump's own words, out of his own mouth, say, yes, I downplayed it, and express the truth that he knew how serious it was, when you combine that with the fact that there were senators who knew how serious it was, like Loeffler and Burr, who sold stock and said to their donors, your rich donors, hey, hey, hey, be careful, there's going to be a financial panic, when you think about those people who knew, particularly the president, how do you react?

WARREN: It is a deep-down fury.

I appreciate your kind words about my brother. He passed in April from the coronavirus. And when Donald Trump says now, when it comes out publicly, Woodward says that Donald Trump not only lied to the American people back in February; he knew he was lying.

He was lying, and he wasn't putting together the kind of response we needed. A leader would have come to the American people and said, this is really dangerous. This is something that we have got to be very, very careful with. And we have got to get to work right now. We have got to mobilize to make sure that there are masks for everyone, that there's plenty of testing kits, that there's lots of protective gear. We have got to be careful with each other. We have got to figure out the best ways to respond to stop the spread of this virus.

If he had done that back in February, how many lives would have been saved in March, in April, in May, in June, in July, in August? How many lives would have been saved?

And I must share what 190,000 other families share. And that is, could it -- could it have been my brother who would have been saved?

And then, to just layer in on top of that, we can't ignore what's happened in black and brown communities and how hard they have been hit by this virus. And we have a leader who seems to have both no human understanding of what it means to the rest of us to lose someone we love and no understanding that, as president, it's his responsibility to put together a competent response, which he has completely failed to do.

I just have to say, this is why, on November 3, we need to get Joe Biden and Kamala Harris into the White House. This is just -- this all by itself is enough to tell us why we have got to make that change.

REID: Yes.

Well, I mean, it's this. And then you layer on what "The Atlantic" uncovered about his denigration of our fallen, of America's military. And you layer on top of that -- there's a sort of, watch what he says, watch what he does sort of aspect to trying to observe this administration.

Add to that, that we're also watching the Postal Service being attacked. So he's fixated on saying that there's violence in black communities, denigrating communities, trying to blame Black Lives Matter, but, also, he's actually hurting the Postal Service.

And I know that there's a study that yourself and Senator Casey put together that talks about one of the specific ramifications of this. It's not just ballots that get delivered by the mail. It's also prescription drugs.


REID: Talk a little bit about what this study found.

WARREN: So, Senator Casey and I decided that we wanted to find out from the major pharmaceutical houses that mostly fill prescriptions by mail.

You know, there are a lot of folks now who get their drugs through Medicare, Medicaid, their insurance. And it's cheaper if they will do it by mail. And it's reliable.

Plus, lots of people now have said, I don't want to go into the drugstore. I don't want to go inside a store. So, I'm going to switch from picking up my prescriptions in person to doing it by mail.

So, as all of these scandals kept unfolding around the post office, Senator Casey and I decided we would go to these pharmaceutical houses that have been mailing out these prescriptions, have huge businesses, have been doing it for a long time, and ask them what's happened.

And the answer has been that, since DeJoy has come in, deliveries have declined. So, the amount of time that people are waiting for their prescriptions has gone up. And it's been -- and the amount of missed deliveries, the amount of deliveries that take more than seven days.

And, you know, there are real consequences to that, Joy. People count on getting their prescriptions on time, so that they continue to take the medications they need to take. These are mostly people who are taking medications for chronic conditions.

REID: Yes.

WARREN: Plus, there's additional expense.

So, what the pharmaceutical houses told us is, they said, we're having to double-send, we're having to send by express mail, we're having to track things down.

And so they're spending a lot more money. And that ultimately is a cost that's either going to be borne by the patients or by the federal government that's covering the cost of these prescriptions.

So, what DeJoy is doing is not only trying to help out his buddy Donald Trump, to try to gum up the works, so that we can't do vote by mail, but, at the same time, they're willing to put the health of the American people at risk.

That's what our study showed. And this is one more reason that we need DeJoy out of the U.S. Postal Service. We need someone operating the Postal Service who's actually trying to get the mail delivered.

REID: Yes, it's multiple crises all being dealt with at once.

And we know that you are on top of so much of this.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, we really always appreciate your time. Thank you so much for being here tonight.

WARREN: It's always good to see you. And thanks for having me.


REID: Thank you so much, Senator.

And still ahead, Speaker Nancy Pelosi joins me to discuss the latest revelations about Trump's handling of the pandemic and also the Republican response. Some, they dodge the questions. Others blame the people around Trump for letting him talk to Bob Woodward in the first place.

THE REIDOUT is back after this.


REID: It's no longer speculation.

We now have receipts, in the form of audiotapes and the voice of Donald Trump himself, admitting to Bob Woodward that he intentionally downplayed the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, thereby putting American lives at risk.

But none of that seems to matter for those who continue to twist themselves into pretzels trying to defend him.

First, we have the Republicans who take issue with the book genre of truth-telling.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Look, I didn't look at the Woodward book. I will later, but I haven't even seen what you're referring to yet.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I haven't seen the book.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): I haven't read it.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): It doesn't sound ideal to me.

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): I have not read it.

KENNEDY: These gotcha books don't really interest me that much.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN: He's on the record. He's recorded. You hear his voice.

And you're contrasting that with what he says to the public.

Wouldn't that be something of interest to you, as a United States senator?

KENNEDY: Well, let me -- let me answer you again.

These gotcha books don't really interest me.


REID: I don't listen to audio. That's like reading. Reading, I don't do that.

Then there's Trump's media yes-men over at FOX News, who relied on an old favorite, blaming others, while using a conspiratorial tone.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: It was Lindsey Graham who helped convince Donald Trump to talk to Bob Woodward. Lindsey Graham brokered that meeting. Lindsey Graham is supposed to be a Republican, so why would he do something like that?

KARL ROVE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Here's the more important point to me. I'm interested in, what did Joe Biden know and when did he know it, and what was he thinking at the time this coronavirus came on?


REID: Joe Biden, what did he do?

And, finally, there's denial so deep that we can only describe it as a fever swamp of right-ring delusion, with one prominent conservative even declaring -- get this -- that Trump had a great day.

Really? Yes, really.

That's next.



LOU DOBBS, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK HOST: President Trump today had a great day, a day that any president could only dream of.


REID: Hmm.

Unlike his autocratic pen pal Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump never got one of those grandiose military parades he so pined for. But he sure enjoys the North Korean style of media from the likes of Lou Dobbs, one of Trump's better-known sycophants with a platform.

I'm joined now by Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives.

And, Speaker Pelosi, thank you so much for being here.

I must start by asking you about these fires that are happening in California. I'm going to put a pin in Mr. Dobbs for just a moment and the Republican defense of Trump.

More than 3.1 million acres have burned, twice the size of Delaware. And that's just in California. Twelve people have died. And it's in multiple states at this point.

I just want to ask you about your constituents, the state of things in California.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Well, thank you very much for starting with that, Joy.

Here we are, on the eve of 9/11, the 19th anniversary of 9/11, as we are filled with sadness, continue to be filled with sadness, about those who lost their lives at that time and since from consequences of 9/11.

That was going to be our focus this week. We have these fires in California and in the West; 16 people have died in Washington, Oregon, and California, including a firefighter and a 1-year-old baby.

We -- our firefighters have been so, very, very courageous. Now we're again breaking records. Mother Earth is angry. She's telling us, whether she's telling us with hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, fires in the West, whatever it is, that the climate crisis is real and has an impact.

I hear -- I came over the weekend back to Washington, and it was unhealthy and smoky. That was how they described the air then. Now it has gotten much worse. And I'm hearing regularly on the ongoing from my constituents about the concern they have about the fires and the air quality, the loss of life, and over three million acres burned. That's an historic number.

Again, sadness over 9/11, complicated by our concern about the fires, at the same time as we're dealing with the coronavirus and finding out that the president of the United States didn't address it in the serious way that it needed to be addressed early on.

REID: Yes.

And, you know, it boggles my mind -- and maybe that is just -- at this point, my eyes just sort of glaze over listening to these press conferences.

But I have here a transcript, which I will not subject you to. I will not read it to you. But Donald Trump today described watching eight hours of television yesterday.

I was saying to my producers earlier that, my godmother is retired. She spends lots of time watching television. I don't think she even gets in eight hours.

He's not a retired godparent. He's the president of the United States. He spent time through going show by show what he watches on TV. He did that today, while, as you said, these fires are burning in three Western states, his environmental record has not been helpful, and while we're still dealing with the fallout of the fact that he knew how deadly coronavirus was in January, and said nothing.

Can you make sense of this? How do you make sense of this, as speaker of the House?

PELOSI: Well, I have never been able to make sense of the president of the United States. I know there is a method to his madness. And I use that word very specifically, madness.

But what we have learned in the last few days is nothing new. We know that he made light of the virus, called it a hoax, and it was going to go away magically or by miracle. We would all be in church on Easter Sunday.

His delay, his denial, his distortion caused deaths, caused deaths.

Could we have saved all of these people? Maybe not. But we could have saved many. And there are scientific measures of how many we could have saved.

But let me use one word to describe everything we learned in the last 24 to 48 hours -- contempt.

Contempt by the president of the United States for the lives of the American people.

Contempt of the president for science that was telling us what we needed to do and still continues to tell us what to do. And he still won't allocate the resources or the approval for what we have in the HEROES Act to do that.

Contempt for his own supporters, by having them packed into venues again and again, since he even knew it was airborne. Again, just contemptible.

And when you hear what he has to say about Saudi Arabia, contempt for who we are as a nation.

It's -- it's really -- nothing should be surprising to us about this president, but he is contemptible.


But, you know, I guess what -- and I don't know why it's still surprising, but, you know, California is one of the states with the largest preponderance of military service. It's one of -- it sends so many young men and women into the military.

The Republicans have been absolutely silent, your Republican colleagues, on his degradation of the military, on the fact that he lied. We just heard -- and we saw a whole montage of Republicans saying, I don't read these kind of books. Well, it's on audio. Well, I guess they don't listen to audio either. Running away and not speaking to it.

You know, politics is supposed to be about representation. And I can't imagine Democrats getting away with just running and saying, I won't address these issues.


REID: Does it still surprise you that Republicans are still defending him on these matters?

PELOSI: Well, one would think it would be surprising, because one day, they're going to have to answer to their children and their grandchildren as to why their behavior was so contemptible.

But the fact is that these Republicans are very much in sync with the president in terms of policy.

They are in denial on the climate issue. They oppose a woman's right to choose. They are very bad in terms of LBGTQ rights and the rest. Gun violence prevention is not anything that they want to be associated with.

Name any subject, and you'll find, whether it's fairness in our economy, they want to give tax cuts to the richest people in America and then say, we can't afford to feed our children who are millions of them are food insecure now.

So, from a policy standpoint, he's their guy. He's their guy. And so, they're protecting him. But they don't know how foolish they look.

And I just can't wait until one day, they have to explain to their grandchildren, did you really -- what did you do to save our planet? What did you do to save our democracy? They are so pathetic.

And that's the question about this, the Republicans in the Congress and the supporters -- the staff of the White House and the advisers to the president --

REID: Yeah.

PELOSI: -- knew about what was happening at that time and they did not insist that the truth come out.

So there's a lot of culpability in terms of those associated with the president.

REID: Yeah.

PELOSI: He says, I didn't want to cause a panic -- really? If you see a train coming and car on their tracks, you would say, get out of the way.

But he couldn't do that, because he didn't want it to affect the stock market or his reputation or whatever it was. Contemptible.

REID: Yeah, yeah.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it's always a pleasure to talk with you. Thank you so much. And all the best of the folks out there out West.

PELOSI: Let me say one thing to the volunteers who are out there --

REID: Sure.

PELOSI: -- people are out there pushing for legislation to help in the coronavirus. People are out there just trying to get the truth out about our veterans and the rest. Our volunteers in all of this sadness about the virus and the health scare --

REID: Yeah.

PELOSI: -- and all the rest, still, our volunteers are out there just doing their job. They give us all hope.

REID: Yeah. Well, we appreciate that hopeful note. It's always good to have some hope. So, thank you so much, Madam Speaker. Have a wonderful evening.

PELOSI: I appreciate it. Thank you. You too. Bye-bye.

REID: Cheers. Thank you.

Meanwhile, are you one of those people going on twitter, telling first lady Melania Trump to blink twice if she needs a rescue? Her former senior adviser and longtime friend says, you might want to rethink. The author of "Melania and Me" joins us next on THE REIDOUT.

Stay with us.


REID: Welcome back.

Early in Donald Trump's protest, presidency, there was a fair amount of concern trolling over the first lady's well-being. The #FreeMelania spread on social media, implying that the first lady was somehow being held captive inside mean old Trump world.

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former close friend and adviser to the first lady, says that is not the case. She writes in her new book, "Melania and Me": I used to think she was different from her husband. I saw streams of daylight between them and thought Melania was more principled, kind, and honorable than Donald and all of his offspring. I was wrong about that.

A Trump is a Trump is a Trump. All along, I thought she was one of us, but at her core, she's one of them.

Joining me now is Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, the author of "Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady."

What do you mean by that, she's one of us, not one of them?


REID: Not one of us?

STEPHANIE WINSTON WOLKOFF, FORMER FRIEND AND ADVISOR TO MELANIA TRUMP: Right, I was about to say, you know, Melania suffering with great anguish is absolutely not the case. She has built this wall around her, this sphinx-like wall where people think she's impenetrable, but that's all part of the mystique and being able to, you know, have the public believe that she is not very similar to they are, right? It keeps the interest.

However, she is just like them. And I had to learn the hard way.

REID: Yeah, and you're friends with her for quite a long time, you know, 15 years or something like that, so you know her very well. So, I think it's important. You know, your story is a contemporaneous story of Melania Trump.

The White House found out somehow that you were going to be on our show tonight. Maybe they read my Twitter. I don't know. I don't know how they found out, but they decided they wanted to respond in advance, and this is what they said about you and your book.

And they said: This book with falsehoods exists simply because its author didn't like an article that was written about her, so she decided to lash out at Mrs. Trump. Her intent to secretly tape the first lady and break her NDA in order to publish a dishonest book is a sad attempt to advance her own name. Simply put, it's an exercise of narcissism and self-pity.

I have two questions for you on that. Number one, an NDA means that you won't disclose true things that you know about a company or an individual. That can't exist in the same universe as making up stories. It's one or the other. It's either you knew these stories and broke an NDA that you said you were would disclose them or you made them up.

So do you have a response that puts this in either category? Or -- and my second piece of that question is, do you feel like the first lady had a hand in writing that statement?

WOLKOFF: So let me just -- I'd like -- thank you for asking me that because I'd like to clear up the narrative. The NDA, the White House and Trump's lawyers, as well as the Department of Justice reached out to me in July trying to stop me from printing this book, and that was taken care of.

So the more they continue to outreach to these shows every time that I'm speaking, it just gives more credence to what I'm doing. And the reality of all this is that the White House propaganda machine, the fake news that they are able to create about people can destroy them and does destroy them.

And there's a difference between great news, which Donald thinks he created, which actually started at the end of the 19th century, and false information. And that's what they're doing every single day. And it's not okay because people are believing -- it's almost like a cultish kind of behavior listening to him.

The fact that he told veterans several years ago not to listen to fake news, only to listen to him, there is something wrong with that.

REID: Yeah. Melania Trump is a birther, just like her husband. She was no different. She behaved the same way Donald Trump did in terms of birtherism.

But she had no problem plagiarizing Michelle Obama. She literally lifted her speech at the convention from Michelle Obama speech. She -- you know, Michelle Obama created Be Better. She created Be Best, which doesn't even make any grammatical sense.

What do you think her attitude was toward Mrs. Obama?

WOLKOFF: Well, let's first clarify the fact that when I actually explained, Joy, that Be Best was -- I was saying that it was illiterate, I wasn't saying she was illiterate, but her team not only felt that as branding machines, the Trumps know what they're doing, and that I should allow them to use Be Best if that was her best option, which it was not.

And also I think it's really important to say that in addition to plagiarizing the Obamas on that, her office continued to plagiarize with the Federal Trade Commission saying that Melania had written the guidelines when she launched her initiative. (AUDIO GAP)

You know, they changed it the next day that Melania was positioning herself to use that as her platform. But so I don't --

REID: Yeah.


WOLKOFF: Sorry. There is a big delay, so I apologize.

REID: OK. We will have you stay with us for a moment. We're going to take a commercial break, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff. So, stay with us just a moment.

And up next, Melania's private response to the "Access Hollywood" tape.


REID: I am back with Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, author of "Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady".

You know, one of the things about Melania that I think has been very specific, and you, I have learned, used to organize the great Met Gala which people so look forward to every year. You organized it for quite sometime. So you know the fashion world.

Fashion pretty much rejected Melania Trump. She wasn't being dressed by sort of all the great designers. But she did use fashion to make a statement.

Let me put up a few of them. There were the high heels that she wore when she was heading toward Hurricane Harvey destruction. There was the "I Really Don't Care, Do You?" jacket in 2018. And then dressing like a colonialist figure in 2018 when she went to Africa.

Is that what she did? Did she use the fashion to sort of hit back at the fashion world or to hit back at the media, or liberals, or what?

WOLKOFF: The jacket was a means to an end for her. It was PR points. So the press would take notice of her going to the border.

REID: Weird. What about the colonialist outfit?

WOLKOFF: She looked it up on Google and looked up Safari. I mean, there are -- so people have really misunderstood what Melania's intentions are behind her clothing and thinks that it speaks so much more than it really does.

I just -- again, about speaking about all of these things, joy, I just like to clarify, I didn't press record on a friend. I had pressed record on someone who had already thrown me under the bus.

But Melania's wearing that jacket was against all -- you know, against everything that everyone stood for. And it showed her opinions about immigration, separating children at the border, were the same as her husband's.

REID: Yeah. I mean, and we should make it clear that the thing that you said you were betrayed by, they tried to blame you for all of the over -- overspending for the inaugural. They decided you were the one who was going to take the blame for that.

Do you think she knew that and participated in throwing you under the bus in that way?

WOLKOFF: Oh, absolutely. I mean, again, Joy, I -- like I have been saying, I would not say anything or do anything within this, you know, narrative if I didn't have the evidence and the backup to protect myself to do that.

REID: Yeah.

WOLKOFF: (AUDIO GAP) was part of it, she was instrumental. She was my friend and she would not turn her back on me. But she was told by counsel that a possible investigation.


REID: Are those tapes going to come out?

WOLKOFF: I have no intention of releasing the tapes. I really started taping just for my protection.

REID: Gotcha. And my last question to you is the "Access Hollywood" video where a lot of people thought, oh, long suffering Melania and sort of felt sorry for her in that moment. What was her real reaction to the "Access Hollywood" tape?

WOLKOFF: Liberal media bashing. No big deal. She can't control people's emotions, so why should she try?

She knows who she married. And it was a transactional marriage for both of them. And she was well aware of all -- you know, he was her -- he was legitimized just as much as she was by her becoming a "Vogue" cover model.

REID: Yeah, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, it's fascinating look. Thank you so much for being here tonight.

And that is tonight's REIDOUT.

Thank you, ma'am, very much.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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