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Transcript: The ReidOut, September 18, 2020

Guests: Michael Steele, Jonathan Lemire, Kurt Bardella, Maria Hinojosa, Carmen Yulin Cruz, Linda Greenhouse


The, I alone can fix it, president fails to fix it. Trump says, I do know better than the experts. New York Times reports, Trump allies pushed CDC to endorse herd immunity. Report says, Kushner on lack of PPE in New York, that's their problem. COVID task force member says, Trump doesn't actually care. Biden says, Trump's lies cost how many lives. Trump says, we expected vaccine to be available for all by April.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: You can go to and get your BEAT wine glass and try it with whatever wine you want, including the Coppola wine.

I want to thank, again, the famous director, Francis Ford Coppola, for this interview airing for the first time, which was previously recorded.

That does it for us. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid starts now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Like a bad used car salesman, because they're not all bad, some of them are good, Donald Trump convinced millions of Americans he would fix everything. In fact, he said, I alone can fix it.

Well, we are six months into a global pandemic that has prematurely robbed us of 199,000 fellow Americans and Donald Trump hasn't fixed a thing. In fact, he's gone to war with the scientists, including the men and women at the most trusted American scientific institution, the Centers for Disease Control, insisting that he knows better.


REPORTER: How is it that you don't trust your own experts? Do you think you know better than they do?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I think I have -- yes, in many cases, I do.


REID: according to The New York Times, which obtained internal CDC emails, Trump associates tried to browbeat scientists at the agency into parroting Trump's rosy and dishonest view of the virus while pushing the deranged strategy of herd immunity.

And some would say this is gross incompetence but new reporting shows that it's more repugnant than that. Trump and his cabal of complicit allies often appear, frankly, not to even care if scores of Americans live or die.

According to Vanity Fair, Jared Kushner, who is running a shadow coronavirus task force, gathered people together and seated like Boss Baby in a chair taller than all of the others, admonished attendees that it was, quote, not the role of government to help with personal protective equipment, adding that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo didn't pound the phones hard enough to get PPE for his state. His people are going to suffer, and that's their problem.

Well, if that's not sufficiently gross, listen to Olivia Troye, who worked closely with Vice President Pence on the coronavirus task force as recently as a month ago. See that's her sitting next to pence right there.


OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER AIDE TO MIKE PENCE: The truth is he doesn't actually care about anyone else but himself. When we were in a task force meeting, the president said, maybe this COVID thing is a good thing. I don't like shaking hands with people. I don't have to shake hands with these disgusting people.


REID: Last night, Joe Biden called Trump's behavior criminal. And today in Minnesota, he called it selfish.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The president knew back in February that this was an extremely dangerous communicable disease. Think about it. How many people across the iron range, how many empty chairs around those dinner tables, because of his negligence and selfishness? How many lies said and lives lost?


REID: If you want a reminder of just how reckless Trump is, just take a look at these live images of his latest super-spreader event in Minnesota.

I'm joined now by Jonathan Lemire, White House Correspondent for the Associated Press, and Michael Steele, former chairman of the RNC and Senior Adviser for the Lincoln Project. Thank you both for being here.

And, Michael, he is doing it just up to today. Here is Donald Trump literally today. He had a press conference and he contradicted Dr. Redfield again today.


TRUMP: We'll have manufactured at least 100 million vaccine doses before the end of the year, and likely much more than that, hundreds of millions of doses will be available every month and we expect to have enough vaccines for every American by April.


REID: And the White House coronavirus testing coordinator, his name is Admiral Brett Giroir, has defended the CDC director, Robert Redfield's assessment, on a vaccine timeline but had to do it while like trying to sort of tweak to Trump a little bit because, I guess, everybody wants to not get fired. Let's play that. That's cut number one.


ADM. BRETT GIROIR, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH: The CDC director was correct that widespread use of a vaccine, hundreds of millions of people will probably not happen until mid next year. But the point that I want to emphasize is we could immunize 5 percent or 10 percent of the population and get 90 percent of the benefit by ring-fencing the vulnerable like in nursing homes or vaccinating our teachers or those who have hypertension. So both are correct.


REID: So, I mean, no one can even trust what at this point, Michael, anybody says, including what the CDC posts on their website, because they all have to bow a little bit to Trump in order not to get fired. But he is just coming out and lying and falsely promising there's going to be a vaccine, no matter what they say.

I don't understand this just from a political perspective, quite frankly, because the one thing that could have helped him get reelected was to fight the virus, which would have helped the economy, which would have helped his polling, but he won't do it. I don't get it. Do you understand -- do you get it?

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR: I do a little bit. And in this way, because you would think with any other president that fighting the virus, the existential threat that is right there in front of the American people, that, yes, there would be political considerations, but there would also be more importantly humanitarian considerations.

And the benefit of that would be the politics on the backend if, as we've seen play out in places like Australia and elsewhere around the globe, where they handled their business up front. So the political benefit on the backend is there if it's to be accessed.

Trump doesn't look at it that way. Trump looks at it from the perspective of if I do these things, how do I look doing these things. If I wear a mask, that makes me look weak. I'm not wearing a mask. If I acknowledged that this happened on my watch, that this is something serious, then that makes me look weak.

If I'm getting advice from the World Health Organization and the CDC that's telling me that I need to take these steps and I'm talking to my allies and saying, look, this is what we're doing to get ahead of this, then I'm not in charge, I'm not leading, I'm not the man.

So his mindset is set on himself, not on you, not on the American people. So, therefore, the decisions are going to be made from that perspective. So everybody comes out and says, we have to do A, B and C, Trump comes out and says, no, we really need to be doing D, F and G.

And so they come back on the backend and say, well, A, B and C are good but we also need to consider these other things and there the confusion comes. So when it's time for people to get vaccinated, Joy, what do you think they're going to do? You know what, I'll just wait until you all work this out. And that's the problem.

REID: Who is going to -- I mean, who would -- who in their right mind would line up for a vaccine that this CDC and this DHS had anything to do with, quite frankly, Jonathan Lemire? I mean, the problem is they have so broken people's faith in these institutions. They have so broken the agencies, nobody is going -- other than Trump people, I mean, they'll take it seriously because they'll do whatever he wants. But if he's not re-elected, he won't even be there at that point.

Among the people -- and I think Michael is right, he doesn't care. It's obvious, he doesn't care. Jared Kushner in his little high chair doesn't care. He is just like, nah, nah, nah, New York is going to suffer, oh, well. They're all the same, this whole group of people.

Trump also doesn't care about his own supporters. Here he is at another mask-less rally in Wisconsin potentially getting people sick. Here it is


TRUMP: Officially, this is called a protest. You know that. We no longer call it rallies. We don't use the term, rally, okay? Rachel knows. We don't call them rallies anymore because, you know, you're not allowed to have a political rally for more than ten people. We call them friendly protests. So these are protests, so it's totally allowed. This is a protest.

Remember, when they walk out -- when you walk outside, what do you consider this? Did you enjoy the rally? No, I really -- this is a protest.


REID: I mean, his Shecky Greene act aside, Jonathan, they're doing that because, number one, they think the people who are protesting against police killing black people are getting a break that they're not getting. Yes, but the people who show up there, there's plenty of scientific evidence, they are not super-spreaders because they wear masks, they do the right thing.

Just last month, Dr. Birx, who's barely hanging on with all of her scars in everything, to credibility, last month in Minnesota said, please everybody follow the guidelines and wear a mask and stay six feet apart. I just don't understand, again, the political calculation. I'm going to come back right back to that again, because I know Trump doesn't actually personally care if people die.

But the political calculation of maybe getting your own people to die, letting your own people get sick and die, I don't get it.

JONATHAN LEMIRE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, as you know, Joy, the president and his team really prize these rallies. And I attended several of them last week on his western swing to Nevada and Arizona, and it was a similar scenario.

In fact one of the ones in Arizona and one in Nevada were indoors, which is something he had avoided since the debacle that was Tulsa. Because for a time, members of his supporters simply were not going to attend indoor events, they stayed away from rallies, period. So he's sort of sidelined those. Now, he's returned to them, slowly building them back up.

The majority of them have been outdoors but not all. And what we saw Sunday night just outside Las Vegas was an indoor rally, the vast majority of the crowd not wearing masks. Of course, the virus spreads a lot more easily indoors per science with one exception, though, Joy. The audience stands right behind the president.

Those who would be seated directly behind him who would be visible on the T.V. shots, they were asked to wear masks, and did. So they, in order to broadcast to the cameras, wore masks. The vast majority of those in the arena, of course, did not.

And to your other point, you're right, this is a president who has repeatedly touted measures to treat the coronavirus that simply have not been true, that fly in the face of science.

We remember, of course, his -- the way he would, day after day, urge people to use an anti-malarial drug that was sidelined by the FDA because it was not safe to use to treat COVID-19. There was, of course, the day back in the spring where he suggested that people should inject disinfectant as a way to treat it.

So now, he and all of his top aides are really touting the vaccine, suggesting on an accelerated timetable that it could be ready to some before the year is out and to everyone next year. And they have an extraordinary credibility gap now.

And while you're right, his supporters tend to go along with whatever he has said, he's also someone who has previously deemed the coronavirus a hoax. And are people who know -- we have interviewed countless Trump supporters in the months that have just ended where people were doubting of the whole thing and didn't wear masks. So he may even have trouble urging his own supporters to get vaccinated.

REID: Yes. I mean, well -- I mean, they wouldn't be -- I mean, well, anyway, as Michael Steele said, you can't save everybody, right?

Here is Olivia Troye describing when Trump spent -- this is in a task force meeting about the coronavirus. Here is what he wanted to talk about. Tucker Carlson.


TROYE: Well, we have been in meetings where we were supposed to be talking about the virus and either travel restrictions or how we were going to evacuate people off of cruise ships, which was a big issue at the very beginning of this pandemic and what we were going to do with them. And he wanted to talk for 45 minutes on how upset he was with some news anchor at his preferred news network and who was going to take care of that problem. And he looked around the room and said, who is going to call this person and set them straight.


REID: You know, Michael, you've already had news that this Postal Service was going to send masks to every household, they didn't because of Trump. He is busy worrying what Tucker Carlson is saying on T.V. People don't trust the CDC, they're on again, off again on whether people should wear masks.

You know, we have also Olivia Troye saying that he said he's glad that he wouldn't have to have rope lines anymore because he doesn't want to touch these disgusting people. That's his own people he's calling disgusting. I mean, I know you have said before on our air, you can't save everybody, but I'm wondering if you can save anybody at this point that's on his side, because they're the ones who are going to keep taking risks that make the rest of us get sick.

STEELE: They are. And it's incumbent on us to take care of our own and to be vigilant and diligent in that regard.

You know, yes, I am my brother's keeper to the extent that my brother wants to be kept. And so I try my best every day, we have put the warnings out. We have said we've had scientists, doctors, we've had immunologists, we've had podiatrists, we've had anybody who's remotely connected to science spell it out for us. And this is the reality.

You know he's not a real president, right? You know that, because a real president wouldn't do this. A real president would care a little bit more about his people. He wouldn't break us up into blue states and red states. He wouldn't sit there and say that, you know, if it weren't for these blue states, no one would get sick. That would be as if George Bush said, yes, if it weren't for New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., no one died on 9/11.

So understand what we're talking about here, folks, and recognize you've got to step into this responsibility a little bit more. You just can't hang back. And I think that's the thing for me. I'm in a peaceful place, Joy, because I know what I'm up against. I know what this is. And I'm not trying to figure it out anymore. We know what this is.

So now, the only thing we've got left to do is vote. The only thing we've got left now to do is vote. And that's the final statement by the American people about what they see this democracy being and what it will be in the future.

REID: Like the reggae folks say, Lord Have Mercy. Jonathan Lemire and Michael Steele, thank you both very much.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, new polls show that S.S. Trump is sinking with Senate Republicans going down with the ship.

Plus --


BIDEN: I view this -- I really do view this campaign as a campaign between Scranton and Park Avenue, and I really mean it.


REID: Biden sharpens his message while Trump sharpens his fangs.

Also tonight, a REIDOUT exclusive, David Corn from Mother Jones with the never-before-seen Trump University deposition tapes. The fraud, the settlement and the glasses that Trump doesn't want you to see him wearing.

And comedian Larry Wilmore is back with a brand new show just in time for the election. He joins me tonight.

Back with more of THE REIDOUT after this.


REID: For several states, Election Day isn't 46 days away, it has already begun. Voters today started casting ballots in Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota and Minnesota with long lines in some places. In several more states like battleground Michigan, absentee ballots go out next week.

Both candidates are stumping in Minnesota today with Biden, who is framing his campaign against Trump as Scranton versus Park Avenue, making the case that he and not Trump is your regular Joe.


BIDEN: In the middle of the pandemic, you're left to wonder as a consequence, ordinary folks, who's looking out for me? You know, that's been the entire story of Donald Trump's presidency And now, in the midst of this unprecedented national crisis, Trump has given up on even pretending to do his job.

If the president had just started one week earlier in March than he did, we'd have 36,000 more people sitting at a dinner table tonight.


REID: Joining me now is Kurt Bardella, senior adviser for the Lincoln Project, and Maria Hinojosa, host and executive producer of NPR's "Latino USA" and author of "Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America," a really fabulous book.

I'm going to go to Kurt first on this because I thought Joe Biden was strong today. I want to get your take on it, because he's making a case, between the town hall he did and what he did today, of, look, I'm like you, if you're just -- your average American. I don't need to have an Ivy League degree.

I come from a working-class family. He's relatable. And this is what Trump is. He made the point that Trump inherited his wealth and squandered it. Here's Trump with his golden -- the palace of the golden toilet.


REID: How effective do you think that that message will be, particularly with swing voters?



I mean, we -- you look at the last couple of days, and you can't have more of a contrast in styles between what we're seeing from Donald Trump and his town hall, I guess we will call it, and what we seen from Vice President Joe Biden.

And it kind of reminds me actually, Joy, of when you look back to when George W. Bush ran against John Kerry. And W. had that kind of relatability, folksy, able to interact with the everyman vibe that played very well for him. And Kerry was seen as more upper echelon, out of touch, and above at all.

And I think that, when you look at Joe Biden, this is his greatest strength, his ability to relate, his ability to be human, and express emotion and sincerity and authenticity in a way that people believe that this is really who Joe Biden is.

Whether the cameras are rolling or not, whether there's one person or 1,000 people around him Joe is who he is. I think, with Donald Trump, you have someone who is constantly out of touch. He's always bragging about how rich he is, how great his life is, how big his places are, how luxurious his resorts are.

And I think, at a time where most Americans are locked away right now, are worried about getting sick, are worried about even being able to pay their bills, because their unemployment has now run out, I think that they're relating much more to the message that Joe Biden's put forward, and not the one that Donald Trump's putting out there.

REID: Yes, I mean, and he called his own supporters disgusting people. He doesn't want to shake their hands.

I mean, Maria, I don't know if we can get the golden picture up of Trump and Melania. But, hopefully, we will have that.

The polls are showing that Biden -- there it is -- that that vs. regular Joe -- that Biden is strong in a lot of states where he could actually take some Senate seats down, particularly looking at Maine, where Mark Kelly is beating Martha McSally -- I'm sorry, where Sara Gideon is beating Susan Collins, Arizona, where Mark Kelly's beating Martha McSally, North Carolina.

You go through these races, and it seems clear that there is now the ability that Biden could actually sweep in some Senate seat races as well. Talk about the places where Biden is strong and where he's weak. There's been some talk that he's got some weakness with black men, with Latino voters. Where do you think it stands?

MARIA HINOJOSA, NPR: So, OK, a couple of things.

One, I want to tell you that I was talking to one of my sources who's actually Latino, who lived in Pennsylvania, and left Pennsylvania and lives on Park Avenue. And so, for him, he was like...


HINOJOSA: And so he actually tweeted out. He said, I don't care if it was a gaffe. I'm still going to vote for you.

But then we talked about how, for many Latino men in particular, they understand, they kind of get this Trump message, there is a message. I'm not really watching this right now. I'm so -- but this message of fear, Biden is going to be pulled to become a socialist, and they are going to take away everything of yours.

And he said Latino men from places like Venezuela, Cuba, he says, like, this is a memory. They have this -- it's PTSD. And so he was saying that even some of his Democratic-leaning Latino friends will hold their nose and vote for Trump because of this fear issue.

Interestingly, in terms of Pennsylvania, I want to stay there for a moment, because, apparently, Lehigh Valley, for 100 years has been what tips the state. And you're thinking, like, what's Lehigh Valley?

OK, whatever it is, it's an area of Central Pennsylvania. And right now, about 26 percent, if not more, of those -- of that population there is Latino or Latina. That's the same region where they created the Hazleton anti-immigrant laws that then were fought down.

So, my source was just saying, they don't like anti-immigrant Haiti people. That's not what they like. So, let's watch what happens with Pennsylvania in terms of Latinos turning out on a message of, we don't want this anti-immigrant talk.

But, on the other hand, I got to say, Joy, I'm really taken by the fact that so many Latinos -- I was talking to some in Texas also -- are really -- they're really connecting to this, I'm afraid that Biden is going to become too radical, because I'm like, that is the last thing you really need to fear right now.

REID: Well, I think Biden's best defense against that is just showing up and talking, because he just comes across as like the opposite of that.

But thank you both very much. Really appreciate both of you.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump today announced nearly $13 billion in aid for Puerto Rico. The timing, though, was curious, to say the least. It's been three years since Hurricane Maria ravaged the U.S. territory, and right now we're about six weeks away from the presidential election.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have to say, in a very nice way, a very respectful way, I'm the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico.

QUESTION: This huge aid package to Puerto Rico, why not a year ago? Why not two years ago? Why not three years ago? Why 46 days to the election?

TRUMP: Because what we're doing is, we have been working on it for a long time to get it passed. Very tough to get things passed.

QUESTION: I heard you many times over the past couple of years saying that Puerto Rico got too much money. I mean, just last year, you said Puerto Rico was one of the most corrupt places on Earth.

TRUMP: Well, that's true. That's true. They have been.

QUESTION: You talked about how Congress had sent too much money.

TRUMP: Jon, the...

QUESTION: But you said, never again. You said Congress gave too much money to Puerto Rico. Why now are you...

TRUMP: Because we're building that up as a great medical pharmaceutical manufacturing area.


REID: Joining me now on the phone is the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulin Cruz.

And, Mayor Cruz, what do you think? Donald Trump is suddenly deciding that Puerto Rico is worthy of getting aid two years later. After all that he said about Puerto Rico, after all that he said, including about yourself, and all he's done, throwing the paper towels, et cetera, what do you make of him saying he's the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico?

CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, MAYOR OF SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: Well, I think it's shameful, despicable, and, frankly, lacking any connection to reality or any sense of justice.

The president is clearly trying to buy the votes of the Puerto Rican people in the United States and certain (INAUDIBLE) states that he knows is not doing very well, because right in our (INAUDIBLE) and our soul is that president throwing paper towels at us, calling us corrupt and dirty, and telling that he wants to sell the Puerto Rican people.

And, frankly, this may come as a surprise to the president, but we are not for sale. And three years after Hurricane Maria on Sunday, three -- I'm sitting here -- in fact, 3,000 Puerto Rican flags, one representing each one of the people that died because of the botched efforts of Donald Trump, because he thought -- he's so vain.

He thought that this was about him, and because he -- frankly, he used Puerto Rico as a rehearsal of the disaster that we have seen him his administration has become in the last four years.

REID: You know, Donald Trump at one point, apparently, ruminated on selling Puerto Rico. He thought he might be able to sell it.

Now that he needs Florida, he needs to win Florida, this is obviously a gambit for that. Do you think that, with all that's on the table and all that he's done, including, more broadly, to the Latino community -- I mean, we have this new story about surgeries that women didn't want being given to them to have to take out their uteruses.

Just so much has been done. Do you think that voters, Puerto Rican voters, can be moved by this last-minute gift of aid?

YULIN CRUZ: No, and I will tell you why.

There was a recent poll last week, where Puerto Ricans in Florida, which is the largest -- the state with the largest numbers of Puerto Ricans right now, says that they prefer Joe Biden over Donald Trump.

But I am sure that a man that is used to buying his way around everything, like Donald Trump is, thinks that he can buy the conscience of the people of Puerto Rico.

We will never forget that, because of him. 3,000 Puerto Ricans are dead. We will never forget that, because of him, more than 400,000 Americans are dead. We will never forget children in cages and ripped from their mother's arms.

These are things that are very close to the Puerto Rican people, to the Latino people, because we are very mindful of how our communities have been torn apart and very mindful of how despicable the president has been, calling immigrants rapists and murderers.

We need -- the world needs a man with a soul in the White House. And that certainly is not Donald Trump. And, in my case, I do believe it is Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

REID: Thank you so much for being here tonight, Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz

We got you to come on in the last minute. So, thank you very much. We really appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

Meanwhile, never-before-seen deposition video of Donald Trump during the lawsuit over the scam formerly known as Trump University, that is coming up.

Stay with us.

You're not going to want to miss it.



TRUMP: At Trump University, we teach success. That's what it's all about, success. It's going to happen to you.

If you're going to achieve anything, you have to take action. And action is what Trump University is all about.


REID: Long before he succeeded at conning his way into the presidency, Trump conned people to enroll in his fake Trump University, luring people in with promises that they could make a fortune just like his, even though we now know that he was nowhere near as rich as he said he was and that the money he did have, he either inherited or glommed by licensing his name to buildings he didn't own and to skeevy products like Trump University, which offered programs that cost thousands of dollars, which one of his own employees described in an affidavit as misleading, fraudulent and dishonest.

The employee told the court that, while Trump University claimed it wanted to help consumers make money, in fact, Trump University was only interested in selling every person the most expensive seminars they possibly could.

One student said that they wasted their entire life savings on Trump.

I'm going to hold on, because we have some breaking news that we have to report to you, so I'm going to hold it right there on talking about Trump University.

And, unfortunately, that news is that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, has died, apparently. That is the news that we're getting right now.

David Corn, I'm going to bring him in a little bit early. We had David on because he's got these tapes of Trump University depositions.

But , David, I'm now going to have to ask you to play a slightly different role for me. We have this confirmed. I believe our own Pete Williams of NBC News has confirmed.

David Corn, I don't know if we have you yet, but your reaction, because it does appear that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, known to many as the Notorious RBG, a heroic liberal member of the court, has died.

David Corn.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a dark day. It's a dark day for the United States. My condolences to her families, relatives, friends, colleagues and the court.

She was a hero. She was a giant of legal judicial prudence, and she was passionate. She was passionate for decades in defending progressive principles, legal principles, values at the heart of the American experiment. She was a pioneer, as a woman at Harvard Law School, as a woman in the legal profession.

She was an example and a hero, quite frankly, for millions of Americans. It's a tremendous loss for the nation, for all of us.

And, obviously, it sets up what will be a tremendous political fight, so many of our controversial issues these days, so many of the excesses of the Trump administration, trying to get rid of the ACA and trying to get kick dreamers out of this country, a lot of that ends up at the Supreme Court.

And there's been a balance with four liberal judges, of which she was a leader, and one or two maybe moderates. And now the court obviously will be something that Trump and Mitch McConnell and others try to ram through a nominee, even though, even though, let's remember what happened in Obama's last year, come February, they wouldn't take the Obama nominee.

REID: Yes.

Well, I'm sure that there will be no principles on that.

Let's bring in Pete Williams.

Pete, what do we know? And I will turn it over to you. What do we know?

Do we have Pete?

OK, David, we're trying to get Pete Williams back. We're having a little bit of a technical issue there.

As you just started saying, David, what we know about Mitch McConnell is that his driving dream is to stack the courts, the federal courts with as many far right-wing judges as possible. Donald Trump made that possible. He supposedly had I think what he called the Biden rule that you cannot replace a Supreme Court justice in the midst of an election, a presidential election.

I presume that that rule will no longer be operative, if this opportunity is availed to him, now that it is.

CORN: Yes, we saw what happened with Merrick Garland in the last year of the Obama presidency, when he was nominated, I think it was back in February, plenty of time.

There's nothing in the Constitution that says you can't nominate someone eight, 10 months before an election. But the Republicans refused to give Merrick Garland a vote. They refused to consider it. They broke what was a tremendous norm in American politics, which was not unusual, given that many norms have been broken by Trump and his Republican cult in the last three-and-a-half years.

And now, no doubt, they're going to come back and say, oh, we didn't -- we were kidding back then or now things are different. And it will be a battle royal, as they try to grab this open seat, rather than adhering to the principle that they claim they had four years ago, when they said it should be up to the voters to pick the next president who will pick someone to fill this seat.

So, expect -- I mean, we talk a lot, Joy, about hypocrisy of the Republican Party. I think we will be hitting the peak with this controversy. That's my sad...


REID: Oh, I think it's clear.

I think Susan Collins will be concerned and still vote for whatever it is that is put forward by the Federalist Society and by this president. But he's really just signing off on whatever it is they want. And they're going to go for the farthest right, youngest justice that they can get.

And I don't know really what Democrats can really do at this stage, but for the consciences of some Republican in the Senate who tries to be consistent.

CORN: Yes.

REID: And you follow the -- Capitol Hill. Is there such a senator?

CORN: I mean, Mitt Romney and a few others might just say, enough.

I mean, betting on the Republicans in general has been a losing proposition, particularly in matters of principle and value and consistency.

But if Susan Collins is scared that this is going to cost her, her election, maybe she will say it's not the time. Maybe Mitt Romney will adhere to the previous principle. And then you need two other senators out there who won tight elections who think this might turn the tide against them.

So it's not a done deal, in and of itself. There will be a fight here. But it will be a tremendous fight, and it will show yet again the Republicans' true colors, that they don't care about norms, they don't care about principles that they previously espoused and fought for.

And we will get into the politics really soon here.

But we also just have to keep in mind the giant that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was, the tremendous contribution she made to American society, her advocacy, whether it was for health care programs that benefit low-income and middle-income Americans, whether it was for marriage rights for all.

I mean, she's been a part of a many historical decisions that have affected tens, if not hundreds of millions of millions of Americans, for the better. She has hung on for a long time. She's been a strong voice. Her dissents are marvelous to read, when she has gone up against the conservatives on the court.

It's -- she stands out amongst Supreme Court justices. Often, they're very special people on the right and on the left, but she truly stands out. And it is a -- it is a sad, dark day to lose her from the American experiment.

REID: Yes. Yes.

Absolutely. Stay with us, David.

I want to bring in Neal Katyal.

Neal, this is a tough one. This is one of the best known of the Supreme Court justices and most revered, particularly by American liberals, for her classic dissents, as David Corn just said, the idea of women, gender equality and the things that she advocated for.

Talk a little bit about what this loss means.

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I don't think that it's just that this is a loss for liberals at all. This is a loss for America.

I mean, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a true American hero in every sense of the word. She, as a lawyer, argued some of the most important cases on gender equality, as a justice pioneered all sorts of different areas of law, and had a brilliant, strong voice.

And I am heartbroken beyond words that she is no longer with us. Some called her the Thurgood Marshall of the women's rights movement. And that was true and part of her legacy. But there are so many more. And I think history will remember her incredibly kindly and influentially in a way that isn't true for all of the justices in our lifetimes.

But it's certainly true for her.

REID: Yes, I mean, she entered the popular culture, this idea of the Notorious RBG, her strength, her physical strength, her workout routine that many of us struggle to try to match that none of us could really do, her tenacity, both as a legal mind and just as a human being.

Talk about her relationships with these other justices. What were her alliances? Because I know some of them were rather ironic.

KATYAL: Well, I think that she did something that, frankly, all of us need to learn from and remember, particularly at this moment.

I mean, her best friend on the court was Antonin Scalia, who was the leader of the conservatives. And they had been best friends for decades. They used to spend the New Year's Eve together with their spouses.

And she is someone who respected strong voices, but didn't only limit her friends to those with whom she agreed. And she's really, like, a model citizen in that way. As the country is being so torn apart and polarized, I think it's worth everyone thinking a bit and reflecting not just on our her jurisprudence, but on that piece of her, because we have a lot to learn from it.

REID: Do you -- are you concerned that the court, Neal, is becoming just another politicized entity, that the reverence that people had for the court, from Bush v. Gore on, it feels less like something separate from the politics of the House and the Senate?

And I wonder, if without Ruth Bader Ginsburg there, does that just get worse?

KATYAL: Well, Bush vs. Gore was an undoubtedly very dark moment for the court, but I think the court has done a lot to recover and to really remind all Americans that they make decisions not on politics. Sometimes, maybe those considerations come in some cases.

But just take this year, for example. You had Justice -- President Trump's two appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh voting against him in the tax returns case. You had Chief Justice John Roberts and Trump's nominee -- and Trump's appointee Neil Gorsuch voting against Trump in the Title VII case about whether or not LGBT workers are protected in the workplace from -- with discrimination laws.

You had Chief Justice Roberts joining the four appointees by Democrats, Democratic presidents, to strike down DACA, the dreamers program, that President Trump had to basically try and send them back.

So you had a bunch of these reminders, and Chief Justice Roberts, of course, famously casting votes to say Obamacare. So, I think it's wrong descriptively to say that this is a court that makes decisions on political considerations.

And also, perception-wise, these are some big cases, and ones that didn't just follow political preferences. So, I don't know that Justice Ginsburg's passing itself will necessarily impact that, except to say there's an asterisk here, which is the replacement.

And we have had some pretty controversial hearings in the past. I certainly think it would be 100 percent inappropriate for President Trump to try and nominate someone. After all, the Republicans back in 2016 didn't even give Merrick Garland on the hearing.

If he does, though, I think the Democrats would be well within their rights to think about all sorts of recourses of action, including increasing the size of the Supreme Court in a Biden administration.

So there will be -- I think nobody should monkey with this. It should go through ordinary processes, and take the time to nominate someone worthy of our high court.

REID: We're going to take just a moment, as we have lots of great guests to speak with.

But we're going to very quickly play a package by Pete Williams about the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Take a look.


PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CHIEF CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ruth Bader Ginsburg was consistently one of the U.S. Supreme Court's moderate to liberal members.

First as a lawyer, then a judge and a justice, she believed the Constitution guaranteed women greater rights.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Over the course of now over two centuries, it has grown and developed so that more and more people are included in that concept we, the people.WILLIAMS: Rejected after law school for a Supreme Court clerkship because she was a woman, she began her legal career as a law professor and pioneering advocate for women's legal rights, successfully arguing a string of cases before the Supreme Court that made it easier to sue for sex discrimination.

It was President Carter who first appointed her to be a federal judge.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She has genuinely distinguished herself.

WILLIAMS: Then, in 1993, President Clinton put her on the Supreme Court, making her the second woman justice.

GINSBURG: It contributes to the end of the days when women, at least half the talent pool in our society, appear in high places only as one-at-a-time performers.

WILLIAMS: At her confirmation hearing, she clearly stated her support for the right to abortion.

GINSBURG: This is something central to a woman's life, to her dignity.

WILLIAMS: And, as a justice, she voted to uphold abortion rights. She wrote the court's opinion putting an end to the men-only policy at VMI, the Virginia Military Institute, saying it was based on outmoded stereotypes.

She joined the court's majorities in striking on the death penalty for juveniles and in ruling that -- quote -- "Death is not a suitable punishment for a mentally retarded criminal." She also voted to roll back Bush administration policies in the war on terror.

A blistering opinion in a case about equal pay for women renewed her standing as a feminist icon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We welcome today Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

WILLIAMS: She was nicknamed Notorious RBG, a play on a rapper's name, and featured in a documentary movie.

GINSBURG: I am 84 years old, and everyone wants to take a picture with me.


WILLIAMS: She married a fellow student in college, Martin Ginsburg. They had two children. Years later, she recalled receiving some practical advice on her wedding day.

GINSBURG: "It pays," mother said. "It pays sometimes to be a little deaf."


GINSBURG: I have followed that advice, with only occasional lapses, not only at home, but in the places I have worked and even in relating to my colleagues at the Supreme Court.


WILLIAMS: A passionate opera fan, she appeared in several Washington productions in full costume, but in silent roles.

Regular checkups and early intervention helped her recover from three surgeries for colon, pancreatic and lung cancer. And doctors inserted a stand after discovering blockage in a heart artery.

But the recurrence of cancer led to new rounds of treatment and hospital stays. And now the court's most powerful liberal justice is gone.

Pete Williams, NBC News, at the Supreme Court.


REID: Pete Williams talking about the life of the great Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has left us at age 87.

I believe we have Linda Greenhouse, Linda Greenhouse, longtime Supreme Court reporter at "The New York Times," has written about and documented the life and career of this great woman.

Linda, your thoughts on this dark night, I think, for a lot of people.

LINDA GREENHOUSE, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes, I mean, I have to say I'm just personally shaken. It was your call that gave me this news.

It's the end of an era, by which I mean this is a woman who was first in her class in law school and couldn't get a job. She was highly recommended for a Supreme Court clerkship, and Justice Felix Frankfurter famously said, she's great, but I just can't have a woman in my chambers.

And by the end of her life, we have seen a revolution in sex equality and other kinds of equality. And she was the spokesperson and the really architect of a whole new way of thinking about the meaning of equal protection under the Constitution.

So, it's a terrible loss of a great American life.

REID: Yes.

And what do you think she will be best remembered for? Obviously, her advocacy for women's rights, but she was also a key vote in issues of voting rights, something that's still not fully resolved and still has had some issues, Shelby, et cetera.

What do you think her greatest achievements will be viewed as?

GREENHOUSE: Well, unfortunately, of course, in the voting rights area, she was noted for her powerful dissenting opinion, where she says to Chief Justice Roberts' opinion in the majority in Shelby County, she said, that's like it stops raining and you say you don't need an umbrella, because he said, well, things have changed in the South, that we don't need the Voting Rights Act to protect people anymore.

She found a voice in dissent in the last, I'd say, 15 years of her career that was extremely powerful, up to and including this summer, when the court enabled the Trump administration to let employers who didn't want to provide contraception coverage totally off the hook.

And she said, there's hundreds of thousands of women who are going to be deprived because of this decision of a benefit at work to which they're legally entitled. And she was the one who said that.

REID: Yes.

GREENHOUSE: So, we have we have loved a powerful dissenting voice.

REID: Yes, indeed.

Linda Greenhouse, thank you so much. We really appreciate you being here. Tough night.

Thank you very much.


REID: I want to bring in my friend and colleague Ari Melber.

Ari, your thoughts on tonight?

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: ... change on the court. Justice Ginsburg...

REID: Do we have Ari?

MELBER: Yes, can you hear me, Ari Melber joining you, Joy?

REID: Yes. Yes. Yes, I have got you. Go ahead.

MELBER: Joining you on a sad night.

It's a huge loss for the more liberal way of the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg, the second woman to ever serve on the court, known not only for her opinions on women's equality and civil rights, but also someone who built bridges.

She famously had a strong working relationship with Justice Scalia. She was known to have a good working relationship with Justice Roberts. Her loss on the court immediately means the court is now more conservative with eight votes.

And, as you were discussing Joy, the brawling that may come over how to fill and when to fill this seat would be profound, because if this were a seat that was soon filled with a Republican appointee, you would have a complete shift in the power balance of this court.

Justice Roberts has become a swing vote. If this were replaced with a strong conservative on issues ranging from abortion to civil rights to voting rights, it would be a profound shift.

So, while every key member of this small group of people that serve on the Supreme Court is important, I don't think it's overstatement, Joy, to emphasize that Justice Ginsburg's death and thus this vacancy could profoundly alter the court's position on many issues.

REID: Yes, indeed, indeed, indeed.

Ari Melber, my friend, thank you very much. Really appreciate you coming back on to talk about this.

I want to go now to Jon Meacham, historian and our friend on the show.

And, Jon, give us some perspective. I think we desperately need it in this moment.

JON MEACHAM, NBC NEWS HISTORIAN: Well, Justice Ginsburg represented the best of the American tradition, the best of a devotion to the American experiment, to the notion that the story of the country should be the realization and the expansion of the implications of the promise of the Declaration of Independence.

She believed in the journey toward a more perfect union. And that does not have to be a partisan or ideological or red or blue or liberal or conservative point. It's simply a clinical observation that she gave her life to expanding rights and understood that the country was at its best when we widened our arms, when we extended a hand, not when we clenched a fist or tried to build walls.

She was, as Ari was just saying, a builder of bridges, quite close personally to Justice Scalia, a -- from all we know, a force for a kind of conciliation and unity within the -- what was once the brethren, before Justice O'Connor and before Justice Ginsburg.

And so it's a loss for the nation. It's a loss for those of us who believe that, fundamentally, if enough of us devote ourselves in our hearts and minds to that experiment, that American history can be redemptive, that there can be a journey from darkness to light.

And so the country, I think, should rightly pause and mourn this remarkably pioneering life, which was given to a realization that what Thomas Jefferson wrote in a different era could mean real change and real possibility from era to era to era.

And it sets up again, as Ari was saying, a remarkably contentious few weeks here, as we await the incumbent president's response. And it's not too much to say -- and I feel a little uncomfortable talking about this, but, apparently, Justice Ginsburg is reported, I think by NPR, to have put out a statement -- or a posthumous statement for the public, that she hoped that a new president would be installed before she was replaced.

We cannot, in our American moment today, really overestimate the power of the Supreme Court as an organizing principle and galvanizing issue for both sides of the American ideological spectrum. Since the school prayer decisions in the early 1960s, the Supreme Court has been a kind of E-Day fix of the conservative movement in the country, beginning with the Warren court, particularly -- well, May 17, 1954, which in many ways is the day modernity began in America, because that's the day that Earl Warren, a Republican appointee, announced a unanimous decision, declaring that separate, but equal was an uncommon institutional principle.

Liberals have understood that the law could be used as a liberating force. So, conservatives have sought to turn that back. Liberals have sought to advance that mission. And Justice Ginsburg's legacy is secure, what she did.

But the future and the efficacy and the durability of that legacy will in many ways be determined by the outcome of this presidential election.

REID: Yes.

And I -- unfortunately, think that no one doubts that it is not going to be pretty, and that this fight is going to be perhaps one of the most epic political fights that we have seen in a very, very long time, because, you're right, we should take our time and take a moment to pause to reflect on this great woman and her contributions.

But politics doesn't wait for long and doesn't wait for much and doesn't pause for much and doesn't respect much. And, unfortunately, I think it's coming.

Thank you to all my guests. Thank you so much, Jon, Jon Meacham. I always appreciate your voice.

Thank you to all my guests on this sad night.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died at the age of 87. MSNBC will have continuing coverage all night long.



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