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Transcript: The ReidOut, September 22, 2020

Guests: Charlie Sykes, Bob Woodward, Doug Jones, Sunny Hostin

Summary

Supreme Court vacancy won't distract from Trump's COVID failures. Former COVID task force member slams Trump's pandemic response. Troye says, when you're the president, words matter. Trump holds super-spreader rally in Pennsylvania. Model predicts 378,000 U.S. virus deaths by January 1. Trump is still spreading misinformation about COVID-19. Twenty-year-old athlete dies of blood clot after contracting virus. Trump claims virus affects virtually nobody as U.S. death toll tops 201,000; U.S. has 6.9 million cases and more than 201,000 deaths. Trump supporters boo Ohio lieutenant governor when he mentions masks. Cindy McCain is said to formally endorse Joe Biden. Poll shows confidence in potential vaccine decreasing. Woodward book provides insights into Trump and his administration.

Transcript

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for jumping on the phone and thank you as always at home for watching us here on THE BEAT with Ari Melber, I'll see you tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern

Right now it's "THE REIDOUT" with Joy Reid.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, Donald Trump and his party would like us to talk about the Supreme Court, as he and Mitch McConnell are moving full speed ahead in their attempt to steal the seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And we're going to get to the court issues later in the show.

But the most urgent crisis, the thing he doesn't want us to talk about is that more than 200,000 Americans are dead due to COVID, and he is still lying to us about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, in some states, thousands of people, nobody young, below the age of 18, like nobody. They have a strong immune system. Who knows?

It affects virtually nobody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: That is what he said last night in Ohio, because, apparently, the more than 6.9 million cases in this country and the more than 201,000 lives lost belonged to nobody.

We now know from the reporting in Bob Woodward's new book that Trump was warned on January 28th, on January 28th of this year, of the looming scope of this crisis. And in a little while, Woodward will join me. That January 28th warning is something Olivia Troye, who worked closely with Mike Pence on the coronavirus task force as recently as a month ago, discussed in her first television interview with my colleague, Andrea Mitchell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER MIKE PENCE AIDE: We certainly had a task force meeting and discussion where we had this conversation that this was going to be big.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: That early, January 28th?

TROYE: Late January, we knew.

MITCHELL: Yet, the president was saying a week later it's going to disappear.

TROYE: It was frightening. You know, when you are the president, words matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: But even as people around him and experts stress that words do matter, Donald Trump continues to spread misinformation, as he did last night. And as he almost certainly will again this hour as he's holding yet another one of his super-spreader rallies this time in Pennsylvania.

Well, it shouldn't be surprising because, as Olivia Troye noted, Trump is not looking out for Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TROYE: He was really focused on public image, messaging and it was really more about, you know, his personal agenda than really the agenda that the task force had at hand, which was how are we going to save and protect Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Meanwhile, cases continue to climb with many states setting records in recent weeks. Wisconsin, a key battleground, has seen an alarming surge, so much so that the state's governor has declared a new public health emergency and extended a mask mandate through late November.

And experts continue to warn the country that -- warn that the country is headed in the wrong direction. The Institute for Health Metric and Evaluation, a leading model cited by the administration, now projects that the death toll in this country will exceed 378,000 people. Take that in for a second, 378,000 by the beginning of next year.

Joining me now is Dr. Lipi Roy, Internal Medicine Physician, and Charlie Sykes, Editor-At-Large at The Bulwark.

Nobody, the nobodies that have died, that Donald Trump sees as nobody, nobody really has died, nobody. Nobody young, especially.

Yahoo Sports has a headline about the family of a college football player who was only 20 years old. His name was Jamain Stephens Jr., saying he died of a blood clot in his heart he contracting after having COVID. His mom was on with my friend and colleague, Ayman Mohyeldin, today, and she spoke about that because her son was actually somebody. And here she is talking about him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY ALLEN, SON DIED OF COVID-19 COMPLICATIONS: Leave the science to the scientists.

My son was 20 years old, an athlete and had just had a physical ten days prior to ending up in the hospital where he had a clean bill of health. So, you can't tell me that it doesn't impact young people. It doesn't discriminate by age or race or gender because I am sitting here right now without my son.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: You know, Dr. Lipi Roy, this young man was a college student. You know they picks him a big strong kid, he goes to college. And in the interview with Ayman, you know, Mrs. Allen, Kelly Allen, talked about how her son's roommate had a cough, and that was the start of it. And soon she lost him. He's gone. He was 20, he was a kid.

Can you just walk through for us as a doctor the irresponsibility of Donald Trump getting up in front of a crowd, everyone in front of him doesn't have masks on him, they put some people behind him with masks and saying almost nobody dies of this, almost nobody dies of this who is young?

DR. LIPI ROY, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Joy, this is been, this past week certainly has been an eventful one, hasn't it? It's a week where we saw -- where we surpassed the somber milestone of over 200,000 lives lost from a largely preventable disease, 200,000 last I checked is not nobody. Ms. Allen's son is not nobody, 20 years old.

And by the way, just yesterday, we lost -- yesterday, the day before, we lost Dr. Adeline Fagan, an obstetrician and gynecology resident in training who died from a complication of coronavirus, a hemorrhagic stroke. She was 28 years old. Not nobody and certainly not just the elderly, not to diminish that, of course, either.

This illness, this coronavirus pandemic, Joy, and we have talked about this for months now, largely preventable. At this point in the game, it's now September. We have been talking about this since March, April. At this point in the game, it's not the virus that's killing people, it's colossal failure in leadership.

As you know, Joy, I'm right now in Canada visiting family. I'm quarantining, as required by the Canadian government. Canada just reported last week for the first time in six months zero deaths from coronavirus and maybe about 500 cases per day. In stark contrast, United States is still averaging about a thousand deaths per day and 40,000 new cases every day.

Why do you think there is that difference? Canadians and Americans aren't that different biologically. It's about leadership. The Canadian officials, elected officials, direct -- defer to their health officials and they advice masks, they advice distancing, these simple but effective public health measures that are keeping Canadians safe. The United States simply is not doing that.

REID: Yes, absolutely. And you think about of -- let me show the lieutenant governor of Ohio, a state whose Republican governor had at least tried to take COVID seriously. Here is this lieutenant governor getting booed for suggesting to a Trump crowd that they put on masks to save their lives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GOV. JON HUSTED (R-OH): But if you're going to a grocery store where you got to wear one, all right --

Hang on. Hang on, just listen up. Just listen up. All right, I get it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: You know, Charlie, this is why sober and serious people are starting to refer to their Republican Party as a death cult because they're booing the idea of saving their own lives and other people's lives. This young man was healthy and young and died. But even if he had been a senior citizen, senior citizens, our grandmas are not nobody, our grandpas are not nobody. Our elders are not nobody. So, essentially, is Donald Trump saying don't worry about, it's only old people who are going to die, that's nobody, because we're going to get to 378,000 people. Are Republican voters really writing those people off as nobody?

CHARLIE SYKES, THE BULWARK EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Well, first of all, I want to say that I'm really glad that you started the show with this because this really is a tragic milestone. And what we're seeing right now in that videotape is an example of one of the most reckless moments in this reckless presidency.

It's not just that Donald Trump has downplayed the seriousness of this, because we knew that. In real-time though, what he is doing is instead of modeling empathy, he is modeling indifference. He is encouraging this politicization of masks and social distancing and he is become a vector of disinformation.

And I think that all of those things, you know, not only do you look back on the epic failure of this country, which now has 21 percent of the worldwide coronavirus deaths, even though we only have 4 percent of the population. That number could double by the end of the year.

So we've seen the failure. But what you are seeing right now is a president who instead of providing leadership is almost treating this like a joke. This is not normal. This is not politics. This is a failure -- this is not just a failure of political leadership. This is a failure of humanity.

So, I think we do need to step back and imagine how this is going to look to historians who say, how did more than 400,000 Americans die? What were you saying, what were you thinking? And they have crowds show up and boo someone for suggesting the wearing of mask, even a Trump mask, when we know that that's the one way of mitigating this.

You know, it's not nobody. There are thousands, tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of Americans who will die who do not have to die. It could be mitigated by leadership. It could be even mitigated by the masks, by the social distancing. And you're seeing the president who clearly is not looking out for us because he is pushing his own agenda, as Olivia said in the earlier segment.

REID: I mean, and so you do have -- Cindy McCain is going to come out by the way. I discuss this with you for a second Charlie. Cindy McCain is going to formally endorse Joe Biden tomorrow. That's happening tomorrow. So you're starting to see Republicans who are, you know -- what is your fellow member of the never Trump Republicans say, their souls are coming back into their bodies and say I can't do this, right? So you have a lot of Republicans who are trying to come out and help Joe Biden.

Donald Trump is still the leading a group of voters, tens of millions of them, who now know that he said that they themselves are disgusting people that he doesn't want to have to go near, and he's glad he doesn't have to shake hands, he doesn't touch them, they're disgusting. They're like, yes, sir, thank you, but may I have some more?

So, I wonder how we get our public health back even if Joe Biden gets back in office because they're still going to be in Target coughing on things.

SYKES: You know, I do worry about that. I do worry about the attack on science, the attack on truth, the way it will spread this sort of disinformation and this suspicion. But, you know, mentioned Cindy McCain. And something rather remarkable is happening. You are seeing members of the Trump administration itself who are coming out and saying, we are in the room, this is what we saw, trying to warn the American public. Whatever you think about this man, this is who he is.

So, whatever happens on November 3rd, we will have been warned, we will have been told. And one after another, you're having other Republican leaders, like Cindy McCain, who are saying, look, we may agree with him on policy, but we don't share his values and this is not a normal election. And I think that you're seeing their response.

REID: And last question to you, Dr. Roy. People don't want to take this vaccine. The numbers are pretty stark. Only very or somewhat willing to take a vaccine 39 percent, not very likely at all, 53 percent -- sorry, it's 47 percent versus 53 percent say no. Are you concerned that even after Trump is gone, people will be so afraid of taking a vaccine he had anything to do with that people won't be willing to take it?

ROY: Yes. There is a legitimate concern, Joy, that, in some ways, a lot of damage has already been done by the narrative, by the false messaging, by the misleading messaging.

And, by the way, when the president says he just wanted to downplay it, let's call a spade a spade. It's not downplaying, it's deliberately misleading and lying to the public. And this matters to doctors and health care professionals when you're talking about life and death.

So let's be very clear.

REID: Absolutely.

ROY: He knew what he knew when he knew it. And if we disseminated this information about preventive health measures months ago, we're talking 150,000 lives easily saved.

Regarding the vaccine, again, the concern right now, Joy, is that none of the companies have completed phase three trials even if, say, by December -- that some of the conservative estimates, even then, yes, they'll have tested a larger number of people, but we just don't know how effective or what the adverse events will be.

We'll have a better idea in December, but, remember, historically, every vaccine takes 15, 20 years. So for us to just ram this through less than a year, I'm not surprised by the public's skepticism, to be honest, Joy.

REID: Yes. They're wise. It's wise skepticism. Dr. Lipi Roy, Charlie Sykes, thank you, my friends. Really appreciate it.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, speaking of what did he know and when did he know it, Bob Woodward joins me on how Trump, to this very day, continues to deny that COVID is a threat, even though he admitted to Woodward that he knows better as he spreads disease and misinformation at his rallies.

And the Republican Supreme Court hypocrisy, hey, Democrats, don't get sad, get mad and make them pay in November and beyond. Senator Doug Jones of Alabama joins me.

Plus, the growing threat in Pennsylvania that as many as 100,000 mail-in ballots will not be counted and what could be done to fight back.

Back with more of THE REIDOUT after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: In Bob Woodward's new book, Rage, we get a behind the scenes portrait of a disorganized and mercurial administration dictated by the erratic impulses of an easily manipulated man. According to Woodward, when Trump was pressing China for more access, Xi Jinping reportedly told Trump, quote, I asked the United States and your officials not to take actions that would create further panic, unquote. Interestingly enough, that is a line that Trump parrots to this day to the American people when explaining why he hides the truth about the coronavirus.

Xi Jinping also reportedly helped fuel Trump's bogus claim that warmer weather would play a role in minimizing the threat of the virus. As the death toll continued to climb, Trump told Woodward, I don't take responsibility for this, I have nothing to do with this, I take responsibility for solving the problem but I don't take responsibility for this. No, we did a good job.

For more I'm joined now by Bob Woodward, Associate Editor of The Washington Post and Author of, Rage.

I have the book right here.

And it is a disturbing and scintillating portrait of this president, Bob.

But let's talk about coronavirus first.

The extent to which Donald Trump is taking his talking points from China, I think, will shock a lot of people. Did it -- tell us a little bit more about that.

BOB WOODWARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, it surprised me.

But what's most shocking, Joy, is that he's running around talking about giving himself, I think, yesterday or a couple of days earlier, an A-plus for his handling of this. And 200,000 people in our country have died.

It -- I'm embarrassed for him, I'm embarrassed for the country that somebody could run around and say things like that and apparently believe them. Again, we don't know. He abrogated his responsibility as the leader in two ways.

In an early interview I did with him, I asked, what's the job of the president? And he said the job of the president is to protect the people. On that front, he's failed miserably.

Second job of the president is to tell the truth. And he was warned in a key meeting that will be written about in the history books for decades, I believe, January 28, when his national security team told him in a top-secret meeting that, as Robert O'Brien, the national security adviser, said: The virus is going to be the biggest national security threat to your presidency.

The deputy, Matt Pottinger, laid out why. He had contacts in China. He knew they were lying and covering up, and that this was going to be like the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.

Trump knew that, and he did not share that information in any form with the American people. It is -- I have never seen a president who would be so indifferent to his responsibility to take care and to warn us when something dangerous is coming.

REID: You know, and Donald Trump has tried to write off your book, even though there are tapes of everything that he said, as -- to really blame you for not going forward with the information that you had, which is ridiculous.

You're a journalist. Your job is to do journalism. But you were also writing a book, and you are also deputy editor at "The Washington Post."

WOODWARD: Well, but it is a fair question, Joy.

REID: But let me ask you a question, yes, because did you -- were you tempted, as you heard this information, and you're alarmed by hearing, oh, he knows it's airborne, especially that airborne?

That word sticks in my head. Did you think to yourself, maybe I just need to write a story about this, forget the book, let me just write a story and put it in "The Washington Post" right then and there?

WOODWARD: No, because I -- I would do this.

I have a public safety, public health responsibility, as a journalist, if I know something. First of all, I didn't know whether it was true, and it was very clear, in the context of February, he was talking about China.

The doctors, Dr. Fauci, at the end of February was saying everyone can go to the gym and the movies and the malls. And it was only in March when it exploded. There's no story for me to do, because everyone knows it's airborne and it's deadly.

I did not learn until May about the January 28 key meeting, when he was told that. Then I realized, that's what he was talking about, and I asked him about that, and that's when he said, oh, I like to play it down. I like to play it down, so he doesn't want to create panic.

Now, that is absurd. If you know the people you are leading -- one of the great things in our country is, when people are told the truth, they will rally, they will gather together. Look what happened after 9/11. George W. Bush mobilized the country, the Congress, the world about the terrorist attacks and organized a response.

And Trump just buried his head in the sand on this. I have done this for almost 50 years reporting on presidents. And it's one of the most outrageous acts of negligence and indifference. And, as I quote Tony Fauci, the head of infectious diseases in our country, that he -- in these meetings with Trump, the only thing Trump was interested in was reelection.

REID: Let me ask you this.

WOODWARD: Sure.

REID: A lot of what you write about are the various influences on Trump, lots of foreign influences, people he's very suggestible to, dictators like Kim Jong-un, like Xi Jinping, like, obviously, Vladimir -- I mean, Putin, Vladimir Putin.

But there are also people in our country who are constantly trying to sort of dictate to him and sort of get him to do what they want. You have Jared Kushner, on the one hand, who's saying that it's an 80/20, that 20 percent of the people in the administration are trying to save the country from Trump and 80 percent are on board. So, that's one bucket of potential influence. The seen of him in his highchair is unforgettable.

But there's also Lindsey Graham, who is a curious figure that you write a lot about.

I'm going to read a little bit of this, Senator Lindsey Graham, and he said, "We" -- when it comes to Supreme Court nominees, he said: "We weeded out some real wackos. It's only going to get worse over time, though. The judiciary is going to get far more ideological. It changes the Senate. It's just a matter of time until the Senate becomes the House. So, the judiciary is going to be -- going to fundamentally change in our lifetime, because we don't need any support from the other side."

But you also have him in the book trying to influence Trump and saying, hey, you should do more on COVID because it's going to be a disaster for you politically. And Trump doesn't listen to him.

Lindsey Graham's currency is his influence, supposedly, with Trump. Does he have any?

WOODWARD: He has some. And he offers some very rational, reasonable ideas.

He said, you're going to lose this election if you don't start doing something for the American people, by the way. One of the interesting multiple discussions with Trump I had was, do you understand black people and their anger and pain?

And when I laid this out to him -- the recording of this is available. I don't know that you have heard it, Joy. But, I mean, here, look at this. He then says to me, Oh, Bob, you drank the Kool-Aid, listen to you, when I'm simply asking him about, do you understand what Black Lives Matter people, what black people in this country feel, and particularly from the position he has of white privilege?

And he just -- he mocked me in a way that I, quite frankly, was shocked that anyone, let alone the president, was so out of tune about what was happening in this country.

REID: Bob Woodward, thank you very much. Really appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

And still ahead: While it might sometimes seem like Republicans -- seem like Republicans are winning, six weeks from this very moment on election night, they're going to start learning the consequences of ramming through a Supreme Court nominee who could leave millions without health care in the midst of a deadly pandemic and take away a woman's right to choose.

That's next on THE REIDOUT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Remember the despair, the hopelessness that you felt in 2018 when Brett Kavanaugh, despite multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, was sworn in as Trump's second Supreme Court justice?

It was one of the many atrocities by Trump and Republicans that put gasoline into the blue wave that snatched back the House in the 2018 midterm elections.

So, now the empire strikes back, with Republicans leaning all the way into their hypocrisy to force a third Trump nominee onto the Supreme Court before the election.

Well, allow me to remind you of Newton's third law of physics. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. And the most natural reaction in politics is payback.

President Obama and Democrats' victory in passing the Affordable Care Act fueled the rise of the Tea Party movement, which switched from opposing mortgage relief to zeroing in on health care, even inventing death panels to freak out conservative voters, and producing a Republican wave election in 2010.

They couldn't stop Obamacare from happening, so 2010 was about punishing every member of Congress who voted for it, payback.

This SCOTUS seat will produce a six three court that will very likely setback abortion rights and obliterate that very health care for tens of millions of people, even as Trump keeps lying to his supporters that he has a super-secret, so-much-better health care plan. He doesn't. Republicans don't.

They just don't believe that people who have preexisting conditions or can't afford health care should have it. It's that simple.

So, let Republicans high-five over a new Trump nominee and squint right past the graves of 201,000 fellow Americans. As sickening as their gleefulness is, they're not even going to let Ruth Bader Ginsburg be buried before grabbing and snatching for her seat.

Payback, though, is a fundamental rule of politics, action, reaction. And, come November, the Jedi return.

And joining me now is Senator Doug Jones of Alabama.

And, Senator Jones, I feel like Democrats have a sort of learned helplessness problem, where Republicans do a terrible thing, a thing that's normal for them, the thing they do. They're a hypocrite on this or that issue, or they try to take people's health care, and Democrats go, oh, my God, we're going to lose.

But Democrats right now are in the winning position in a number of Senate seats. I mean I could go through them. They're ahead in Georgia -- or tied in Georgia, tied in Texas. Mark Kelly is ahead in Arizona. The North Carolina seat, they're ahead of Thom Tillis.

So, Democrats are actually in a strong position. Can you speak, from somebody who as a -- as somebody who is in a vulnerable seat, what should Democrats be doing right now?

SEN. DOUG JONES (D-AL): I think Democrats should be continuing to speak out about the hypocrisy that we're seeing with this judicial selection.

Joy, the job of a Senate is to provide for the national defense. It's to do those things that are in Article 1 of the Constitution, not Article 2. We are not doing our job. Democrats, like me and others, have been saying, please, let's get our coronavirus package together. People are hurting out there.

REID: Yes.

JONES: The elections need security. We need -- cities and counties need help. There's all manner of things. We're skipping over that.

There was no urgency from Senator McConnell. So we're going to skip over that. We have been asking for the NDAA appropriations, which is what we should be doing. We're going to jump over all of that because there's an urgency for the Supreme Court nomination, but there's not an urgency for us to do our constitutional Article 1 duty.

And it's just wrong, and it's clearly the height of hypocrisy from Mitch McConnell.

REID: Yes, absolutely. Yes, get a stimulus bill done. Do that, McConnell.

Can I play you something that Hillary Clinton said to me earlier? I taped an interview with her for The Texas Tribune Festival. And this is what she said, which I think put it as well as you just did in really succinct terms, this fight. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: They're also making it increasingly difficult for people who had that virus, who are still suffering from some kind of exhaustion, I have heard, some heart problems, I have heard, brain fogginess, I have heard, whatever it might be.

It will now be a preexisting condition. This could not be more diabolical. And I think that Democrats need to be absolutely clear at the federal level in this fight with McConnell and Trump, but also in the Senate races, that any vote for any Republican is literally about to cost you money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Is that a part of your messaging to Democratic voters in Alabama, that taking that Supreme Court seat is about getting rid of health care, and not letting people who have COVID, who then have preexisting conditions, have health care?

JONES: Well, Joy, look, here's the -- here's the thing in Alabama. I don't talk to just Democratic voters. I talk to all voters in Alabama.

Health care is a huge part of the issues that we face in Alabama. Alabama did not expand Medicaid when we should have years ago. And so, going into this pandemic, there were over 300,000 Alabamians that should have gotten health care that were not getting health care, working people of Alabama.

So we talk about health care in this in that way. We talk about it being jeopardized, not just from the Supreme Court pick. Health care in this country is being jeopardized by this administration and by Mitch McConnell consistently. They have never had a plan to do this.

Now the president is coming up, as I understand it, with a few executive orders that will have constitutional -- it's dubious at best whether he can do the those things.

REID: Yes.

JONES: They're just political ploys to try to get back into the game of trying to talk about health care, when it's something that we have been talking about, I have been talking about since I ran in 2017.

REID: Yes.

Let's really quickly -- we know you -- most people who know of you know of you because you did prosecute those Klansmen who blew up the 16th Baptist Church, and God bless you for that.

But you are facing an opponent named Tommy Tuberville, who's known for his football coaching career. But I want to play you a September 1 call that he had with the rotary club, with a rotary club, the Sunrise Rotary Club, in which he was asked to -- asked whether he supported an extension of the Voting Rights Act.

Here's his answer:

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

QUESTION: Speaking of history taught in school, do you support extension of the Voting Rights Act?

TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R), ALABAMA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, yes, you know, the thing about -- the thing about the Voting Rights Act is, it's -- you know, you -- there's a lot of different things you can look at it as.

Who is it going to help? You know, it's like education. I mean, it's got to have structure. Now, for some reason, we look at things to change to think we're going to make it better, but we'd better do a lot of work on it before we make that change.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

REID: Senator, do you have any idea what he's talking about?

JONES: Well, there's another part of that clip where he's talking about it having to be secure and the government running.

I mean, look, the fact is that he doesn't -- is not prepared to be a Senate candidate, much less a senator. He doesn't -- Alabama was the birthplace of the Voting Rights Act in Selma, and John Lewis, and all that we went through and all of the history that came back to life this summer with John Lewis' passing.

To not have a clue what the Voting Rights Act is, is unconscionable. It's just stunning that he wouldn't have that, just a basic in-depth knowledge about that.

But that's what we're seeing over and over with Tommy Tuberville. He doesn't know the issues. He gives a half-time pep talk to his team. And that's it.

He doesn't do the X's and O's. He doesn't get down in the weeds.

REID: Yeah.

JONES: He just gives that pep talk.

REID: Senator Doug Jones, thank you for your time. I mean, this time, you're not facing an opponent who would have trouble getting into hot topic. But you are still facing somebody who is a very interesting figure.

Very good luck in your race. Thank you very much, sir.

JONES: Well, Joy, thanks for having me.

REID: Of course. Thank you very much.

And up next, battleground Pennsylvania and the Republican effort to count as few ballots as possible. That story is straight ahead.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: It's National Voter Registration Day. But an elections official in Pennsylvania is warning that a recent court ruling could lead to electoral chaos. Pennsylvania voters are required to seal their mail-in ballots in a secrecy envelope. And the state Supreme Court ruled that ballots received without that envelope known as naked ballots will be thrown out in.

A letter to lawmakers yesterday, Philadelphia Commissioners chair, Lisa Deeley, said that this decision has set Pennsylvania up to be the subject of significant post-election controversy, the likes of which we have not seen since Florida in 2000.

She knows that more than 100,000 votes statewide could not be counted all because of a minor technicality. Donald Trump won the state in 2016 by just 44,000 votes.

And joining me now is Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general and MSNBC legal analyst.

So, Neal, let's just get right into that. The Pennsylvanians -- the Pennsylvania Republican Party wants to appeal this case all the way to the Supreme Court, which, of course, now in this era is a scary prospect.

What do you make of their chances?

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: OK, so, Joy. There's two different parts of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision. One part is about the so-called naked ballot issue which sounds salacious but it's just about a privacy envelope. And, you know, privacy envelopes are nice before you seal up your ballot and put it in the mail. It'd be nice to have them. It's a little bizarre to think that it's somehow a requirement for voting. But that is what the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reading its state law found.

So the Republicans had gone to the Supreme Court and said throw out -- the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said throw out all of these votes when they come in if they don't have this envelope. And that could have a pretty massive impact. There's at least one estimate I saw that in 2019, over 6 percent of ballots were missing this naked -- this privacy envelope. And when you think that in 2016 the presidential election -- President Trump had 44,000 more votes than the challenger, just under 1 percent, this could be a really big deal.

So, this piece is not going to lead (ph) to Supreme Court.

(CROSSTALK)

REID: Yeah, absolutely. It's not.

NEAL: I was going to say, this piece is not going to the U.S. Supreme Court because this part's about state law. And I think it's up to the Pennsylvania legislature to right now really correct the record and make sure that all these votes are not thrown out just because of a technicality.

You know, Republicans and Democrats should certainly agree on that. Your other question was about the other part of the Pennsylvania decision, because the other part said that if you have a mail-in ballot, that you can just -- that they extended out the delay at the time when the ballot had to be received by the election authorities.

So that was seen as helping Democrats, that ruling, and that's why the Republicans tonight have announced they're going to try and appeal that to the U.S. Supreme Court. I think that's probably going nowhere. It seems like a pretty bogus challenge. But there -- you know, good luck.

REID: Yeah. I mean, well, at this point, I think there's so little trust in what the Supreme Court will do. Especially now, it's a four-four court. So we hope that you will be right on that. And just to underscore how important it is, Joe Biden right now, at least according to Real Clear Politics Average, is leading Donald Trump by just four points. It's a 49-45 race.

Let's move on to New York. The Justice Department has done a thing that is pretty alarming and seems, I don't know, how it could be legal. They decided to deem New York City, Portland, and Seattle, three American cities, to be anarchist jurisdictions ordering a review of federal funding to locales where violence has occurred during protests. The Justice Department has cited city council's voting to cut police funding.

The refusal to prosecute protesters on charges like disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly, and the rejection of federal intervention an injury suffer by law enforcement officials as reasons why they condemn -- why they can designate these anarchist jurisdictions. Whuh? What is happening here?

KATYAL: I mean, this is absurd both factually and legally. Factually, the idea that the attorney general of the United States is furthering this silly narrative about our cities, calling them anarchist is preposterous to me, as you know, image after image on Instagram yesterday in Central Park in New York with people like walking their dogs, like, this doesn't seem like anarchy to me, where people getting parking tickets and the like.

You know, I would expect the attorney general and president to be a cheerleader for America instead of trying to tear it down, but that's what they seem to be bent on doing. And then, legally, what they're trying to do is say if you're a so-called anarchist city, we get to cut off federal funds to these cities, you know, including for health care, policing, all kinds of things. That is flatly unconstitutional every day of the week. They tried that with sanctuary cities and I had the privilege of representing the city of Philadelphia and challenging that.

And, honestly, those are layoff. That wasn't a hard case to argue. The Court of Appeals with conservative judges on it said Barr and Trump acted unconstitutionally. They haven't learned their lesson. They're doing the same thing again.

And the most telling fact is in their 1,500-word memo on trying to justify this thing, not a single legal citation, not one. That tells you all you need to know.

REID: (INAUDIBLE) Fort Lane (ph), Coffee City in like New York, where it's -- yeah, I was just there a couple of weeks ago. It's fine. Wow.

Neal Katyal, thank you very much. Always appreciate your expertise. Appreciate it.

KATYAL: Yeah.

REID: And, by the way, a quick reminder on this National Voter Registration Day, head over to NBC's PlanYourVote.com to find out how to get registered and vote in your state.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, "The View's" Sunny Hostin is here to talk about Trump's attacks on Kamala Harris and her new book about growing up and finding her place between two worlds.

We'll be right back.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You see the condition he's in. You can't have him as your president. And you know what? You can't have her as your vice president, potentially going to be president.

And that's why they're pushing so hard, because they know he's going to be out very soon, and she's going the take over, and she's the furthest left person of anybody. We're going to have a woman president some day, but you know what? It can't be Kamala. Kamala.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Welcome to Donald Trump's latest tactics, since he hasn't been able to land an effective attack on Joe Biden, Trump has increased his focus on Biden's running mate, Senator Kamala Harris. Good luck with that.

Joining me now is Sunny Hostin, host of "The View" and author of "I Am These Truths: A Memoir of Identity, Justice and Living Between Worlds."

I am in the midst of your book and enjoying it, Sunny. I really enjoy -- I always love when people put pictures in. I go right to those first before I start reading. I just will tell you that's what I did.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": I do, too.

REID: Let's talk about this -- right? You have to do it. I love seeing people's pictures, especially the pictures of your parents and everything.

But, my friend, let's talk about Kamala Harris, because you were part of an op-ed that in a lot of ways I think a lot of people feel was responsible for Kamala Harris being on the ticket and saying that there were three things that Joe Biden needed to do in order to win black women voters in a big way.

They needed a black woman as vice president. They needed a black female Supreme Court justice, something he's promised to do, and that he needs a comprehensive black agenda.

On number three, what do you think that that agenda needs to have in it? And also about Senator Harris, what do you make of Trump's attacks on her?

HOSTIN: Well, you know, it's interesting. Let me answer your second question. It's interesting about the attacks, because remember that there were a group of women who also wrote a letter to the media, and I think it was entitled "We Have Her Back." And they warned that these sort of sexist and racial tropes would be used and weaponized if a woman of color was chosen as his vice presidential candidate.

And that's what's happening, right? It's just -- it's come true. And those racial and sexist tropes are those that have been used against me, I'm sure they've been used against you, Joy.

We're talking about the angry black woman trope. Trump also, you know, reached into his birther playbook and said that Kamala may not be qualified to run for president, even though she was born in Oakland, California, which didn't make a lot of sense to me. That attack.

He also -- I think recently he said that Kamala wasn't very smart. Not as smart as Elizabeth Warren. So that goes to another -- another trope.

I think he's doing it, as you mentioned, because he's losing in the polls to Joe Biden. Nothing is sticking to Joe Biden. And so why not try to reach into that bigot playbook and try to attack Kamala Harris.

But we knew this was going to happen. I don't think it's effective. I think she's such a strong candidate. People are supporting Kamala Harris, and so, that isn't going to be effective. And I think it shows his true desperation.

In terms of a black agenda, Joe Biden has put forth a black agenda. And it has an economic plan, which I think is truly very important. It has a plan for police reform, which is extremely, extremely important to the community.

And I think with those two prongs addressed, I believe that he is -- the Biden/Harris administration is -- would be headed in the right direction for true diversity and equality in our country. Which is, I think, just so sorely needed and people are protesting in the streets and looking for that, looking for that at this time in our country.

REID: Yeah. Well, we know we're looking to see a Breonna Taylor decision on that case tomorrow. And I know you're going to be watching that, too.

But I want to talk a bit about your book.

You talk about growing up in these two worlds as the daughter of a Puerto Rican and -- Puerto Rican and black parents and how that played out.

When you look at the diversity in this country, the emerging, you know, multiracial majority, how do people like you fit into that and what is your messaging? What do you want to get across in this book?

HOSTIN: You know, my parents got married in 1968. And I realized that the Loving decision allowing interracial relationships came down in 1967.

So I was a unicorn when I was growing up. There weren't a lot of people that looked like me. There weren't a lot of families that looked like our family.

But that has changed. And I think that we are really emblematic of what America's promise is, right, that we are more alike than dissimilar, that this really is a country that should be welcoming to everyone, that there is really true equality for all people coming.

And my story is one of, of course, a lot of obstacles, discrimination, you know, just a lot of things that I've gone through. But it's a story of hope.

REID: Yeah.

HOSTIN: It's a story of aspiration.

And I hope that I've been able to use my -- leverage my platform and power that comes with that, I think to tell the story of those --

REID: Absolutely.

HOSTIN: -- whose perspectives are voiceless and that's what --

REID: Yeah. We appreciate you. I -- well, Sunny, we love you. Love your book.

I'm sorry, I'm going into Chris Hayes' hour, so I have to stop.

But thank you, Sunny Hostin. Everyone will be reading this. Thank you very much, Sunny.

And "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

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

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