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Transcript: The ReidOut, September 23, 2020

Guests: Paul Butler, Alicia Garza, Mehdi Hasan, Gloria Steinem


Grand jury announces charges in Breonna Taylor case. Kentucky attorney general says, officers' use of force was justified as self-defense. Grand jury indicts one detective in Breonna Taylor case. Two officers who fired into Taylor's apartment will not face charges. Kentucky attorney general accuses celebrities and activists of trying to influence our thinking. Grand jury charges former Detective Brett Hankison with Wanton Endangerment in Breonna Taylor case. Prosecutor offered Taylor's ex-boyfriend plea deal to say Taylor was involved in a crime syndicate. Protesters rally against grand jury decision in Taylor case. Donald Trump is fearmongering against mail-in voting to gin up support for ramming through a Supreme Court nominee, becoming his own disinformation machine.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: There are no charges on the officers for killing Breonna Taylor.

Also I want to mention that Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from the Judiciary Committees on THE BEAT tomorrow, we'll get into this as well as other issues.

As always thanks for joining us. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid starts now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: It has been 195 days since Breonna Taylor was last alive, 195 days since three Louisville police officers entered her apartment after midnight executing a no-knock warrant related to Taylor's ex-boyfriend and killing her in a barrage of bullets, then failing to offer aid as she coughed and struggled to breathe in her last moments of life.

After 195 days, this afternoon, we learned what will happen to those three officers, and whether justice for Breonna Taylor will finally be served. And what we got was nothing near justice.


DANIEL CAMERON, KENTUCKY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The use of force by Mattingly and Cosgrove is justified to protect themselves. This justification bars us pursuing criminal charges in Ms. Breonna Taylor's death.


REID: And you know what, justice is not the only thing that was missing. In fact, the Kentucky grand jury decision had almost nothing to do with Breonna Taylor. The 26-year-old first responder and aspiring nurse who was stolen from her family and friends and her community, we didn't even hear her name in the decision today.

What we heard instead were the initials of other residents of her apartment building, none of which were B.T. for Breonna Taylor. And the reason we heard those other initials was that the grand jury indicted one of the three officers. Now former Detective Brett Hankison on three counts of wanton endangerment for recklessly shooting into the neighbor's apartments, but not Breonna Taylor's.

The other two officers Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, face no charges at all, meaning none of the three officers will be charged for the actual killing of Breonna Taylor or for wantonly endangering her or her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who were the targets of the barrage of more than 20 bullets, six of which killed Breonna, meaning the grand jury did not find any of these officers criminally liable for killing Breonna Taylor, and only one of them liable for not aiming properly and endangering the neighbors.

After this findings were announce, Kentucky Attorney Daniel Cameron, who, by the way, is a protege of Senator Mitch McConnell, who was at his wedding on early August, called Breonna's death a tragedy, as if her death was akin to a drowning or an accident or being hit by a bus, but then proceeded to make a highly politicized speech that included calling out those who dare to use their platforms to seek justice for Breonna.


CAMERON: There will be celebrities, influencers and activists who, having never lived in Kentucky, will try to tell us how to feel, suggesting they understand the facts of this case and that they know our community and the commonwealth better than we do. But they don't. Let's not give in to their attempts to influence our thinking or capture our emotions.


REID: You know, I said it earlier today, and I will say it again, tonight's -- today's ruling states that, in legal terms, Breonna Taylor's life did not matter. That message was heard loud and clear, and not just by black Kentuckians, but let's face it, by black Americans everywhere, that according to the theory of the law that was voiced today by Attorney General Cameron, police have the perfect right to bust into your home in the middle of the night if you have any association with someone police are looking for, even if they've already found them, and that they can shoot and kill you in your bed and walk away with no legal repercussions. And the only problem that these police will have is if they don't aim properly at you and they endanger your neighbors.

And about that right to bear arms and defend yourself in your home, well, you know that conservative rallying cry, Second Amendment, oh, that doesn't apply to black people, sorry. The rule of law, that doesn't apply to black people. Justice, that doesn't apply to black people. That was the message that we heard from the state of Kentucky today.

NBC News Correspondent Cal Perry joins me from Louisville. Louisville, I'm sure, is reacting to this, Cal. What are you seeing and what are the reactions that you're seeing?

CAL PERRY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I think people were surprised that they were surprised. I think a lot of people probably expected this but were still shocked for the first hour. Everybody just kind of stood around and looked at each other. Our pile on the way you said, if Sergeant Hankison had shot straight and hit Breonna Taylor with a bullet, he might have been charged with murder. But instead, those rounds went into adjacent apartment.

So what we are hearing from protesters, whom we are looking at now is that there was more value put on that apartment building than on Breonna Taylor's life. As you said, 195 days since Breonna Taylor was alive, we have seen protests here every day.

I want to read to you what her family has said. Because, again, this national movement of, Say Her Name, Breonna Taylor, it matters nationally. What her family said is this. The decision today was, quote, outrageous and offensive to Breonna Taylor's memory, a documented and clear cover-up in the death of an unarmed black woman who was posing no threat and who was living her best life.

Add to that what her sister put on Instagram a little bit while ago. Sister, you were failed by a system you worked hard for and I am so sorry. I love you so, so, so, so, so, much, a reminder that Breonna Taylor was a frontline health worker, that she was killed in her house, in her apartment, as police, as you have very well laid out, went into her apartment on what was called a no-knock raid.

Now, there have been changes to the system since that raid. In the settlement with the family, we now know that you have to have a supervisor sign onto a warrant. There are so many questions about the warrant and what led police to her door. The FBI is looking into that.

There is now this question, and I think the entire city wants to know and cannot find an explanation, why were the police not wearing body cameras? It's 2020. There were no body cameras, at least none that were active on those officers that went into that apartment. That is allegedly going to change.

There is a change now to how police will actually put evidence into lock-up. They have to be seen by other supervisors and be wearing body cameras from that. Ironic, and again, I'm reflecting to what protesters have told me, Ironic, that in a civil suit, we see more progress than we did in a criminal proceeding, Joy.

REID: Yes, that's pretty amazing, Cal, that literally the civil case, you know, that was wrapped by Attorney Crump actually did more to change the system of justice in Kentucky than the attorney general, who did nothing but give a speech today. Pretty incredible, Cal Perry, thank you very much man. I always appreciate you.

And joining me now is Reverend Al Sharpton, Host to POLITICNATION on MSNBC and President of the National Action Network, Alicia Garza, Principal for the Black to the Future Action Fund and who was on the cover of Time Magazine, along with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, as one of the 100 most influential people of 2020, very much deserved, and Paul Butler, former federal prosecutor and Author of Choke Hold, Policing Black Man.

And, Paul I'm going to start with you. I want to go through these indictments. I was on earlier with Ari Melber as we were all watching and Rev. Sharpton was on, as well, and we were watching this come through. And what I was focusing on and taking notes on was the indictment itself. Because they go through and they say wanton endangerment in the first degree, which sounds like a lot, except that it's really pretty minor charge, I'm going to let you explain that, but they talk about wantonly endangering the occupants of apartments with the initials C.E., C.N. and Z.F., definitely not B.T., which is Breonna Taylor. Your thoughts on this indictment, which is an indictment of endangering the neighbors and has nothing to do with Breonna Taylor.

PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: That's right, Joy. The two police officers who shot at Breonna Taylor and killed her are not charged with any crime. The police officer who did not shoot Breonna Taylor is charged with a low level offense for putting her neighbors at risk. So many of the problems in policing are systemic and require structural change. This is not a systemic problem. Murder and manslaughter are already crimes in Kentucky. So here, we have three bad apple cops who the Kentucky attorney general has now found to be above the law.

REID: And just to note that Hankinson was fired not for the killing of Breonna Taylor and for the outrage it's cause and for costing the city $6 million because of his stupidity and just leaking off shots in somebody's apartment from outside the screen door, he was fired because the bullets went into the neighbor's apartment. That's why he was fired. Just to be clear, it wasn't about her.

But what you have here, and I just want you to walk through this, Paul, for a little bit, we have Breonna Taylor's boyfriend, who was also a victim here. He was shot at because he tried to defend Breonna Taylor and defend that apartment for his trouble he got shot at. But these trained officers didn't even hit him. They didn't hit him with one bullet. These trained police officers only shot her, that's weird, and then didn't render her aid.

You have Breonna Taylor's ex, who was the person that was supposed and the subject of this, that was already in custody, they go into an apartment, they say where he use it in the past, so we get to go in to a no-knock warrant, but it's no-knock, but we knock. So they're saying they announced themselves. Then how is that a no-knock warrant? That's weird.

Then they say, well if you, ex-boyfriend, will just say that Breonna was part of a crime, we'll let you off. And he said I'm not doing that. She had nothing to do with anything. This does not strike me as a normal case, because none of it makes sense. How can it be possible that a no-knock warrant includes them saying that they knocked and how can it be that these officers are serving a search warrant at 12:30 in the morning? Is that normal?

And why is it that these officers seems to have coalesced around a story that isolate them from culpability to the point where one of them sends an email saying, we did the best and moral thing. We did the right and ethical things. Right and ethical things, this is what one of the three officers sent to his fellows, Jonathan Mattingly, in an email.

What was right and ethical? Not rendering aid to Breonna Taylor, the boyfriend being charged with a crime for doing nothing but defend himself and the ex-boyfriend being tried to implicate himself? It doesn't -- something stinks here, Paul. Does it stink to you?

BUTLER: Indeed it does. A jury needed to decide this case. But instead, the attorney general acted as judge and jury, and everything but a prosecutor. The reason that case is going to trial is that there are two sides.

Here, the attorney general abandoned his responsibility to the citizens and just bought the police version. He believed the one witness who said that the cops identified themselves before they burst into Breonna's house, and he ignored the 11 witness who said that the cops didn't identify themselves.

He turned into -- ignored the cover-up where the police didn't use their body cameras and they submitted a police report that was full of lies.

So you're right, Joy, we know that the attorney general was a conservative Republican who spoke at the GOP convention, and this stinks of politics. This decision is consistent with Trump's talking points about protecting the police and Blue Lives Matter but it's inconsistent with justice.

REID: Yes, I think you have to always look at party. Party is the religion now in America, especially for Republicans. Don't look at the fact that this guy is black. That does mean anything. He is a Republican through and through. He spoke at the RNC. He told you who he was. Believe him.

Alicia Garza, this guy did manage to get out a few words about celebrities and he's upset that people are going to speak out on behalf of Breonna Taylor. He finds that offensive. Maybe he's still mad that Tina Knowles owned him on jumping off and doing his little marriage thing and having Mitch McConnell as his guest of honor and enjoying his life while Breonna Taylor lay cold in the ground. Maybe he's still mad at Tina Knowles.

But what do you make of his performance today and what do you think is going to happen in terms of the activism around Breonna Taylor going from here?

ALICIA GARZA, PRINCIPAL, BLACK TO THE FUTURE ACTION FUND: Well, Joy, you said it best. I mean, this was an atrocity. And I watched that press conference this morning and noticed that there were more words and more time given to activist celebrities and influencers who don't know what's happening in Kentucky than there was giving the actual facts of what was happening in this case, giving condolences to this family that just last week was paid out $12 million in a civil suit because it acknowledges that there was wrongdoing here. And so, again, I think what I saw this morning was a Bull Connor speech in 2020. And you're right, unfortunately, it was being given by a black prosecutor.

I think what's important for us to understand here is that what actually ends up happening is that the misdoings and the actions of these officers get sloughed off onto communities. Communities like this end up paying millions and millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars for police misconduct and police violence and police abuse. And, unfortunately, I think what we're seeing here is a case of collusion. This is what -- this is how police officers are not held accountable when they commit crimes in our communities. And what we found in the black census is that that is what black communities want to see, police officers being held accountable when they commit crimes in our communities.

And so to answer your question about what is going to happen in this -- in terms of activism, people are going to keep fighting. People are going to keep organizing and they're going to keep pushing. We saw something very typical this morning in the press conference where there was a task force announced to study the problem. And, quite frankly, my mentors have always said that task forces are the places where accountability and good ideas go to die. And so that is actually what has happened here. And it's deeply unfortunate.

REID: Yes. That seems like Cameron's goal here is to just let it die. And just to point out, in 2019, more than $300 million in taxpayer money was used to cover financial settlement from police misconduct in America from 2005 to 2018. Of the 98 police officers who were arrested following a fatal on-duty shooting, three of them, only three were convicted of murder. And 35 of those officers who were convicted were convicted of a lesser offense like manslaughter and negligent homicide instead of murder.

So it's much more likely that cities, Rev, are just going to pay out. They'd rather just pay with taxpayer money than do justice. And you have the civil settlement actually being the only way that there's been any change in policing. Cameron hasn't done a damn thing, honestly. You've been doing this a long time, Rev. your thoughts?

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: My thoughts? First of all, one of the reasons that we are saying that you need to remove the immunity from police is that police themselves are subject to some of these lawsuits. They're family would be telling them, we could lose the house, we could lose the car, don't go out there and act in a way that is aggressive and against the law, which we were able to get passed in New York State finally. But we are still pursuing that nationally.

And the thing that was offensive to me is that the whole rallying cry, thanks to Alicia and her two brilliant partners of Black Lives Matter that started the night of George Zimmerman's acquittal, is that they came back today saying no, black lives don't matter, because the life that was lost was not even addressed in this indictment. It was those that might have had collateral damage why we killed somebody.

But we're not going to address the criminality of killing that person because they don't matter. This black woman doesn't matter. Even though we were not even after her, even though the person we claimed to be after was not there and, in fact, in custody, it doesn't matter on a criminal level.

The other thing to say that celebrities and activists and influencers come in that don't know them, we were called in by the people in Kentucky. The family of Breonna called people in. And Kentucky has no problem if we come to Kentucky to go to the Kentucky Derby and watch some horses run around behind each other but don't come in there for a black woman who has been killed or they're going to have the activist derby in Louisville, just like they have Kentucky Derby. Because the value of that black woman's life means more to me than it is a horse.

Breonna Taylor's mother, did one of her first interviews, if not, a first one on POLITICSNATION. She spoke at our march just three weeks ago in Washington. They have brought their plea to all of us and we're going to respond.

One of the ways we respond, and I hope we don't have violence because I don't want to see any of us become like what we're fighting, but we need to really understand that this prosecutor's mentor, Mitch McConnell, is on the ballot, this in about six weeks right there in Kentucky. And they need to put some of that energy toward voting and sending a message if, in the name of Breonna, we retire Mitch McConnell as a majority leader, that's a step towards showing how serious we are. It's not justice for that family but it's a step that we are serious about what we're doing.

REID: Yes, absolutely. And Mr. Cameron should recall that the prosecutors involved in the Tamir Rice case and the Michael Brown case, they lost their jobs based on their behavior. So he's got three -- he's got four more years to go. He just got in. But he should just keep that in mind. You're absolutely right, it is so very southern that a bullet in the wall is more of a crime than a bullet -- six bullets inside of the body of Breonna Taylor. Such a very southern, old fashioned and an antebellum sort of way kind of decision. Reverend Al Sharpton, Alicia Garza, Paul Butler, thank you very much.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, Donald Trump briefly bragging about his super-spreader event in Pittsburgh, no distancing, few masks. Trump makes no mention of the horrifying milestone of 200,000 dead Americans, but he did crack a joke or two about the virus.


TRUMP: It's the China virus, not the coronavirus. Corona sounds like a place in Italy, a beautiful place. It's Corona.

But coronavirus, doesn't it sound like Italy? A beautiful villa, you have a beautiful Corona.


REID: Wow. And as the nation mourns the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Republicans rush to approve a right wing successor. They can't get a bill done to help people who are struggling economically. Legendary feminist Gloria Steinem joins me on Ginsburg Legacy on the fight ahead.

Back with more on THE REIDOUT after this.


REID: This is what American carnage looks like, 202,000 dead Americans, 29 people receiving some form of unemployment assistance, with nearly one million who continue to file new unemployment claims on a weekly basis, and 20 percent -- that's one out of five -- small businesses across the U.S. remaining shuttered.

But when you ask Trump, he said he did a bang-up job, deserving of an A-plus. When he's asked about the milestone of deaths, here is how much he cares.


QUESTION: Why haven't you said anything about the U.S. hitting 200,000 deaths?



REID: Over the past two weeks, the country has seen a 13 percent rise in positive cases.

And in 18 states, new cases are high and staying there. In the past 48 hours, we have seen nearly 1,500 people die from the virus. Communities of color continue to disproportionately be affected by the virus.

And a new poll finds that, not surprisingly, Latino, black and indigenous households are hardest-hit economically as well.

But they shouldn't expect much sympathy from this president. Former and current U.S. officials tell "The Washington Post" that, in unguarded moments with senior aides, Trump has maintained that black Americans have mainly themselves to blame in their struggle for equality, hindered more by lack of initiative than societal impediments.

For more, I'm joined by Dr. Kavita Patel, former Obama White House policy director, and Mehdi Hasan, political commentator and broadcaster.

Mehdi, let me start with you on, these are not -- they're not new information, these new revelations in "The Washington Post." They're just starker than normal.

And as if to back them up, here was Donald Trump talking about a member of Congress yesterday.


TRUMP: How about Omar of Minnesota?


TRUMP: We're going to win the state of Minnesota because of her, they say.


TRUMP: She's telling us how to run our country. How did you do where you came from? How is your country doing?

They're going to tell -- she's going to tell us. She's telling us how to run our country.


REID: Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is an American and an American member of Congress.

I shouldn't even have to say that, but I guess I have to, because Trump is saying some madness.

And here is -- to add to it.


REID: Let's just make it worst.

"The Washington Post" reports that, after calls -- just because he's ecumenical with his racism and hatred -- after phone calls with Jewish lawmakers, Trump has muttered that Jews 'are only in it for themselves and stick together in an ethnic allegiance that exceeds other loyalties," officials said.

So he's ecumenical with it.

Your thoughts, Mehdi?

HASAN: My thoughts are, you played that clip, Joy, and it makes my skin crawl. I may have seen it maybe a half-a-dozen times since last night.

I'm a Muslim immigrant to the United States. I have kids who are Muslim Americans. I look at Donald Trump's racism -- and that's what it is, pure racism. It's literally the definition of racism, to tell a person who is an immigrant, but who is an American citizen, to go back to where they came from, that this isn't really their country.

And, as you say, he does it with Jews. He tells Jews that Israel is their country. And he tells a Somali Muslim refugee, who is an elected member of Congress, that has been an American citizen for more than two decades, that how did you run your country?

For the record, Ilhan Omar left Somalia at the age of 8. She never had any opportunity to run Somalia in any shape or form. And the racism is across the board. As you mentioned, this is not the first time he's gone after Omar.

Last year, he went after all four members of the Squad, telling them to go back to their crime-infested countries. Ilhan is born in Somalia, but AOC is born in the Bronx, Ayanna Pressley is born in Cincinnati, Rashida Tlaib is born in Detroit.

I mean, Joy, you and I, I'm sure, and many other people of color watching this show, we grew up listening to people telling us to go back to where we came from, telling us that we are not from the countries in which we were born and raised...

REID: Yes.

HASAN: ... that we claim citizenship as.

It is the worst, the lowest, the most brazen, the most disgusting, the most old-fashioned and authentic form of racism there is. And it's coming from the president of the United States 40-odd days out from an election.

And people say, well, let's talk about something else. Let's -- the normalization, Joy, really frustrates me. We should be talking about this all the time, not saying, well, we have heard it before, or "The Washington Post" having to talk to former officials about what he's saying in private.

It's just -- this should be front and center. The man is racist. He's behaving in a racist way. And it's -- for once, I'm lost for words, Joy. It's disgusting.

REID: Yes.

No, I get it, because -- I mean, and I think that every Republican member of Congress in the House and Senate should be asked every day, account for this. You heard him say this, your thoughts, because they run away and say, we don't listen to what he says, we don't hear it. They act as if they don't hear it.

They're part of it. If you don't -- if you're not saying anything about it, you all, Republicans, sorry, you're part of it.

The other thing that Donald Trump, Dr. Patel, seems to be more open about now, he is open about just pretending that the virus isn't real, that it isn't happening, that the devastation economically and in terms of health isn't real.

And that's now dribbled on to his followers. They're doing it too.

Let's listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci rebuking Senator Rand Paul, who technically has a degree in something medical. I think he's like an eye doctor or something. But, apparently, he didn't study too much in school when it came to science.

Here he is debating Dr. Fauci.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: Right now, if you look at what's going on right now, the things that are going on in New York to get their test positivity 1 percent or less is because they are looking at the guidelines that we have put together from the task force of the four or five things, of masks, social distancing, outdoors more than indoors, avoiding crowds, and washing hands.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Or they have developed enough community immunity that they're no longer having the pandemic, because they have enough immunity in New York City to actually stop it.


FAUCI: I challenge that, Senator, because I want to -- please sir, I would like to be able to do this, because this happens with Senator Rand all the time.

You were not listening to what the director of the CDC said, that, in New York, it's about 22 percent. If you believe 22 percent is herd immunity, I believe you're alone in that.


REID: Dr. Patel, it's bad enough when Dr. Trump thinks that he is promoting herd mentality. He means herd immunity.

Well, now you have Rand Paul doing the same thing. How much trouble are we in, if you have Republican officials trying to push this idea that would mean, you know, what, another six million people dead?

DR. KAVITA PATEL, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, this is -- I mean, Joy, you said it. This is a herd mentality by just kind of -- it's demonizing science.

And you know what? I could watch that Fauci clip over and over again, because he's one of the most preeminent infectious disease doctors in the world, writes foremost chapters in textbooks that we all study from. And that was a true smackdown that was well-deserved.

Because, to your point, this constant reverberation against the facts, that we can have herd immunity, without actually having consequences, that we can ignore the consequences that we do have, that we can have 121 children die, 80 percent of which are children of color, for no other reason, except that they were born, just as Mehdi said, just into a culture of immigration that all three of us can share.

This demonization is spilling over into science. And, Joy, he just said it today, that if the FDA has a rigorous science approval for an evidence-based, scientific, transparent approval of the vaccine, it's not up to the FDA. The commissioner made a mistake. It's up to the White House.

This is a unitary power that is being defined and has been going on.

REID: It is just bizarre.

Before we go, Mehdi, really quickly, you have now the governor of Missouri has tested positive. He and his wife both have tested positive for COVID. At least one person who attended Donald Trump's September 10 super-spreader rally has tested positive.


REID: Are we essentially now seeing a Trump virus, essentially, that the virus is going to follow him and the people who follow him around?

HASAN: It's a very good point.

He loves to give names to viruses. He doesn't call it the coronavirus. He wants to call it the China virus.

Fine. Let's call it the Trump virus. I think your colleague Chris Hayes, friend of both of ours, makes a very good point. Trump at this point is objectively pro-COVID.

Put it this way. If you wanted to spread the coronavirus, if you were trying to get people to get the virus, what would you do differently that Donald Trump's not already doing right now?

REID: Yes.

The Trump virus, it is. He likes to call things names. He likes to have his name on things.

Congratulations, Donald. You have got yourself a virus.

Thank you, Dr. Kavita Patel. Thank you, Mehdi Hasan, friends both. Really appreciate you.

Still ahead, the biggest unanswered question of our time: Is Russia exerting some kind of influence over Donald Trump? And, if not, why is the CIA making it harder for intelligence on Russian interference to reach the White House?

We will dig into all of that straight ahead.

Stay with us.



HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It's really a shame that our government is controlled by someone who knows that he owes his first election to Russia and is counting on Russia to help him, and not only in the social media arena, but I increasingly am wondering about our -- our actual election infrastructure.

Just beware, everybody. Don't let Vladimir Putin choose your next president.


REID: The winner of the last presidential election by more than three million votes knows about stealing an election -- knows about Russia stealing an election for Donald Trump.

And they're trying it again, of course. Donald Trump doesn't acknowledge that Russia stole the last election for him, so it comes as no surprise that, as Politico reports, the CIA has made it harder for intelligence about Russia to reach the White House, stoking fears among current and former officials that information is being suppressed to please a president known to erupt in anger whenever he's confronted with bad news about Moscow.

If it's not disturbing enough that the president of the United States has to be shielded from intelligence about foreign interference in American elections because of his feelings, a terrifying new report in "The Atlantic" about how Trump himself could steal the election should scare you even more.

Author Barton Gellman writes: "The worst case is not that Trump rejects the election outcome. The worst case is that he uses his power to prevent a decisive outcome against him. Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states.

"Ambiguities in the Constitution make it possible to extend the dispute all the way to Inauguration Day," adding that: "Two men could show up to be sworn in. One of them would arrive with all the tools and power of the presidency already in hand."

And if you don't believe that a plan to steal the election is in the works, Donald Trump is already using the political battle over the Supreme Court to set us up for it.

And that is next.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need nine justices. You need that. With the unsolicited millions of ballots that they're sending, it's a scam, it's a hoax. Everybody knows that.

And the Democrats know it better than anybody else. So you're going to need nine justices up there. I think it's going to be very important.


REID: Donald Trump is fearmongering against mail-in voting to gin up support for ramming through a Supreme Court nominee, becoming his own disinformation machine. "The Atlantic" reports that the crusade against mail-in voting is a key component in setting up a plan to steal the next election to contest election night results.

Never mind the fact that Russia continues its own meddling in our elections, or that the FBI is warning about that foreign disinformation may target election results.

The FBI said state and local officials are trustworthy sources, but not the man who keeps pushing lies that voting by mail is riddled with fraud as he did again just last four when he refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power after the election.


TRUMP: We're going to have to see what happens, you know that. I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster.

REPORTER: I understand that, but people are rioting. Can you commit to making sure that there's a peaceful transferal of power?

TRUMP: Get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very transfer -- we'll have a very peaceful, there won't be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.


REID: Wow.

I'm joined now by Malcolm Nance, MSNBC counterterrorism and intelligence analyst.

And, Malcolm, you heard him just say it right there. He's not committing to a peaceful transferal of power because there won't be a transfer. Your thoughts?

MALCOLM NANCE, FORMER NAVAL INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: You know, in his mind, he really believes that this election is superfluous, that really shouldn't be an election and that any election that's held, Donald Trump automatically wins.

I really think that he told us precisely what he feels, there won't be a transition in this election. There will be a victory for Donald Trump. And there will be no reason to have anything other than an inauguration for him.

I think it will be devastating to both the nation and Donald Trump when he loses, if he loses, because he doesn't know how to handle this. I think it was Mary Trump who said that his pathology in his mind is that he can't handle anything beyond what he imagines in his head.

REID: Yeah. But, I mean, it's either he just doesn't believe the polls and has his power of positive thinking hat on and is like, I can't lose and that's what he thinks. Or he knows this is what people worry about, does he know something we don't know, that Russia has already weighed in, that he's already gotten assurances, his foreign helpers will help.

I mean, this piece in "The Atlantic" says that Trump may win or lose but what he'll do is he'll insist that the election was rigged. He's not actually trying to prevent mail-in voting, "The Atlantic" writes, but he's discrediting the practice so that he can lay the groundwork for post-election night plans to contest the results.

The thing that I think a lot of people worry about is that Donald Trump may think whatever he thinks in his head, but Republicans act on what he thinks to try to protect him and at the state level, Republicans, and at the federal level and now at the Supreme Court, will act on his dreams and keep him in power even if he loses.

NANCE: You know, "The Atlantic" article was -- title was absolutely spot on -- the election that will break America, that could break America.

And it's true. The Republican Party sees themselves as not just the enablers of Donald Trump any more, they are the enforcers of his law. And as far as he's concerned, his dictum, what comes out of his mouth, is law.

I suspect that we're also going to be seeing a lot more action from foreign actors. And the one that I fear the most is that on election night, as the first results are coming in, whether it's Russia, whether it's North Korea, whether it's the Trump data team, and Donald Trump himself, they will start mass pushing through social media that he won. They will create a meta narrative, a psychological framework of their victory, even though no one will declare it, except for Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

That right there will fracture this nation right down the middle, and I do not believe for not one moment, that he will not use the attorney general and all the tools of force in the United States government short of the armed forces.

REID: Well, here is the other thing. I mean, the CIA is withholding information from him about intelligence regarding what Russia is doing. I don't know if that means they're still working on it, just not telling him, or just standing down, which worries me if they're standing down.

But also, Donald Trump's incentive structure is actually really powerful. It's stay out of prison, don't get indicted, right, stay being president to prevent being indicted. But it's also cash.

Donald Trump, from "Forbes" has raked in for his businesses, $1.9 billion of revenue during his first three years in office. It's not clear whether he was a billionaire before. But it says here that even if his tenure ends in January 2021, Trump should be the first president to rake in billions while serving in office. He's an American Putin as far as he's concerned. And he wants to keep the cash rolling in.

So he has every incentive to stay in forever, doesn't he?

NANCE: Of course. Because he's an oligarch, he's an oligarch wannabe. However, the thing that I believe he fears most, and which is probably created a blank space in his mind where he does not see the polls, and he cannot see anything but victory, is the very fact that that money might be seized in a future criminal prosecution where he was making money while running the United States government, including that of his daughter and his sons, the entire Trump Organization. This is existential for Donald Trump.

REID: That would be something else. That would be something else.

NANCE: It would be.

REID: Malcolm Nance, thank you. It's always great to talk to you, my friend. Thank you very much.

And up next, the legacy of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the challenges that lie ahead. Gloria Steinem joins me when THE REIDOUT comes back.



CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, U.S. SUPREME COURT: On behalf of all the justices, the spouses of the justices and the entire Supreme Court family, I offer our heartfelt condolences on the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her 483 majority concurring and dissenting opinions will steer the court for decades.

She will live on in what she did to improve the law and the lives of all of us. And yet still Ruth is gone, and we grieve.


REID: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is currently lying in repose outside of the Supreme Court where she will be today and tomorrow -- she will be today and tomorrow for members of the public to pay their respects, before lying in state at the Capitol on Friday.

And joining me now is Gloria Steinem, writer, political activist and feminist, organizer, and icon I dare say.

And, Gloria, thank you so much for being here.

One the reasons I love my team is they find so much great information that I didn't know, that I think I know things, but you met Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the '70s when she's working at the ACLU, and you were contributing at "New York Magazine".

Tell me about her sending you to Mississippi to interview to Fannie Lou Hamer who had been sterilized without her consent, a story that rings quite true story.

GLORIA STEINEM, WRITER, POLITICAL ACTIVIST & FEMINIST ORGANIZER: That's just one of the ways that she was always ahead of everyone, is she understood that reproductive rights, reproductive freedom, that's a fundamental human right, and because Fannie Lou had been sterilized without her knowledge or permission when she went into a hospital for something else, her testimony helped Ruth to protect the rights of two young women who were threatened by a state legislature with a loss of state support if they were not sterilized.

I mean, you know, this was a time when we didn't yet quite have words for reproductive freedom and reproductive justice, but Ruth was absolutely there.

REID: Yeah. And, you know, you -- let me put up your tweet that you put up with the photo and you wrote she left us a clear and precious legacy. It's up to us to keep her spirit alive.

That fight right now centers on her seat itself. Ted Cruz today blocked a resolution honoring Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because he objected to the mention of her dying wish that she not be replaced until a new president comes in. And the Republican Party is now rushing to vote in Donald Trump's pick before the election.

What do you make about it? What do you make of this fight?

STEINEM: I think it's outrageous. And Romney who had previously said that he would wait until after the election has just sacrificed his entire political career by doing this duplicitous, ridiculous thing.

I mean, you know, clearly that was her last wish. That's the wish of -- you know, look at the polls. Most Americans, most -- you know, the idea of trying -- they may not be able to rush it through, I suppose, but even trying to rush it through is outrageous.

REID: Yeah. You know, Meghan Markle -- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, they actually talked about voting, which was really interesting. And they talked about combating this information. Meghan Markle said every four years, we are told the same things, that this is the most important election of our lifetime. But this one is, she said.

And Prince Harry said, as we approach this November, it is vital to think we reject hate speech, it's vital that we reject hate speech, misinformation and online negativity. Both statements that were kind of about the president, too.

Here was Donald Trump's response to their statement.


REPORTER: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle chimed in on the U.S. election and essentially encouraged people to vote for Joe Biden. Let me get your reaction to that.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not a fan of hers, and I would say this, and she probably has heard that, but I wish a lot of luck to Harry because he's going to need it.


REID: You know, Donald Trump is quite the suck up when it comes to the royal family. He wants them to like him. But what do you make of the fact that he skipped over Prince Harry entirely and went right after Meghan Markle?

STEINEM: Well, he always goes right after women. You know, he's -- he could not possibly be more clear in his hatred and fear of women. But, of course, first of all, he misrepresented. I mean, she did not say that she was -- who she was voting for. She said she was coming home to vote, right?

And Harry also was very clear that he regretted that all of his life he hasn't been able to vote, which I must say I hadn't thought about, that nobody in the royal family could vote. She is a smart, principled, amazing person.

We sat here together and made cold calls to voters on the phone and saying -- we didn't tell them who to vote for. We just said vote. It's so important to vote. She's being totally principled and true.

REID: You know, Donald Trump's attitude toward humanity is an odd thing for an American president. But his supporters' reactions to humanity, to mass death from COVID, to all of it and to this justice passing away are also odd. There is a story in "The New York Times" that Trump aides worried that they kept the information that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died from Trump because he was at a rally and they were afraid if he announced it from the stage that his crowd would boo.

What do you make of that?

STEINEM: I don't know. I mean, boo or cheer? I mean, I have no idea. But --

REID: I mean, they would cheer. Sorry. That they would cheer. Yeah, no, you corrected me. That they would cheer the fact that she had passed, correct. Yeah.

STEINEM: Well, I hope they're not as crazy as he is, but you have to remember that he is a narcissist and narcissists are incapable of empathy. He cannot feel what anyone else is feeling. He only has two modes of behavior, and that make him completely predictable.

He will respond with hostility to the smallest criticism no matter how accurate, and he will follow any praise, even if it comes from Russia or -- you know, it doesn't matter where it comes from. He will follow it.

And that was pointed out by 200 psychiatrists when he was first elected. He is 100 percent predictable.

REID: Yeah. Last question very quickly, what do you think Ruth Bader Ginsburg would want us to do with our time now?

STEINEM: Well, I don't presume to know in each situation, but I think if we say to ourselves, if we deeply think what would Ruth do and then do it ourselves, she will be with us. That's the only -- she's the one person on the court who people didn't say did she vote right? However she voted was right.

REID: Yeah, she voted with her principles.

We are out of time. Gloria Steinem, thank you so much. I really appreciate you being here.

I also want to let you guys know that I'm going to be on with Jimmy Fallon later tonight, if you guys are up late. So, check out "The Tonight Show".

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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