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Transcript: The ReidOut, September 24, 2020

Guests: Chris Murphy, Barton Gellman, Jennifer Rubin, Benjamin Crump, Charles Booker, Donna Shalala, Donna Shalala, Mike Espy


President Trump refuses to commit to peaceful transfers of power. President Trump booed at Ginsburg ceremony. New polls show Trump trailing or tied in many battleground states. Trump says, I want to make sure the election is honest. GOP offers tepid reassurance Trump will leave if voted out. GOP Senator Graham on transfer of power, I can assure you it will be peaceful.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Tomorrow, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will become the first woman ever to lie in state of formal honor at the U.S. Capitol.

That does it for THE BEAT with Ari Melber. I'll be back here tomorrow at 6:00 P.M. Eastern. But keep it locked on MSNBC because THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid starts now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Donald Trump continues to mock the very idea of democracy, refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power after the election if he doesn't win. Well, today, Putin's apprentice took a rare trip outside his MAGA bubble to the United States Supreme Court to pay respects to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And he got a very rude awakening about how democracy actually works.


CROWD: Vote him out.


REID: Wow, that's harsh. Trump is also confronted today with signs of just how big of a challenge that he faces this November. A New York Times poll shows him trailing Joe Biden in Iowa, tied in Georgia and barely leading in Texas, all states that he won in 2016.

And just out tonight, Fox News polls show him losing three battleground states, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Ohio. What?

Like it or not Trump is facing the consequences of his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 203,000 American lives have been lost to the virus under his watch. And facing dismal prospects, Trump is showing his autocratic tendencies, trying to send a message that voters, be damned, he's not going anywhere.


REPORTER: Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transfer of power after the election.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we're going to have to see what happens. You know that. I have been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster. And --

REPORTER: I understand that. But people are rioting. Do you commit to making sure there's a peaceful transfer of power?

TRUMP: No, we're going to have get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very -- we'll have a very peaceful -- there won't be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.


REID: Wow. Just get rid of the ballots, just don't have an election, and then there'll just be a continuation. Well, this afternoon he made clear that he sticking to that autocratic rhetoric.


TRUMP: We want to make sure the election is honest and I'm not sure it can be.


REID: Meanwhile, Trump's Republican sycophants on Capitol Hill are doing their best. They did their best today to appear to tamp down his undemocratic claims. In a tweet, Mitch McConnell said, quote, the winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th and pledge an orderly transition. Mitt Romney said that a president might not respect this constitutional guarantee -- he spoke that a president might not respect this constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable.

And what you don't see in those comments is the name Donald Trump. And then there's old Lindsey Graham.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): And people wonder about the peaceful transfer of power. I can assure you it will be peaceful. Now, we may have litigation about who won the election, but the court will decide. And if the Republicans lose, we will accept that result.


REID: Well that assurance, quite frankly, sounds like horse pucky comes from Mr. Use My Words about a SCOTUS. The Republicans' lack of specificity certainly doesn't inspire confidence and comes on the heels of a frightening analysis that Trump's greatest abuses won't even come until after election night.

In a new piece titled, The Election that Could Break America, The Atlantic's, Barton Gellman writes, unquote, according to sources in Republican Party in the state and national levels, the Trump campaign is discussing contingency plans to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative authority.

With the justifications base on claims of rampant fraud, Trump would ask state legislators to set aside the popular vote and exercise their power to choose a slate of electors directly.

And I want to be clear, about what that could mean, with Election Day just 40 days away, and voting already happening, already under way in several states, including Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Virginia, New Jersey, Michigan and Illinois, where lines stretched up to 2.5 hours today.

It means that when it comes down to it, do not count on Republicans to do the right thing. In fact, just assume they won't do the right thing. The only people who can save this democracy are you, the voters.

Joining me now, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. And, Senator, you know, Lindsey Graham went on T.V. today and others tweeted to try to make it look like they're normal members of a small the democracy, we would never, ever allow Donald Trump to seize control of the White House and never let it go. Here is Lindsey Graham saying so.


GRAHAM: There's a lot of shady things going on, but the courts will hear all of our complaints. The courts will decide. And we will accept the court's decision, Republican and Democrat. I promise you, as a Republican, if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Joe Biden, I will accept that result.


REID: So, Senator Murphy, the problem with the, I promise as a Republican, you can count on me, everyone, is this. Here is Lindsey Graham making similar promises and protestations about the Supreme Court.


GRAHAM: If there's a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let's let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination, and you could use my words against me and you'd be absolutely right.


REID: Senator, why should anyone believe anything Lindsey Graham or any of these Republicans say?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): You shouldn't. You shouldn't. You can't believe Lindsey Graham, you can't believe the president, you can't believe Mitch McConnell. They have made it 100 percent clear that there is only one motivation that drives them. And it is not honor, it is not precedent, it is not truth telling, and it is not patriotism. It is the accumulation of power. And if anybody had any question as to whether that was true, then they have been disabused of that notion over the last five days. And so, you are very right.

Ultimately, this is all up to us. We are going to have to go out there. And instead of spending our days worrying about whether there's going to be a peaceful transition of power, going out and working every single day for Joe Biden and Senate candidates to make sure that there is absolutely no question. It is still within our hands.

Yes, it's sad and disgraceful that we have to try to win by six or seven points in order to avoid a contest, in order to win in the Electoral College, but I'm telling my activists that let us, in Washington, worry about trying to set up all of the protections we can to assure a transition of power. The millions of people who care about this out in the country just have to go out there and work to get Joe Biden elected.

REID: Yes. Let me let you listen to Chris Wray, the FBI Director, probably one of the last sort of credible figures that had anything to do with this administration talking about this idea of voting fraud.


CHRISTOPHER WARY, FBI DIRECTOR: We have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it's by mail or otherwise.


REID: I mean, as a reminder, Utah, Colorado, Washington State vote a 100 percent by mail. It is poppycock to say that there is some sort of nefarious scheme that's going happen, that's going to steal the election. But that is what, it appears, that even statewide Republicans are planning to use as a very thin pretext potentially to simply just to steal the election and say we don't care that the majority of Pennsylvanians voted-for-Joe Biden, we're giving the election to Donald Trump.

And so my question is, do you have any confidence that if a slate of electors was sent to a state like Pennsylvania to the United States Senate that completely violated and overturned the will of the people in that state, is there a single Republican, in your mind, that would actually say no to those electors? I mean, isn't it true that they would all say, you know, well, something, something Harry Reed, something, something Obama, did make an excuse, and Lindsey Graham and all of them would just put in the electors that were not voted for, right?

MURPHY: Yes. Listen, I think the honest question -- the honest answer to your question is I don't know. And we are spending a lot of time behind the scenes in the United States Senate talking through these scenarios to the extent that they will listen with Republicans to make sure that in the days after the election, they are going to stand up for the simple premise that all votes get counted.

And remember, that's the first thing that's going to happen. Here, the president is going to try to stop the mail-in votes from counted. He is going to create some controversy. Republicans are going to have to be very clear that all those votes have to be counted.

And then as we move sort of down this sort schedule of horribles that you mentioned, including potential contests over who are qualified as electors, we are going to have to be consistently pressing our Republican friends to stand up for the rule of law.

Now, listen, I have less faith today than ever before that they are going to stand up and do the right thing but our ability to win this election by sizable numbers in places like Pennsylvania will make their cover for Donald Trump much harder.

REID: Yes. Very quickly before I let you go, Senator, in the year 2000, a number of particularly black and Asian-American members of the House of Representatives went to the floor in the well (ph) of the Senate and begged for even one senator to say that they would affirm that they would not seat those electors. They only needed one vote. Would you pledge that you would be that one vote, if necessary, to join if the House objects to the electors?

MURPHY: Well, I think the answer is likely yes. Obviously, it would depend on the circumstances. But let me just tell you, we are going to leave no stone unturned to make sure that the voters decide this election, not Donald Trump, not lawyers, not AR-15-wielding protesters in the street. We are going to be there for the American people if there's a contest.

REID: Yes, and I'll throw in not Russia, because that would be nice too. Senator Chris Murphy, always great -- thank you very having you on. Thank you very much for coming on. I appreciate it.

And joining me now are Barton Gellman, Staff Writer for The Atlantic, and Jennifer Rubin, Opinion Writer for The Washington Post.

And, Mr. Gellman, you scared the hell out of everyone in America with your piece but let's walk through it. Let me start with what you wrote about this Pennsylvania GOP chairman talking about electors. And this is the sort of parade of horribles that could happen after Election Day in that interregnum until inauguration.

You wrote, I've mentioned it to them, and I hope that they are thinking about it too. I just don't think is this the right time for me to discuss strategies and approaches, but direct appointment of electors is one of the options. It's one of the available legal options set forth in the Constitution.

I understand why Republicans would want you to write about that and for us to be talking about that, because they'd like that to sort to be normalized in the world, right? But how real is this idea that Republican legislators in a state like Pennsylvania would simply ignore the result of the election and simply put in their own electors? How real is that?

BARTON GELLMAN, STAFF WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": They're never going to tell themselves and tell you that they're ignoring the will of the people. They're going to be highly invested in a narrative of fraud and abuse and rigged voting and collapse of orderly voting. And it's going to be portrayed, I think, if it happens as a consequence of the vote count being poisoned and falling apart and being untrustworthy, and so that the legislators are going to have to make their own judgment about what is the will of their constituents. That would be the way they would pitch it.

REID: Yes. But isn't it true that with -- go ahead. No, I was going to say the state of Pennsylvania, for example, just for one second, Pennsylvania has a Democratic governor. It's not as if Democrats have no cards to play. I do believe the secretary of state might be a Democrat. Aren't there state laws that Republicans would have to either change or abrogate in order to pull something like this off?

GELLMAN: it depends state by state. That could very well be true. It is not obvious that it's okay to grant the people the right to choose electors by popular vote and then after they vote, they yank that power back. But, again, it wouldn't be portrayed that way. It would be portrayed as rescuing the will of the people from the collapse of orderly voting that Donald Trump would be alleging.

REID: Yes. You know, Jennifer, the problem with that is that all of these people that Mr. Gellman is talking about are politicians who then have to get re-elected themselves. I can't imagine the statewide election two years after whenever in the state of Pennsylvania, or Arizona or anywhere, where the voters would then return to office somebody who said, screw you, I don't care what you voted for.

I don't care that -- I heard Steve Kornacki say on MSNBC that this race is called for Joe Biden, I'm putting in Trump and sort of imposing Trump somehow on the American people. They would be doomed electorally. It would be incredible to put that matrix together, that every state legislator in 16 states would all collude to decide to throw an election to Trump. Can you imagine your former party doing it?

JENNIFER RUBIN, OPINION WRITER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": No, I can't, but they have done ridiculous things. I want to underscore something though, and that is those ballots that Trump is going to be saying are invalid will have Republican senators on them as well.

And it's going to be very interesting to see whether they are some gung ho about throwing out ballots or not counting ballots when they're behind on the day of the election. So let's see how much Lindsey Graham really supports Donald Trump if he thinks that some of those votes out there could be his, particularly military ballots.

None of this makes an awful lot of sense. If they had been logical from the beginning, they would have dumped him long ago and gone with Pat Souza (ph) playing rap on evangelical right winger. They aren't being logical. They are afraid of their own shadow. They are afraid of Donald Trump. They are afraid of their own base. And so they go through these machinations just hoping it will all work out.

That's why you see these people running down the halls, afraid to comment, because they really just rather it will all work out and they won't have to take a stand and they won't have to say anything.

I do think though that something you said is absolutely right. It is very hard for them to pull it off if there is a margin of victory in many, many states. It's one thing to have one state, as we did in 2000 in Florida or even Ohio in 2004, when there were still some votes outstanding. It's another to have a margin of four, five, six vote -- percentage of the votes in a whole slew of states. It becomes a little bit untenable or more untenable for him.

And I think we have to also, at this point, rely on people like Chris Wray and one of the FEC commissioners today, Ellen Weintraub, who says, I don't know what you're talking about. We don't throw out votes, so we actually count them in America.

So, we're going to have to rely on lots of people inside the government, outside the government. We're going to try to try to see if there's a sufficient margin of victory so that it just becomes untenable for him to go forward. And that we're even discussing this, Joy, that we're even having to go through this is so frightening and so antithetical to America, it's like we're operating in a tin pot dictatorship, that the United States of America should be considering these options is just frightful and very disturbing. And you would think at this point voters would have had enough of this clown show.

REID: I mean, you know, listen, the way to do it is don't wait for the regime. Assume the regime is already here. The Republicans are all working together on it. And, you know, it is what it is. So fight back with your vote. Barton Gellman, Jennifer Rubin, thank you both very much.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, another night of protests is expected after Kentucky's attorney general decided that Breonna Taylor's life simply didn't matter. Family Attorney Ben Crump joins me on what happens next.

Plus, remembers Trump big, beautiful Obamacare replacement, the one he's been promising for five years? Surprise, it's just a lot of hyperbole and very little success (ph).


TRUMP: Under our leadership, American medicine will make the biggest breakthroughs, the largest leaps, the most exciting strides.


REID: Yes, no. Meanwhile, he is still fighting in court, as we speak, to take away the health coverage of 20 million Americans in the middle of a pandemic.

Back with more of THE REIDOUT after this.


REID: People are gathering in cities across the country for a second night of protest in the wake of yesterday's grand jury decision not to charge any of the Louisville police officers in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor.

In fact, only one officer saw charges from that night, and that was for the wanton endangerment of Taylor's neighbors.

Overnight, the anger and frustration of yet another black person denied justice in America played out in the streets nationwide. Sadly, it's become all too frequent, an all-too-frequent occurrence, that Americans have banded together to call for substantial changes in this country, only to be mostly ignored.

In Louisville last night, two police officers were shot during the protest, and a suspect is in custody, and both officers are expected to recover; 127 people were arrested during the protest.

And joining me now is Ben Crump, one of the attorneys for Breonna Taylor's family.

And, Ben, the question that I'm getting from people who are texting me is, is this actually over?

I want to play for you the governor of Kentucky, Andy Beshear, who wants more information released. Here he is.


GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): It's time to post all the information, all the facts, all the interviews, all the evidence, all the ballistics.

It's time for people to be able to see the basic information, facts and evidence, and to be able to come to their own conclusions about justice.


REID: Just looking at this, as the attorney for the family, Ben, do you believe that there will be any more investigation about the shooting itself and what led to the shooting and the pretext for them entering, for those police officers entering Breonna Taylor's apartment?


And Breonna Taylor's family and my co-counsels, attorney Lonita Baker and Sam Aguiar and I, we agree with Governor Beshear that the transparency that he talks about, but also Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron talked about yesterday, needs to be real.

And that's why we're demanding the transcripts of the grand jury proceedings to be released, because we don't know what evidence he presented to that grand jury. Did he present any evidence whatsoever on behalf of Breonna Taylor?

Because, if he did not, Joy Reid, then he unilaterally put his thumbs on the scale of justice to help exonerate these police officers who killed Breonna Taylor, and made sure that she would be denied justice, based on his presentation to the grand jury.

And so we want to know, did anybody speak for Breonna Taylor in those grand jury proceedings?

REID: Yes. And I think a lot of us would like to know the makeup, the racial makeup of that grand jury.

Mr. Aguiar, who you just mentioned, put up a post that you retweeted, and I commented on Twitter on it: "Three counts on shots of apartment into the white neighbors, no counts for the shots into the apartment of the black neighbors upstairs above Breonna's."

This added insult to injury, honestly, Ben. As much as I talk with you, I didn't realize that the neighbors who were listed, the DED, the three neighbors were listed as the only people that charges were filed, for were all white neighbors, and the black neighbor was left out, as well as Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend, endangering them was left out.

That was -- it blew me back, as did the fact that the decision was made on the 65th anniversary of Emmett Till's killers being let off by a grand jury.

How did that information not come out publicly earlier? It's pretty terrifying.

CRUMP: Well, you have got to remember, Daniel Cameron only notified the family 10 minutes before they made all of this information public about his grand jury results.

And I do say it's his grand jury, because 99.9 percent of the time, a grand jury will indict if a prosecutor wants them to indict.

REID: That's right.

CRUMP: And if they don't want them to indict, Joy Reid, they will not indict.

We have seen this in all of these police cases, where we see every day in America that they can indict black and brown people for almost anything. And so we cannot let people forget that this was his doing.

And also, Joy Reid, there's going to be more investigations into this. The FBI is investigating the civil rights violations against Breonna Taylor, the fact that Daniel Cameron never presented to the grand jury that the probable cause affidavit was a lie that formed the basis of the judge signing the no-knock search warrant that allowed them to go bust open the front door of Breonna Taylor, and so many things we believe he did not present to this grand jury.

And that's why we're demanding this transcript, to see if Breonna Taylor ever, ever had anybody in that grand jury proceeding speaking for her, because it seems like her life didn't matter. It seems like her name was not put on the indictment.

So, it's almost as if black women lives don't matter in this criminal justice system, especially as it relates to this attorney general.

REID: Yes, Daniel Cameron did manage to say he was going to have a study. That's about it. But he barely even mentioned Breonna Taylor's name yesterday. It was pretty stark for him to be the guy to do that.

Ben Crump, thank you very much, my friend. Always appreciate you. Thank you for being here.

And joining me now is Kentucky state Representative and former U.S. Senate candidate Charles Booker.

Your thoughts on this, because to have this black attorney general, who is an acolyte of Mitch McConnell, who spoke up for Donald Trump -- I think he mentioned Donald Trump more -- with more lauds -- more plaudits at the RNC than he ever mentioned Breonna Taylor's name at all when he made this presentation.

Do you trust Daniel Cameron to have put a full case before the grand jury on behalf of Breonna Taylor?

STATE REP. CHARLES BOOKER (D-KY): Well, first of all, I want to repeat what I told the Commonwealth of Kentucky yesterday, that justice failed us.

And in terms of whether I trust my former classmate, this is not about trust. We need to verify. And this whole process, 120 days, we have been crying out in the streets across our commonwealth, across this country, demanding justice and accountability. And we have not seen any transparency.

We have all been kept in the dark, even us as elected officials. And now, with this announcement, where it was very obvious that he was cherry-picking the facts that were appropriate and expedient to get a result that many expected would happen anyway, hiding behind the law, and essentially preaching to a commonwealth and a country of people that were grieving, that are grieving.

It hurts, it's disheartening and it's frustrating. And we need to know the truth. We need to know all the facts.

REID: Daniel Cameron's name showed up on Donald Trump's list of people he wanted -- would like to be on the Supreme Court.

And he barely made the qualifications to get the job he has now. He's 38 years old. I don't believe he's ever tried a case, a criminal case. Do you think that his decision was political, that it was based on his loyalty to Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell?

BOOKER: Well, it's hard to ignore politics.

I listened to the announcement. And we heard a lot of narrative that was lifted up, saying that this is justified, and her loss, her killing, her death was justified, and that this is a part of ensuring the law and protecting order.

And you heard these narratives that have been elevated by the highest office in the land. And considering the climate that we're in, we would be fool to ignore the politics.

But that's what's most disappointing, because this is not a moment of politics. We're pursuing justice. We're pursuing accountability and humanity for everyone. And we need our leaders to be accountable and show the courage to lead and to lift our voices up and to make justice rang true for us all.

REID: Despite the fact that they have not shown too much compassion for Breonna Taylor, Kevin McCarthy, who's the House minority leader, speculating wildly about Antifa having training camps, et cetera, even though there were actual real training camps.

This man who drove a car into California protesters in May used his own vineyard, because that he's rich and got a lot of guns, as a tactical training camp. So we know that's happening on the other side.

Are you concerned that the federal government, meaning Bill Barr, meaning Donald Trump, et al, and Mitch McConnell will try to sic federal authorities on Louisville in response to the protests?

BOOKER: Well, not only am I concerned. We know that that is a very real possibility.

We hear the narrative of law and order. We know that the president is watching closely, because the entire country is watching closely. And that's why my call for all of us is to protect this movement, to resist those narratives of hate and the wedges that would divide us, and lean in, in love, because we're trying to realize justice for everyone.

We're pushing for real healing. And we're not going to let hate win. But we know that they're trying. And so, as we continue to march, as we continue to speak up, as we continue to run for office and lead ourselves, we're going to do it with a sense of determination and unity of all people.

And we're going to beat the hate.

REID: Thank you so much, Kentucky state representative Charles Booker, who I know a lot of people wish was on that ballot against Mitch McConnell.

But I'm sure that you will try again for some statewide office. At least a lot of people are hoping so.

Thank you, sir. Really appreciate you being here tonight.

And, meanwhile, Republicans are still hell-bent on dismantling Obamacare. Did somebody forget to tell them that we're in the middle of a global pandemic? I mean, who needs health care coverage during a pandemic anyway? Oh, right, everybody. Everybody does.

We will be right back.



QUESTION: Will you continue with the plan to completely invalidate the ACA or...

TRUMP: We want to terminate health care for -- under Obamacare, because it's bad, and we're replacing it with a great health care at far less money.


REID: For years, the Republican Party, now led by Donald Trump, has vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a position that is deeply, deeply unpopular with the public.

And now, with the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the court set to hear a case to strike down the ACA the week of the election, Trump is now closer to his destructive goal of ending Obamacare. Talk about American carnage.

If the court overturns the ACA, they, along with Republicans, will successfully rip health care away from 20 million Americans. And the number could be much larger, because millions more are relying on Medicaid because of the pandemic.

As of tonight, 203,000 Americans have died from the virus, and nearly seven million of tested positive, which, by the way, is considered a preexisting condition.

Now, we all know that Trump and his Republican enablers were never serious about replacing the Affordable Care Act. They just want it gone.

Today, 40 days before the election, and trailing Biden on the issue of health care, Trump was in North Carolina laying out a farcical health care vision that has no teeth.

Here in the real world, Trump has not lowered drug prices. He is not actually protecting preexisting conditions. And he does not have any real plan to help replace the Affordable Care Act.

For more, I'm joined by Florida Congresswoman Donna Shalala, former secretary of health and human services under President Bill Clinton.

And, Congresswoman, let's talk first about the preexisting conditions issue.

I interviewed Hillary Clinton the other day for The Texas Tribune Festival, and she kind of blew my mind with something I hadn't thought about, that the six million people and counting who've been -- who have contracted the coronavirus, even if they survive it, then have a preexisting condition.

It looks to me like Republicans are trying to indemnify insurance companies from having to cover those people. That would be the outcome if the ACA went away, right?

REP. DONNA SHALALA (D-FL): Absolutely, because the ACA also covers private health insurance.

I think a lot of Americans will be very surprised that, if the ACA goes away in this court case, they no longer will be able to cover their children up to 26, that we will end up with no preventative coverage, that these vaccines won't be covered, and lifetime limits will be imposed again on health insurance.

So, this is a disaster in the making. And I think that most Americans think it's just about Obamacare, about the insurance that the 23 million people get, as opposed to its effect on the entire health insurance system.

REID: Yes.

SHALALA: And I have the largest enrollments in Obamacare in the country in my district, 100,000 people.

You will take health insurance away from 100,000 people overnight?

REID: But they want to, and including one of the people who would then be left with a preexisting condition is a member of the current health secretary's detail.

A member of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar's security detail this week tested positive for coronavirus. Azar had to undergo testing for COVID-19 as a result the security agent's possible diagnosis. He will no longer be able to get insurance. You're welcome. That's from your party, dude.

This idea of having an executive order, that Donald Trump claims, oh, I will just do an executive order and preexisting conditions will be covered, that would have no force of law, right? That would be completely useless and irrelevant.

SHALALA: No, executive orders are not law.

And there's no way that he can cover preexisting conditions with an executive order. You can't order all the insurance companies in the country to cover preexisting conditions.

What he's doing is raising those prices if they have a preexisting condition. So, he can say, yes, you got to cover preexisting conditions, but what he doesn't say is that you cannot charge for more if they have a preexisting condition.

REID: That's right.

SHALALA: Donald Trump does not understand health care.

REID: Yes. That's what in the law.

SHALALA: Exactly.

REID: Absolutely, no.

Then people would be charged sky high.

By the way, on this topic of a vaccine, "The Washington Post" reports that the Food and Drug Administration, they are going to announce tougher standards to make it unlikely that anyone -- that one could be cleared by Election Day. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to spell out these tough new standards for an emergency authorization of a coronavirus vaccine as soon as this week, that will make it exceedingly difficult to have a virus cleared before Election Day. They want to make sure that the virus, what -- that the vaccine, whatever it is, is safe and effective.

Here's Donald Trump responding to that.


REPORTER: The FDA is reportedly considering stricter guidelines for the emergency authorization of a COVID vaccine. Are you okay with that?

TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you why we're looking at that, and that has to be approved by the White House. We may or may not approve it. That sounds like a political move.


REID: Congresswoman, presidents don't approve vaccines. It's not part of the job description.

So what do you make of this sort of authoritarian I, myself, get to approve this? That's one part.

And the second part being, you used to head the Health and Human Services Department, would you allow yourself to be injected with a vaccine that Donald Trump had anything to do with?

SHALALA: No, absolutely not.

But look, the public doesn't trust that this vaccine will be safe and effective now. What the FDA is doing is putting a process in place to try to get that public trust back, and Donald Trump, part of his narrative -- undercutting science, politicizing the process. It is dangerous and people are going to die because of it. It's really outrageous.

And I was in government for eight years. I ran HHS. Not once did I ever reverse a decision of the FDA. Not once did I ever influence the decision.

It's a regulatory agency, a science agency. They ought to put extra layers on because we've done this vaccine very quickly. We want it to be safe and effective, and that's what the American people expect.

REID: Yes, absolutely. Congresswoman Donna Shalala of Florida, thank you so much. Still ahead -- appreciate you being here.

Still ahead, Trump, toady, and speaking of Florida, Florida, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is cracking down on protests and trying to make it harder for citizens to vote all while practically ignoring the deadly virus rampaging through his state.

That is next on THE REIDOUT. Stay with us.


REID: In any election year, it's all eyes on Florida, Florida, Florida. And what we're seeing there sure looks like a setup for massive voter suppression. In a 2018 referendum, Florida voters undid post civil war anachronism enacted in several states to undercut reconstruction, that people convicted of felonies were stripped of their voting rights even after they served their time. The referendum restored the right to vote for more than a million people.

Both to try to get around it, anticipating that those who would now be able to vote would reflect the disproportionate incarceration of black and brown people, the Republican legislature announced an asterisk. They enacted a rule requiring former felons to pay all of their fines and fees before they could get their voting rights back.

Well, a rather ironic figure is now coming to the rescue. Billionaire and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, whose own presidential campaign was undercut by his stop and frisk history, has raised $16 million so 30,000 black and Latinx people who completed their prison sentences can pay off their debts and vote.

The Republicans remain undeterred when it comes to disenfranchisement. Florida's Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody is now trying to block that effort, asking officials to investigate potential violations of election laws. True story.

We note here the Republican crickets when it comes to myriad election law violations by Trump and his cronies, violating the Hatch Act, to asking Ukraine for that favor.

And not to be outdone, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, one of Trump's groveling sycophants who once embraced Trump's rhetoric releasing an ad showing his child building a wall with toy blocks. He is also taking aim at Bloomberg's donation while mimicking Trump's authoritarian ways and trying to increase fees against protesters for their rights.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We will also require a felony if you incapacitate roadways. We see people take over interstates. That is absolutely hazardous. It's not fair to motorists who get caught up in that. So, that will be unacceptable.


REID: You OK, Florida? I mean, that's a thing. Florida is not OK. OK, far from it. COVID deaths are on the rise. Remember back in March, DeSantis seemed to miss the whole COVID memo during spring break lagging behind other states in imposing lockdown measures. His rush to reopen wasn't just a bad idea, it was deadly.

Today, Florida reported 177 more coronavirus related deaths since Wednesday, bringing the number of Floridians who have died after contracting COVID-19 to nearly 14,000. Twenty-five hundred cases were reported in just the last 24 hours alone, none of which deterred Trump from holding yet another super spreader rally in Jacksonville. That's happening now.

Disney, we have a problem.

Up next, we stay in the South where a new poll in Mississippi, yes, Mississippi, shows the Senate race virtually tied.

Stay with us.


REID: Wonder why Republicans are trying to hard to confirm a Supreme Court nominee as fast as they can? It's because the numbers aren't looking good for them.

A "New York Times"/Sienna poll shows the race is tightening in some traditional red states.

Though Senator John Cornyn is currently polling six points ahead of his Democratic opponent in Texas, in Georgia, the race is within the margin of error for David Perdue's seat. And as for Joni Ernst's in Iowa, Democrat Theresa Greenfield is ahead.

And in deep red Mississippi, a poll earlier this week has Democrat Mike Espy only about one point behind Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, well with the poll's margin of error.

Joining me now is former secretary of agriculture, Mike Espy, the Democratic Senate candidate in Mississippi.

And, Mike Espy, you are really close in this poll. You ran against Cindy Hyde-Smith before. It was a special election in 2018. You lost by seven points, 54-47.

But this time, you've got some new momentum. You've Ava DuVernay and other celebs, Mark Ruffalo and others, donating to you. People are behind you.

But it doesn't necessarily appear that the Democratic Party is leaning in. You said this to the "American Prospect" last week. The DNC says they want minorities to run for office, but when they actually do, we don't get the support we need and deserve.

Where else in America is an African-American population of 40 percent. Where is it?

Are you getting support from the Democratic Party despite all your great polling, et cetera?

MIKE ESPY (D-MS), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, thank you, Joy, so much for having me this evening, and I do appreciate this opportunity.

REID: Sure.

ESPY: And I love what we've seen. We did run before 18 months ago. As you know, we got 47 percent of the vote. So it's almost like we had to run them so we can win now.

So we're running. There have been three polls. We took one back in February nine points down. Then one in August, five points down, and the then you mentioned one point down.

And so, now, we are receiving tremendous support. Just since Justice Ginsburg died, we have raised $1.5 million. And these are folks that know I'm going to be a vote for the Affordable Care Act and protect, you know, Medicaid expansion.

So, yes. Now to your point --

REID: And you know -- uh-huh.

ESPY: -- the help we're getting from the National Democratic Party, I will say it has been better. But it is getting better since they have seen the polling get better and the upward trajectory.

But it's almost like our good friend, Reverend Barber, said, he told me that Mississippi is not so much red as it is unorganized.

REID: Yeah.

ESPY: So what we have been saying is it's the result of decades of disinvestment. So if the national party had invested money, real money, material, tangible money in political infrastructure, we would have more Mike Espys. It would have happened before now.

So it is happening. They are beginning to give. We are grateful for everything. But it's a catch-22. You are ignored until you can prove yourself viable, can't prove yourself viable because you're ignored.

REID: Right, absolutely.


ESPY: Sixty-forty, but many of those African Americans are low-income. They can't give me $50, $20 when we need to run our campaign.

So the DNC is weighing in now. The DNC is weighing in now, and we're grateful.

REID: And I think they should. Look, the South is the battleground. The state -- the races I'm most interested in are in the South. It's South Carolina. It's Georgia. I think it's Alabama.

I don't understand why the Democrats aren't investing to save that Doug Jones seat. There are enough black voters who would put him in the first place. You know, black voters are in the South. That's where -- that's where the action is.

You are running against one Cindy Hyde-Smith. Let's just remind folks who she is. This is her most famous statement, public statement.


SEN. CINDY HYDE-SMITH (R-MS): If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row.


REID: So, yeah. So, Cindy Hyde-Smith is not exactly somebody who's big on racial issues by saying she'd be front row at a hanging.

It's also a state that's got a lot of COVID issues -- 95,310 cases, 2,874 deaths, disproportionate cases and deaths among the black populations, which as you said is the largest by percentage black population in the country. What are the biggest issues that voters are telling you are important to them as you're campaigning?

ESPY: The number one issue in the campaign for us is the number one problem in Mississippi. That's health care. We have --

REID: Yeah.

ESPY: Six hundred thousand people with regard to pre-existing conditions. And my number one issue is Medicaid expansion because if we had it tomorrow, we'd have over a fourth of a quarter of a million people in Mississippi with the ability to pay their medical bills because we'd have Medicaid expansion. We have had eight hospitals that have closed in the last eight years. And that's because of uncompensated care.

So, if we can do like Missouri has recently done, we could bring that to here and take care of these pre-existing conditions, these those rural hospitals open and that's what I've got to do as a health care senator.

REID: Absolutely. Well, I got to tell you, you give Stuart Stevens a call, because he I was on the phone with him, and he explained to me how viable you are, sir. So he believes that you can -- you know, that this is viable for you. So, good luck to you, Mike Espy. Thank you so much for being here. I do want to tell you --


ESPY: Thank you.

REID: Good luck. Good luck.

OK. I also want to tell you guys about the launch of my new podcast, "Kamala Next in Line". It's released by MSNBC and Wondery about Harris's rise from humble roots to become the first African American woman to become the first vice presidential nominee for a major party.

First episodes are available, October 5, that is right before the vice-presidential debate. But you can subscribe for free right now wherever you get your podcast.

That's tonight's REIDOUT.



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