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Transcript: The ReidOut, September 29, 2020

Guests: Philippe Reines, Neera Tanden, Neal Katyal, Symone Sanders, Stacey Abrams


President Trump and Joe Biden prep for first debate. Trump and Biden gear up for critical showdown. Key topics include COVID-19, Supreme Court and the economy. New poll shows Biden leading Trump by nine points in Pennsylvania. New poll shows Trump leading Biden with white, non-college voters in Pennsylvania. Stacey Abrams, the founder of Fair Fight and the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia, talks about some of the most important issues at stake in the November election, and the Republicans' effort to limit, how, when and where you vote.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone.

Well, nothing tends to jolt people to really pay attention in the crucial final weeks of an election season quite like the first presidential debate. And that's exactly where we are tonight. In about two hours in Cleveland, Ohio, Joe Biden and Donald Trump will face off in the first of three debates, as polls both nationally and in battleground states show Biden holding the lead.

Trump is set to have a primetime moment with scandalous headlines hovering over him. The New York Times reporting that Trump paid no federal income taxes for a decade, and only $750 the year he ran for office and his first year in the White House.

But what is perhaps the most damaging to Trump's brand is that he isn't just bad at being president, he's bad at business too, and basically broke. It's all bound to come out tonight given how debates are political blood sport and we're already getting a taste of what's to come in today's pre-game show with alleged Trump campaign request that debate moderator Chris Wallace not mention the number of COVID-19 deaths.

To a phony new conspiracy theory of a Biden earpiece, part of Trump's ongoing ploy to paint his opponent as physically and mentally diminished, one that test too much. It's a ploy that could backfire. A campaign normally wants to lower the bar for its own candidate, not to the opponent.

That was certainly the case with Hilary Clinton, who was painted as a Goliath in the debate department with Trump saying there was a danger in prepping too much for risking that he would sound too scripted or phony. We're seeing the opposite with Biden with team Trump pumping out the messaging that Biden is weak and feeble, lowering the bar for Biden to the point where all he literally has to do is show up and appear, show up in order to appear like the very stable genius.

As for Biden's approach, if we can glean from his debate guests, which include three people affected by the coronavirus pandemic in different ways, he will remind voters of what Trump really meant by America first, with the coronavirus pandemic now taking 1 million lives worldwide and the U.S. leading the world in COVID-19 deaths at more than 206,000.

Joining me now is Neera Tanden, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress, Jason Johnson, Professor of Politics and Journalism at Morgan State University, and Philippe Reines, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and former Spokesman for Hillary Clinton. He also played Donald Trump during the Hillary Clinton debate prep back in 2016.

And, normally, I would do ladies first, but I've got to go to Philippe first. Because the picture -- I'm sorry, but that story about you handing over your Trump suit with an oversized jacket and shoe lifts, like lift shoes, to give it over, like to the new guy who's playing Trump is just too funny. And I have to go to you first.

So I want to play a little montage. This was -- you remember this, this is Trump versus Hillary in 2016. Here it is.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: As you know, you've seen me. I've been all over the place. You decided to just stay home, and that's okay.

HILARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that's a good thing.

He'd rather have a puppet as president of the United States --

TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet.

CLINTON: And it's pretty clear.

TRUMP: You're the puppet.

CLINTON: It's pretty clear you won't admit. That the Russian --

TRUMP: No. You are the puppet.

CLINTON: It's just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.

TRUMP: Because you'd be in jail.


REID: It kind of breaks your heart to watch this and realize that he was kind of telling us everything we needed to know about what he'd be as president. But just to tell us in terms of preparation, purely to prepare for a debate, Philippe, he interrupts, he has like sort of joke lines he has prepared with a few lines, which is actually how he did the apprentice. He had certain zinger lines that the producers would give him. And he would say the zinger lines. He's good at that, if nothing else. What should Biden expect? You're like he's not even good at that. Philippe is like, no he's not.

PHILIPPE REINES, FORMER HILARY CLINTON SPOKEPERSON: I think there are certain things he does, just happen sort of. I want to only note that mirror was smiling during the introduction because she knows that I had been practicing my whole life to be Donald Trump and just didn't know it, I was the first --

REID: You got to lost a lot more money, but you got to go in a lot more debt and lose a whole lot of cash before you can be Donald Trump.

REINES: I put on more weight. I am, you know, Joe Biden is going to face the Donald Trump that is the same person as four years ago but a different circumstance. Donald Trump had nothing to lose before in 2016. Now, he has everything to lose. And that's going to manifest itself a little differently.

Four years ago Trump had, you know, the history on it, the hair, the face, the butchering of the English language. He had his fundamental issues of trade, immigration, health care, swamp. He had a well-honed attack on Hillary, which you just saw crystallized in one sentence, Crooked Hillary, go to jail. And he minimally defended himself, even something as the degree just as the, as the Access Hollywood tape.

If you go forward four years, I don't -- no one knows what his plan is for the second term. More importantly, he doesn't know. He can't even ask if Sean Hannity asks him. And he has no honed attack on Joe Biden. He's now releasing -- you know, he's now calling for ear canal checks and somehow they're calling Joe Biden crazy when they're the people asking for ears to be checked.

But what he really doesn't have is an inability to do anything other than grieve. He just is a grievance machine. You can ask him what day of the week is it, and he's going to say, the ramp was so slippery, so slippery, but the last ten feet. Or he's going to say, you know, the beautiful -- the Ukrainian president call beautiful, perfect transcript.

You know he goes on and on and we see this everyday and he said himself that his preparation is sparring with the press. The problem is he decides to want to do it, decides what to talk about, decides how long to talk about it, decides who to call on, who to cut off and when to walk away. That is not what he's going to experience in just over two hours.

And if he wants to eat his time, the real question is, should Joe Biden be engaging him and fighting back and how much Joe Biden should be wasting time. The actual question is, is Donald Trump going to spend all his time whining and moaning? Because if he is, and that's the guy we see every day, Joe Biden might as well just say, look, thank you Chris, for having me, thank you Cleveland and I now yield my 45 minutes to Donald Trump to shoot himself in the foot.

REID: Okay Jason, shot us back, but I'm going to hold, let you hold up for a second, Jason. Don't let your shot go down again. It's not that into you're control of the internet. But I'm going to Neera really quick.

Here, because Biden, people -- I have been astounded, Neera, by the strategy of the Rudy Giulianis and others that are on T.V. trying to talk Biden down as if he's just barely alive and he can barely dress himself and there's no way he's going to make -- and he may not even show up. Rush Limbaugh is like, he is not even going to show up. Like they have talked that, literally, to the point where Biden literally have to show up and just say, good evening, everyone, in a full sentence, and they'd be like, Biden, it was amazing, we thought that he wasn't going to be that vibrant. Look at how vibrant he was, like they literally set Biden up for success.

And Biden isn't a bad debater. I think people forget who this guy is. Let's play what I think was Biden's finest moment in a debate ever. Here it is.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Rudy Giuliani. I mean, think about it. Rudy Giuliani, there's only three things he mentioned in the sentence and, a noun, and a verb and 9/11. I mean there's nothing else. There's nothing else.


REID: Neera, to this day, when I see Rudy Giuliani, until he started doing crime stuff in Ukraine, all I thought of was a noun, a verb, and 9/11. That's stuck (ph). So Biden -- you know, what do you think we're going to see from Biden tonight?

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I think the really central question here, and Philippe alluded to it, is that Donald Trump is a little bit of a carnival barker. He really uses misdirection and sleights of hand to get you to focus on other things than what's important to you. So that's been his whole presidency. It's one, distraction, deception, distraction, deception.

The real issue is he's president of the United States, he has overseen the coronavirus response, 200,000 people have died, it is like the worst response amongst the worst responses in the world, and Joe Biden has an opportunity to just really tell the American people how he would do better, how Trump has failed them and how he will do better.

And I think he really should address the American people. He can dismiss Trump's lies, but he has a real opportunity here, which is just to explain how he would be a better president, which is to say is not that hard to do.

So I think you might disagree (ph), like I think it will be refreshing to people. And all the lies they tell about Biden, people are going to be able to see in the hours of the debate the real Joe Biden, not the scary monster, the real Joe Biden. And that is a big help to him.

REID: Just to go through a few of the polls here. Pennsylvania, there's a new ABC/Washington Post poll that shows Biden up 54/45. That's up plus nine. That's a big deal in a race for Pennsylvania. It's very important. White non-college voters in that poll are splitting Trump 58, Biden 41. So Trump still has an advantage there.

But, you know, Philippe, this reminds me of Obama, right? Joe Biden does not have to win a majority of white working-class voters, even though it's weird because he is one, right? So you think he'd be more relatable to them. But putting that aside, he just has to get a respectable number. And because of non-white voters, that will plus him up over the top.

What do you think Biden can get out of the fact -- do you think he is getting the maximum out of being a Pennsylvania native, out of the Scranton narrative? And, I mean, I'm sure it helps him that Trump doesn't pay taxes. I mean, he and Kamala Harris released their tax bills today, with their tax returns today. They actually pay taxes. That's kind of helpful, right? So how does he use that tonight?

REINES: Yes. Well, I mean, he was losing -- he, Trump, was losing ground with white non-college educated men even before the tax problem. Now, I think, particularly the $750 number that is so easy to relate to, and he would have been better off paying zero or getting a $72 million refund, which he also got that no one really even mentions.

The problem with Pennsylvania is -- Pennsylvania scares me. Pennsylvania in 2016, there were really two baskets. There was Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania. Wisconsin and Michigan, we lost largely because of low turnout among black men. Donald Trump got fewer votes in Michigan than Mitt Romney. And he didn't get that many votes, more votes than Mitt Romney in Wisconsin.

Pennsylvania was the place where the Trump effect was in full force. You had 300,000 new voters. The public polling was wrong. The private polling was wrong. The campaign, the priorities, USA, other third-party entities spent tens upon tens of millions of dollars. She lived there. So I want to see a plus 19 from Pennsylvania to even begin to start feeling comfortable. And I don't think we've ever really solved it.

I hope it's as simple as him being from Scranton. I don't think it is. But I do think there's a difference between now and four years ago, is that people can now see what they bought. And some people, you know, they might have just wanted him to blow up the world, that some people might've wanted him to blow up the world and see something better. And now they're going to see that I just inadvertently used the, Build Back Better, slogan, they're going to see that Joe Biden can do it better.

REID: We have Jason now on the phone. I feel like Room Raider came for him. It was like that shot is not good enough, so you got to go. So I feel like Room Raider was involved. I'm a bit obsessed with him, so I'm going to say that they were involved in it, because I think they have real power.

Jason, now from a place where you cannot be gotten by Room Raider, let's talk about that. Because, you know, Joe -- you know, Trump, it took to the point that Philippe made, so Trump, he leads Biden by 17 among college white voters, but in 2016, he won them by 32. So he's gone down a little bit. He's eroded with some voters who maybe don't like what they bought.

White voters without four year college degrees account for about half of Pennsylvania's electorate, but you also have Philadelphia, the Philadelphia suburbs, yes, black people who live in the suburbs, there's a lot of black folks in Pennsylvania too. And Hillary had a bit of a soft number. We now know that there was some shenanigans. We know from the reporting out of Channel 4 News in Britain that there was some deliberate attempts to drag down black votes for Hillary Clinton. And we know that that was part of it.

What do you think of Biden's chances in a state like Pennsylvania that is a difficult state?

JASON JOHNSON, PROFESSOR, MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: Well, look. You know it's, I've always thought that the Scranton thing was a bit overplayed. He could say he's from Scranton. He could say he was a Philly Flier (ph). He could say he worked at Dunder Mifflin. It doesn't really change the fact that you have some conservative people in that state who initially liked Donald Trump.

What does work for Joe Biden, and what I have said all along what, I said two and a half years ago, the Democrats are probably going to have to pick a white guy and they got themselves a fairly comfortable white guy.

And so we're not just seeing this in Pennsylvania. I think it was a poll I just saw this morning of, like North Dakota where Donald Trump had beaten Hillary Clinton by like 36. And now he's only beating Joe Biden by 19. Joe Biden has been able to connect with white people, college-educated white people, non-college-educated white people because they don't see him as an immediate threat to their way of life.

What has been a threat to their way of life is a president who wanted to get us into war with Iran, a president who want to get us into war with North Korea and a president who has us all sitting at home every day because he doesn't have a plan for how to go to war with COVID. So all of those things combined have been helping Joe Biden a lot.

REID: Yes. And, Neera, I think that's the key, right? COVID changes everything sort of the way, you know, Katrina changed everything for Bush. Whether you like Donald Trump for whatever reason, you probably still are not being able to go to work if you have a bar, it ain't open, unless you're in Florida, you know, if you have a restaurant, it ain't open, like you're losing money, like this is real.

TANDEN: Yes. I think this is actually a critical point. I'm sure Joe Biden has attributes that he's always done well with white seniors really for years he's done well with white seniors. But he's doing much better with even white non-college women.

And I think it really comes back to health care on two levels. First, the virus itself, coronavirus, the fact that 200,000 people have died on Trump's watch, but also the Supreme Court case comes back to this. The Supreme Court nomination comes back to this. Because what is the number one issue, the fact that Trump's appointee will definitely overturn the Affordable Care Act in a pandemic. That is -- there is no Trump appointee who is not going to do that, and he admitted it over the weekend.

So I think -- and we know from 2018 that health care is a predominant issue, one of the reasons why Democrats were able to put together a coalition that we're seeing now, moderate, more working class whites, white non-college voters and college-educated voters.

REID: Yes.

TANDEN: And people of color.

REID: Absolutely.

TANDEN: The whole coalition has been really central.

REID: And there are about to be 7 million more people with a pre-existing condition and Republicans, one of their points, one of their core beliefs is that insurance companies should be able to charge you more if you have a pre-existing condition. Just understand that. They ain't trying to pass anything that lets you off the hook. They want insurance companies to be free and have the liberty to charge you more. That's what you'd be in for.

Neera Tanden, Jason Johnson, he's going to get his shot together and call up the folks at Room Raiders and negotiate peace, just all for peace. Philippe Reines, thank you very much. I'm sure I'll text you desperately later for advice. Thank you guys very much. I appreciate you all.

The countdown continues to tonight's first Trump/Biden debate. We invited both campaigns to join us to discuss the debate, and only the Biden campaign said yes. So they don't want to join the fun.

Plus, how The Apprentice gave Trump a desperately needed financial lifeline and he still wound up $400 million in debt. How?

And Stacey Abrams joins me on the Republican ferocious effort to limit how, when and where you vote, while giving states as little time as possible to count legitimate ballots. It's called voter suppression, people.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



ERIC TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP SON: My father has invested billions of dollars, I mean, tens of billions of dollars in this country. He's built the biggest buildings. We employ tens of thousands of people.

Compare that to Joe Biden. Joe Biden has been leeching off of the federal government his entire adult life. The guy has never had a real job that hasn't been taxpayer-funded ever.


REID: Well, that was Eric Trump, whose family has almost no known record of serving any cause greater than their own greed, defending his father's tax cheating scam today and mocking public service as nothing more than leeching off the government.

With a little over an hour left before the first presidential debate of 2020, we invited both campaigns on THE REIDOUT to give us a sense of what to expect from their candidates.

Surprisingly, only one campaign accepted our invitation.

And so joining me now is the Symone Sanders, senior adviser for the Biden campaign.

Symone, thank you for being here.

I'm disappointed that we were not able to get someone from the other campaign to come on. So, I'm just going to give you the floor to give us a sense of what we're going to hear tonight.

Let me put up the debate topics. Let's start there, the Trump and Biden records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy, race and violence in our cities, the integrity of the election.

That fifth one stuck in my craw a little bit, because I don't know what it means.

What has the campaign been preparing for in terms of what the campaign thinks that means?

SYMONE SANDERS, BIDEN CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Well, Joy, what Vice President Biden has really been preparing for and our campaign has prepared for tonight, frankly, is for the vice president to go out and communicate and articulate his vision to the American people.

He will be speaking directly to the folks at home tonight, the voters, folks who are concerned about kitchen table issues. And so, while a number of -- I mean, those are the topics that the commission set forth. Who knows where the conversation will go, given President Trump?

But Joe Biden will be ready to really speak about the gravity of this moment, more than 200,000 Americans dead from COVID-19. Those are deaths that didn't have to happen, Joy. More than 30 million people who have filed for unemployment insurance.

So, this is some heavy stuff right now. We're in the midst of multiple crises. The West is literally on fire in this country, a climate crisis, a crisis of racial injustice in this country, which I'm sure will come up this evening, and then, obviously, the public health crisis that we're experiencing, given COVID-19 and the economic crisis.

REID: Chris Wall...

SANDERS: Those are all things that Vice President Biden will be ready to talk about tonight.

REID: Chris Wallace has said that he doesn't intend to fact-check, that he doesn't see that as his role.

Does Vice President Biden believe that he then is the one that needs to jump in and fact-check Donald Trump, if he -- if and when he says something that is a lie?


You know, tonight, again, Joe Biden is going to speak directly to the American people. It is not his job to fact-check. It's his job to articulate his vision. We believe that it is the moderator's job. And I know what Chris Wallace has said, but I have also seen him hold Donald Trump accountable.

I have also seen him hold us accountable on a number of occasions. And so it's the moderator's job, and, frankly, it's the independent press' job. And I do not doubt that there will be any shortage of fact-checkers on the job tonight.

REID: The expectation is that Donald Trump will spend a lot of time going after Hunter Biden and try to induce or sort of lure the press into covering sort of fake scandals regarding the president's son.

How has the vice president prepared for those attacks? And what is he prepared to do in response or to say in response?

SANDERS: Well, Joy, we know that these are things that Donald Trump and his campaign, his henchman, Rudy Giuliani, tried earlier on in the primary season, frankly.

And, if I remember correctly, I believe that Donald Trump got himself impeached over inquiries of foreign governments, asking them to interfere in our election on his political behalf.

And so, look, these attacks have been debunked. And, frankly, though, we believe that the American people tonight, folks tuning in to the debate, are not tuning in because they want to see President Trump attack Vice President Biden's family.

This is about their families. And that is who Joe Biden is going to speak to tonight. Now, if he is attacked, these -- if these debunked lies find their way on to the debate stage from Donald Trump, Joe Biden will be prepared to defend himself. He will be prepared to speak truth.

I also encourage folks to pull out their phones right now and follow @Truth on Twitter. That's the little @Truth -- T-R-U-T-H.

We have commandeered that handle. And we will be live-checking -- live fact-checking -- pardon me -- Donald Trump tonight on the debate stage.

So, look, these tactics are nothing new from the president. But, right now, in the midst of this pandemic, people are hurting, Joy. They have real issues, and they have questions. And, tonight, we're hoping that Vice President Biden has the opportunity to articulate his vision, to answer some of the questions folks have really about what he views as America's pathway to not just building back, as we like to say, but building back better than we were before.

REID: But we know that, just from observing Joe Biden for a long time in public life, he's a person that is a personal guy.

When he meets somebody who has had a death in the family, he takes it personally. His response is personal. When attacked, sort of the -- he will come back.

My question is, if -- we know what Trump is going to do. It's pretty easy to figure out what he's going to do and where he's going to go.

Has Vice President Biden prepared a line, let's say -- we played Eric Trump earlier. The Trump boys have never had a job, other than working for their daddy, and wouldn't have anything, if it weren't for him employing them.

Has the vice president prepared a line to say, have you met your kids? Like, is there any line that he's prepared to talk about Donald Trump's kids, one of whom was involved in one of his tax schemes?

SANDERS: Well, Joy, I mean, to be clear, let's just have the facts out there.

Look, Joy, I think as you talked about, folks know Joe Biden. The voters know Joe Biden. And if you know Joe Biden, you know that he is a man of impeccable character, of empathy. And he's also someone that's not going to attack other people's children. That's just not who Joe Biden is.

So, on the debate stage tonight, Joe Biden is going to be himself. He's not going to stand up there and attack President Trump's family.

But what he will do is, again, be very clear with the American people about where he stands. He will not take lies and accusations lying down. He's going to -- he's going to fight back.

But, again, this is about the voters. This isn't about Donald Trump for us. This is about the voters. And he is going to make a very forceful case about why he should be the next president of the United States of America.

REID: Very, very quickly, there's an "Atlantic" story about Donald Trump secretly mocking his Christian supporters.

"Former aides said they have heard Trump ridicule conservative religious leaders, dismiss various faith groups with cartoonish stereotypes, and deride certain rights and doctrines held sacred by many of the Americans who constitute his base. From the outset of his brief political career, Trump has viewed right-wing evangelical leaders as a kind of special interest group to be schmoozed, conned or bought off."

This was actually one that I was hoping to be able to speak with a Trump campaign representative about and ask them about, but they are not here.

So, I'm going to ask you, Symone. Does Joe Biden, does the Biden campaign, the Biden/Harris campaign, view parts of Donald Trump's base, evangelicals, white working class voters, et cetera, as targets to try to attract tonight? Or is this really mostly about getting out the base, to include never-Trumpers, in this election that's already happening?

SANDERS: Joy, this is about the voters for us.

We have identified what we believe are key coalitions. These are working families, working families of white folks, but they're also black people, Native American, Asian-American, Pacific Islander. They are -- they are Latino and Hispanic. They're women. They're young people.

And so we're really speaking to a broad coalition of folks. We are talking and Joe Biden tonight will be speaking to anyone who is exacerbated by the devastation that they're feeling in this country, someone who is looking for a plan and leadership to help this country turn the corner and, again, build back better than we were before.

That's what he will be speaking to. And that's the vision that he's presenting.

Let me just say one thing about the alleged report. It is despicable, frankly, extremely despicable. And if what is alleged in that report is true, frankly, President Trump owes the voters, people of faith in this country an apology.

He has repeatedly attacked Vice President Biden's faith. He -- Vice President Biden, as folks know, is a practicing Catholic. He likes -- he regularly is, famously -- for saying he never misses -- he tries to never miss a Sunday. I have seen it myself.

And it's despicable that, on a regular basis, Donald Trump himself and the campaign attacks Vice President Biden and his faith. That is not who we are. That's not who Joe Biden is.

And, again, I think it's time for President Trump to step up to the plate and just exhibit even an ounce of empathy. I hope he can find some.

REID: Symone Sanders, thank you very much. Hopefully, the Donald Trump campaign will take an opportunity to break outside the bubble and answer for their own candidate at some point. But we shall see.

Symone Sanders, thank you very much for being here tonight.

And, meanwhile, a closer look at...

SANDERS: Thanks, Joy.

REID: Cheers.

A closer look at the national security and legal ramifications of Trump's highly leveraged lifestyle. Is Trump compromised by his huge debt load?

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: He's paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody's ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities, when he was trying to get a casino license.

And they showed he didn't pay any federal income tax. So, if he's paid...



REID: Remember that?

No, no, the real story is, Donald Trump is not smart. He's just terrible at running businesses and doesn't pay his taxes. And it turns out playing a billionaire on TV saved him from financial ruin.

Part two of "The New York Times"' exhaustive investigation of his taxes notes: "Trump's genius, it turned out, wasn't running a company. It was making himself famous and monetizing that fame."

According to "The Times," he earned some $197 million directly from "The Apprentice" and another $230 million from the fame associated with it.

There were seven-figure licensing deals with hotel builders, some with murky backgrounds, in former Soviet republics and other developing countries. Oh, and by the way, it's the only reason he had any taxable income for several years.

According to "The Times," he paid a total of $70.1 million in income taxes, later refunded with interest, via an aggressive accounting maneuver now under audit.

Joining me now is Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general.

And, Neal, we now know that Donald Trump's wealth was basically kind of a Ponzi scheme, right? He was saying -- he was more famous and he got more wealth by just being famous and people giving him licensing deals. So, we understand that aspect of it.

But the other aspect here is the risk to the American people because of it.

This is part of a "Washington Post" story about Trump's debts and foreign deals and the security risks they pose: "He faces the need for a substantial infusion of cash in the coming years to avert potential financial crisis. Officials and experts say that Trump has made himself vulnerable to manipulation by foreign governments aware of his predicament."

And when we were preparing this, the producers and I were talking about this, Neal. I was thinking about the Jared Kushner thing, because, if you recall, Jared Kushner needed like a billion dollars for a balloon payment on the building that's not far from here at 30 Rock, the 666 building, and he -- 666 Fifth Avenue in 2017.

And then, suddenly, Qatar was in trouble. Qatar was being cut off. Our friends, our allies in Qatar were being cut off. And there was a big push that they needed to give him the money.

Is that what we're facing if Donald Trump is reelected?


So, I think, Joy, you're absolutely right. Donald Trump is not looking particularly smart right now. It's looking like all these tax shenanigans are catching up with him, and that he's going to pay the price. And he's going to pay the price politically, legally, and also from a national security perspective.

When I was a national security adviser at the Justice Department, we have all sorts of people applying for security clearances. And one of the things you look at first is, who do they owe money to, if anyone, and how much money do they owe? Because that's one of the greatest areas of compromise. It's what our foreign adversaries seek to exploit all the time.

And, as you say, it's not just Trump. It's Kushner as well. Indeed, they -- the White House officials tried to deny Jared Kushner clearance, in part, it seems like, because of these reasons.

And the idea is that there can be indirect or direct leverage that these foreign actors can have over a government official. And that's true even if it's like a secretary in the National Security Division, let alone the president of the United States or one of his close White House aides.

And that's why our federal government monitors all sorts of money flows in and out of federal officials, or even state officials. You might remember Eliot Spitzer got caught, and it became a prostitution scandal, but got caught because he was just taking out a couple thousand dollars out his ATM. And they're wondering, what in the world is going on?

Here, you have got millions and millions of dollars, dealings with Russia and the like, and this is really serious stuff.

REID: The other thing that I -- the sort of nightmare scenarios you think about is, what undue influence would Donald Trump have, a reelected Donald Trump, let's say on banks that want -- that legitimately have the opportunity to foreclose on him, the way that ordinary Americans are getting foreclosed on all the time now, particularly with this devastated economy?

And there's nothing they can do to stop foreclosure. But Trump, as president, could be like, you can't foreclose on me. And, also, here are these other opportunities you can't have to deal with the federal government if you do, right?

Like, there's pressure he could put on a bank to say, you can't foreclose on me. And even in terms of -- well, let's start with that.

Could Donald Trump, as president, essentially forbid a bank or threaten retaliation against a bank that tried to foreclose on Trump Tower?

KATYAL: Well, normally, the answer would be no for normal presidents, because they respect the Constitution and laws. For this president, that's like Monday.

I think. yes, absolutely, I would see him doing that. And, as you think about these banks and foreign banks and the like, I think it's to remember what Eric Trump himself said in 2014. He said -- quote -- "We don't rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia."

REID: Yes.

KATYAL: And Eric Trump is the same guy who right now prosecutors in Manhattan, as part of their tax investigation, are trying to get to testify, and he's tried to put it off until after the election.

REID: Yes.

KATYAL: And a judge has said, uh-uh, no.

And so there's an intersection of these national security stories with the criminal investigation about tax abuse that's going on about the Trumps in New York. And I think it poses a very serious danger to Donald Trump.

REID: And speaking of national security and criminal investigations, the Michael Flynn case has reared back up again, the General Flynn case.

Michael Flynn's lawyer today, in an answer to the judge, in answer to questions from Judge Emmet Sullivan, disclosed that she had discussed his case recently with Donald Trump and White House lawyers.

The quote is, "I provided the White House an update on the status of the litigation," she said, "and I asked that the president not issue a pardon."

Then we go here, that a reelected Donald Trump with Bill Barr at his side, the interventions could be endless in any case involving somebody that he's a friend of.

KATYAL: I mean, Joy, the treatment of Michael Flynn from start to finish by Trump's Justice Department has been abysmal.

Michael Flynn was President Trump's first national security adviser. He pled guilty to lying about his conversations with, you guessed it, the Russians.

REID: Yes.

KATYAL: And then the Justice Department went later and sought to basically drop the case.

And now we learned today that Donald Trump is literally in conversations with Michael Flynn's defense attorney at the same time as the Justice Department has this case before it.

I have never heard of something like this, the president getting involved with the defense attorney for someone who has a pending criminal prosecution.

REID: Yes.

KATYAL: The whole thing is thoroughly bizarre. And it really undermines the notion of the Justice Department as an independent entity.

It just seems like it's the president's plaything at this point.

REID: Yes, the mind reels.

Neal Katyal, it's always great to have you here to break all this down. Thank you so much. Really appreciate your time tonight.

And coming up, Stacey Abrams will be here with a look at some of the most important issues at stake in this election and the Republicans' effort to limit how, when and where you vote.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: More than 1 million people in 18 states have already voted in the 2020 election. And tonight's debate will make it clear to those who haven't voted yet exactly what's at stake -- namely, health care, jobs, and a future of the courts and American democracy.

Stacey Abrams, the founder of Fair Fight and the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia, joins me now.

Hello, my friend. It's so good to talk to you always.

What are you --


REID: Thank you very much.

I don't think there are really a lot of undecided voters. I'm with Jason Johnson that what is undecided is to vote or not to vote.

ABRAMS: Right.

REID: Right? And so what do you think are the issues? What are you hearing from voters are the issues that could move them off the sidelines and into the polls?

ABRAMS: I think the largest impediment to deciding to vote for many is believing that their vote will make a difference, and that's why I've been so insistent on saying we shouldn't panic, we shouldn't be distracted, we should be determined. Our votes count if we cast them.

And we've been doing work throughout the past two years to ensure mitigation of voter suppression. We can't end it until we fundamentally change the laws. But we've done a lot to make it easier to vote, easier to track those votes and easier to make certain those votes count.

And so, I need folks to understand that if they vote, they will make a difference and it will change.

REID: Yeah, and I think there is a lot of panic, there's a lot of PTSD from 2016, and a lot of people are afraid that they will go out and vote and it won't matter, right, because of all of the sort of the shenanigans like the Electoral College, et cetera. But I want to show you just what the debate is hinging on. These are the topics that they've put forward.

So, some of them make sense, the records of these two men, the Supreme Court obviously. COVID-19 is a huge issue, the economy, race and violence in our cities, I don't get it, the integrity of the election.

Are these the kinds of issues that would be litigated tonight that will ease the fears and inspire people's sense of hope that says I want to vote? Do these sound like they're on target?

ABRAMS: I think these are legitimate topics of discussion. But I think they allayed the real concern, and that is that we are watching the president of the United States and his cronies cheat, lie, and steal about the vote.

And so, our responsibility is to mitigate that harm and to remind people that our power of the presence of our vote overwhelms any of their intentions.

Yes, they can try to provide misinformation. That's why we make a plan to vote.

Yes, they can try to intimidate voters. That's why we ensure that we check out our registration and we know the rules by going to

Yes, they can try to close our polling places. That's why we volunteer to be poll workers at

And yes, they can try to intimidate us, and that's why we sign up with

We can meet them on the battlefield and we can win. The topics are important topics. But the challenge for voting is making sure that people believe that their voices will be heard. And I believe they will be if we show up.

REID: Yeah, you know, for a long time Democrats, you know, Howard Dean on down have always said, Georgia, Georgia, Georgia. That, wait for it, Georgia is going to be a swing state, it's moving in that direction.

We're looking at polls now that show that Georgia really is up for grabs. It is -- Biden, 50, Trump, 47, it's margin -- within the margin of error. But it's still a lead. Jon Ossoff is also ahead of Perdue.

And, you know, there's a close race, but we have Reverend Warnock ahead in his race as well. And that's a Quinnipiac poll.

And yet -- and yet you have the "Associated Press" noting that -- a federal judge ruled on Monday that every polling place in Georgia must have at least one updated paper ballot, list of eligible voters. Voting integrity activists have asked the judge's order to change, arguing that malfunctioning electronic poll books created bottlenecks that resulted in voters waiting in long lines during the primary election in June and runoff election in August.

There's a lot of reasons not to trust the leadership in your state, obviously, the governor there and his secretary of state.

What do you say to people who just say I -- I feel like no matter what I do, even if, you know, Biden wins by three, they're just going to steal it, you know? The governor of Georgia is just going to steal it.

ABRAMS: Well, I would push back and say this: I don't trust the leadership of our state but I do trust the citizens of our state. And what we saw happen in 2018 in the midst of some of the worst voter suppression in the country is that millions of people showed up, millions of Democrats, millions of young people, millions of people of color who would have normally been counted out of these elections. They showed up in Georgia and around the country and they made their voices heard.

No, I didn't get over the finish line, but I got so close that they had to admit some of the challenges that were there because I called them out. We have seen improvements on fixing your ballot if someone makes a mistake on that absentee ballot. We saw just a week a court overturned the decision to try to purge nearly 15,000 voters.

And under Brian Kemp's leadership and the secretary of state, they would have all been gone.

So, we know that we have made progress and we were talking about 54,000 votes in 2018. We've had 750,000 more people register. Since then, 45 percent of whom are under the age of 30, 49 percent of whom are people of color.

And we do know that absentee ballot requests in the state of Georgia are astronomical and they are disproportionately including communities of color who are usually counted out of this process.

So I'm excited about what's possible in Georgia. Yes, we still face challenges. Yes, we still have litigation moving. But we know that if we know up, if we overwhelm the polls with our presence, we can win.

REID: You know, I'm not even going to bother to play for you the Donald Trump Jr. over-caffeinated sort of video that he put out saying -- but he -- but what they're doing on the other side as well is calling on people to show up as poll watchers and watch them. He's like, we have to watch them. That's what he was saying.

And I'm going to do a dual question here. What is the plan, do you think, and what should be the plan if there are going to be people maybe armed people showing up calling themselves poll watchers? What should people do?

ABRAMS: So, this isn't a surprise. Fair Fight has actually been doing this research. We have True the Vote exposed.

You go to our website. We put it out there, because True the Vote is one of the worst actors. Honest Elections is another.

The Trump campaign took all of their voter-suppressing leaders and made them the deputy campaign managers of the Trump campaign. They are -- they were relieved of a consent degree that two years ago when I referenced it, about a year and a half ago, Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the RNC, said that I was making things up. They're doing exactly what we thought they would do.

But the thing is, we knew it was coming and we've been building our own army of good, an army that believes in the right to vote, an army that's going to stand up to voter intimidation and push back because we know we are right.

If you're an American eligible to vote, cast your ballot. We've got your back.

REID: Absolutely. And I just want to remind folks that Wilbur Ross said they're ending the census on October 5th.

So, turn in your census ASAP. Stacey Abrams, thank you so much for everything that you do for our democracy. Really appreciate you.

And up next --

ABRAMS: Thank you, Joy.

REID: Thank you.

ABRAMS: And up next, did Kentucky's attorney general mislead the public about grand jury proceedings in the Breonna Taylor case?

And another live look at athletic hall at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where Donald Trump and Joe Biden will debate just a little more than one hour from now. Stay right here. Stay right here.


REID: There are stunning new developments tonight in the Breonna Taylor case that are raising questions about whether Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron publicly presented last week after none of the police officers were charged directly with her death.

New police body camera video obtained by Vice News shows some disturbing scenes the night Taylor was killed.

Now, it's unclear who leaked the footage to Vice News, and the Louisville Police Department hasn't confirmed the video yet. But it does appear to show officers threatening to send in a police dog on Kenneth Walker and arresting him after Breonna was shot.


POLICE OFFICER: Walk back or I send this dog on you. Walk back to my voice! Walk back or I will send this dog.


REID: Even more disturbing are the number of police procedures that were totally disregarded, including former Officer Brett Hankison, who was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing shots that wound up in neighboring apartments, accessing the active crime scene, something veteran police officers say is definitely not normal practice.

Instead of keeping the officers separated with a police escort, Hankison left the scene on his own to go to the hospital, where another number of the raid was taken after being shot in the leg.

In another break from procedure, one of the officers who took part in the raid stayed on the scene to help interview the neighbors. In fact, it was one of those neighbors who the Kentucky A.G. cited as a corroborating witness to the claim that the police announced themselves before the shooting happened. But according to documents obtained by "The Courier Journal", that same witness first told investigators a week after the shooting that he didn't hear anything. Then two months later, changed his story.

On top of all of this, a state police ballistic report has come out contradicting what the A.G. told the public about those shots that were fired. Meanwhile, a grand juror has come forward to demand the full grand jury proceedings be released, saying the attorney general used the grand jurors as a shield, implying that Cameron was not honest in the case that he made.

Cameron has agreed to release that information tomorrow. And we will have full coverage of that development.

And that is tonight's REIDOUT.

But don't go anywhere, because coming up, after a quick break, I'll join Rachel Maddow and Nicolle Wallace for special coverage of Donald Trump and Joe Biden and they go head to head in their first presidential debate tonight. So stay right there.


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