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Transcript: The ReidOut, September 28, 2020

Guests: Michael Cohen, Tony Schwartz, Richard Besser, Sherrod Brown


"New York Times" reports, Trump paid a paltry $750 in taxes the year he took office. Tax records show Trump living on credit and drowning in debt. "New York Times" reports, Trump is liable for hundreds of millions in loans. Tax records show Trump avoiding paying by reporting huge losses. "New York Times" reports, Trump appears to have paid his daughter's consulting company more than $747,000. Book says, Trump wanted Ivanka to be his 2016 running mate. Undocumented Trump organization worker paid more taxes than Trump. Trump's own CDC director, Dr. Robert Redfield was overheard by NBC News telling a colleague that task force member, Dr. Scott Atlas is arming Trump with misleading data, including questioning the efficacy of masks, whether young people are susceptible to the virus and the potential benefits of herd immunity, and Redfield added everything he says is false.


AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST: All right, that does it for me. Ari will be back here tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. A reminder for tonight, Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee, Kamala Harris will join my colleague, Lawrence O'Donnell, at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. You do not want to miss that. And, of course, you can catch me back here tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.

THE REIDOUT with my friend, Joy Reid, starts right now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Donald Trump is the greatest conman in America and the foundational myth of his entire political career was evident from the moment he announced his run for the presidency, descending from an elevator in his gilded tower, promising to build a wall and strengthen our military, saying he'd make America not just great again but also rich again.

We now have confirmation that not only was Trump's Richie Rich act a scam, but he's actually been living on credit and drowning in debt the whole time while pretending to be the world's greatest businessman. What wealth he did have, he withheld from our troops, our roads, our bridges, federal law enforcement and more because Trump is the ultimate tax dodger, living in public housing at 1600 Black Lives Matter Plaza while not chipping in to pay for anything that your taxes fund.

The blockbuster reporting from The New York Times examining 20 years of Trump tax returns, we have learned that the self-proclaimed billionaire paid a grand total of $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year that he won the presidency, and another $750 for his first year in office. And He had paid no income taxes at all, zero, in ten of the previous 15 years. It's the most comprehensive look into Donald Trump's personal finances that we've seen, which is probably why he and his eldest fail son are screaming, fake news, fake news.

Trump today tweeted that he paid many millions of dollars of taxes but was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation and tax credits. Well, Junior yields (ph) himself at the T.V. Trump made a big point of noting that he donates his presidential salary, which wouldn't even cover 1 percent of his likely actual tax liability. And that $750, it isn't just a fraction of what you probably paid in taxes. it's a fraction of what every single one of his predecessors paid their first year in office. Compared to the nearly $1.8 million President Barack Obama paid in 2009.

Now, I should note that NBC News has not seen these documents reviewed by The Times but the report goes further in exposing Trump's biggest lie, that he's a big successful businessman. In fact, he's been a failure in his entire career. And that's why he's gone to such great lengths to conceal his tax returns.

The Times reports that also hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed and received after declaring huge losses.

Meanwhile, his financial outlook could get even worse. Quote, he is personally responsible for loans and other debts totaling $421 million with most of it coming due within four years.

So much for Mr. Art of the Deal, not only is Trump an overleveraged con artist. The Times also strikes at the core of why his ruse is so dangerous, his potential conflicts of interest. The Times notes his properties have become bazaars for collecting money directly from lobbyists, foreign officials and others seeking face time access or favor.

Now, Trump run away without taking question that is one event at the White House this afternoon, surprise, surprise. The Times says it plans to release more information about his taxes in the coming days and weeks.

And joining me now is Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's one-time personal attorney, Host of the Mea Culpa with Michael Cohen podcast and Author of the new tell-all memoir Disloyal, a New York Times best-seller we should note. And, Michael, thank you for coming back. I appreciate it.


REID: Always great to have you back on. And I want to wish you a happy Yom Kippur because I know that is why you are on the phone with us. So I appreciate you being here and taking the time on an important day.

So you testified in congressional testimony, this was in February of 2019, that you said that when telling me in 2008 or 2009 that he was cutting employee's salaries in half, including mine, that Trump showed you what he claimed was a $10 million IRS refund and he said, he couldn't believe how stupid the government was in giving him that refund.

Do you believe that throughout the time that you were working for Donald Trump, he was cheating about his taxes and lying on his taxes?

COHEN: So, Joy, let me start with what I know and to which I testified before the House Oversight Committee in February of 2019. What I stated was that Trump fraudulently inflated the value of his properties in order to receive favorable terms from lenders only then to underreport their value for tax purposes. Basically, what I did is I called him our liar in chief that everything he says is a conflation of the truth.

And I finalized by saying that the valuation of Donald Trump's assets is so disproportionate to their real worth that we have no idea the true valuation of anything that he owns. I mean, it's gaslighting to the extreme. Trump has lied for so long about literally every facet of his life that the real truth is, according to the The New York Times, it's shocking.

REID: Yes. And you're a lawyer. When you look at the levering of the assets, as you said, so you don't really know what they're worth, but they go up in value when he wants to claim insurance on them and when he wants to sell banks on saying he's a good risk, and then they go down in value when it's time to file his taxes. Do you believe that in addition to potential tax fraud that Donald Trump has committed potential insurance fraud?

COHEN: No, absolutely. I mean, I talked about that as well. I provided information with that to the House Oversight, both the Senate and the House Select Committees on Intelligence. It is what it is. But, you know, one of the things that I also testified that I wanted to state was that now I call him our commander in cheat.

I mean, Trump is compromised to the core. The man has literally spent his entire business career inflating his net worth. And it's not just inflating it for tax purposes, it's also to feed his ego. And that's an insatiable need. It's all to feed his self-worth.

REID: Because he wants people to think he's a billionaire. We know that the New York Times --

COHEN: I mean, I talk about this throughout the book Disloyal. And I talk about it on mea on Mea Culpa. It's all about his ego and he's willing to jeopardize the United States of America in order to fulfill that.

REID: I want to talk about whether what else he's willing to jeopardize and who else. And we know that The New York Times reports that he's got $421 million in loans and debts that he could face foreclosure on some of his properties should he win re-election. They have to decide whether -- these companies have to decide whether they want to foreclose on the president of the United States if he wins. But he also involved Ivanka Trump, his apparent favorite child.

Here is what The New York Times report, Trump's private records show that his company once paid $747,622 in fees to an unnamed consultant for hotel projects in Hawaii and Vancouver, British Columbia. Ivanka Trump's public disclosure forms, which she filed when joining the White House staff in 2017, showed she had received an identical amount through a consulting company she co-owned.

I mean, this is someone who Trump reportedly thought about making his running mate in 2016, that he wanted to maybe have Ivanka as his running mate.

COHEN: I mean, you do have to laugh -- honestly, Joy, you have to laugh at the sheer stupidity of that. I mean never in history before has anything this ridiculous ever been proposed.

And I truly believe that what we're seeing right now is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump. I mean, it's not just now about his taxes, but we've seen the racist language, we've seen the horrible handling of COVID-19, we're beginning to see this house of cards crumble before our eyes.

And as you just stated in regard to Ivanka Trump, let me tell you what this is all about. This is all about basically taking money from the individuals that he was partners with. These were all licensing deals.

And what they did is they had Ivanka or they created this company, maybe didn't tell the financial partners. They then brought this company in as a consultant. In Ivanka's case, it was probably for her Ivanka spa or maybe doing the furnishings inside the units or in the lobby hallways. I don't know specifically what it's for.

But whatever it is, I certainly hope that that money was disclosed to the financial partners. You see, all three of those properties that you just referred, Hawaii, Vancouver, etcetera, those are all licensing deals. And in licensing deals, Donald Trump only takes money out of the deals. He does not invest a single penny of his own money into it.

And so being that he is incentivized to grab as much as he can, there's no doubt in my mind that the partners probably did not know that they were paying Ivanka Trump three-quarters of a million dollars or about 250,000 for each of the projects.

REID: Wow. Michael Cohen, thank you so much for your time, very illuminating. I really appreciates you as always. Thank you.

COHEN: Yes, well, you're very welcome, Joy. Have a great evening.

REID: Thank you, you too.

And I'm joined now by the Tony Schwartz, Co-author of Trump's The Art of the Deal.

And, Tony, what do you make of the fact that Donald Trump not only apparently lied about his wealth, lied on his taxes, allegedly, but also involved his favorite, involved Ivanka Trump in the scheme and put her in potential jeopardy legally?

TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, THE ART OF THE DEAL: Well, Donald Trump, we know, doesn't care about anybody but Donald Trump, and that includes Ivanka, ultimately. In other words, if it's about his advancing his own interests versus hurting her interests, he will surely choose advancing his own interests.

You know, it's funny that Michael Cohen just referred to Trump as the commander in cheat because there's a wonderful quote that it really explains all this from Rick Riley's book, which is actually called Commander in Cheat. And it's how golf explains Trump.

And he says, Trump doesn't cheat in golf, he cheats like a three-card Monte dealer. He throws it, boots it, and moves it. He lies about his lies. He fudges and foozles and flops. And it's the exact same thing, Joy, with his taxes. He doesn't just cheat. He is an epic cheater.

REID: But, you know, and not only that but the hypocrisy is just endless. I mean, this is a guy who criticized President Obama saying, oh, he only pays 20.5 percent on $790,000 salary, right, and knowing that he's not paying at all. I believe that's a 2012 tweet. Who knows if he paid any taxes that year.

And he's also been vicious toward immigrants, particularly undocumented immigrants and trying to build a wall to keep the brown people out and all of that. We know that he used undocumented Polish labor to build Trump tower, one of the few things he actually owns, building he actually owns.

But here, David Fahrenthold tweeted this. Here is one of Donald Trump former employees, an undocumented woman who says, Trump organization knew she was undocumented and still employed her, showing that she had paid more income tax than Trump did. And we know that, collectively, undocumented immigrants have paid far more than Donald Trump has in maybe 20 years. So, the hypocrisy, I guess, is almost as bad as the cheating.

SCHWARTZ: Well, look, Trump lives inside a bubble that's almost unimaginable. He genuinely, genuinely believes that he is not subject to the same rules that anybody else is. And when he worries even without being conscious of it that he's done something wrong, he almost always projects that onto someone else. I mean, you go on his Twitter feed and read it, and all of the critical things he says, imagine as being statements just about himself. And there you will get what Trump actually thinks about himself.

So, listen, it's late in the game to be complaining about Trump being hypocritical or about Trump being a breaker of the law. Really, you know, I'm starting to think most, even in all my worry about Trump's being re-elected about what it's going to take for the nation to heal. I sure hope we're going to be talking about that going forward.

REID: Well, the other thing is though, is that the Donald Trump saga, whether he wins or loses, seems likely to continue, Tony. We're either going to be talking about a president fighting off foreclosure on properties that have failed because he has mismanaged them and maybe $300 million of debt coming due to who knows who. We're talking about potential national security risks and we're talking about maybe other sanctions.

So even if he gets re-elected, it's not like it's going to end. He can't end this conversation. And if he loses, the whole narrative of Trump will be that he's a business failure, a tax cheat and a liar who really wasn't really that rich. And I think -- you know, you can talk about this. It's very important to him that people think he's really, really rich. It turns out he's not. He's just broke.

SCHWARTZ: Look, it's important to him that people feel he's rich, but it's even more important to him that he doesn't spend the rest of his life in prison. That's the biggest issue for him in not being re-elected. We're stuck with Trump being part of our consciousness, whether he wins or loses.

But I really do feel like this is an inflection point in that the possibility of getting beyond, not for the 30 percent of Trump's supporters who are just part of a cult and aren't going to, you know, wouldn't mind if he shot people on Fifth Avenue. He's well would have been right about that.

But for the rest of the population, I think there's an opportunity and a hunger to find common ground where we haven't before. The effect on our national psyche, the degree to which he has lowered what is acceptable, what is considered good character for all of the country, for his supporters but also for his critics who are part of this trauma, is just really the most terrifying -- not terrifying but horrifying part of this.

REID: Yes. Indeed. Tony Schwartz, my friend, thank you so much, always great to talk with you. I appreciate you being here.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, while you take a look at your federal tax return from 2017. Just take a look at it. Now, go all the way down to line 63 where it says total tax. That's how much you paid. Now, compare that number to Donald Trump. He reportedly paid $750. How is that going to play in Youngstown, Ohio, and other communities, where hardworking people play by the rules? Senator Sherrod Brown will be here to discuss.

Plus, after a month of Trump scandals that would have sunk any other president, remember the quaint Obama days when the tan suit was considered scandalous?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's a president coming out at such a serious moment where he should be addressing the country on such a serious matter and he looked like he was on his way to a party at the Hamptons and I thought the suit was a metaphor for his lack of seriousness.

REID: A tan suit, a scandal. THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: When you're Donald Trump or his children, the dignity of hard work is a foreign concept. They've inherited most of what they have, the fact that Trump paid no Federal income taxes in ten out of 15 years or that his daughter was a willing participant in the scheme should come as no surprise.

To put this in context, Trump, during the first year of his term, was paying only $750.00 in taxes. Meanwhile, nurses, teachers, and firefighters are paying nearly 20 times more.

For more, I'm joined by Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat from Ohio. And, Senator Brown, you know, Cori Bush, newly elected to Congress, tweeted something that I think was very poignant. She tweeted, "I've lived paycheck to paycheck. When I couldn't pay rent, I was evicted. When I had COVID-19, I fell into medical debt. When I couldn't afford my taxes, my nursing license was suspended. Trump didn't pay taxes but he gets free housing, healthcare, and the presidency."

I wonder how this story is resonating in your state with working-class voters.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): I think it is one more thing on top of Trump's disrespect for work, disrespect for members of the military, especially those who die.

What really jumped out at me is -- I am on the Finance Committee so I pay a good bit of attention to tax issues, and one of the things that a teacher can deduct only up to $250.00 on his or her school supplies, if you buy school supplies for your student if you teach -- teachers just do that as you know. They can only deduct up to $250.00.

And Donald Trump deducted $70,000.00 for doing his hair, and that's just one of the injustices that I think really create on people that people work really hard on this country, and increasingly people don't have much to show for it, and Trump so betrays workers and while most people understand the dignity of work, I mean, it really is such a clear contrast, even more than it was the day before yesterday.

REID: You mentioned the hair thing, and Aaron Rupar had a tweet up, it was kind of humorous. It showed an image of Donald Trump's hair after noting that he deducted $70,000.00 for it.

But I mean, it's a funny tweet, but, I mean, the reality is, look, I'm on TV. I don't have $70,000.00 worth of hair stuff to deduct on my taxes. I don't know if you as a public servant -- are you deducting tens of thousands of dollars for hairstyling? I mean, your hair looks very fetching.

BROWN: This hair, are you kidding, Joy?

REID: I mean, I think it looks great.

BROWN: It really does -- it just increasingly grades on people that he just thinks -- he lives under no rules and the rest of us in the country live under rules that push back when you violate the rules and the norms, and this President doesn't think he has to, of course.

REID: You know, I'm looking at the current unemployment rate in Ohio. It is at nine percent. Donald Trump brags about building the greatest economy on earth. Nine percent is damn near one in ten Ohioans who would like to be working are not.

You have this COVID crisis that's devastating states and devastating people all over the country. I think the thing that struck me the most about this "New York Times" piece is the idea that somebody of Donald Trump's supposed wealth has not been chipping in, has not been helping to pay for the military.

And I know there are lots of people who serve and who are veterans in Ohio, has not been chipping in to pay for Ohio roads, to pay for the school systems, the things that the Federal -- our Federal taxes pay for that stuff. And he is basically been exempting himself from chipping into anything and yet, he is the one who claims that he owns patriotism and he loves the country and he loves the military. That is grading to me.

BROWN: He isn't chipping in, and he and McConnell were happy to essentially kill the $600.00 a week in my state, 600,000 Ohioans who can't find jobs. I should you say, the unemployment rate, I think it's at least nine percent. I think it's probably higher that people give up all the rules about counting unemployed -- the numbers of employed.

But the President and McConnell simply took away in August, $600.00 a week that the study show kept 12 million Americans out of poverty. So, 600,000 Ohioans, first of all just lost $600.00 a week. What are they going to do?

They are not protected from eviction particularly well. Their schools aren't opened safely because McConnell can't find his way. He doesn't see the urgency in putting money into public education. Only the wealthy -- in Ohio it's mostly the wealthy suburban schools that can open for person-to-person business.

Most children are in school districts where it's remote learning and you can't learn remotely as well as you can in-person. We all know that. Local governments are ignored, small businesses -- and he doesn't pay taxes and he doesn't seem to think that we should help those workers.

The most grading thing of all is staying on the Senate floor and to hear millionaire senators saying that's $600.00 a week. That's just too much. We shouldn't be giving people that kind of money. I mean, it's incredible.

REID: It is incredible. I mean, even on the subject of what he has been able to get away with. And I think the other thing that's shocking is that bank after bank after bank knowing his track record, knowing his failures, knowing he didn't pay back the last bank, that is privilege. That is the ultimate privilege. You just keep getting more money and not be taken down by the I.R.S.

Meanwhile, ProPublica has a piece talking about the fact that the places where there are the most audits are in poor, rural, and particularly for the black poor, that they are much more likely to be audited and Congress has asked the I.R.S. to report on why it audits the poor more than the affluent. And its response from the I.R.S. has been that it doesn't have enough money and people to audit the wealthy properly, so it audits the poor.

So if Donald Trump were a poor person or a person of color, he would likely have been audited and maybe in jail.

BROWN: I am so glad you brought that up because we've had those discussions where if you're eligible for an earned income tax, you've got a child tax credit. If you're making $30,000.00 a year, you'll have earned an earned income tax credit. If you're eligible for the child tax credit, it can mean several thousand dollars in your pockets.

And to hear privileged members of the Senate just whine about these tax breaks, these tax refunds, they're refundable tax credits that low-income people get and they have continued to push the I.R.S. to audit them more aggressively if they can find $100.00 that somebody probably accidently -- I mean, they don't really ever say people are trying to do this, they're filling out their tax returns. They make some mistakes, they are audited so acidulously, so carefully, so aggressively, but people like Donald Trump aren't.

You know, one audit, you audit somebody like Donald Trump, you're going to get that $72 million that he owes the I.R.S. You've got a lot of earned income tax credit filings to get up to $72 million.

REID: Yes, absolutely. People are paying that extra $39.00 on turbo tax because they're afraid if they get audited, they need some help and they don't have million dollar lawyers like Donald Trump does.

I want to play quickly Senator Kamala Harris, your colleague, and the Vice Presidential nominee. She spoke with my pal, Lawrence O'Donnell about another aspect of these tax returns. Take a listen.

Oh, okay. We don't -- that audio is not working. But I will just read you what she said. She said, "This is why the American people deserve to have a full accounting of the financial interest including the indebtedness of the President of the United States."

And she says, she shares in this concern, "Who does he owe the money to? Who does he owe the money to? And who do you owe debt -- do you owe debt to any foreign nation?" Are you concerned about the national security implications of Donald Trump being in hoc for more than $420 million, a lot of which people who have no idea who it's to.

BROWN: Especially if he is re-elected and he is spiraling downward in his finances as much as his family grift the American people in almost amusing sort of way, grift their own campaign contributors so they have the lifestyle they want.

Of course it's a threat to us, and I think it's important, too, Joy, to look at who pays here. In Ohio we have a Speaker of the House that has been indicted, Republican Speaker. They've left him -- he is still in the legislature. They haven't expelled him but they took the Speakership away for $60 million bribe from the Electric Company.

You know what happens? I means, to pay that $60 million bribe to him and his Republican cronies, people's electric bills go up. So, when people like Trump game the system, somebody has got to pay for it, so other people can survive or it means cuts in our public health budget, cuts in our public education budget, cuts in highways and all -- clean water and all the things we care about.

So, it's not just Trump stealing -- essentially stealing money. It's also about who gets hurt, whom he is stealing it from and it's really from a bunch of middle-class and low-income people he's stealing it from.

REID: Absolutely, much like the wall wounded up, it wound up getting paid for by the American taxpayer, not Mexico. By the way, I just want to correct myself, I put Cori Bush in Congress already. She still has to win the General Election. She won the primary.

So I just projected her forward. Speaking into existence is what I always say. Speaking into existence.

Thank you so much, Senator Sherrod Brown. Appreciate you very much. Thank you very much.

Still ahead THE REID OUT. This month has seen a series of scandals that would have sunk a normal presidency, but it's just business as usual in Trump world. That's next. Stay with us.


REID: Remember when it was just an October Surprise? Well, that was before Donald Trump applied a wrecking ball to American politics. So instead of one singular surprise which happens sometime next month, we've got a nonstop avalanche of controversies that would have tanked any other person's political ambitions for good.

Like when he told Americans to vote twice, which is illegal, only for us to learn the very next day from "The Atlantic" that Trump had characterized Americans who had died in war as losers and suckers resulting in the White House playing cleanup duty for days until "The Washington Post" revealed audiotapes of trump admitting this to Bob Woodward.



I wanted to -- I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down.


TRUMP: Because I don't want to create a panic.


REID: Trump's deliberate deception along with his string of super spreader rallies came the same month the United States reached seven million coronavirus cases and 200,000 deaths.

And still that didn't pump the brakes on Trump's next controversy when he refused to abide by that little democracy thing.


QUESTION: Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transferal of power after the election?

TRUMP: Well, we're going to have to see what happens.


REID: Which all brings us to today's big headline, that Trump gilded billionaire tycoon bit is all a sham.

Now, the question is, will any of this breakthrough?

Tomorrow, Donald Trump and Joe Biden square off on stage for the first time. Trump is of course throwing out increasingly desperate attacks against Biden because that's what he does.

But the polls show it's Trump that has the most to prove, and that is next.


REID: Trump's tax returns are a treasure trove for his potential criminality which explains why he's so desperate to get that second presidential term on lock.

But he faces an uphill climb. A new poll from the "New York Times" and Siena College is showing Biden leading Trump by eight points, with the Democratic nominee also leading in battleground states. According to new NBC polls, Biden is up by eight points in Michigan and winning by a whopping ten points in Wisconsin, and leading Trump 49 to 40 percent among likely voters in Pennsylvania.

And joining me now is Susan Del Percio, Republican strategist and senior adviser to the Lincoln Project. And Cornell Belcher, Democratic pollster.

Thank you, friends. I appreciate you guys being here.

So, Pennsylvania is the state that Republicans and Trump seems to care the most about, at least at present. And so I'll ask you first, Susan, how does this story play in places like Pittsburg, in places like Philadelphia, this revelation that Donald Trump isn't chipping in to pay for the military and to pay for anything because he's been cheating on his taxes for ten out of 15 years?

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, we can almost say this in anything. The people that are with Trump are with him. We're at the Lincoln Project, we're going after that sliver that may have voted for him in 2016 and now see his record and know that he is just incapable of being a decent person or president, for that matter.

So, I think what we're seeing and how it'll affect them, I think it's a cumulative effect. It's one thing after the other that just verifies that this man cannot be trusted. He's a cheat. He's a horrible businessman. And he has no idea how to run a company.

REID: You know, Cornell, Trump, still for whatever reason, leads on the economy. But I think part of that is from "The Apprentice". It's sort of an after glow of "The Apprentice" where people think, well, he's a businessman. He must know what he's doing. Now that people know he's a terrible businessman, I wonder if that makes a difference.

But also, you worked on the Obama effort. Everybody who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 also voted for Joe Biden. They've already voted for him. They already -- he's baked in. All the things about him are baked into those two votes.

If you're an Obama to Trump voter, you're also a Biden to Trump voter. I want to play Joe Biden talking about his -- giving his Scranton message. This was on CNN.


KATE BEDINGFIELD, BIDEN DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: It's the latest reminder how clear the choice is here between in this race between Park Avenue and Scranton. You have in Donald Trump a president who spends his time thinking about how he can work his way out of paying taxes, of meeting the obligation that every other working person in this country meets every year. You know, with Joe Biden, you have somebody who has a completely different perspective on what it means to be a working family in this country.


REID: Now that clearly is not Joe Biden. That was Kate Bedingfield, his spokeswoman.

But the point still stands, does this story just reinforce the fact that Biden is the working class white guy and Trump is the Park Avenue cheat?

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER & STRATEGIST: I think it certainly sort of helps lock in that narrative. But going back to your earlier point about the economy, look, let me tell you a little secret, Democrats never have the advantage over Republicans on the question of dealing with economy.

Do you think Barack Obama who won two back-to-back majorities --

REID: Yeah.

BELCHER: Had advantage over Mitt Romney in the economy? No, we didn't. We had a pretty sizeable disadvantage. However, when it came to the question of whether or not somebody is going to fight for a economy that works for you, we made the conversation about who in fact's going to fight most for the middle class, not who's going to build an economy that's going to work for all the rich people.

So, I think if Joe Biden sort of keeps his focus on working more for working class people, he's on safe ground.

REID: Yeah, let me play a couple of voters, the great Ali Velshi, my pal Ali. He goes out and he talks to voters and it's truly great. Everybody was somebody his show on the weekend.

Here are a couple of voters that he spoke to. Let's start with Gail Devore, a Colorado voter.


GAIL DEVORE, COLORADO VOTER: Here we are faced with this man who is supposedly in charge of our nation supposed to be setting a good example who brags about, has bragged for a long time about not paying any taxes. And now revealed -- it's been revealed that he paid all of $750 in taxes the first year of his presidency. My husband and I pay 35 times that amount after our deductions.


REID: So, noting first of all that the $750 is memorable and that's a bad thing for Trump. It's memorable and that she herself paid 35 times that amount after our deduction. That means it's a fairness issue.

Now, let's play Leanne Wheeler, another Colorado voter and U.S. Air Force veteran.


LEANNE WHEELER, COLORADO VOTER, U.S. AIR FORCE VETERAN: I think there will also be some in the military who may change their opinion of him, given that tax dollars in fact fund our national defense. If that does not offend some of those who would vote for him who serve this country, then I'm going to have to have some conversation with some folks. It's ridiculous.


REID: Susan, if you are still a Republican strategist, what would be your reaction to those two women? Because that seems dangerous for Trump.

DEL PERCIO: That is very dangerous for Trump. And the fact that you mentioned two women who are giving that message is very dangerous for Trump, because women are the keepers of the pocketbook when it comes to the economies of family. And they are watching every dollar. And that's why it's not just $750, it's the fact that their insurance premiums probably cost twice that much and they're aware of it and they don't get to deduct that.

There are so many issues that will be affecting middle class families. And the disregard that Trump has for them. Look, I'm a Republican. I like lower taxes. I hate taxes. And I think that's what it comes down to. And don't forget this. If Donald Trump is feeding on his taxes, if he cheated on his spouse, he will cheat America.

REID: And, you know, Cornell, what do you think Biden should focus on? Because there seems to be a really rich environment for him between the $750, which everyone can relate to that because everybody has paid more than that, right? People wish they could get $750 back from Turbo Tax or whatever or H&R Block, and they're lucky if they get that back, right?

And then you've got the idea that Donald Trump, while not chipping in, is trying to take away 20 million people's health care using the Supreme Court as a way to snatch health care away from people. Where should Biden go if you are advising team Biden on what he should do tomorrow?

BELCHER: You know, it's a target-rich environment. It's kind of overwhelming. But that's I think the point of Trump and a lot of the ridiculous things that he does, tries to overwhelm the space. Look, I think Biden should stick to a couple of attack lines that has to deal with fighting for working class people.

But also, you know, Joy, I got to tell you, at this point, I think Biden has to make it about what he's going to do to turn this country around and change things and make things better and make it less about Trump. So many times in 2016 I heard from these Obama voters who sat out or voted third party and they said, you know, I wanted to hear more about Hillary Clinton and her plans, I didn't want to hear any more about Trump. We got it, Trump's bad.

But what are you going to do for us? I think if I were advising Team Biden, that's what I would tell them to focus on.

REID: Absolutely. Well, I will, quote, Jason Johnson, Professor Jason Johnson again, it's not undecided between Trump and Biden. It's more undecided between vote and not vote. And Biden --

BELCHER: That's right.

REID: Yeah, amen to that.

Susan del Percio, Cornell Belcher, and everybody better vote.

Up next, thank you guys very much. Vote, vote, vote, it's very important for our democracy.

Next up, the director of the CDC says he's alarmed by the false information that Trump is getting from a senior member of the Coronavirus Task Force, including the idea that herd immunity can resolve the pandemic. That remarkable discord now out in public is coming up next.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How would you describe where we are as a nation right now?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Yeah. Well, we're not in a good place. You don't want to be in a position like that as the weather starts getting cold.


REID: Back in August, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the U.S. needed to get its cases below 10,000 before fall to avoid, quote, a really bad situation.

Well, right now, we're averaging more than 40,000 cases per day. And the messaging coming from the White House isn't helping.

Trump's own CDC director, Dr. Robert Redfield was overheard by NBC News telling a colleague that task force member Dr. Scott Atlas is arming Trump with misleading data, including questioning the efficacy of masks, whether young people are susceptible to the virus and the potential benefits of herd immunity. And Redfield added everything he says is false.

Joining me is now Dr. Richard Besser, former acting director of the CDC, and he's currently president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Thank you so much for being here, Dr. Besser. And let's talk through a few of these things. I have been thinking a lot about Florida. I used to live there, and I see these videos of people herding into bars since the governor of that state re-opened bars.

"The Tampa Bay Times" reports that Florida surpassed 700,000 cases as a state -- as the state enters its phase three reopening. DeSantis has removed all the restrictions. I think we have some video of people in these bars, which I would like you to look at as you answer these questions. If Donald Trump is getting bad information, saying that herd immunity will solve the virus and governors like DeSantis are acting on what seems like the same idea, that just let people go wild, go into bars, be wherever they want and then suddenly that will solve it, how do we ever get out of this nightmare? How do we ever end this pandemic?

DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR OF THE CDC: Yeah. I mean, this is a really dangerous situation. You know, Joy, as you remember over the summer, we saw cases going up dramatically in Florida, in Texas, in Arizona and California and so much of that has been related to what young people have been doing, gathering together, really down playing the impact of this.

And, so, if that's what's taking place in Florida, if they're moving away from the measures that actually have worked in bringing down cases in those states, wearing masks, social distancing, keeping bars and restaurants closed for indoor activity, if they move away from that, it's logical what's going to happen. The cases are going to go up. And the thing about disease in young people, you know, while most young people will do relatively well with this, not all with.

There will been deaths -- a lot of deaths in young people as well. But young people don't keep the infection to young people. They spread it to older people. The CDC has published good data on this. A week or so after you see the rise in young people, you see the rise in older people and older people are at greater risk of bad disease and dying.

So if the president is getting advice from someone who is not a public health leader, who is not infectious disease expert and he's leading with that advice, the whole nation suffers.

REID: Let me play Dr. Anthony Fauci on the floor to reopening. Real quick.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm curious with all that you just said and where we are now as a nation, what you make of Florida's decision to ease those restrictions, opening up bars and restaurants.

FAUCI: Well, that is very concerning to me. I mean, I have -- we have always said that, myself and Dr. Deborah Birx, who's the coordinator of the task force, that that is something we really need to be careful about because when you are dealing with community spread and you have the kind of congregate setting where people get together, particularly without masks, you're really asking for trouble.


REID: When you're dealing with community spread and you have that kind of congregate setting where people get together particularly without masks, you're asking for trouble. The other kind of congregate setting that is concerning to a lot of parents right now are schools, whether its colleges or whether it's elementary or high schools.

Atlanta, "The Atlanta Journal Constitution" has noted that the state of Georgia has been not telling parents, they have been withholding COVID-19 counts from the public. Georgia health officials have decided to withhold information about coronavirus infections at each school, saying the public has no legal right to information about outbreaks that the state is investigating.

So when you add to the congregate settings, even in the places the governor let up and allowed localities to put in mask orders if they want to. But in some of these schools, parents are sending their kids in or teachers are going in and they don't have any idea that anybody has coronavirus.

How dangerous is that?

BESSER: Yeah. I mean, there needs to be transparency on this. And one of the things that we have been calling for as a foundation in a big way is data have to be collected and broken down by race, ethnicity, by zip code so you can see how this is playing out across different schools, in different school districts. We know that a lot of schools in America are funded off of property taxes, so wealthier schools are going to be able to do more to protect the students and staff and teachers than schools in lower-income communities. And we know that many of those communities have a higher proportion of black and brown children.

What does it say about us as a country if we're not ensuring that all children are safe and staff and teachers are safe? And we're not getting this information across the board. It is something that has to happen.

REID: Very quickly, the Midwest is seeing a surge in COVID cases. Do you worry that now any state that is very, very Trumpy is going to have people that are going to be getting very, very sick?

BESSER: Well, I worry. I worry a lot that when you have any state and you have a significant number of people, whether it's 30 percent or more, who aren't wearing masks and social distancing and washing their hands for whatever reason, whether it's political or they just don't believe it, everyone suffers from that. And not every community suffers equality.

So we have to come together as a nation. What we're seeing in the Midwest is going to happen anywhere where people back off of these controls.

REID: Absolutely. Dr. Richard Besser, thank you so much. I really appreciate you.

And before I go, I want to make a few programming notes. Tonight, Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris joins Lawrence O'Donnell at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, and it is on the occasion of his 10th anniversary of "THE LAST WORD". "THE LAST WORD" is 10. You do not want to miss it and congratulations to Lawrence and the entire wonderful, wonderful team on this huge milestone. You're 10 years old.

And tomorrow night is debate night. Be sure to join me and my colleagues, Rachel Maddow, Nicolle Wallace and Brian Williams for complete coverage beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. The girls are getting back together.

That's tonight's REIDOUT.

"ALL IN" -- and also Brian, too. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now. It's the girls and then Brian, OK?

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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