Kushner under fire TRANSCRIPT: 5/6/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to them. Thank you for being with us
too. Don`t go anywhere. “ALL IN” with Chris Hayes is up next.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. We`ve
got a lot to get to on our show tonight, including coming up we have Stacey
Abrams who we want to be talking to. First though, lots of people including
me have noted that as the White House urges states to open in violation of
its own CDC guidelines, that there is still no plan to stop, suppress, or
at the very least minimize the spread of Coronavirus. And that is mostly
true, OK, that they`re mostly no plan, but it`s not completely true.
I was thinking about this today. There actually is a plan. It just doesn`t
involve you or me. We see the plan on full display and the President`s own
daily schedule where you might notice, he`s been carrying out what looks
like his fairly normal routine. He does his briefings. In the briefing
room, in the Rose Garden, though he`s stopped doing those as much, but he
meets people in the Oval Office.
He`s flown across the country. He visited a mask factory in Arizona where
he did not wear a mask and they played Live and Let Die in the background.
It`s a rough if adjusted version of normalcy for President Donald Trump and
also Vice President Mike Pence. They both appear to be carrying on with
roughly their normalized and crucially duties, more or less.
And the reason they can do all this is because they`re being tested all the
time. The New York Times reports President Trump and Vice President Mike
Pence are tested frequently. Aides who come into close contact with them
are tested weekly, and the list of people who need to be tested daily keeps
When Mike Pence was asked why he did not wear the required mask to visit
the Mayo Clinic last week, his response was that he`s tested for the
Coronavirus on a regular basis and everyone who`s around me is testing for
the coronavirus. Would you look at that? The Trump administration has
figured out a way. They`ve solved the problem how to bring normalcy to the
daily lives of President Trump and Vice President Pence in the midst of
this virus. They try to prevent them from getting sick by implementing an
incredibly robust testing regime to constantly make sure that things are
So the Trump administration actually does have a plan they`re implementing
in front of us. They`re just applying it for two people. If they
implemented this across the country, as other countries have, we would all
feel much more comfortable about going back to work or school, movie
theaters, maybe restaurants.
I mean, if they were testing robustly and tracing contacts, that`s also
something they`re doing the White House, then everyone can have some
confidence that we`re safe, some rough semblance of normal. And it would
not be the same as before, clearly, and you`ll see it`s not the same as
before for the president who can`t go to his big rallies he loves. But if
everyone is being tested all the time, and everyone`s contacts are being
traced, then we would know immediately if someone contracted the virus, and
then they could go into isolation. But of course, that is not the case.
That`s not what`s happening.
Now, the White House is taking a kind of selfish approach. And increasingly
actually, it`s not just the White House and Trump, the Republican Party or
conservative line on this, the approach to all this is increasingly
becoming this. We will protect ourselves and our interests, while you guys,
you working folks, you get out there and you weather the virus. Here`s a
snapshot that kind of sums that up pointed out by Matt Iglesias yesterday
on Twitter of the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. That`s them hearing
arguments yesterday challenging the stay at home orders of the Democratic
governor in that state.
And as you can see in that screenshot, they`re all remote. They`re all
responsibly practicing physical distancing. They`re not lined up in a
meatpacking plant. But the Republican justices of that Supreme Court who
make up a majority of the court actually question the legality of the
state`s stay at home orders as they themselves work remotely and safely.
In fact, one justice referred to the state`s stay at home or home order as
“the very definition of tyranny.” And the conservative Chief Justice even
blamed an outbreak in one county on people working in a meatpacking plant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cases in Brown County in the span of two weeks
surged over tenfold from 60 to almost 800. That`s two weeks that would be
required for emergency rulemaking so –
PATIENCE ROGGENSACK, CHIEF JUSTICE, WISCONSIN: These were due to the
meatpacking though. That`s where the Brown County got the flare. It wasn`t
just the regular folks in Brown County.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Did you hear what she said? Oh, no, no, no. All the coronavirus
cases, those were just the meatpackers, not the regular folks. So why
workers in the meatpacking plant are not regular folks to her? No, no,
they`re just the meatpackers. That`s what they are. They have to go pack
meat and get sick. That`s not the regular folks. That`s not you or me
sitting here on this zoom hearing safely.
Republican officials, many of them, many of them are acting responsibly. We
should be very clear here. But many of them are now approaching the virus-
like the screenshot in that remote hearing. And they`ll tell you that
instead of being locked down, you need to go to back to work.
But again, we know what it will look like out in the world because we`ve
seen it in places that stay open. Two businesses and you talk to their
staffs, ignore coronavirus guidelines, and they required their workers who
had tested positive to report to work, and you will never guess what
happened. 68 people across those two businesses tested positive leading one
to temporarily shut down.
If you just keep going about business as usual with the virus out there,
and you do not come up with some really sophisticated and fairly dramatic
new regimes of testing and tracing and physical distance procedures, people
are going to get sick. It`s that simple. And that is the reason why Senate
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the hill he will die on in the next
rescue bill is liability protection for employers to make sure that if you
get sick after you go back to work, you can`t sue the boss. So when you go
back to work, Mitch McConnell has a plan for your boss, but not for you.
Just yesterday, the New York Times reported the task force run by the
president`s son in law, prioritize tips from political allies and
associates of President Trump tracked on a spreadsheet called VIP update.
How perverse is that in the midst of a pandemic? VIP update? The President
of the United States the White House making sure that all the connected
people got personal protective equipment for the hospitals that they were
close to like they`re running a Mar a Lago golf tournament.
In one case, Jeanine Pirro, the Trump stalwart and Fox host repeatedly
contacted task force members and FEMA officials until 100,000 mass were
sent to a hospital she favored. I should tell you, we`re going to have more
on that later on the show. Today, the new White House Press Secretary was
asked by NBC`s Peter Alexander why everyone is not getting tested like the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Why shouldn`t all
Americans who go back to work be able to get a test before they do to feel
comfortable in their own work environment to be interacting with other
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yes, well, let`s dismiss a
myth about test right now. If we tested every single American in this
country at this moment, we have to retest them an hour later, and then an
hour later after that, because at any moment, you could theoretically
contract this virus. So the notion that everyone needs to be tested is just
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Simply nonsensical. Well, apply that to the White House. A plan
coming into focus from the President and his allies is that we will protect
ourselves and we will protect our interests. And you guys out there, you
Americans, you are – and this is the President`s words, your warriors. You
are a cannon fodder that will be thrown against the onslaught of the virus.
They`re going out of their way to protect themselves and they`re going to
send you out to make sure you cannot sue your employer when you get sick.
Joining me now for more on the White House`s plan or lack thereof,
Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. For the people of Illinois,
what do you tell them about what the federal government that you are part
of, and what the White House administration and Congress, what – the
federal government`s plan is for the people that you represent the state of
Illinois to make sure that there`s a safe way for them to start to come out
SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): Well, Chris, what I tell them is, don`t trust
a Trump administration. Listen to Governor Pritzker and his plan for the
state. Listen to the Illinois Department of Public Health and the plan that
the governor has put forward. He`s put forward a very methodical plan, a
But what you need to know is like the first four step of that plan is
social distancing and wearing masks, and all throughout that pant plan is
more testing. We have to have more testing and then we need to do contact
tracing. But don`t trust what the Trump administration says to you because
they don`t have your best interests at heart.
HAYES: One thing that worries me about the sort of return to work,
reopening conversation is again, I say this as someone who very much like a
lot of people wants to restore some normalcy, like does not think it`s
either feasible or advisable to keep people locked down for I don`t know,
more months more.
Like – but this idea of it being the kind of liability and risk being
pushed onto workers, so you have unemployed workers who are now being told
if you don`t go back to work, well, then you`re quitting. You`re not –
you`re not being laid off, you`re not – you can`t get unemployment
benefits. Bosses telling people not to wear masks in their workplace, that
Iowa tells workers to return their jobs or lose your unemployment benefits.
Do you think we`re looking out for workers enough in the conceptualization
of how this is all going to happen?
DUCKWORTH: Well, Democrats are trying very hard to look out for workers.
And we`ve been pushing very hard. I myself have introduced legislation to
provide – to provide OSHA protections for all the frontline workers, and I
don`t mean just the heroic doctors and nurses and people in our healthcare
system, but also the heroic grocery store, cashiers, and the janitors and
I also helped introduce legislation to provide hazard pay. You know, I used
to get hazard pay in the army for flying a helicopter. Well, I think that,
you know, if you`re out there cleaning the hospital as a janitor, you
should get hazard pay as well. But are the Republicans looking out for
these folks? No.
Let me – let me go back to that – to what they – what they said about
the meatpacking plant, you know, those people are not normal people. Those
people don`t have an option. They either have to go to work or they lose
their unemployment insurance and yet they`re afraid for their lives, they
don`t have a choice. And that is fundamentally un-American that we would do
that to one another.
And also, by the way, many of the people who work in those meatpacking
plants are either from the black or the brown communities in this country.
So there`s a lot of Latin X, folks who work in many of these factories and
these meatpacking paths. And they have some of the highest rates of
positive testing for COVID-19, as well as African Americans are suffering
at far higher percentages than the rest of the population as a whole.
HAYES: Final question for you. A piece of news today that I think got a
little buried understandably but is pretty striking. I think the
President`s new press secretary at one point referred to him as the
healthcare president. We have a global pandemic. We have more than 70,000
Americans dead. We have, you know, north of a million cases.
Today was the last day that the Department of Justice, the President Trump
administration`s Department of Justice could have changed his position on a
lawsuit to destroy rip up, reduced to rubble all 2,200 pages of the
Affordable Care Act the entire edifice of current healthcare regulation and
provisioning in the United States of America, and they did not.
The president right now wants to urge the Supreme Court to destroy the
entirety of the ACA is in court right now, essentially to do it. What do
you think about that?
DUCKWORTH: Well, unfortunately, I think it`s consistent. He`s been right
there and all the Republicans have been right there to try to rip away
health insurance from all millions of hardworking Americans. They want to
take away the protections for pre-existing conditions. They want to put you
back in the bad old days where over 50 percent of all bankruptcies in this
country were from medical bills.
They want to take health care away from Americans. And in fact, instead of
ripping up the ACA, they should actually be opening up the exchanges on
emergency basis so more people can actually sign up right now. You know,
Illinois has requested the exchange be open up so we can have people
register so that they can get health insurance coverage.
That`s common sense and a pandemic, but they won`t – they won`t allow us
to do that. And now they`re trying to just rip up the entire system so that
we`re all going to be at the mercy of for insurance companies, and I would
rather not let that happen.
HAYES: Senator Tammy Duckworth who you see there is back in our Nation`s
Capital. The Senate has convened this week. Thank you so much for taking a
little bit of time with us tonight.
DUCKWORTH: Thanks for having me on.
HAYES: For more on the testing protocols used for the president but not for
everybody else, I`m joined now by Dr. Jeremy Faust. He`s an emergency room
physician at Brigham and Women`s Hospital in Boston, also an instructor at
Harvard Medical School.
And I want to be fair here, Dr. Faust, to the press secretary. I think it`s
– it actually is accurate to say the incredibly robust testing regime
applied to the President of the United States is probably not scalable for
the entirety of the American people. But the key insight, which is if
you`re testing regularly in tracing contacts, you can have a lot more
security safety does seem to me applicable and scalable. What do you think?
JEREMY FAUST, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN, BRIGHAM AND WOMEN`S HOSPITAL: That
seems correct. I think when people look at the White House or look at any
leaders, they are looking for leadership and emulation of that. So when
they see that they`re testing themselves, it makes a lot of sense that they
say, gee, I`d like to have the same applies to me.
I think that the fact that we can`t have universal testing at this time is
an unforced error and it`s unfortunate. So the fact that they are testing
themselves tells me that they believe that testing is important. That`s
good that they believe that. And I think the rest of America probably
notices that and watch the same for themselves.
HAYES: It also strikes me that there`s some sort of medium between these,
right? So, OK, you`re not going to do a testing regime like the one you
have for the United States for everyone. But there are certain places that
we just know are extremely vulnerable, right? Those are detention
facilities, prison jails, ICE detention facilities. They are long term care
facilities, elder care facilities, psychiatric hospitals, meatpacking
We have seen time and time again, these places. Like, is there a universe
in which we applied a sort of robust testing regime at least to those
FAUST: What you`d like to see is a plan and a plan that has some basis. It
could be that you want to spend a lot of your tests in nursing homes
because that`s where so many of our deaths have happened here in
Massachusetts. For example, 60 percent of our deaths come from the less
than one percent of the population from nursing homes. That`s a staggering
statistic. We need to be testing those people all the time.
And it could also be that we need to do the opposite and think the other
way, and think well, maybe we need to be testing people with no symptoms at
all because these are the people who go to work and they could become
spreaders. So what we want to do is to have our leaders outline a very
data-driven approach to this, which takes a little bit of time, a little
bit of thinking, but it has to be done. Right now, it`s just kind of all
over the place and it`s not enough.
HAYES: I`m curious, as an emergency room physician yourself, Massachusetts
has had a fairly bad outbreak, not one of the worst – not one of the top
three worst in the country, but a fairly significant outbreak. There has
been significant stress on your hospital system. As you watch this debate
play out driven by the president and driven by certain sort of, I think
fairly narrow conservative interests about opening up, what your reaction
is based on the experience you`ve had as an actual provider yourself?
FAUST: My general impression is that people who aren`t in it in the – on
the ground, don`t get it. They don`t get how real this is. Many Americans
don`t know anyone who`s died of this yet, and it would take a staggering
number of Americans to die before the average American knew that. So I
think they just don`t connect on how real it is and how unusual it is.
For example, right now, we are having an unprecedented number of deaths
overall in the country, not just from COVID, not just counting up the COVID
death, like literally the number of deaths. We know how many people die
every day in this country. And it`s very stable for years and years that
we`ve been looking at this for a century. And what we`re seeing right now
is it`s off the charts, that just a number of people dying total is off the
And so that means that we`re nowhere near normal yet, and people are
starting to say, oh, yeah, we`ve turned the corner. But to me, you look at
the data, and there are states where the numbers are off the charts from
all causes. We know it`s COVID. But just – if you want to count them up,
then it`s unbelievable.
HAYES: Yes. Do you see – what I`m hearing is that, we`ve talked about
this, the excess mortality data. There are some reporting today the
President thinks we`re actually over counting deaths, that he may start
making that case in public. What you`re saying here is that we`re
undercounting it. And if you look at the excess mortality, I mean, again,
you compare that to this conversation about opening up even in states like
Georgia and Texas, you can just see it there on the chart just how
dangerous this thing is.
FAUST: Correct. Right now, we are probably undercounting COVID deaths. And
quite frankly, there could be a time later down the road where we`re over
counting them. I had a relative who was in her 90s who died with
coronavirus last week and it`s hard for me to know – distant relative.
It`s hard to know whether she died because of coronavirus or with
Coronavirus or whether it was her old age or whatever.
But six months from now, if we don`t have a lot of excess deaths, then I
could get it. I could understand that point that you don`t know who. But
right now, the numbers aren`t even close.
HAYES: Yes. Dr. Jeremy Faust, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
FAUST: My pleasure. Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, fresh off, mishandling the search for medical supplies,
the president`s son in law is reported been handed another pet project,
getting a vaccine. Do you feel confident? You don`t want to miss that
story. It`s coming up next.
HAYES: Just about every day brings a new story about the incompetence and
corruption that seems to follow in the wake of America`s most powerful son
in law, Jared Kushner. And yet he just keeps being given more to do today.
The Daily Beast is reporting that the Boy Wonder has been tasked with
streamlining an effort to get a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year,
which the White House is calling operation Warp Speed.
This is the latest in a long series of tasks the President has given to his
son in law despite an utter lack of qualifications for said tasks. Most
recently, Jared Kushner lead hastily thrown together Task Force largely
made up of young volunteers who are charged with procuring much needed
personal protective equipment to help fight the virus. It did not go well.
For example, after one Silicon Valley engineer tweeted about the president
promising ventilators and asking for someone to call him urgently, Jared
Kushner`s volunteers passed along that random dudes information.
And here to tell us about what happened next, I`m joined by Nick
Confessore, Political Investigative Reporter at the New York Times, co-
author along with a number of his colleagues of a great piece in the New
York Times entitled, “How Kushner`s volunteer force led a fumbling hunt for
And Nick, let`s start with that story. Someone in the President`s message
saying I`ve been got the hook-up on N-95 masks. This somehow is passed
along via the Kushner Task Force. And what happens then?
NICK CONFESSORE, POLITICAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Well,
basically what happened is the volunteers who were young and experienced
mostly from Private Equity Analysis took this person`s information and put
it into a procurement forum, pass it up to HHS, which then pass it on to
the New York State as a lead for ventilators. And New York State gave the
guy a contract for $69 million on the assumption that the guy had already
been vetted by the White House team was turned out not to be true. And now
the state is trying to get that money back.
HAYES: Has the individual who tweeted at the president and got a $69
million contract delivered any ventilators?
CONFESSORE: Zero ventilators, Chris. You know, he`s one of these people who
thought he could do something big and, you know, had the opportunity and
the expertise and failed. And we`re seeing so much of that. There was
really a bull market in either scams, or people who are inserting
themselves into this hunt for PPE and ventilators and other things and
failing because they haven`t actually got the context.
HAYES: Yes, what – so tell me first. OK, so let`s back up to what was this
task force? Like, why was Jared Kushner running it? Who was in it? What was
it supposed to do?
CONFESSORE: It was basically some volunteers who were in a task force that
were in the White House Task Force. It`s a very complicated, hard to even
explain the structure of it. But these kids, their job was to sort through
a mountain of incoming leads from people who said, hey, I can sell FEMA
some gowns or some masks or some gloves.
And the problem here is that FEMA was getting such a late start, that its
traditional supplies that already run dry, and its usual suppliers couldn`t
supply for the demand. So they had no choice but to sift through all of
these offers of PPE. That task fell to a group of a dozen kids who had
never done this before.
HAYES: I mean, just to be clear, like there are people at the GSA, at the
Department of Defense, particularly, at FEMA and other places around the
government that have like procurement expertise and logistics expertise and
supply chain. Like this is not – this is not a body of knowledge absent
from the American government. But it wasn`t those people being marshaled
here, it was just like people that the president`s son in law knew.
CONFESSORE: You know, it`s a case study of a certain kind of Trump
governance, Chris, where there`s a deference to private industry, a
skepticism of bureaucracy and experience, public servants, and a sense that
the people in your own fun book are the best people to rely on.
In this case, these were volunteers from New York private equity firms. And
the idea was that their kind of experience in sourcing deals could be
applied to sourcing procurement. But they hadn`t had any expertise in the
procedures or in the substance of it.
And yes, there are questions around FEMA. Look, there are people all around
DHS and the Pentagon who have this experience and typically in a crisis, if
FEMA needs more people, it grabs bodies from other agencies, not from Wall
HAYES: There was also part of this that I found – I mean, there`s sort of
incompetence, but there`s a part of it that I found just profoundly
troubling as a citizen, which is the idea of the VIP update spreadsheet.
I`ll read from your story. Many of the volunteers were told to prioritize
tips from political allies and associates of President Trump tracked on a
spreadsheet called VIP update. What can you tell us about that?
CONFESSORE: So imagine, Chris, that there are hundreds of tips coming in
from all over the place. They`re coming in from over the transom to FEMA.
They`re coming from Congress. They`re coming from friends and well-wishers
of the president in the White House. And what these volunteers did was, you
know – and what happened was a person supervising them who was a former
assistant to Ivanka Trump had them track the leads coming from friends of
the White House, friends of the president, and expedite them.
And the problem there is there wasn`t any reason to think that those leads
were any better than all the other leads, but they got the most attention
HAYES: Final question here I think is about just like the broader
government structure here. I mean, you got a situation in which Jared
Kushner, you know, is someone who came into a family business that was his
parent`s – father`s family business, not that dissimilar from Donald
Trump, not that dissimilar from the Republican president before him, George
W. Bush. They`re kind of all three of them are just the boss`s son. And
that`s why they have the power that they have.
Now, he`s been tasked with the vaccine. Like Why – it seems like we`re
going to keep doing these.
CONFESSORE: It seems that way. And in fact, there is at least one volunteer
from the procurement task force who I believe is now working on the vaccine
task force. And look, the idea here is that you know, I can fix it, I alone
can fix it. I think it`s well meaning. It`s a little bit overconfident.
And the question is, is there a better way to do this? And is it necessary
for the White House to micromanage these scientific processes or simply
look from afar and nudge when needed? I`m not sure what the answer is.
HAYES: All right, Nick Confessore, thanks for being with me tonight. Ahead,
how long did the virus go undetected in the U.S.? What we know about when
coronavirus began spreading outside of China with the great Laurie Garrett
HAYES: One of the big mysteries we are trying to figure out about the
Coronavirus is how early did it start spreading, when did the outbreaks
actually begin, and how long was it just moving around undetected in
We got this really interesting data point from Santa Clara, California I
think last week or maybe even before that, where they did an autopsy and
they found out that two people who died back in early and mid-February were
actually infected with the Coronavirus. And that`s weeks before what we
originally thought was the first U.S. fatality.
Miami Herald now reporting the virus was likely already spreading through
Florida in January.
And we have got this new bit of information from France also intriguing. A
doctor went back and tested a swab he took from a patient who had pneumonia
back in late-December. It turns out that patient had the Coronavirus, which
is considerably earlier than we thought the virus got to Europe.
Joining me now is someone who has been tracking and reporting on all of
this, one of the best science journalists in the country, author of The
Coming Plague, Pulitzer Prize-winner Laurie Garrett.
Let`s start, Laurie, with the implications for some of the new data we were
getting about the timeline here, the fact that it was in France in December
it looks like, the fact that it was in the U.S. earlier than we thought.
What do you make of that?
LAURIE GARRETT, AUTHOR: Well, first we have a scientific caveat, sorry to
have to do this to you, Chris, but you know there are…
GARRETT: The test that`s used is PCR, and it is contamination prone. So,
with the possibility that some of these are contaminations, not genuine
infections – so we`ve covered ourselves on that.
But, if they all hold up, or a fair percentage of them hold up, what it
shows us is something that comes as no surprise to most of us, but is –
meaning that this had actually disseminated quite awhile before we even
realized there was an outbreak in Wuhan. It`s quite likely that this virus
has been around at some very low level in populations here, there, and
everywhere for a long time. That certainly turned out to be the case with
HIV, which we didn`t know about until May of 1981, but that we now can see
retrospectively had been in very low levels of infection throughout the
20th Century in parts of Africa.
So, you know, it may be that this is not as new as we thought it was.
HAYES: What is the implication? I mean, one of the big questions right now
is about sort of – they are connected, and I think connect a little to the
timeline, so if I can state it this way, how many people have had the
virus, right, how transmissible is it? And then the sort of flip side of
that is what the ultimate infection fatality rate is. And then the kind of
hopeful case, right, the thing that people hope is, oh, a bunch of people
have had it that we don`t realize because of testing and asymptomatic
transmission and so maybe it won`t be – it`s not as bad as we thought, not
as dangerous, and maybe we`re closer to some end of this than we thought.
And I wonder what you make of the current status of that kind of
GARRETT: Well, it`s a conversation that`s utterly speculative, because just
as it turns out there may have been cases earlier in parts of Europe,
perhaps, in parts of Asia, and parts of North America. We don`t really know
yet. It also may turn out that there has been a burden of death we didn`t
So, from the very beginning, way back in January, I`ve been saying we need
to do retrospective forensic work to figure out causes of death on people
who had undiagnosed cause, in other words, unknown etiology, as they say,
pneumonias, in the United States and were in intensive care units in 2019.
We need to better understand have we been missing this virus for a long
You know, Chris, we have this phrase, unknown etiology that, you know, I`ve
been writing in medical charts since I was first a clerk in a Boston
hospital at the age of 16. And it`s the case that a lot of pneumonia and a
lot of encephalitis, a lot of very severe illness that often leads to
death. We never really know what the causative agent is – was it a virus?
What was it a bacteria? And if it was a virus, which one?
So we`ve always had this large mystery box looming over a substantial
burden of death in the United States. And it could well turn out that this
particular Coronavirus has been around longer than we thought.
What`s obviously important to remember, however, is that something has made
it explode at this time. So, whether it`s been around, like HIV, for
decades, or it`s been around for a few weeks longer than we thought,
something still caused this explosive event first in Wuhan and now in many
places around the world.
And this may coincide with a separate paper that came out today – it has
not yet been fully peer-reviewed, it`s quite controversial, but it comes
out of one of the most reputable genomic laboratories in the entire world,
the Los Alamos Laboratory genome bank, which has been studying every single
known form of HIV since the 1980s, and now is applying the similar
methodology to track all of the various forms of this Coronavirus that have
been found in patients all over the world. And they think they see that
there was a particular dominant form. It was in China. And it`s now been
completely eclipsed by a totally different form that is dominating here in
North America and in Western Europe.
Whether this explains certain kinds of behavior and passage, transmission,
not clear yet. They think it may mean that this new form – newer form –
of the virus is causing a higher viral load in the patients, meaning they
have more virus to spread to others.
HAYES: So, final question for you is about a quote you gave in a column by
Frank Bruni in The New York Times, which has really stuck with me. In fact,
I asked Kathleen Sebelius about it last night when she was on this program,
where you are talking about the bizarre absence of the CDC, which is a
world-renowned institution in many ways.
And you`ve said I`ve heard from every CDC in the world and they say
normally our first call is to Atlanta, but we ain`t hearing back. There`s
nothing going on down there. They`ve gutted that place.
What is your understanding of what has happened to the CDC?
GARRETT: Well, this is a tragedy. I mean, every major epidemic that we have
faced in the United States in my lifetime has been run by the CDC. And we -
- the CDC has played that role for a lot of international outbreaks. You
know, I`ve been in the command center. I`ve seen how it works. And, you
know, it`s not at all uncommon to have on the command boards, you know,
Nebraska, Illinois, and then some country overseas. And you have huge
numbers of experts keeping track of what`s going on all over the world,
taking phone calls from every corner of the planet asking for guidance and
And in 2014 when Ebola was sweeping through West Africa, the CDC played an
absolutely pivotal role advising every country in the world on how to
respond, not just how we should respond inside the United States.
So now here we have the biggest epidemic this country has faced, you know,
in the modern era and the CDC is radio silent. We`ve had – instead of
daily briefings every single day, which we were accustomed to, for example,
when Ebola was spread in West Africa, we`re hearing nada, nothing.
When you call the CDC there`s an awkwardness. Clearly the morale situation
inside the CDC is quite difficult right now. I mean, you have some of the
best professionals on the planet, people who have been in the middle of
epidemics all over the world, and they`ve got, you know, their mouths
zipped shut. They`re not able to take phone calls. They can`t interact with
most of us on the outside. And this is just a travesty, a real travesty.
It`s a loss not just for every American, but for the whole world. Where is
HAYES: Yeah, it`s a really important question.
Laurie Garrett, I always learn so much from talking to you. Thank you so
much for making some time tonight.
GARRETT: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Still ahead, Stacey Abrams is here to talk about what`s happening in
Georgia since it started reopening, plus the discussions about the Biden
campaign potentially tapping her for VP and much, much more. Stick around.
She joins me ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER, (D) NEW JERSEY: I just think it`s absurd and frankly
deeply offensive to people around this country in crisis that we`ve
actually having a hearing on a judge that is for a vacancy that`s not even
open until September. Between now and September, if projections are right,
we will lose thousands, if not tens of thousands of Americans. Death and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell`s priorities have been
clear all along – tax cuts for rich people and judges, judges, judges. And
he is not letting a global pandemic, or physical distancing, or the deaths
of tens of thousands of Americans stop his urgent need to come up with more
As we passed 70,000 Coronavirus deaths in this country, and 22 million
American unemployed, Mitch McConnell has called back the Senate to work on
nominees, including an appellate court nominee, and not just any nominee,
this is someone near and dear to Mitch McConnell`s heart, in fact so near
and so dear that almost eight weeks ago, you may recall, as the house was
passing an urgent relief bill with money to fight the exploding pandemic,
Mitch McConnell decided that weekend to just send the Senate home so he
could fly back to Kentucky with his buddy, Supreme Court Justice Brett
Kavanaugh, to attend a swearing in ceremony for a young right-wing judge
that had managed – he had managed to place on the federal judiciary.
The man in question, the judge, his name is Justin Walker. And he clerked
for Kavanaugh. He`s got the backing of McConnell. And here he is fist
bumping with both of them that weekend, while the epidemic was exploding in
I should tell you that Justin Walker was deemed not qualified for that
position of federal court district court judge by the American Bar
Association. And now just weeks later – I mean, that was his swearing in
ceremony to be a district court judge, right, then the pandemic exploded
and now weeks later Mitch McConnell is trying to put that guy on the
Now, there`s an added wrinkle. There is a complaint that McConnell
improperly pressured a judge on the appellate court to step down to open up
that vacancy. The retiring judge, I should note, denies that, but a federal
judge has asked for a full investigation.
Because no amount of human misery and widespread illness and death and
economic destruction and unemployment will stop Mitch McConnell from trying
to jam his judges onto the federal judiciary.
That`s just one part of Mitch McConnell`s plan to shield Republicans from
people who do not like what they are doing. One of his toughest enemies in
that fight is coming up next.
HAYES: Republican Georgia Governor Brian Kemp was one of the first to
declare a state ready to reopen for business. And less than two weeks
later, the results are not good. The CEO of an ax-throwing bar told the
local business journal a few days ago that the reopening weekend was a
disaster. We had two customers all weekend. And although malls are open,
they are mostly deserted. People are not rushing back into economic
The reason for that is obvious, the virus is still there, still a very
present threat. And there are already signs that in some parts of Georgia
things are actually accelerating and getting worse. In fact, Governor Kemp
himself came out yesterday and warned about a growing outbreak in northeast
Georgia, in an area synonymous with Georgia`s large poultry industry,
quickly becoming one of the state`s most affected areas.
And joining me now, the woman who ran against Brain Kemp for Georgia – for
governor of Georgia, Stacey Abrams. She also heads up the Southern Economic
Advancement Project, which is helping to alleviate the financial stress
that so many are facing amid the pandemic.
And let me start on that question, Stacey, it`s great to have you tonight.
In terms of thinking about the sort of economic pain here. I mean, you
know, when people talk about wanting to re-open, I think that what they`re
saying is we – this is terrible that people are unemployed. They don`t
have money. They can`t make rent. We`ve seen food insecurity go up. Like,
how do you think about cushioning that blow, or dealing with that problem
as we fight the virus?
STACEY ABRAMS, DIRECTOR, SOUTHERN ECONOMIC ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: I think
it`s a legitimate concern, but it has to be prioritized with actually
having an economy and having consumers to participate.
The south has the highest poverty rate, one of the highest unemployment
rates, one of the lowest insurance rates, and we also see some of the
highest death rates, and the highest infection rates. We do not have the
public health infrastructure to reopen Georgia or any of the southern
But we`re also seeing the most vulnerable populations being forced back
into production. Those poultry workers are not workers who are making lots
of money, these are folks who have no choice but to go back to work,
particularly because of President Trump`s actions last week. And those who
are being infected do not necessarily have access to Medicaid or to any
health care if they need to be treated.
HAYES: What do you think about the economic affects of this decision by
Governor Kemp, right? So, I mean, the idea is you open up and then you can
get the economy going, but the early signs in your state, which is really
kind of sort of a pilot here is that people don`t rush out to go do the
stuff they were doing before just because the governor said you`re open for
ABRAMS: Georgia is a cautionary tale to every other state that`s thinking
about reopening. First of all, we`ve seen our rates skyrocket by 40 percent
since the announced reopening, the soft relaunch, moving into now the near
We have seen our rates of infection jump to 30,000, our death rate is
around 1,300. We remain one of the top states for the infection, and we`re
still very low on the rate of testing.
There is no correlation between reopening the state and actually restarting
the economy, because there are no people who can take advantage of this
reopening, except for the workers who are being forced to risk their lives.
And as you said earlier, we`re watching a concomitant issue with food
insecurity rising because the south tends to have the lowest public
benefits, and so people who are already vulnerable, already on the edge,
are being shoved over and there`s no real relief coming from the state,
there`s just this false notion that if we reopen the economy everything
will work out and that`s just not true.
HAYES: I want to ask you about another story coming out of Georgia, though
it is a national story now, and a profoundly disturbing one, about the
shooting of a 25-year-old black man named Ahmaud Arbery in a small town in
the southeast of your state on February 23, so this is before the sort of
pandemic had exploded.
And there`s a video of the shooting, which we`re only going to show you a
part of, which surfaced yesterday, and it shows Arbery running along a
residential street. He was just jogging. And he comes up upon a white
pickup and one of the men is standing beside the truck, the other is in the
bed of the truck, and Arbery runs around the truck and disappears briefly
from view. They`re shouting that can be heard, and then gunshots.
Neither of those two white men, the ones who are in the truck, Gregory
McMichael or his son Travis, are arrested. And according to the police
report, Gregory McMichael said he saw Arbery running in the neighborhood
and thought he looked like the suspect in a rash of break-ins, so he and
his son got their guns and chased him down.
And we should also note the older McMichael is a former cop, former
investigator in the local DA`s office. The first two prosecutors recused
themselves, because of professional ties to Gregory McMichael. Yesterday, a
third prosecutor recommended the case to a grand jury.
What do you think should be happening with this case?
ABRAMS: I believe that there should be immediate investigation of charges.
It looks like murder. It looks like vigilante behavior that should be
charged and criminalized. And it looks like the Arbery family has been
dealt a very sore hand of injustice.
We`ve been working very quietly trying to lift this story up, because we
wanted to be respectful of the family and recognize that there was a
process moving, but the process moved too slowly. And I`m gratified that
there is now national attention that`s calling the state to question and
forcing real investigation and true justice to be delivered to Ahmaud
HAYES: You`ve been – obviously you ran in your state. You ran a heck of a
race, came narrowly short. You have been outspoken about the fact that you
would like to be the vice presidential nominee on the ticket with Joe
Given how seismic the events are, the sort of cataclysms that we`ve had,
and given the age, frankly, of the nominee, Joe Biden, I wonder you respond
to people who say do you have the experience necessary in crisis
management, in international affairs and things like that, to sort of be
able to take over the job in a heartbeat if that`s what`s called upon?
ABRAMS: I`ve been getting a question on this vein for the last 14 months,
and typically the question comes when I appear on a show or talk to a
reporter about the work I`m doing, about the work we`re doing to protect
our elections through Fair Fight Action and Fair Fight 2020, about the work
I`m doing through Fair Count, to ensure that the hardest account people are
included in our census, the work I`m doing through SEAP. For example, we`re
going to be delivering 40,000 pounds of food to food banks throughout
Georgia, Florida, and Alabama that will serve 800,000 meals, because of the
food insecurity we know is rampant in that region of the state – those
I`m doing the work of service. And I`m doing the work of trying to meet the
needs that we have on a national level.
When I get the question, though, I answer it. And that has been, I think,
mischaracterized as auditioning or pitching. And what I`m trying to do is
be as straightforward and direct as I can. I`m the daughter of pastors who
taught me to be honest, but I`m also a young woman of color who understands
that often you cannot be what you do not see, and I want young women, young
women of color, people of color, to see me answering directly and
forthrightly if my qualifications and my capacity are questioned.
This is a question of competence. And Vice President Joe Biden is going to
pick the person that best suits him. He has an extraordinary team around
him, and more importantly he knows what he needs because he`s done the job.
I leave it to him to make his choice, but – and I can`t decide which
questions I`m going to get from fantastic journalists like yourself and
others, my only obligation and my only opportunity is to be as forthright
and clear as I can, and that is to say, yes, I`m qualified and ready.
HAYES: Final question for you is about mail-in voting, very quickly. How
important is it that we have universal mail-in voting in place by this fall
for this election?
ABRAMS: It is essential. There will be no democracy without it. We cannot
move tens of million of people through lines with – we cannot move tens of
millions of people through lines without having the ability to relieve the
stress through mail-in voting. We have the capacity. We need the funding.
And the CARES package, the next passed, needs to include those dollars.
HAYES: All right, Stacey Abrams, it is always great to get a chance to talk
to you. Thank you for making time tonight.
ABRAMS: Thank you for having me.
HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening. “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts
right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the