COVID culture war TRANSCRIPT: 5/15/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes

Mara Gay, Maxine Watters, Elissa Slotkin, John Barry, John Brennan


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Thanks so much for being with us. “ALL IN” with Chris

Hayes is up next.




CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, on ALL IN. People put on masks. It`s one

of the most obvious steps towards getting back anywhere close to normal,

but your president would rather have a culture war. We`ll talk to someone

who knows better because she had the virus.


Plus, how the hashtag freedom protesters temporarily shut down democracy in

Michigan. Elissa Slotkin is here. Former CIA Director John Brennan on the

President`s corruption of the rule of law. And the Spanish Flu curve, a

cautionary tale of 1918 and what we all want to avoid for the fall when ALL

IN starts right now.




HAYES: Good evening from New York. Happy Friday. I`m Chris Hayes. By now,

you have probably seen images of the president pointedly not wearing a

mask. Here he is in the Rose Garden today, mask less while Dr. Deborah Birx

and Dr. Anthony Fauci wear masks behind him. Here is yesterday without a

mask at Pennsylvania Medical Supply Company where just about everyone else

had a mask on for obvious reasons.


And you can see, the president just does not think masks are for him. He

reportedly dislikes masks and thinks they suggest weakness.





myself. It`s a recommendation. They recommend it. I`m feeling good. I don`t

know. Somehow, I don`t see it for myself. I just – I just – I won`t be

doing it personally. It`s a recommendation, OK.




HAYES: You might have noticed also that not wearing a mask has sort of

become a weird kind of cultural or virtue signaling by Trump people like

Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas who was seen on the House floor today,

sitting in the back of the chamber and chatting with colleagues without

wearing a mask. Or the people there right-wing open up America rallies like

this one yesterday in Minnesota, or the people who crowded into this

Wisconsin bar right after the State Supreme Court struck down their stay at

home order to celebrate, or the guy that Trump actually retweeted attacking

the quote commies in blue states and saying that people in Florida are all

out at bars having a good time without masks on.


Here`s the thing. These people are, as we stress on the show often, very

much the minority. Right now, it remains the case, America continues to be

sort of amazingly unified in the polling in wanting to go slowly and

cautiously to make sure we have the virus under control as we try to



And as for masks, in a recent poll, 81 percent of Americans say workers at

open businesses should be required to wear them. 76 percent say customers

should be required to wear masks as well. But for Donald Trump`s own stated

aims, for the stated aims of those protesters, and all the right-wingers

out there who think they are the ones the vanguard of opening up America

and getting American capitalism cracking again, there is nothing stupider

nothing more counterproductive you can do then turn not wearing a mask into

some right-wing badge of honor. The way that Rush Limbaugh did today when

he mocked Dr. Fauci for wearing a mask in a White House event.


Because the mask is your friend Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh, protesters. If

the stated goal here is to open up the American economy, get people back to

work, achieve some level of normalcy, something that we all desperately

want, there is really good evidence that everyone wearing a mask can really

help us in that project.


Hong Kong, which is doing incredibly well, is telling the world that masks

work. It has had only four known deaths total from the Coronavirus, and

people there have been able to continue to live their lives and do things

like ride the subway and go to crowded restaurants. You see, they all wear

masks there. They started masking immediately when the virus started

merging from Wuhan.


Because the main way we know this virus is being transmitted is from

droplets that are coming out of people`s mouths when they talk, and when

they yell, and when they sing, when they cough, when they breathe. And so,

if you wear a mask, you help keep those droplets away from other people.

Which is key because a lot of the transmission is asymptomatic. You don`t

know if you`re sick.


There`s another way to explaining it actually, which was in a meme that

went viral, you might have seen, even tweeted out by the Philadelphia

Department of Public Health. Here it is. “If we all run around naked and

someone pees on you, you get wet right away. If you are wearing parents,

some of the people get through but not as much so you`re better protected.

But if the guy who pees also is wearing pants, the pee stays with him and

you do not get wet.” It`s pretty good way of putting it.


Now, let me just say I get why people do not want to wear a mask. I

personally don`t like wearing one. In case you haven`t noticed, I wear

glasses. It fogged up my glasses. I`m walking around in a fog haze. I`m

also a little claustrophobic. I kind of a claustrophobic, kind of annoying,

but you know what, so what, in the grand scheme of things.


I mean, right now, we are facing a pandemic that has ravaged everyone`s

life, the country it`s killed 88,000 of our fellow citizens. It shut down

half the world. 35 million people unemployed. We`re all homeschooling our

kids and not leaving the house. We`re reckoning with all these terrible

policy choices agonizing should we open schools are not.


And all these choices, they have these huge costs and sort of competing

interests on either side no matter what we do. The easiest, lowest hanging

fruit to make things at least somewhat better, the smallest most trivial

thing is, let`s all wear masks, right?


We have seen culture wars waged against simple safety measures before. This

is not new. There are people who are against things like seatbelt laws,

which we all now take for granted, and we also know saved countless lives.

We saw the same thing with protests against laws requiring motorcyclists to

wear helmets.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think it`s the government`s responsibility to

take care of me. It`s my job.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While riding helmetless may be reckless, it`s a symbol

of personal freedom which bikers in California say is another freedom lost.

What will it be next, no blondes on a convertible?




HAYES: There was a time when people thought helmet laws and seatbelt

requirements and laws against smoking in indoor spaces were just insane





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Smokers are either resigned or resentful.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, everybody is worried about you know, a little bit

of smoke around the office.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve been smoking for 35 years. If it was that bad, I`d

be dead already.




HAYES: In fact, there were even protests against masks during the 1918 flu

pandemic, an anti-mask league that denounced a mandatory mask ordinance in

San Francisco. It`s a real thing. So this is not new. We`ve seen it all

before. But a huge part of the answer to the question of how much we can

get back to normal and how quickly is going to be our own behavioral

changes, not just government policy, not just the trajectory of the virus,

it`s what we do. And that means masks.


It`s bad enough the President has failed at solving the problem, that he`s

declared bankruptcy not even trying. But I can think of nothing more

pernicious, nothing more stupid than actively spreading propaganda to make

the problem worse.


Joining me now is someone who has seen firsthand what the virus can do,

Mara Gay of the New York Times Editorial Board. She came down with COVID-19

in the middle of April. And even though she has cleared the infection, she

still has lingering pneumonia. She wrote a great really moving piece about

why it is so urgent we reduce the spread of it.


Mara, it`s great to have you. First, how are you feeling?


MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD, “NEW YORK TIMES”: Thanks for having me, Chris.

I`m far from 100 percent still, but I just – I`m very grateful to be on

the mend. And many people had had this far worse than I did. So –


HAYES: Can you talk a little bit about – I mean, you`re someone – I think

I knew this about you because of something maybe you said on the show or

social media, that like you`re a runner, you`re a very sort of active

person. You had run like 10 miles a day before you came down with this.

Like, what your trajectory and experience of the illness has been like?


GAY: Sure. So, I`m 33 years old. I live in a fifth-floor walk-up in

Brooklyn. I`ve never had asthma. I`ve never smoked a single cigarette in my

life. I`m very healthy. I was averaging walking about 10 miles a day and

running about three miles before I got sick. In fact, I went on a three-

mile run and walk 10 miles the day before I got sick.


And then I woke up the second day of my illness, and it felt like there was

hot tar is the only thing I can describe it as in the bottom of my lungs. I

could not get a deep breath unless I was on all force. And I you know,

ended up in the emergency room. I was very fortunate my oxygen was good

enough that they were able to release me. And I was just, you know, kind of

sweated out at home, hoping that I wouldn`t be one of the patients who

crashed over the next seven to 10 days.


And since then, I`ve begun to recover. I am on the road to recovery but

moderate COVID infections, my understanding is, my doctors have said it can

take, you know, six to eight weeks to heal. And I can still really barely

walk several blocks without stopping. I`m also using it two –


HAYES: You inferred to it also – you inferred to it as a moderate case,

even though it sent you to the E.R. And I`ve talked to people who were laid

up for three weeks who had a mild case. I mean, what do you want to say to

people as they sort of think about what this thing is?


GAY: So, my message is really that you don`t Have to live like we do in New

York. You don`t have to vote the way we do, but please learn from us. We

know so little about COVID. And, quite frankly, you`re rolling the dice if

you are cavalier about getting infected. You don`t know.


And there is no guarantee of what kind of case you`re going to have. Just

because you`re young and healthy, does not mean you`re going to be fine.

And you`re going to have essentially a flu or a cough or a fever for a few

days. And I would also say that, you know, part of freedom in the United

States and anywhere is responsibility and knowing that even if you don`t

get extremely sick, you could pass it on to someone who could.


And that that is – you know, I understand Americans are very frustrated. I

am frustrated. I want to leave my house too and go outside and go see my

friends and hug my family. But I think as some places begin to open up,

each to his or her own, that`s fine. But it`s very little to ask to wear a

mask and take this seriously.


So my message is not everything should be shut down forever, it`s please,

take this virus seriously, because even young, healthy people like myself,

and frankly, friends of mine who are younger as well, have gotten even

sicker than I have. And we were all really surprised. And a lot of us are

not even really being counted in the statistics.


So when people say, oh, well, Mara, your case was rare. It was unusual.

Actually, it`s not. And that`s what we`re finding in New York. So please

learn from us.


HAYES: Mara Gay, she writes on the New York Times Editorial Board, and

thank you so much. That piece was really powerful. And thank you so much

for sharing your experiences. and I hope you continue to be on the mend.

Thank you, Mara.


GAY: Thanks, Chris.


HAYES: I want to turn now to another person who`s been personally affected

by the virus, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Democratic of California,

recently lost her older sister to the virus. And Congresswoman, first, I

wanted to just offer my condolences on your loss and asked if you can just

tell us a little bit about your sister.


REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): Well, I want to thank you very much for taking

time to you know, give me this condolence. And let me just say she was the

firstborn. She was Velma1 Moody, and of course, the maiden name was Carr.

We`re all Carr`s.


And, you know, doing her very young life, she was a leader in the

community, very active. She was the best dancer in the neighborhood. She

was the one that was in charge of our home when my mother had to be in the

hospital or up on business, and so she was revered by all of us.


And of course, she was elderly now. And what`s interesting is, you know,

she needed a hip operation. And so, they took her into the hospital, they

gave her the hip operation, and they didn`t even test her until afterwards.

And from that point, she went down, and it would – it was a matter of a

couple of weeks, and she was gone. We buried her yesterday.


HAYES: I`m so sorry about that. Again, I know that so many people have been

touched by this closely. I wonder how it`s changed your perspective, if it

has at all, about how you`re thinking about this, how you`re communicating

to folks in your district or in your caucus or across the aisle about this



WATERS: Well, first of all, let me just say that all of my colleagues on

both sides of the aisle have sent their condolences, they sent flowers to

the spiritual moment that they had. There are not really funerals anymore.

And so, I`ve been on a lot of virtual programs where I`ve been talking to

people about this, I was angry and I got very, very tough.


And I said, you know, I want to tell you young people keep your age at

home. I was very tough. And I said that, you know, you`re not invincible,

and you can go out, you know, partying and thinking that somehow, it`s

happening to someone else.


And I think that a lot of families have had a difficult time convincing the

young people that they can be infected, and this is deadly. And so, I try

and particularly with the young people, let them know that they`ve got to

change the thinking if somehow, they`re thinking this is just happening to

older people.


Of course, older people are more vulnerable. People with pre-existing

conditions are more vulnerable. And we know all of that. And so I think

older people are taking more care, and they`re paying attention, and

they`re staying in, but it`s the younger ones that I`m worried about.


And so I keep telling the story about what I know has happened as much as I

probably possibly can in these last few days where I`ve witnessed what has

happened to my sister.


HAYES: You`re standing outside the capital. Of course, Congress is in

session today. A historic vote cast for the first time in the history of

the House of representatives they will allow proxy voting. There was some

controversy about whether it was going to happen. It has happened now.


It will allow members to sort of send votes to other members who are

physically there and allow the vast majority of members to not have to come

in to the Capitol. You think this is a good thing that`s happened?


WATERS: Yes, I think it is a good thing that`s happened. We`ve been looking

at every way that we could possibly do our work. The people of this country

need help. And we have to respond in the most responsible way that we can.

And so, we want to work. And we know that there are a lot of people who

it`s difficult for them, even members of Congress who travel long distances

on airplanes etcetera. And so, proxy voting is one way of ensuring that we

can continue our work.


We cannot be absent from the fact that we have oversight that we`ve got to

do. We`ve got to finish responding. This bill that we have before us today,

a $1 trillion bill for our heroes, those nurses, those doctors, those

police officers, the fire people who are on the front line, they`re out

there every day. We can`t abandon them. And so, we`ve got to find a way to

either do proxy voting and our do virtual hearings, on and on and on.


So we are – we`re rising to the occasions that we have to do an audit to

make sure that we`re paying attention, that we`re doing the oversight, that

we`re responding, and we`re spending money. This is a time when the United

States, you know, people are expecting us to do something in this field.


Also, we have not only the $1 trillion for the states and the

municipalities, I have a $100 billion bill in here for renters. We don`t

want them evicted. And we know that the landlords, some of them have

mortgages, and they`re looking for the rents to be paid. We`re going to

help them. We`re going to help people in so many ways.


The PPP was all about helping our small businesses. And so, we`re paying

attention not only to that, but the CDFI`s and the MDI`s, the small lenders

who are close to the community, who understand these small businesspeople.

If we`re going to do this work, it`s going to cost money. Yes, it`s going

to cost money. But this is what is expected of the government.


With this pandemic, with this crisis that we have, they must be able to

rely on their government to stand with them, and to be leaders in what is

going on. And so, we`re fighting every way that we possibly can. We`re

planning, we`re organizing, and of course, the proxy voting is but one

effort that we`re going to make to make sure we can continue with this



HAYES: All right, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, thank you so much for your

time. And once again, my condolences on the passing of your sister.


WATERS: Thank you and I appreciate that. Thank you very much.


HAYES: All right. Coming up, facing another potential invasion of armed

protests in the state capitol. Michigan took the drastic measure to just

shut down the legislative session. Michigan Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin

joins us to discuss what`s happening in her district right after this.




HAYES: This was a scene last time there was a protest, if you want to call

it that, in the Michigan Capitol. Armed men with long guns menacing

legislators trying to get to work, shouting down at lawmakers from the

gallery as they were up above them. Multiple people including lawmakers,

there you see them, said they felt threatened by the protesters and that

led to this headline, Michigan Cancels Legislative Session to Avoid Armed

Protesters. It`s quite a headline.


The state canceled, just outright canceled a legislative session on

Thursday rather than have to deal with another round of armed protesters

taunting lawmakers holding guns. That did not stop the protesters who

showed up yesterday in the rain with their guns at a closed State Capitol.


Joining me now, Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, Democrat of Michigan who

represents the district that actually includes the state capitol in

Lansing. She wrote an article directed at those planning to protest titled,

“To protesters threatening violence, be brave, like my friend Jan.” And

Congresswoman, maybe explained to me what your open letter the point of

your open letter to them was?


REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): Sure. Well, you know, we were on the eve of the

third protests in about three weeks in my district. And obviously no one

felt proud of seeing some of the Confederate flags and long guns and

swastikas being used in some of these protests.


And, you know, at the same time that that was about to happen again, I was

getting phone calls and letters and in particular a letter from a friend

from down the street. And she`s a woman named Jan. She was writing me to

tell me her story that her 93-year-old mother had been alone, unable to see

her husband of 73 years, that she hadn`t been able to see her mom, had

broken some bones, gone to surgery. And she wanted me to know that she

didn`t agree with our Governor`s policies of keeping people out of nursing

home. She felt like she understood the risk but felt like there was risk in

leaving her mom and wanted to talk to me about it.


And, you know, it just was such a contrast because here is someone who

doesn`t agree but has empathy and understanding for why the governor made -

- had to make these tough choices. And her way of being brave was to fight

like heck to get in to see her mom. She finally moved her dad into the same



And it just felt like such a contrast to the guys who were really

conflating a bunch of different issues and coming out and just trying to

show a very, very dark side to scare people. And I thought it was a good

contrast, and that Jan was the one who was brave, and those guys at the

capital were just not.


HAYES: You know, what I took away from that piece that you wrote, is that,

you know, the truth here is that we`re all in uncharted territory with a

bunch of very complicated and difficult policy decisions that a whole bunch

of different people have to make, members of Congress, governors, state

legislators, public health officials.


We`re sort of on – you know, we haven`t had something like this. And

there`s a lot of competing interests and a lot of sort of good-faith debate

about how to go forward and actually, most people that sort of across the

spectrum I feel like are kind of together that. Like, we don`t want the

virus to get bad. We don`t want a lot of our fellow Americans to die

unnecessarily. We also don`t all want to stay in our houses forever. So how

can we figure this out?


SLOTKIN: Yes. And I think what`s lost when you see protests like we`ve had

is this big group of people in the middle who, you know, have some

questions and have some legitimate concerns, but aren`t out threatening

violence. They would never threaten our governor. They know she`s like in a

tough spot and then everyone can be a Monday morning quarterback.


We have doctors calling us saying, hey, if people aren`t getting routine

exams, that means they`re not getting mammograms. You know, my sister

caught her breast cancer through a mammogram or regularly scheduled one.

You have to look at this as a situation of manage risk. And we`re never

going to get down to zero risk as long as we don`t have a vaccine or real

treatment. And so it`s about managing the risk.


And it is – it`s new – it`s a new thing for our country. And so, I just -

- I wanted to highlight a group of people who are calling my office and

writing me all the time who don`t always agree with our governor and with

some of the policies, but they`re not threatening violence to make their



HAYES: Another thing that`s a little strange to me that`s absent from this

discussion as you watch these protesters and they often – you know, they

don`t have the Confederate flags on them, some of them have Confederate

flags, a lot of them have, you know, Donald Trump campaign gears, that the

Trump administration itself keeps issuing guidelines about reopening better

like the official guidelines of the Trump administration, the U.S.



The CDC ad guidelines yesterday, they`re actually like, they`re pretty

careful and granular and don`t depart that much from what a lot of

governors, even Governor Whitmer have been doing. There`s such a weird

mismatch between the actual workings of the federal government via the CDC,

and what the kind of culture war the president and his allies seem to be

waging is.


SLOTKIN: Yes, I mean, I really do think that this has a lot to do with the

President and his personal views on this situation. And I think the machine

underneath him, you know, the federal government and these – a lot of

professionals, people who have worked in public health their entire lives,

of course, they`re trying to do the right thing.


And I was a civil servant for 15 years, so I know what it`s like to be like

working in the bowels and trying to do the right thing. And, you know, I`ve

been on conference calls with the vice president, with people – with,

obviously, Dr. Fauci, and it feels like a healthy normal organization. And

then, the President will come out and contradict some of the very specific

things we talked about in that day.


And when it comes to these protesters, you know, he – you know, he really

elevated them and lifted them up, in contrast to the Republicans in my own

state. So I think he`s doing his own thing, and I don`t think it does a

service to anyone to have him leading with that approach.


HAYES: Final question for you about something quite important to your state

and your district, which is automakers. My understanding is that some of

the automakers are going to be resuming on the line on Monday, U.S. plants

without regular testing of workers. They don`t have access to sufficient

testing capacity, executives, and the UAW official said, although it does

appear from what I can tell, that management in the UAW have kind of come

together to figure out some new processes and precautions. Do you feel this

is being done safely?


SLOTKIN: I do. I mean, I think that, like you said, this is new territory.

So all you can do is put real rigor into the process, make sure the – you

know, the leaders, the CEOs, the management, and labor are working together

at the same table and coming up with a plan that they both agree with. And

that needs to be transparent, right?


And you know, today we had our first report of someone who tested positive,

who`s been back as we started to sort of prime the pump at some of these

plants. And the question is, are the procedures that are in place going to

work? Are we going to contact trace and make sure everyone who worked near

this guy are identified and told to stay home? That`s what we`re going to

have to figure out. But it`s a learning process. It`s about managing the



HAYES: Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin who sounds like 1,000 times more

sensible than the person running the country at this moment, I appreciate

you taking some time tonight.


SLOTKIN: Thanks for having me.


HAYES: Ahead, the President is using the Department of Justice to carry out

his personal vendettas now targeting Obama era officials. Former CIA

Director John Brennan, one of those Obama era officials, is here to respond





HAYES: The president continues to ramp up the rhetoric for criminal

investigations and prosecutions of his political enemies. And something

he`s depended on quite a bit since the 2016 lock her up campaign, it`s

something he`s hectored others to do throughout his presidency, including

Jeff Sessions when he was the AG. It`s something he may now be on the

precipice of getting from Attorney General William Barr who is thus far

shown himself to be willing and complicit in all of the other things Donald

Trump has wanted done to protect his buddies inside the Justice Department,

all the things that are undermining the rule of law in this country.


Joining me now is someone who has been a frequent target of the president,

John Brennan, the former director of the CIA under President Barack Obama.


Let`s start, Mr. Brennan, with how you understand this moment. I mean, the

president has targeted you rhetorically for a very long time. His allies

have, as well, but there does seem to be a bit of a shift in the last

several months with William Barr at the Department of Justice, with Richard

Grenell at DNI, such that the actual machinery and tools of government are

being kind of applied along the lines of the rhetoric of the president. How

do you see things right now?



exactly why I think the recent developments are so worrisome because Mr.

Trump has removed individuals from the head of the intelligence community

as well as from the FBI and Justice. And he`s trying to put people in who

are going to do his bidding.


So we saw recently with the acting Director of National Intelligence

Richard Grenell, a hand-picked individual, who I think has demonstrated

loyalty to Trump over the years, releasing, de-classifying the names of

individuals who had unmasked some names in intelligence reports, and with

the implication that that was wrongdoing. No, it wasn`t. We were carrying

out our responsibilities, and quickly.


But then when I look at the attorney general, Mr. Barr, and how he has

repeatedly demonstrated that his interest is being the president`s lawyer

as opposed to being the people`s lawyer, and I am very worried that the

instruments of government, the instruments of intelligence and law

enforcement and justice are now being exploited and manipulated in Mr.

Trump`s hands. And I think that`s something that should worry all



It`s one thing to have policy differences. And we can have arguments in

public about that. But if he`s going to try to bring charges against

individuals, trumped up charges because of his political interests, and

he`s going to have individuals who are going to help make that happen. That

is something that I saw overseas in my career, my national security career.


And I never thought I would see that happening here in the United States.

Clearly, back in the last century, the 1970s, we had incidents where

President Nixon tried to use the FBI, the CIA and others for political

purposes. And we had quite an uproar at that time, and President Nixon was

forced out of office.


Sad to say that it sounds like we are now back in the same type of

environment where an individual in the White House is now using those

organizations and using people in senior positions in intelligence and law

enforcement for his own purposes.


HAYES: You mentioned Richard Genell who was an ambassador. He is sort of a

lifelong kind of Republican spokesperson kind of person. He is – he now

has a job that I think fair-minded one can say that his resume for that job

is fairly thin.


Are you concerned about him right now in that position and what it means

for the people under him and for career folks who were viewed as disloyal

or part of the quote, unquote “deep state” in the words of the president

and others?


BRENNAN: Well, I am very worried. And I don`t know what`s going on inside

of the intelligence community right now, but I`d like to think that

individuals at the helm of the CIA and NSA, the DIA and other parts of the

intelligence community are continuing to carry out their responsibilities

professionally and in responsible manner. But Richard Grenell I think has

demonstrated that he is willing to do Donald Trump`s bidding.


As you point out, he didn`t have any background or experience in

intelligence. And so I`m concerned that we may be seeing some other things

that will be happening as Mr. Grenell and other individuals tried to give

Donald Trump what he is looking for, which is trying to infer and imply

that individuals in the Obama administration who are carrying out their

duties professionally, or doing something that was wrong.


And I can tell you my experience in those last months of the Obama

administration when we were working on the Russian interference in the

election, everybody tried their level best to do what they could to prevent

that Russian interference and there was no politicization that was going on

at all.


HAYES: There has been noises for a while about the Justice Department

investigating this as a I think a heretofore well respected individual by

the name of Durham, John Durham, who has been tasked with looking into the

origins of it. And I wonder if you feel – and this is sort of a personal

question. I don`t know how much you can answer, you seem to be one of the

targets here, honestly. I mean, they seem to be – John Brennan seems to be

on the sort of top of the list for people that they are convinced either

engaged in wrongdoing or want to get back at for sort of unsubstantiated



Do you have personal experience of that? Do you personally worry that

that`s the case?


BRENNAN: Well, it`s clear that I am in their cross-hairs, ever since Donald

Trump was inaugurated, I have spoken out against what I think has been the

corruption, the incompetence, the mischaracterizations that he and

individuals around him have made to the American public. And I will

continue to speak out.


And, yes, John Durham, who is a well-respected individual from the

Department of Justice for many years in the business is conducting this

investigation – I guess this investigation – looking at what happened

during those last months of the Obama administration and the first year or

two of the Trump administration.


I`d like to think that John Durham and the other DOJ and FBI investigators

will continue to honor their oath of office and to carry out their

responsibilities without any consideration of political interests of Donald



And so I feel very good that my tenure at CIA and my time at the White

House during the Obama administration was not – that was not engage in any

type of wrongdoing or activities that caused me to worry about what this

investigation may uncover.


So I welcome opportunity to talk with the investigators. I have nothing to

hide. I have not yet been interviewed by any of those individuals involved

in this matter, but I`m willing to do so because I do believe that for too

long, the American public had been misled by Donald Trump, by William Barr

and others. And so I look forward to the day when the truth is going to

come out and the individuals who have mischaracterized what has happened in

the past will be shown to have deceived the American people.


HAYES: John Brennan, who of course has had a long career in American

intelligence, including director of the CIA, worked in the White House for

President Barack Obama. Thank you for making some time on this Friday



BRENNAN: Absolutely, Chris. Take care.


HAYES: You, too.


Coming up, how the lessons of the last great pandemic can help inform our

thinking about what the next phase of this all looks like and what our

future holds. That`s next.






TRUMP: So, in 1917 we had a horrible, in that case, it was the flu, right,

you remember, the Spanish flu. Where it was a terrible period of time. You

all know what happened in 1917.


The last one 1917 that the something.


1917, which was the greatest of them all.


You look at 1917, the pandemic. It was something.


You know, the big one was 1917, and that was the worst by far. That was a

vicious, that was the Spanish flu, they call it.


We were attacked like nothing that`s happened possibly since 1917 many,

many years ago.


You read about 1917 and you read about certain things, but you think in a

modern age a thing like that could never happen.




HAYES: Have you noticed the president often refers to the great flu

pandemic, but weirdly insists on getting the year wrong like over and over

and over? Maybe he`s thinking about the movie. There is a movie called



But, yes, the 1918 pandemic is probably the closest analogy we have to what

we`re going through now. And one deeply worrisome aspect of that is that

back then the pandemic came in a series of three waves. The first one was

in the spring of 1918 all the way over there to the left, and it was

deadly, but then it subsided over the summer, probably due at least in part

to some combination of people spending

more time outdoors and just seasonality.


So people were, of course, relieved and they thought it was gone, and the

fall it came – that`s the middle peak there – roaring back. The CDC

estimates the flu killed 200,000 Americans in just October of 1918 alone,

one month.


There were cities shutdown. Huge disaster. And there are warnings now about

this fall, fall of 2020. There is some reason to believe, pretty good

reason, I think that warmer temperatures and a lot of sunlight, more time

outside are probably going to help us, probably are already helping us,

again. But that of course, will not last forever and we need to prepare and

so if we`re reopening the country now and planning to send kids back to

school in the fall particularly, then how do we avoid a curve like they saw

in 1918 with a much more deadly second wave?


The man who literally wrote the book on this topic joins me next.






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During August 1918, the pandemic finally appears to be



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There had been this sort of sudden, you know, outbreak

of flu at an unusual time of year, in May and early summer, but then, you

know, the case numbers dropped right down and people thought they had

dodged a bullet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In September, the flu virus returns, and it`s mutated

into an even more dangerous form.




HAYES: More than 100 years ago, the last great pandemic appeared in the

spring and then seemed to go away in the summer and then came roaring back

in the fall with a second, more deadly wave. What lessons can we learn from

that now?


Joining me now is author John Barry who wrote a fascinating, fantastic book

about the 1918 flu titled “The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest

Pandemic in History.”


And John, let`s talk a little bit about how policy makers and public health

officials and others dealt with that interim period, what they thought

happened in the spring, what they thought happened in the summer and

whether they did or did not prepare for what ended up happening that fall.


JOHN BARRY, AUTHOR: Well, actually, in 1918 they didn`t have much reason to

prepare. The spring wave was very spotty. It missed a lot more places than

it hit. And where it did hit, it was generally very mild, so mild that

medical journal articles said this looks and smells like influenza, but

it`s not killing enough people so it probably isn`t influenza.


The virus clearly mutated and came back in a very lethal form, much more

lethal than what we`re facing now, thankfully. So the preparations –

actually, the first report of a lethal wave came in July from Switzerland

when military, U.S. military intelligence, actually reported that it wasn`t

really influenza, it was the black death from the Middle Ages.


So you went from something that`s so mild that it`s not influenza to

something so deadly that it`s initially mistaken for the plague of the

Middle Ages.


HAYES: There`s a lot of evidence in your book about the sort of conflicting

ways that folks responded to this, and there`s some real modern residences.

One is public health officials doing things like banning large gatherings,

mandating masks, closing bars and restaurants and also, like a lot of

people minimizing it. I mean, there is a loud outspoken message from the

president, from policy makers, from others this is nothing to worry about.


BARRY; Right. Of course, the motivation was quite different back then. We

were at war. And the Wilson administration didn`t want to detract any

attention from the war, so they lied.


You know, it was quite apparent very early that the second wave was quite

lethal. There was no mistaking, no you know, it was quite apparent very

early that the second wave was quite lethal. There was no mistaking it, no

confusion about it. They just out right lied because of the war.


Motivation now seems to be quite different. And unfortunately, we`re

getting misleading statements, misinformation from the White House,

although other parts of the administration are being pretty good.


HAYES: You`ve written about possible sort of trajectories for us about the

possible idea of this sort of first big wave and a series of smaller

repetitive waves, and then the idea of something – a scenario, too, which

is – looks more like 1918. And a lot of people have kind of talked about

that. They`ve talked about the fact that in the fall there`s both maybe

seasonality working against us, people indoors more, but also the fact that

it will also be regular cold and flu season that will make things more



Why is that sort of second scenario – what sort of scares you, worries

you, about that scenario?


BARRY: Well, the premature opening could create, you know, not just a wave,

but a hurricane storm surge. So that`s the number one thing that worries



The other thing you just mentioned, combination of a bad ordinary influenza

season with this could easily overwhelm the health care system. So that is

another worry. That would probably come a little bit later, you know,

toward winter.


But, you know, the chief problem would be the too early openings leading

to, you know, an explosive wave.


You know, the things that matter – I mean, people are going to open. It`s

obviously already happening. There are still ways to control what happens,

and that is if you continue social distancing and you continue using masks

and hand washing, and, you know, cough etiquette and so forth, those things

will have significant impact.


I understand the need to get people back to work. I understand the

suffering that has occurred because people haven`t been working, but I

think we should also think of what we have accomplished. If you go back to

early April when there were about 12,000 deaths, that was at the initial

point at which we would have had some impact from the closings that started

a little earlier. At that time, the pandemic was doubling every six and a

half days.


So if you do some very simple mathematics, you can realize by right now we

would probably have had close to roughly half a million deaths with no end

in sight if we had not intervened. 88,000 is not a good number, but it`s a

lot better than half a million.


If we, again, go back to – or continue I should say the social distancing,

the mask and the hand washing, we can continue to blunt this, not as

effectively, obviously, as if we were still on lock-down, but we`re not on

a lock-down


HAYES: Final question here. I mean, back in 1918, what`s strange is local

health authorities tried to wrestle this, but there is a lot of sort of

silence over this and war propaganda from the Wilson administration, really

what they just kind of do is it just ravages places, I mean, it just goes

through places, particularly Philadelphia. What was the effect of that?

What was that like when the flu came through a place that wasn`t taking the

steps to minimize it?


BARRY: Oh, it was pretty vicious and violent. I mean, literally, I mean,

you ran out of practically every city, whether they prepared or not ran out

of coffins. You had real panic and fear a kind of terror that we`re not

experiencing now, because of the lies were so in – so contradicted by the

reality. You know, the people were experiencing. You know, the symptoms

could be horrific. Probably the most horrific would be people could bleed

not their – not only from their nose, but from their mouth and even eyes

and ears.


So, when they are being told this is ordinary influenza and that kind of

thing is happening, they don`t know who to trust, what to believe. So,

rumors spread wildly and you have society actually beginning to fray. I

mean, fortunately, we`re not facing that now. even with misleading

information. But that is what got to be like back then.


HAYES: John Barry, thanks so much for making time tonight.


 If you want to hear more about John – John`s expertise in the 1918 flu,

you can listen to our conversation from last month from my podcast “Why is

This Happening?” We talk about it for an hour. It`s pretty fascinating

wherever you get your podcast. That`s – that is All In for this evening.


The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.


Good evening, Rachel.







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