$500 billion big business bailout TRANSCRIPT: 5/18/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: So, we can talk
about it a lot between now and Election Day, but we won`t know until
Election Day. It`s probably an obvious statement, but maybe worth saying.
Anyway, thank you both for joining us, and thank you for joining us at home
as well. That does it for us. “ALL IN” with Chris Hayes up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: As the world moves on without America to work on a
global coronavirus response, Trump`s plan for us, get back out there. New
dangerous messages coming from the White House with Laurie Garrett and Dr.
Then, the political price of Trump`s coronavirus failures, will his job
performance matter November? Plus, Howard president who brags he learned a
lot from Richard Nixon is systematically dismantling the safeguards put in
place after Watergate.
And the stealth bailout, how big oil is benefiting from the Treasury`s
massive corporate rescue fund and what is being done about oversight, when
ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. The coronavirus
pandemic is along with climate change and inescapably global challenge,
right? I mean, we`ve already seen in the months of this how little the
virus cares about things like borders, how it`s altered daily life around
the globe developed and developing countries alike, the global south, the
Any solution to the virus or problems caused by the virus will also have to
be global, vaccination, treatment, best practices, all that. Yet today, we
learned President Donald Trump declined an invitation to address the World
Health Organization while China`s President Xi Jinping accepted joining
other world leaders like Germany`s Angela Merkel and Francis Emmanuel
I mean, every world leader is facing some variation of the same challenge.
And there`s probably a lot to learn from the exchange between countries,
particularly from countries like Germany to name just one example, that has
successfully contained the virus and minimize fatalities.
But here`s the thing, the president refuses the counsel and advice of his
own government, nevermind other ones. Back on April 16, the Trump
administration released guidelines produced by the CDC to reopen the
economy in three phases. We keep going back to this document because it`s
the most orphaned document in America.
The President unveiled it, they posted them in the White House Web site.
They`re still there. You can go read them, and they`re sensible. But
President Trump got so impatient and could not wait for states to meet his
own guidelines, the one that he introduced from his CDC, he started beating
up on governors and breeding them and urging states to ignore them the very
first day tweeting about liberating this state in that.
And so, on April 20th, Georgia governor Brian Kemp announced he was opening
up the states starting with essential services, which also happened to
include massage studios and bowling alleys. Governor Kemp was out front. He
kind of branded himself as a first reopener not abiding by the CDC
guidelines. But things have not gone great for him. I mean, they haven`t
been catastrophic either, so we should explain.
First, Kemp got hung out to dry because he thought he was listening to the
president by opening early, right. The President is tweeting liberate
Michigan, liberate Virginia, and Brian Kemp is like, I`m with you, MAGA,
MAGA. And then the president cuts him off the knees a few days later
saying, he disagrees with Kemp`s decision.
Since then, Georgia appears to be well, cooking the books to show the data
was better than it really is. Or at least making a bunch of errors that
have that cumulative effect. Here`s the chart they released, OK. Now, I
look at how the new confirmed cases appear to go down in a nice smooth
slope, right. If you look at that chart, you think OK, getting better. But
then when you look closely, you realize the dates are not in the right
Here is May 7th, right before April 26. That`s not the way that chart
should work. That type of screw up that has been an error in that direction
has happened at least three times. The governor`s office says they were not
trying to be misleading, but I don`t know. Now, maybe as a result of these
over-optimistic messages, some Georgians seem to be embracing reopening and
sort of thinking that the risk isn`t there anymore. It`s gone, basically.
The Washington Post has a great piece about people shopping in a mall in
suburban Atlanta, “outside Urban Outfitters, Jennifer Kiernan was having a
glass of wine as our daughter shopped inside. Oh my God, this feels great.
I love it, she said, explained that she assumed that she never run around
her was healthy. I think people would not be out if they had been exposed
to anyone with Corona.”
Now, I am sympathetic to the feeling of greatness. I am sympathetic to the
temptation of just like having a normal day and having a glass of wine at a
place. That does sound awesome. But there`s no relationship between how
good that feels and what the risk is. And it`s not this individual`s job to
assess the risk. That`s the government`s job.
Now, there are other states like Georgia that have been quick to reopen
their state again, at the kind of president`s behest even if his own
guidelines say not to. Starting today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
allowed restaurants and retail stores in gyms to reach 50 percent capacity
which again, not you know, fully back but they`re starting to open. That`s
even as Palm Beach County is identified as a coronavirus hotspot in a
Homeland Security document.
And then there`s Texas Governor Greg Abbott who announced today that
daycares can open immediately, which again, that`s a vital thing for
getting people back to work. But it happens just days after the state
reported a record number of coronavirus deaths in one day.
So, here`s where things kind of stand right now as we look to this, as we
think about our own future, all of us across the country across the world.
We do know some very clear things about the virus at this point, right? If
you change absolutely nothing in your society and your behavior and the way
things happen, you just continue life as usual, the virus will ravage you
and it will run rampant.
We know that. We saw this and we saw outbreaks around the world. We`ve been
seeing it here in meatpacking plants across the country. We`ve seen it in
veteran`s homes and nursing homes, right? That much we do know. But what we
legitimate just don`t really know, though is what happens now with the
virus? Like, what does it do with some modified version of normal?
And the big question is with modified physical distancing, and mask-wearing
and some policies in place, that can we keep the virus suppressed even if
we do not implement some kind of aggressive program of testing and tracing
and contact tracing and quarantine and all that stuff. Most virologists I
have talked to, and I`ve talked to a number of them, most public health
officials think no, probably not. That we`re going to see the virus come
back. We`ll see outbreaks in places.
What`s unnerving about Georgia, Texas, and Florida, and man that does look
appealing, I have to say, like, normal life in the sunshine in spring, is
that they are taking on a very high level of risk with a very uncertain
future. And here`s the other thing. It may work out. I mean, we honestly
don`t know. I hope – I literally hope it does.
But if there are two things that we have learned in this era, two lessons
we cannot unlearn or forget, one, you can elevate the risk of highly
unlikely event, highly unlikely catastrophes, tail risks, and you can get
away with it for a while until you don`t.
All these actions to reopen aggressively, right, in violation often of what
the CDC says, they`re high risk. But not only are Republicans in the White
House and in state capitals ignoring the CDC guidelines, they`re even
openly going out and attacking the CDC. Here`s White House trade advisor
Peter Navarro yesterday on “MEET THE PRESS.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: Early on
in this crisis, the CDC which really had the most trusted brand around the
world in this space really what let the country down with the testing
because not only did they keep the testing within the bureaucracy, they had
a bad test, and that did set us back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That is a fascinating clip because he is correct. The CDC screwed up
enormously, Donald Trump`s CDC. The Trump admit like, it`s not some
foreign, you know, satellite that landed and like took over the response,
it`s in the Trump administration.
We do not know exactly what the new normal looks like, but then there is a
chance of something bad happening. Let`s say it`s one in 100, and you
increase it to one in 10, that`s really dangerous. But there`s still a
likelihood you can avoid a one in 10 chance. And that`s basically the risk
of society-wide collapse during the Trump era.
From the day that he was inaugurated, right, we have managed to get by
almost four years without something catastrophic at this scale, right, this
intelligible scale. There have been catastrophes in Hurricane Maria and
other places at the border, but something of this scale, we escaped for
three and a half years, but it doesn`t mean the risk was not there the
whole time. And look where we are now.
So the other thing we`ve learned, right, which we absolutely cannot forget
is that when the head of a government sends a signal that they “like the
numbers where they are, that they think they`re going down” when they peg
their own political fortune and what they perceive as economic fortune to
the virus not being that bad, to being on the precipice of going away,
right? That has tangible effects for the way that actors within the
The real risk right now that maybe showed up in that good faith error in
Georgia, right – we don`t know, was it intentional or not – is that when
you Governor sending the message throughout the governance that people in
their bureaucracies that we`re open for business governors who do not want
to hear about another outbreak, right, that`s contrary to the message. That
is dangerous. That is a dangerous message to send to people.
I`m joined now by Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist and health
policy analyst Laurie Garrett. And Laurie, I wanted to start on that point,
because it`s something you`ve written about and thought about, about the
sort of ways in which governments heads of states send messages formally
and informally about the virus, and the danger of sending a message like
we`re open for business, this is behind us now, let`s sort of look on the
bright side, I don`t want to hear any Debbie downers about this and what
that could do to actual policy.
LAURIE GARRETT, HEALTH POLICY ANALYST: Yes. Well, you know, this weekend I
had the rude awakening of riding my bike around Brooklyn. I, of course,
wearing my mask and gloves, and seeing a city that was starting to really
say, we don`t want to go in lockdown anymore.
It was like Mardi Gras. Kids out in the streets in huge numbers, no masks,
getting drunk, and it was a giant party scene. And I had the opposite
reaction as you were just describing about seeing opening. I felt fearful.
And I think that one of the things we`re seeing is that the talk about
opening up seems to negate even mentioning masks. Do you open up but still
wear a mask? Do you throw the mask away? Similarly, do you keep washing
your hands all the time, or you just say the heck with it, it`s all over.
The virus is not all over. In fact, if you look at national data right now,
and you take out of the data set, New York City, the immediate tri state
area, Detroit, and New Orleans, what you`re left with is a graph that looks
like this, straight up, skyrocketing, no slowdown whatsoever. This downward
curve they keep showing is really the downward curve of New York. And since
New York is such a huge percentage of the total number of national cases,
it skews the data.
HAYES: So there`s – I mean, I guess the response to that when we think
about places like Texas, Florida, and Georgia, right, I mean, the big
question is what – where`s that curve going, is that there has been a lot
more testing, right? So even in places where cases are going up, we are
seeing percentage positive, the sort of driven down even in places like
Texas and Florida which are the cause of some concern.
I wonder if – but you`re skeptical of that maybe as a metric. I mean, you
sound concerned about the trajectory of this virus outside the places that
have been hotspots and in places like Texas, Georgia, Florida, etcetera.
GARRETT: I am concerned. There`s some new cell phone data that shows that
demonstrators that went to protest against lockdowns, in some cases, cross
state lines went as much as 200 miles in order to attend without masks in
tight conditions, these protests. And now we`re starting to see the ability
to actually track which viral subtypes individuals are infected with and do
the epidemiological tracing.
If, if John was in, say, Dallas protesting, and then drove back to
Lafayette, Louisiana, we can tell if John becomes infected. Did he get a
strain that`s now in circulation in Lafayette, or did he get a strain he
picked up in Dallas and brought home with him? And all this kind of work
can now be done if there`s a will to do it, if there`s a will to pay for
the science and fund this kind of research. And I think it`s fundamental.
This is what we call contact tracing.
And it`s another way of doing contact tracing by tracking the genomic
sequences around. It`s like a fingerprint of the virus itself. And what
fingerprint is in me, may not reflect what`s in Brooklyn. Maybe this is the
fingerprint of Miami and I just got off a plane from Florida.
HAYES: So one of the – one of the things that strikes me about this moment
when you were talking about Brooklyn, and the scenes that people sort of
out in the street is that, A, I think it`s, you know, maintaining this sort
of social sense that we`re all engaged in this struggle for a long term is
a hard thing to do. But the danger of that binary thing that you`re
identifying, and I think that came through in the Georgia article too. And
I don`t think this is a specific thing that`s specific to people with some
kind of politics or in some region of the country. I think this is fairly
universal, which is like, oh, that`s over, like we`re out of lockdown. And
if we do that, then we`re screwed.
I mean, that`s the dangerous thing, right? Like, we can get some version of
normal if we carry with us all these behavioral things. But if we sort of
say like, that was a long 10 weeks or that was a long two months, like
we`re back, that`s the most dangerous thing.
GARRETT: Well, look at China. I mean, they`ve done – they did the most
extensive lockdown on the planet. They declared victory and now they`ve got
three outbreaks, and they put another, you know, 11 million people in
testing and many millions more in back in lockdown.
And I think every single country is starting to realize this is coming in
waves. You got to build up a system and an infrastructure that can see each
wave is arriving to the proper contact tracing, to figure out who needs to
be in quarantine are locked down, so you don`t have to do the entire
You target it. You do smart testing, smart targeting, and you wait it out.
And then when that ceases spreading, you can all go back to normal for a
while. But you got to know there`s going to be another round and another
round and another round. We are in for a very long haul.
And just last week, the chief scientist in charge of the whole epidemic
response at World Health Organization said something that I`ve been saying
for now three months, which is that there`s a very high probability that
this virus is going to end up going endemic. Meaning, it will be a
permanent feature in the human landscape just like HIV.
And if we get to that stage, then we must adapt all our behavior
accordingly. We can`t – I don`t think follow the Swedish model. What
Sweden did was say we`re never going to go to full scale lockdown. We`re
going to do a kind of wimpy, small scale, voluntary, you decide for
yourself what locked down you perceived – you`re prepared to carry out,
and then you know, we`ll keep our economy going.
GARRETT: Well, they have the highest death rate per capita in the world. I
mean, it was second only to Belgium. And they`re the highest in
Scandinavia, they`re the shame of Northern Europe. And I guess they`ve
decided that those dead people were not important.
HAYES: This is the sort of awful – the awful message, right, about the
value of life by these decisions that get made at a policy level, and also
the awful consequences of it. Although the idea of becoming endemic is
really bumming me out on this Monday, but that`s why you have a Pulitzer
Laurie Garrett for reporting on the actual dangers the world faces. Thank
you so much.
GARRETT: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: All right, for more on where we are in this crisis, I`m joined by
Dr. Mary Bassett, former New York City Health Commissioner, now the
director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard
And you ran – Doctor, you ran a large, one of the most august and
important public health organizations in the country in the New York City`s
Department of Health. And I wonder how you`re looking at these risk
assessments and how policymakers send messages to people about this, about
risk, about being clear-eyed about it so that it gets through.
MARY BASSETT, DIRECTOR, FXB CENTER FOR HEALTH AND HUMAN RIGHTS, HARVARD
UNIVERSITY: Well, one of the basic messages is, of course, to give
consistent messaging and that`s been a catastrophe in the United States.
There just are so many people saying different things and now we`re seeing
the same thing happen with the conversation about reopening.
HAYES: There was a quote from a Georgia resident that really stuck with me.
We have covered and you have written about it. You had an op-ed on this on
the sort of inequities and sort of disparate effects of this disease,
particularly among African-Americans, among people who are who have
comorbidities, in particular among the poor, and among the elderly.
And I saw this quote, it`s really haunted me, right, because it was always
a worry that if you highlighted these disparities which are real and
important to highlight and talk about that some people get the message that
it`s not – it`s not coming from me.
This is a Georgia resident in The Washington Post. “When you start seeing
where the cases are coming from and the demographics, I`m not worried.”
What do you think about that quote? What does it say about what message
people are receiving?
BASSETT: Well, that speaks to the long legacy of racializing risk, rather
than talking about the people circumstances that place them at risk. We
talked about who they are, how they`re classified, so you`ll have the same
thing happening with the meatpacking catastrophe with escalating rates of
coded infections and many big packing settings. And it`s plane on the fact
that the people who work there are Latino, not on the conditions of their
work, or the conditions of their homes, or the ways in which they have to
commute to work.
So this is – there`s a long legacy of this and it`s very dangerous,
because this it is really true that our society is segregated, but this
virus doesn`t recognize race, it recognizes opportunity. And in our
society, those opportunities for infection are unequally distributed.
HAYES: I guess the thing that always sticks with me about this, as we think
about sort of going forward is that the nursing home situation just stands
out to me so much as something that I didn`t – I didn`t think our society
would abide. I mean, I understand like the disparate power and the legacy
of sort of racialize risk and people thinking, well, that thing happens to
those people over there and over there. But, you know, nursing homes have
been just hammered by this. I mean tens of thousands of deaths in nursing
homes. And there doesn`t seem to be a kind of collective national outcry
that says like, this is fundamentally unacceptable.
BASSETT: You`re right. The risk of nursing homes for people who work in
them as well as the people who are residents in them has been very high.
And some estimates are that 25 to 50 percent of deaths are occurring in
that sector. And the issue is how poorly regulated the nursing homes have
been, how understaffed and underpaid the workers are.
So when you have a situation where, for example, one of the aides who`s
having – has an intimate relationship with the residents in terms of
assisting them with their daily activities, you know, has to work two jobs
in order to – in order to pay her bills. Then you have a situation where
Now, I can`t explain the fact that death of the elderly is has been
considered sort of inevitable. These were preventable deaths and it says
something terrible about our society if we think it`s OK that people die
preventable deaths just because they`re old.
HAYES: I could not agree more. Dr. Mary Bassett who has a wealth of
knowledge on this topic, and we spoke back during the Ebola situation in
New York City on the street outside the hospital. Thank you, Doctor. I
BASSETT: Thank you. Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Ahead, does political gravity exists during a cataclysmic pandemic?
And can the Biden strategy to stay relatively quiet be effective? Cornell
Belcher on what the data is telling us after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nearly 10,000 more Americans will die, 90,000 deaths
and growing. Millions more will file for unemployment. Small businesses are
dying. We`re not testing enough. It`s still spreading.
Here`s what else is coming this week. He will lie to you over and over. He
will tweet instead of lead. He will blame others for his failures. Welcome
to this week and the next and the next and the next until you do something
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It`s the latest ad from a Republican anti-Trump super PAC, which
literally just recites what is expected to happen in America as the
pandemic continues. And the reality of the current situation where we find
ourselves right now, it`s the most brutal argument against Donald Trump
There have been a ton of articles in the last few weeks about how desperate
Trump and the White House are to change that bedrock reality with just
increasingly insane attacks and wild gambits to get attention. But the
political gravity right now in the country is that the incumbent president
is running for re-election in the midst of the worst cataclysms to befall
the country in the next generations.
The question of the election is a referendum on the president. And more
than that, a referendum on whether reality in the end, the circumstances of
the country, are what matter. Here with me now to dig into that question,
Cornell Belcher, Democratic strategist and pollster.
And you and I have had this conversation a few times, Cornell. And I think
we have – we have slightly different takes, although I think we agree on
some things. So, I think the thing that we agree on is there is a high
floor for the President`s support. You`re not going to ever see a world in
which he`s at 25 percent approval, which I agree with.
But I also do think – I tend to think that the reality really does matter
for an incumbent president, and this reality will matter. And I think
you`re more in the camp that like it`s essentially entirely detached from
his political versions. Do you still feel that way?
CONELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, Chris. I think for any ordinary
president be it Bush or Obama, is not detached. But you know, if you look
at some of the latest polling that`s out last week at CNN, I think that
poll came out last in the last week, you know, Donald Trump is at 46
percent. You had 46 percent which looks familiar with a lot of Americans.
And then I look back and OK, you know where he was last spring in 2019,
April 2019 in CNN`s polling, he was at 45 percent, Chris. So it is detached
from reality. You know, his base is locked in. And that`s why I think
there`s been a somewhat, you know, battle back and forth inside the
Democratic Party about sort of, do you go after Trump supporters or do you
not go after Trump supporters?
I think it`s – I think it`s you know, wasting time trying to go after
Trump supporters is just a waste of time. That 46, 45, 47 percent is locked
in. He`s going to get that. No matter what happens, he`s going to get that.
HAYES: So here`s – so here`s some, I think – I mean, I don`t – I don`t
quite agree at 45, 46. But I will say this, that a huge part of that is
locked in, right? But there`s one place that I thought this data was
interesting. So it seems to me that it`s a little reckless politically to
go around saying to senior citizens who are most at risk from this virus in
terms of mortality, like your warriors, get out there, suck it up.
That seems to be like a message that would be not a great political
message. If you were like advising a candidate, I don`t think you would
tell them. And there does seem to be some data suggesting this is having an
effect. If you look at his – FiveThirtyEight sort of ran the numbers on
older voters. His margin in 2016 was like about 65-plus was plus 13
percent. He`s down to like – he`s underwater with those groups now in a
bunch of polls. Do you think that`s – basically, do you think that`s real?
BELCHER: Well, is it a bump or is it long term? You know, the dynamics of
this race have yet to unfold? We are really to a certain extent still in
the early stages. I mean, heck, the candidates aren`t even out and about
campaigning. And what you – what I do know is that – is that Donald Trump
and the Republicans will throw everything they can at Joe Biden. I think if
you – if you had the Republicans` hand right now, you know the way you win
this is if you make Biden not a soft place for these voters to land.
And, look, Hillary in 2016 had the problem that her unfavorables were just
as high as Donald Trump`s unfavorables. And if you look at some of the
polling right now, Biden is just barely above water in his favorable to
unfavorable, but is beginning to shrink, so look for them to come at – I
mean, all the stuff we think is crazy throwing at Biden, look for them to
throw more of that at Biden because they understand they got to make him
not an acceptable place for these voters, for some of the voters to land.
HAYES: So there is – this thing I go back and forth on from a pure sort
of political tactics question which is like is it better – basically, if
you are running against Donald Trump, is it better that he`s the lead story
that night on the news or that you are? And I`ve gone back and forth on
this, right, this idea that he sort of dominates attention and that`s like
a sort of super power and that`s been a huge part of the politics of this
era, but then the other is that like a lot of times he dominating
attention, it`s not like the majority of people don`t like it, that`s why
he`s like a 45 percent approval rating guy, because there`s 55 percent are
like I don`t like that, you know, you`re a jerk.
And so this question about Biden, like, if you are advising the Biden
campaign is your advice like it`s a good day if Joe Biden isn`t the news
and Donald Trump is, or is it a bad day that you need to get out there and
be more present?
BELCHER: Look, Chris, I think this is tough because one of the things in
politics that goes back a long time is if your opponent is shooting
themselves in the foot don`t get in the way of your opponent shooting
themselves in the foot, you just step back.
The problem is Donald Trump has been shooting himself in the foot for a
couple years now, and his numbers don`t move. And I think part of the
problem with 2016 was he did suck up all the air. He did suck up all the
air and all the time and all the attention.
And I think ultimately, if you`re the Democrat you have to make a case for
yourself. I don`t think we`re going to win this, again, by just being
against Donald Trump, I think we are going to have to be for something. You
are going to have to make that case for yourself.
And if we have time, I want to make one quick point about the Obama thing,
if we have time, is – he`s crazy like a fox, right? If racial aversion and
angst about a changing America is in fact the predicate and sort of driving
that racial aversion and driving that division and angst, in that case
Barack Obama although he did win back to back majorities, if that`s your
predicate, in fact running against Barack Obama is a better antagonist for
you than running against Joe Biden.
HAYES: That`s very interesting.
Cornell Belcher, thank you, as always. We`ll talk again soon.
BELCHER: Thank you.
HAYES: Ahead, why did the president fire a State Department inspector
general while no one was watching? The president`s methodical purge of
oversight officials and what Mike Pompeo wanted this man fired after this.
HAYES: On Saturday, October 20, 1973 President Richard Nixon notoriously
ordered his Attorney General Eric Elliot Richardson to fire the special
prosecutor who was then investigating the Watergate break in, a man by the
name of Archibald Cox. Richardson refused to do so and he resigned in
protest so then did his deputy attorney general who also resigned.
That episode, known as the Saturday Night Massacre, resulted in a public
outcry that ultimately helped led to Nixon`s resignation the following
Four years later, President Jimmy Carter signed a bill putting in place
inspectors general across the federal government as an important check on
fraud and corruption.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL HOROWITZ, INSPECTOR GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: In the
beginning in 1978 when the IG Act was passed, it was an experiment. There
were 12 IGs at the outset, but the idea was four years after Watergate was
to help restore confidence for the public in government because confidence
in the government was at an all-time low.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Those post-Watergate reforms were put in place to restrain a
lawless and corrupt executive branch to kind of re-find some trust in the
government and integrity and accountability. And now, earlier this month,
Donald Trump actually bragged about what he learned from Nixon back then,
one of those moments where he kind of said the quiet part out loud.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I learned a lot from Richard Nixon, don`t fire people. I learned a
lot. I study history.
And of course, there was one difference, one big difference. Number one, he
may have been guilty, and number two he had tapes all over the place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right, he was definitely guilty.
Trump did not actually learn from Richard Nixon don`t fire people, no, no,
he learned something more important, he learned to make sure to space out
the firing of people.
So starting the beginning of April, Trump has been firing the very people
meant to hold his administration accountable, these inspectors general. Its
his own attenuated Saturday Night Massacre, only the firings usually come
on Friday nights after everyone has kind of checked out for the weekend.
On Friday, April 3, Trump fired the inspector general of the intelligence
community. That guy was important. His name is Michael Atkinson, because he
is the one who handled the Ukraine whistleblower complaint and found it to
A few days later, he got rid of the Defense Department`s IG, known for his
independence, who was overseeing Coronavirus relief spending
On Friday, May 1, he said he was replacing the Health and Human Services
inspector general who had just exposed shortages of testing and personal
protective equipment at hospitals.
then this past Friday night, Trump fired State Department Inspector General
Steve Linick at the urging of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Now, according to the House Foreign Affairs committee chair Eliot Engel,
the office of the inspector general had opened an investigation into Pompeo
before Pompeo asked that Linick be fired.
Here`s the thing, firing inspector general is not some side show, Trump is
going at one of the foundational post-Watergate reforms that was erected
with bipartisan support over decades precisely to restrain a Nixon 2.0.
The State Department firing may be the most provocative, and perhaps the
most clearly lawless yet. We`re going to talk about that right after this.
HAYES: The president informed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter on
Friday that he was firing State Department inspector general Steve Linick.
Then today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is saying that he was the one
who asked Trump to fire Linick because, quote, “Inspector General Linick
wasn`t performing a function in a way we had tried to get him to,” which is
an interesting thing to say about an inspector general who is supposed to
NBC News first reported Linick was looking into allegations the Pompeo
directed a political appointee to run errands for him and his wife. And
then Congressman Eliot Engel, chair of the foreign affairs committee, told
The Washington Post that the Inspector General`s Office was investigating
at my request, Trump`s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send
weapons to Saudi Arabia. This as a way of getting around congressional
The president today acted like he didn`t know why Linick was fired. He said
Pompeo told him to get rid of him so he did.
Democrats are not buying it. They have an open investigation into what they
say may be an illegal act of retaliation.
Joining me now to talk about this, David Graham, staff writer at The
Atlantic who has a piece out today on this topic entitled “Trump is
Attacking the Final Safeguard Against Executive Abuses.”
You make the case, David, that the IG is a really important institution,
and this is extremely grave what`s going on here. What`s your case?
DAVID GRAHAM, THE ATLANTIC: Yeah, and we`ve already seen the erosion of
judicial controls and of legislative controls. The administration has
stonewalled congress. They`ve said congress doesn`t have the right to do
things, request documents. They famously obstructed the impeachment
investigation. They`ve also said that the courts cannot adjudicate these
things, because it`s properly congress`s case.
So, the last line of defense here is the inspectors general, who are within
the executive branch, but make reports to the legislature. And now you see
sort of firing with impunity as well, leaving pretty no controls beyond the
HAYES: So, what is the – I was sort of looking through some of the
statutory language here and trying to like get right with the law here.
What is the law here say? Like can you just say like I don`t like this
inspector general because he`s investigating stuff that I would like to
remain secret ergo I am firing him? Like does the law let you do that?
GRAHAM: It`s a little bit unclear. You have to under a law – sort of an
amendment that was passed in 2008, the president has to inform congress
within 30 days – 30 days prior of the reason, but that doesn`t mean
congress can simply no and vote it down, it means they have a chance to
object and raise a fuss.
We`ve seen occasional inspector general firings in the past, but nothing
like this. And we don`t know whether congress might respond more
aggressively or what that would look like, although the record of Senate
Republicans does not imply a lot of action.
HAYES: Yeah, there`s like, you know, sort of everyone playing a type and
Romney came out with a strong statement sort of appearing to condemn it,
Susan Collins musing about her concern as Susan Collins is want to do.
Notably absent, I haven`t seen any comments from Chuck Grassley who has
been sort of his brand in Washington for years has been the kind of
defender of inspectors general and of whistleblowers and sort of government
accountability. And I know he`s looked – he`s been looked at by sort of
people on the left and right who were in that space as a real, like,
defender of that and he really seems to have completely just abdicated on
GRAHAM: Well, so Grassley did say that the president`s explanation was
insufficient, but he stopped short of any criticism or threatening any sort
of action if the administration doesn`t offer a fuller explanation. So, you
see him pulling a punch there.
HAYES: This was the president giving his explanation today for why he did
this, why he got rid of Linick, which I thought was a weirdly honest moment
of him. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don`t know him, never heard of him, but they asked me to
terminate him. I have the absolute right as president to terminate. I`ve
said who appointed him? They said President Obama. I said look, I`ll
terminate him. I don`t know what`s going on other than that, but you`d have
to ask Mike Pompeo, but they asked me to do it and I did it. I have the
right to terminate the inspector generals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I mean, it`s just amazing. He saying the secretary of state asked
me to fire the guy that`s investigating him, so I did.
GRAHAM: Right. Well, this is classic. You know, the law says that the
heads of the agencies can`t fire the inspectors general, only the president
can, and Trump is saying he wanted him out. He`s admitting no interest in
it, of course.
And it`s naked partisanship. He knows this is an Obama guy, that`s good
enough for him, he`s happy to fire them.
HAYES: Yeah, the point about the law being that like they can`t fire them
directly for precisely that reason. If you just outsource it so that the
guy says the president can you fire him for me, the president says sure,
whatever, I don`t know who this guy is, but OK, then you have run around
the spirit, if not the letter, of the law which is that you don`t want
people to have firing power over the people that are going to independently
hold them to account.
GRAHAM: Right. And I think the law is written that way with the assumption
that a president is going to have different prerogatives than a cabinet
secretary who is being investigated. He`s going to prefer to have a clean
But of course this president doesn`t operate in that way at all, he
welcomes the scandal.
HAYES: That`s so true. That`s exactly it, right. The idea is that like the
IG is there and he starts some investigation into some corrupt scandal that
the cabinet head done. The president is like, OK, great, good for that. I
can cauterize this wound and get rid of this person. But, of course, that`s
not the way it works in this administration.
David Graham, thank you for making time for us tonight.
GRAHAM: Thank you.
HAYES: Up next, businesses are in dire need of financial relief. Congress
approved the use of $500 billion in aid money. So here is the thing, why is
it that two months later, hardly any of that money has been used? I don`t
get it. That story next.
HAYES: OK, so it`s been two months since congress voted on that big
Coronavirus relief bill, which had a whole bunch of different parts to it.
Almost none of the $500 billion in that bill that was allocated for large
businesses has been spent, OK? Just under $38 billion have actually been
distributed, according to a report out today from the Congressional
Oversight Commission, which is tasked with overseeing the CARES act.
That is just 7.5 percent of the funds allocated.
And back in March, there were industries that we were told would collapse
without this money, so how is it possible that 7 percent has been spent?
Joining me now is one of the oversight commissioners who released that
So first, describe this pool of money, this is different, we`ve got a lot
of attention that has been paid to the Payroll Protection Program, which
was for small businesses. And the idea was they would get money from the
federal government to retain their employees at 80 percent pay and then the
loan would be forgiven if they kept them and they hired them back, right.
This pool of money, the $500 billion we`re talking about here, what was
that for? What`s that pool of money?
BHARAT RAMAMURTI, CARES ACT OVERSIGHT COMMISSION MEMBER: The purpose was
to stabilize the economy. And so obviously that is not a very clear
explanation of what the Treasury and Fed should do with the money. But as
you noted, none of – or very little of the money has been sent so far, but
critically the mere announcement back on April 9 that the Treasury and the
Fed planned to spend about $200 billion of those dollars had an enormous
effect on the markets.
So if you look at the data since that date, the stock market is up
significantly, it`s now back to where it was in early March, and the cost
of borrowing for big corporations has gone way down, so it is easier for
them to finance themselves.
So in that sense, as the report notes, the program is working for big
corporations. Who it is not working for so far, is medium-sized
corporations and state and city governments that were supposed to be able
to borrow from the Fed.
HAYES: OK, this is such a fascinating thing. So, there was a moment in
March where you start to see these reverberations through various parts of
the financial system that starts to get very scary, right. So, you have got
the stock market going down and then you start moving into credit markets.
The credit markets start going wobbly. You start seeing all sorts of
indicators of financial distress. And you`ve got the CARES Act and the Fed
basically saying like we will backstop you. We`re not going to let this
thing go down. And that really does change the psychology of these markets
and does seem to stabilize them, right?
RAMAMURTI: Yeah, exactly right. But what we now is a situation, if you
look at the data, where it seems like we`re setting up for a recovery that
is going to be as fast and painless as possible for the rich and big
corporations, and as slow and painful as possible for everyone else.
You talked about the PPP. Contrast the Fed`s actions with the PPP. If
you`re a small business owner, you have to hope and pray that you that get
your PPP loan, the money may run out. After you get the money, you have to
follow all sorts of directions about what you can do with the money in
order for it to stay a grant instead of a loan.
And look at the folks who have been fired. If you`re requiring unemployment
insurance, you got to go file a claim, you may take weeks and months to get
that money. Meanwhile, the Fed and the Treasury can just announce that
they`re prepared to spend trillions of dollars to put that money into the
financial markets, and it immediately creates a safety net for big
corporations and the holders of financial assets.
HAYES: So is the idea here that the largest corporation that were going to
use the money, because credit markets, which is how they borrow money,
because they stabilized and because the cost of credit is low, you can
borrow quite cheaply, that basically like they`re all doing it right, they
can borrow what they need, and the entire universe of small businesses is
now left to sort of like struggle through this period and hope for PPP and
jump through a bunch of hoops and that is sort of where we are in the
RAMAMURTI: That`s basically right. And so you can obviously see what the
implications of that are. You can see after we emerge from this crisis,
that big businesses, that have access to the capital markets, are going to
emerge in very good shape. And small and medium-sized businesses are going
to be in wreckage. And that creates an enormous opportunity for these big
businesses to expand, to scoop up more market share. That`s not a good
outcome for a competitive economy, that`s not a good outcome for consumers
in terms of presenting them with choices.
And so I`m deeply concerned about this disparity, between the fast and
generous and no strings attached relief that we provide to big
corporations, with the slow and spotty and stingy support that we`re
providing to everybody else.
HAYES: Another question for you, I saw this piece in Bloomberg, and I`ve
been hearing about the fed using these facilities, and using authority
under the CARES Act to sort of help oil companies, oil and fossil fuel
companies, this is a stealth bailout.
This is Diamond Offshore Drilling: as it headed to towards bankruptcy,
Diamond Offshore Drilling took advantage of a little known provision in the
stimulus bill to get $9.7 million tax refund – pretty change – and then
it asked a bankruptcy judge to authorize the same amount of bonuses to nine
executives. That is a pretty sweet deal. They got 9.7 in relief money and
then turned around and said, can we give a mil each to nine executives as
we go out the door in bankruptcy?
RAMAMURTI: Yeah, it`s crazy. And on top of that, one of the things that
the fed did is between April 9 when it first announced what it called the
Main Street lending facility, it then announced some changes to that
facility on April 30. And all of the major changes that they made on that
date just so happened to line up with the top requests of the oil and gas
And if it doesn`t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out what happened, because
the energy secretary went on TV right after that and said we told the Fed
to make these changes, and they agreed to go along with them. And if you
look at the data from that day, some of the biggest movers in the corporate
fund index were oil and gas companies that stood to benefit from the
changes that the Fed had made.
So I think they`re getting support from basically every different angle.
HAYES: All right, Bharat Ramamurti, one of the few people sort of on the
case on this. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise tonight.
RAMAMURTI: Thank you.
HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening. “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts
Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are 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 content.>
Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
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