DNC chair TRANSCRIPT: 5/20/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes

Jocelyn Benson, Tom Perez, Richard Besser, Nayyera Haq, Sherrod Brown


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: I will see you again tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m.

Eastern. Don`t miss Lawrence O`Donnell tonight at 10:00 p.m. He`ll be

joined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Don`t miss it. Thanks for being with

us. Don`t go anywhere “ALL IN” with Chris Hayes is up next.




CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN, the Trump crisis. With an out

of control pandemic a collapse economy and poll numbers going against him,

the President begins his assault on democracy itself. The Michigan

Secretary of State is here to respond to Trump`s wild attack on absentee

voting and DNC Chair Tom Perez on how to protect November.


Then, send in the MAGA doctors. The effort to get Trump-friendly medicine

men to tell us it`s safe out there while the experts at the CDC get the

muzzle. Former Acting Director Richard Besser is here.


Plus, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown on why his Republican governor is getting

high marks and the new reporting on just what exactly Mike Pompeo and

Donald Trump are trying to cover up. When ALL IN starts right now.




HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. The President is in bad

political shape right now. He`s not doing well. It`s a very simple,

straightforward reason that isn`t. The country is not doing well.

Everything in national politics right now, the top line at least is about

as simple and straightforward as you can get in that respect. There are

93,000 people that have died from the virus, thousands more, undoubtedly

will follow. 36 million people are unemployed, and the unemployment rate is

approaching Great Depression levels.


From the beginning, Donald Trump has floundered and shown zero leadership.

Back in January, he said he trusts China on the virus and said the U.S. has

it totally under control. In February, he said within a couple of days,

case numbers were going to be down close to zero. Later that said month, he

said it`s going to disappear one day like a miracle, it will disappear.

Well, there have been no miracles, just mass unemployment and mass death on

Donald Trump`s watch.


And now, he`s very much on the wrong side of public opinion concerning how

we protect ourselves from the virus going forward. A new poll finds that 83

percent of Americans are concerned lifting restrictions in their area will

lead to additional coronavirus infections. But the President has decided to

throw in totally with a vanguard of right-wing activists and tell the

American public including people in nursing homes and immunocompromised and

people over 70 that they are warriors, his words, warriors on a battlefield

and need to be willing to get back out there and potentially die for the



All of that leads to an incumbent president who if the election were held

tomorrow would probably lose very badly. I mean, the polling data here is

pretty robust. Now let me be clear, a lot could change. I mean, Lord knows

a lot changed in the last four months. It`s only May. The election is not

being held tomorrow, and a lot of things can happen between now and



But right now, as a just a snapshot of public opinion, Donald Trump`s

political fortunes do not look great. Joe Biden leads Donald Trump by 11

points in a new national poll of registered voters 50 to 39. Now that`s a

bit of an outlier, but Trump has fallen dramatically among some key groups,

both in this poll and others, including Americans 65 and older crucially, a

group that Trump won by seven points over – nine points over Hillary

Clinton, but who Joe Biden is now winning by 10 percentage points in that

new poll.


Yesterday, data journalist at The Economist, G. Elliott Morris, observed

that Trump has the worst national polling margin for an incumbent president

at this point in the election cycle going back at least to the 1940s. And

it is not just the national numbers, which as we learned from 2016 is not

the full picture. It also looks bad for Trump at the battleground states as



In just the past eight days, we have seen polls showing Biden ahead in four

states that Trump won in 2016, Florida, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Arizona

with a big Biden lead. There are down valid implications here as well.

Arizona Republican Senator Martha McSally, who already lost her last Senate

race only to be appointed and is now running again and who has tied herself

to Trump is getting absolutely crushed right now in a reelection polls, as

she looks at the specter of losing two Senate races in a row.


Again, things could change. It is possible the polls are wrong. We all know

that right? But to the best that we can gleam with the data that we have in

front of us, this appears to be where things stand right now. And here`s

the other thing. The Trump people know how bad it is. Back in the end of

April, Donald Trump erupted at his campaign team over his poll numbers and

his advisors were telling him that he needs to stop doing crazy stuff in

those long two-hour press conferences like telling people they should look

into maybe injecting bleach as a cure for virus because well, it wasn`t



The one central theme that Donald Trump and his campaign was going to run

on months ago was the economy is great, so reelect me to keep it. And with

that gone, with that completely gone, all that is left is for him to try to

disrupt the administration, the free and fair elections in America to

subvert the legitimacy of the election. You`ll remember he was doing this

back when it looked like he was going to lose in 2016.





is going to be rigged. I have to be honest. She can`t beat what`s happening

here. The only way they can beat it, in my opinion, and I mean, this 100

percent, if in certain sections of the state they cheat.


They even want to try to rig the election at the polling booths. And

believe me, there`s a lot going on. Do you ever hear these people? They say

there`s nothing going on. People that have died 10 years ago is still

voting. Illegal immigrants are voting.


It`s largely a rigged system. And you see that the polling booth too. There

are reports that when people vote for Republicans, the entire ticket

switches over to Democrats.




HAYES: Those are all lies. Just to be clear, none of that is true. It`s

lies. It`s pernicious, disgusting, authoritarian lies. Rigged is what he

called our elections. He was even doing it after he won the election but

lost the popular vote to sort of save face. Remember this? There was a

period where he was claiming ludicrously that millions of people voted

illegally for Hillary Clinton. He even set up – do you remember this

preposterous voter fraud panel that ended up finding no voter fraud when

all was said and done?


OK, so that`s all in the past. Now, right now, we are in an incredibly high

stakes situation, all right, because a lot of people are going to want to

vote by mail in November, because understandably, polling places are

sometimes crowded, often with a lot of traffic, do not seem like the best

place to be in the midst of a panic. And Lord knows what it`s going to look

like in November, right, cold and flu season.


The president wants to stop them from doing that. And he has been honest,

incredibly honest about why he is against vote by mail efforts in the

coronavirus relief bill.




TRUMP: The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of

voting that if we ever agreed to it, you`d never have a Republican elected

in this country again.




HAYES: Did you hear that? Level – the levels of voting that if you agreed

to it, you`d never have a Republican elected in this country again. Well,

that`s a hell of an admission, levels of voting. So, he wants to suppress

the vote because he thinks that`s the only way he can win. If too many

people vote, then he will lose.


By the way, this is also the guy who just voted by mail himself, of course,

in the Republican primary in Florida, despite denouncing mail-in balloting

as horrible and corrupt. He wants to win the election by making it so

Democrats can`t vote, so people can`t vote, so people are confused about

whether they can or can`t vote.


And today, today brought the most dangerous, seriously dangerous escalation

of this campaign yet. The Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson had

undertaken a completely lawful routine and in fact, laudatory move to send

out under Michigan law absentee ballot applications to the voters of her

state. The reason being, so that those voters do not have to go to the

polls in the fall, possibly miss a pandemic, if they do not want to.


The President then falsely claimed this was done illegally and without

authorization by a rogue secretary of state. He then – listen to this –

threatened to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this

voter fraud path. I`m joined now by the person Trump was attacking Jocelyn

Benson. She`s Michigan`s Democratic Secretary of State. And she responded

to the president today. “Hi. I also have a name. It`s Jocelyn Benson. And

we send applications not ballots, just like my Republican colleagues in

Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska, and West Virginia.”


It did not stop there after Trump rewrote his tweet correcting it. Benson

wrote back. “Hi, again. Still wrong. Every Michigan registered voter has a

right to vote by mail. I have the authority and responsibility to make sure

they know how to exercise this right, just like my Republican colleagues

are doing.”


Secretary, it`s great to have you here. I wondered if you could just

literally explain what the law is in your state and what you are overseeing

right now with respect to the general election in the fall.



first, thanks for having me and thanks for giving me an opportunity to

clarify and really amplify citizens right to vote by mail in Michigan,

which they have under our state constitution.


In November of 2018, citizens voted overwhelmingly to give themselves this

right to vote by mail. It was supported by citizens on both sides of the

political spectrum, and it`s something that citizens on both sides of the

political spectrum have done in the several elections we`ve had over the

past 18 months or so.


Of course, now with the national spotlight on our state and the pandemic

happening, and this uncertain time that we`re living in, we felt and I feel

it`s important now more than ever to give our voters the certainty, the

clarity in knowing exactly how to vote in this year`s elections without

leaving their home safely and securely. And the clarity that comes with

getting an application in the mail to request your ballot be sent to you to

exercise this right.


HAYES: So, every Michigander who is eligible vote can fill out that

application and say I would prefer to vote absentee and that is under state

law and that`s OK?


BENSON: Yes, they actually have a right under our state constitution to

vote by mail.


HAYES: So one thing that I find really bizarre here, I have to say, and you

just stress this is, you know, we`ve seen battles over voting access that

very clearly often have a racial valence or partisan violence, particularly

battles over Voter I.D. where we see there`s disproportionate effects and

how Voter ID affects African Americans over white people, battles over

polling places in say, concentrated urban precincts that tend to vote



This is not like that. I mean, as far as I can tell, there`s no partisan

valence to absentee voting. Like understanding of the research is that it`s

like there`s just a lot of people who want to do it, particularly senior

citizens, particularly in the midst of a pandemic. I don`t even quite get

it as a like political play.


BENSON: Yes, I completely agree. I think for me, I`m dumbfounded that this

is controversial, especially because there are Democratic and Republican

secretaries of state are doing just what we`re doing here in Michigan. But

to me, it`s also a reflection of what will be happening in our state in the

months ahead, which is an effort to misinform and confuse voters about

their rights in the state.


We see it happening nationally, we`ve seen it happening in various

different forms, and we anticipate this is going to just escalate in the

months ahead. So my responsibility is also to try to cut through that

misinformation, that chaos, that confusion, and just clearly say to all of

our voters, regardless of who you`re voting for, these are your choices,

this is how you can vote this year and give them again that certainty that

they`ll have that right to vote. It will be protected. And I`ll fight for

everyone regardless of how they`re voting to ensure their voices are heard.


HAYES: You know, I don`t want to give too much credence to insane and

unsupported accusations the President makes because they`re insane and non-

supported. My read of the data is that there`s not – there`s no data

support that there`s any widespread fraud in absentee balloting or absentee

voting. Are you confident that you have the systems in place to administer

a free and fair election, no matter how many people choose to vote in

person or absentee?


BENSON: Yes, absolutely. I mean, look, people have been voting by mail,

including the President for decades in this country in various states. And

so, we`ve got the tools in place not just to ensure every citizen can vote

by mail, but to ensure that when they do so, it`s secure. Every signature,

every citizen, every voter who`s voting by mail is required to sign the

envelope in which their ballot is returned. And that signature is then

matched with their voter registration signature to confirm that they are

exactly who they are on their voter registration form.


So the security measures are in place. It`s quite hard to forge or fake

someone`s signature and very easy to confirm or discard a ballot that has a

mismatch signature. And we`re also benefiting from the fact that again,

this has been going on in decades and states all across the country where

infinitesimal fraud has occurred. And when it occurs because of these

security checks, it`s found and prosecuted.


HAYES: Yes. I have to point out that the most notable an egregious example

of absentee voter fraud that`s happened in this country was a Republican

operative essentially cheating on behalf of the Republican candidate in

North Carolina, something that we covered but also was sniffed out and

obvious. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson who seems like she is

quite on top of the situation there, thank you for sharing some time



BENSON: Thanks for having me.


HAYES: For more on the President`s efforts to subvert the democratic

process, I`m joined now by Tom Perez, the chair of the Democratic National

Committee. You know, I`ve always conflicted about, you know, stories of the

variety the president tweeted X, because he tweets a lot of things and most

of it is nonsense or lies or libel or slander or whatever.


But the way he attacked absentee voting today struck me as genuinely

dangerous and genuinely sort of threatening to democracy. How high on the

priority list is it for you to do what you can to safeguard the

administration of free and fair elections this fall?


TOM PEREZ, CHAIRMAN, DNC: It`s the highest priority, Chris, because we know

that you`re going to see voter suppression on steroids in the months ahead.

We had a conversation I know about the election in Wisconsin recently where

they tried to weaponize the pandemic so that they could suppress the vote

and steal a state Supreme Court race. It failed miserably. That`s what

you`re going to see.


And, Chris, we have to just be clear with everybody. Republicans believe

that they do better when the voting populace goes down. And that`s not a

belief just of Donald Trump, it`s a belief across the far-right spectrum.

Our leverage in the elections, quite frankly, goes up as the voting

populace goes down. Those were words uttered 40 years ago by Republican



And so we have to understand that and that`s why we have built a national

voter protection infrastructure. We have we have voter protection teams in

19 states now. We have a voter protection ecosystem with organizations like

Eric Holder`s organization and Fair Fight and others. And we have our oars

in the water rolling in synchrony because this is the play. You are spot

on, Chris.


And by the way, Ronna Romney McDaniel is going to get one of those absentee

voter applications because she`s a Michigan resident. And you know what,

Chairwoman Romney McDaniel said, I don`t mind people being sent absentee

voter request forms. That`s OK. Give them an opportunity to vote by mail.

That`s the RNC chair. I`m not making that up.


HAYES: Well, so there`s two – there`s two avenues to pursue, it strikes me

here. And partly because of the voting system in America is so federalized,

states have so much control over it partially thanks to Chief Justice

Roberts and his buddies gutting a huge part of the Voting Rights Act that

we have to sort of – there`s sort of two ways to think about this.


One is things you can do at the federal level in terms of congressional

appropriation support for states that may want to expand vote by mail. What

is the sort of status of that? There were some in the last cares bill. They

seem to be trying to draw a red line on it now. Where do you see the push

for that and how important that is?


PEREZ: Great question. The short answer, it`s very important. $400 million

in one of the early stimulus bills – and by the way, Secretary Benson, one

of the best secretaries of state in the country, they used some of that

money to send out these absentee voter applications. And so that`s

critically important.


The bill that was passed last week in the House contains 3.6 billion more

four states, because $400 million is woefully inadequate. And so, we need

to make sure that that $3.6 billion is part of the next stimulus package.

Because again, we have to give people options. You shouldn`t have to win

the geographic lottery to be able to exercise your right to vote in a safe

and sound manner.


HAYES: I want to play for you something the President just said about

voting, which has struck me as really deeply pernicious, sort of that

voting is an honor that – and going off about how he doesn`t want people

to mail-in voting. Take a listen.




TRUMP: Common sense would tell you that it`s massive manipulation can take

place, massive. They – and you do. You have cases of fraudulent ballots

where they actually print them and they give them to people to sign. Maybe

the same person signs them with different writing, different pens. I don`t

know. A lot of things can happen.


Now, if you can, you should go and vote. Voting is an honor. It shouldn`t

be something where they send you a pile of stuff and you send it back.




HAYES: It`s an honor. They shouldn`t be sending you a pile of stuff. I

should also note as I just did that the closest version to the kind of

fraud he`s talking about a Republican operative in North Carolina who

worked for the Republican candidate, who was then kicked off the ballot and

denied the election because he cheated. But what do you say to a president

that`s saying that?


PEREZ: Voting isn`t simply an honor, Chris. Voting is a fundamental right.

People pay the ultimate price to exercise the right to vote. And in a

pandemic, the notion that you have a president going after Republican and

Democratic secretaries of state in the middle of a pandemic – Secretary

Benson`s trying to make it easier for eligible people to exercise their

right to vote. She`s trying to allow them to exercise the choice that the

Michigan constitution provides them.


This is a fundamental right, and this President understands that. And what

we have to do between now and November is make sure that every single voter

in every single state has choice. The choice to vote on election day, the

choice to early vote. The more days of early voting, the more social

distancing you do. And the right to vote absentee with no excuse, the right

to vote by mail. Republicans and Democrats agree on that, but this

president, in a desperate effort to steal an election, is going to stop at



HAYES: Tom Perez, thank you, sir, for your time tonight.


PEREZ: Always a pleasure.


HAYES: Next, who needs a CDC when you can use MAGA docs? The President`s

latest attempt to undermine his own public health experts with a former

acting CDC director next.




HAYES: It`s time to send in the Tea Party doctors. According to multiple

reports, Republican operatives are recruiting conservative pro-Trump

doctors to prescribe his views on coronavirus and push to return to reopen

the country as quickly as possible. Trotting out these doctors is part of

the attempt to move public opinion which remains squarely on the side of

caution, apprehension about the worst pandemic in 100 years that`s killed

almost 100,000 people in about 10 weeks.


A new poll out today shows 83 percent of Americans are at least somewhat

concerned that lifting restrictions in their area will lead to additional

coronavirus infections, not a crazy concern. I mean, we keep coming back to

this, and it sounds insane to keep repeating it, but by and large people

don`t want to get sick.


And so, you can listen to Trump doctors, or here`s an idea. Listen to the

Trump administration`s own Centers for Disease Control, an agency staffed

with literally thousands of professionals dedicated to public health

issues. People who are full time every day for the duration of their

careers thinking through in granular detail all of these issues, the safe

and prudent ways to move towards reopening our society and economy to get

back to work in ways that minimize viral transmission.


Those people are producing all kinds of recommendations like the ones in

this 60-page document quietly published this week. Recommendations the

President himself seems intent on burying and ignoring. I`m joined now by

someone who used to run that agency, Dr. Richard Besser, former Acting

Director of the CDC under President Obama, where he led the response to the

H1N1 flu pandemic.


Your response, Doctor, to the idea of recruiting doctors to tell people

that, you know, get back out there, the water is fine.



pediatrician, and that gives me skill and training in terms of how to take

care of children and their health. But taking care of clinical patients and

being a public health professional are different. They are different

approaches to thinking about populations and how disease spreads through

populations, thinking about who in a population is getting hit hardest and

what you might want to do.


I was so thrilled to see the document that CDC put out on what it takes to

do this in a careful way based on the best public health science. It`s not

a question of do you open up the economy or do you not open up the economy?

The question is, how do you do it in a way that is safe? How do you do it

in a way that is careful? How do you do it in a way so that public health

not only isn`t an enemy of opening the economy, but it`s the – it`s the



It gives you the map on how to do it so that workers are safe, children are

safe when they go back to school. We feel comfortable going into businesses

and shopping and eating in restaurants. This is what public health is all

about. And this is why we need public health to be front and center right



HAYES: You know, it continues to astound me that we`re having this national

debate about reopening. We`ve got these different states moving at

different paces. And we`ve got Trump like full speed ahead, telling people

they`re literally warriors, warriors, that have to sacrifice yourself. And

there`s this agency that just is literally designed – it exists for this



It exists for the purpose of thinking about these, using the science,

making recommendations that is giving recommendations not to stay sheltered

in place forever, but OK, well you have a restaurant. Well, how should you

open your restaurant? You have an office, what`s the best way to run an

office? What do you do about bathrooms? And this has been completely

discarded entirely in the debate over reopening.


BESSER: Yes, it`s a real shame. I`m on the commission here in New Jersey

that`s looking at restart and recovery here. And I`m also on the seven-

state coordinating body. And you know, the states are all wrestling with

these issues. Every state in the nation is wrestling with these issues. You

want to reopen. Everyone wants to get people back into – back to work.

People are suffering staying at home. But you want to do it in a way where

our essential workers aren`t are expendable workers.


You know, they – people need to go back to work and know that they have

the protection that they need, that lower-income workers who will be – who

will be the first ones going back to work because they need the paycheck to

put food on the table, they need the paycheck to pay rent, a high

proportion of black Americans, Latino Americans.


We want to make sure that every hard-working person who`s going back to

work feel safe and is protected and has the best advice from public health

leading the way. And if they`re going back to work, and those things aren`t

in place, that they have something that`s enforceable where they can say

I`m sorry. But this is not at the level of what CDC or OSHA recommends. And

I`m not going to work in those conditions. Right now, people don`t have

those choices.


HAYES: The point that you just made, I was just noodling on it as you – as

you sort of thinking about it, about sort of public health as a kind of

enabler, right, of economic activity in society. And what`s been happening

is that because of some attacks among, again, a kind of fringe of the right

on Fauci and this idea of the like – the point it headed intellectuals

were trying to stop the economy.


I mean, when you think about food safety, right, it is a great example.

Like, we – the reason that we have restaurant inspections is to provide

confidence to people that we`re going to go to restaurants, that they`re

eating in places that are safe and don`t have like rodents in the kitchen

and things like that.


I mean, New York City has this grading system, which is great. You know,

you get these grades on the window. Like, it shouldn`t be the case that

public health is essentially bolstering people`s confidence to go out and

participate which is going to be a big obstacle in all this.


BESSER: Yes. I mean, you could even imagine a system where there were

standards for different types of business and they – people could display

clearly that they`re in compliance with the standards that are there. And

that would give people comfort and confidence to go back to work.


You know, I worked at CDC for 13 years, incredibly mission-focused place

that`s focused on serving the American people, serving people around the

world and protecting health. And we did studies, we do studies at CDC all

the time looking at the impact of unemployment on health, and it`s not

good. Public health is not about keeping people unemployed, you know, it`s

not good for mental health, it`s not good for food security, and the

impacts are really great, but you need to dial this up slowly and carefully

so that we don`t see major outbreaks reoccurring and being back to the same

situation of everyone under lock-down


HAYES:  Dr. Richard Besser, as I said, acting director of the CDC during

H1N1, also a pediatrician as I just learned. Thank you so much, sir.


BESSER:  Thank you, Chris.


HAYES:  Coming up, Senator Sherrod Brown on what`s looking like a success

story in Ohio, his home state. His confrontation with the Treasury

Secretary over paying a front line workers what they are

worth, next.




HAYES:  There`s been quite a lot of attention paid to Florida Governor Ron

DeSantis, and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott,

those are all Republican governors of big states who are being aggressive

about reopening those states.


But at the opposite end of the spectrum is Ohio Republican Governor Mike

DeWine. DeWine he is 73 years old, he spent nearly 40 years in public

office. He has been perhaps the most aggressive governor in the nation in

terms of getting ahead of the virus.


For example, back on March 3 when Ohio had not even a single confirmed case

of the virus, he banned fans from attending an Arnold Schwarzenegger multi-

sport festival. Nine days later, he shut down public schools, becoming the

first governor in the entire nation to do so.


And by acting early, it appears, again cause and effect is difficult to

tease out here, but it appears Ohio avoided a worst-case scenario. In a

state that Donald Trump won in 2016 by eight points, Governor Mike DeWine

right now has an 80 percent approval rating.


There is something to be gleaned here from the Ohio experience. Joining me

to talk more about this as well as what is going on in Washington, someone

who has worked with and against him for years, Senator Sherrod Brown,

Democrat from Ohio, who beat DeWine for his senate seat back in 2006.


Senator, it`s great to have you on. I remember when I first profiled you

back for that race, I remember you telling me you thought Mike DeWine was a

good guy, you didn`t think he was a particularly bad presence in public

life. You were running against him. What are the lessons here about how

Ohio has gone after this?


SEN. SHERROD BROWN, (D) OHIO:  Well, the lesson first of all is maturity

and experience and

character matter in an elected official. I mean, you contrast Governor

DeWine, this isn`t a partisan statement, you contrast Governor DeWine who

acted early and saved lives in my state with the president who had no

experience and his character is questionable and who called it a hoax for

weeks and blamed Democrats, another impeachment effort, whatever he was

saying. While DeWine was acting, President Trump cost American lives,

clearly. So that`s the contrast between the two.


Governor DeWine listened to Dr. Amy Acton, public health director,

(inaudible) director of public health I think is the term, the cabinet

level. And Dr. Acton has been really good and right on what she needed to

do and the governor had the good sense as an experienced public official to

listen to the experts.


HAYES:  I also think it`s interesting just from a political standpoint of

your state, which I th ink a lot of people have viewed as a state that has

sort of moved to the right, that is trended red, that, you know, that

increasingly is not a swing state, that it is just striking to me that as

people talk about this debate as if it`s very polarized, that your state,

that DeWine has an 80 percent approval rating for being pretty cautious

about this and it doesn`t seem like it`s been a huge sort of like culture

war fight in your state despite the fact there have been protests.


BROWN:  I think that`s right. I think there is concern, though, now that

Ohio now that the economy, the governor is taking away the stay-at-home

order and the economy is moving towards us now opening – I just have

spoken to the governor about this, we talk regularly, I talked to Dr.

Acton. I called her today. We talk pretty regularly. I`m just – my

insistence is that workers are protected as we open this economy, the next

big outbreaks. We know what happened in South Dakota at the slaughter house

and the president says open up. No concern for workers, no concern for

public health, and no concern for food safety.


But I just am concerned that we`ve got to protect workers first as we open

up this economy. We`ve got to scale up testing. The president has shown no

leadership on either, either getting protections for workers, or nor – and

scaling up testing, we likely will pay a price for that through the whole

country. We already have, clearly, and more deaths, you know, you hear the

numbers, 5 percent of the world`s population or close to 30 percent of the

world`s deaths and you contrast it with countries that did it right –

Korea, Taiwan, that their economies are in pretty good shape and the amount

of deaths is so, so much smaller.


HAYES:  You had an exchange with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, I

believe, in a hearing yesterday on precisely this question about – two

things, I think, you were talking about both worker protection and hazard

pay for front line workers, both of which have been things you`ve

championed, are present in the Democratic bill that passed the house. I

want to play that clip and have you explain a bit about what you were

getting at. Take a listen.




BROWN:  So how many workers should give their lives to increase our GPD by

half a percent, that you`re pushing people back into the workplace. There`s

been no national program to provide worker safety. The president says

reopen slaughter houses, nothing about slowing the line down, nothing about

getting protective equipment.


How many workers should give their lives to increase the GDP or Dow Joins

by 1,000 points?


STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY:  No workers should give their lives to

do this, Mr. Senator. And I think your characterization is unfair. We have

provided enormous amounts of equipment. We`ve worked with the governors.

We`ve done a terrific job of getting…


BROWN:  Mr. Secretary, I`m not going to let you make a political speech

about how what a great job. We hear that from the president in his news





HAYES:  What do you want to see happen concretely for workers as we reopen?


BROWN:  Well, I think about you`re a worker whose been laid off, you`re

getting unemployment now so you`re not going to get evicted. Your kids are

going to be fairly well provided for, not great. You have taken income that

you`re home and drawing unemployment benefits at least for four more

months, then you`re called back to work and you`re not sure your employer

has made your workplace safe so you give up your unemployment insurance.

You`re going to go back to work, you have no choice and you`re just not

sure it`s safe.


I was talking to a grocery store worker in Cincinnati that said, you know,

they say I`m essential but don`t pay me well. They don`t protect me at

work. I feel like I`m expendable. I mean, that`s what workers are facing.


For one time if – this administration betrayed workers time and time again

as you know, Chris, if one time they would put their – wear the shoes,

walk in the shoes of a worker who is facing this terrible problem on sick

days or on going back to work not sure the workplace is safe, because they

know that we have a president who wants people to go back to work at all

cost even in slaughterhouses where hundreds of people get sick, where the

line moves too fast, where the employers have shown no history  of worker

safety except what the government makes them do and the president wants to

weaken those standards and put them back into the maelstrom of dangerous

workplace. And that`s just morally reprehensible.


The Treasury Secretary sat in that committee, he`s on the same page as this

president. He`s the president`s top economic guy, the secretary of the

Treasury, and he has to defend a bankrupt policy and he knows he wasn`t

telling the truth.


HAYES:  Senator Brown, senator of the great state of Ohio. Thank you for

making some time tonight.


BROWN:  Thank you, Chris.


HAYES:  Still ahead, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had the State

Department IG fired while that IG was investigating a Saudi arms deal that

Pompeo approved. That story coming up.




HAYES:  Do you remember back in December when a Saudi Air Force cadet, who

was training to be a pilot, shot and killed three people at the naval air

station in Pensacola, Florida. The FBI said it was being investigated as a

terrorist attack just two days later, but President Trump really went out

of his way to downplay the Saudi connection for some reason.


Just hours after the attack happened, the U.S. president was tweeting a

statement from the Saudi king like he had been retained as a PR flak for

the Saudis. I mean, the tweets are just insanely over the top, particularly

in the wake of three dead Americans on a base.


They love the American people.


One long-time Middle East negotiator pointed out, quote, “had an attack

been carried out by any country on his Muslim ban, his reaction would have

been very different.” True.


Earlier this week, the FBI confirmed the Saudi cadet was linked to al Qaeda

when he attacked a U.S. military base. The president`s only tweet this

month about Saudi Arabia was about oil prices.


Now, this is all par for the course for this president and this

administration when it comes to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Trump has been

slavishly devoted to the Saudi regime, and even before he was elected, he

told us why.




TRUMP:  Saudi Arabia and I get along great with all of them. They buy

apartments from me. They spend 40 million, 50 million. Am I supposed to

dislike them? I like them very much.




HAYES:  If course I like them, they buy my stuff. He broke long-standing

tradition, remember that, and made Saudi Arabia his first foreign trip.

Remember the orb? Remember the sword dance? Can you picture Donald Trump

dancing with any world leader in the G7?


Here is the thing about Donald Trump, interesting factoid, he has vetoed a

total of seven bills in office, four of them, the majority, were to protect

arms deals to Saudis that allowed them to continue prosecuting a ghastly

war in Yemen that has killed 100,000 people and at this point, basically no

one in congress supports anymore. And some of Trump`s most disgusting

actions had been when he vouchers for the Saudi crown prince even after the

CIA said that he had his henchmen murder and then hack to pieces an

American newspaper columnist who is a Saudi national.


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is part of this whole thing, too. Here is

Mike Pompeo grinning, grinning, with the crown prince and Saudi king after

Jamal Khashoggi was murdered. Here was Pompeo`s response when asked about

U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia following the murder of Khashoggi.




MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE:  So, it`s a mean, nasty world out there,

the Middle East in particular. There are important American interests to

keep the American people safe, to protect Americans.




HAYES:  Oh, it`s a mean, nasty world out there. I`m sure you`d say that if

someone else did the murdering, someone you knew or close to that had been

murdered by this man.


We also know until very recently, there was inspector general probe into

the extraordinary steps that Pompeo took to skirt around congress to

continue armed sales to the Saudis. Again, this is like their obsession.


You will never guess what happened to the inspector general who is

overseeing that report. The latest on that story next.




HAYES:  Back when Mike Pompeo was just a Tea Party back bencher, he made a

name for himself as congressman by prosecuting the case against former

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And he did it with the help of the

State Department inspector general.


On May 25, 2016, the inspector general released a report critical of

Clinton`s email practices. Remember that story?


And that same day, Congressman Pompeo released a statement touting those

report findings, quote, “Hillary Clinton has claimed that her use of a

private email server complied with State Department regulations. Today`s

State Department Inspector General`s report illustrates that is not the

case. In fact, that State Department IG concluded that using her personal

account to send emails to State Department accounts was not an appropriate

method of preserving any such emails that would constitute a federal



Wow, it does seem insane they made a scandal out of that, doesn`t it?


Well, a lot has changed, because now Mike Pompeo is the Secretary of State.

Some things have not. The IG`s report he touted, Inspector General Steve

Linick, that was the same guy investigating him, the guy that Pompeo just

had fired, is just the latest shady move from a guy who has been the center

of a host of scandals from the official apologetics for the murder of

Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, to the impeachment of Donald

Trump, remember that? Pompeo was sort of at the center of that.


Now, the recent reporting suggests he has his eye on a higher office. Here

with me now, someone who knows the State Department from the inside out,

Nayyera Haq, former State Department senior adviser.


I guess first, we just start with like the strangeness of this, of a

cabinet official telling the president to fire an IG that is investigating.



agency and their whole job is to give a layer of transparency to what is

happening in government and maintain that tie with congress.


We know that Secretary of State Pompeo refused to sit down with a

congressionally requested IG investigation into the arms sales into Saudi

Arabia. Why? Because those arms sales were actually unilaterally by

Republicans and Democrats, voted down, and they instituted, the Trump

administration, instituted some emergency powers of authority in order to

be able to get it passed. So, that raised a lot of eye brows. Like why now,

particularly when Democrats and Republicans are uniting in making Saudi

Arabia a pariah state?


Now this is also, Chris, against the backdrop of the FBI accidentally

unredacting the name of a Saudi embassy official who supposedly gave

logistical support to the 9/11 hijackers. Like this is all happening within

the same week. And you would think that this would be the type of scandal

that would ultimately have somebody removed from office.


HAYES:  Yeah, I mean at issue here, it seems to me, is there is a real

question about whether basically congress wants to bar these arms sales.

There`s huge bipartisan majorities. And they basically tell congress like

screw you, it is a little bit like what they did with the border wall, and

the IG was investigating that, but it`s not clear, I mean it`s really a

question of whether what they did was lawful.


HAQ:  Right. And that`s again, part of the purpose of the IG is to help

people figure out, are you abiding by the whole law? There is a lot that

happens in an administration. I get that. And I`ve had to deal with IG

investigations, we`re like wow, we`re really talking about this nitty



But this is not just the – of the three things that the IG was

investigating, this is not just fancy dinner parties with CEOs and wasting

taxpayer dollars, right, it is not also the, you were using professional

staff to run personal errands. Normally that would be bad enough. This is,

you are fundamentally undermining foreign policy objectives that have been

set for decades, that congress is looking to do, the humanitarian

objectives, and just not operating in concert with the way government is

supposed to work.


For what reason, right? That`s hard to understand. Other than the fact that

the Saudis like to do business in a way that Donald Trump does. They like

to buy their way into countries and buy access into things. I think that`s

part of the connection that Jared Kushner has had with Muhammad bin Salman,

and this is really what Saudi Arabia is relying on now is a relationship

with the Trump administration.


Biden has already said that he wants to make Saudi Arabia a pariah state.

Congress on both sides of the aisle have spoken out, so the Saudis,

ironically, after decades of being entrenched with the United States, are

really losing ground here, and Trump is their Holy Grail.


HAYES:  Final question, Pompeo, you mentioned Pompeo has been having these

sort of soirees at the State Department, these salons they call them

Madison dinners, I guess. His wife is involved. She`s keeping Gmail list.

And a lot of people view this as like he is preparing for 2024. He wants to

run for president, that`s why he won`t run for senate in Kansas, which he

has declined. It does seem to me, though, that there is a lot of skeletons

in the closet that like right now he`s sort of in the aura of Donald Trump

and things aren`t penetrating, but I`m not sure that`s going to last.


HAQ:  I will say there is a legitimate reason to have CEOs, American

manufacturers, or companies, who want to do business overseas, come to the

State Department, and do what we call economic diplomacy. That`s fair.


That`s not what we were seeing with the Pompeo meetings. Most of these

organizations were not looking to expand overseas or build foreign ties.

They seemed to be friends who, on top of – you know, they were paid for,

wined and dined,with harpists. And I cannot imagine if Hillary Clinton had

a harpist at a State Department event, how Pompeo would have reacted when

he was in congress.


HAYES:  That is a great, great point. And I can sort of imagine.


Nayyera Haq, thank you so much for making the time.


That is ALL IN for this evening. “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts now, as it

does every night at 9:00.


Good evening, Rachel.







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