DNC chair TRANSCRIPT: 5/20/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I`m afraid the election
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
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.
JOCELYN BENSON, SECRETARY OF STATE, MICHIGAN: Yes. Well, in Michigan –
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
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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CDC: Well, you know, I`m a general
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
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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
NAYYERA HAQ, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT ADVISER: I mean, there`s IGs in every
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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prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
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