CDC guidance TRANSCRIPT: 5/13/20, The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests:
Jason Dearen, Ashish Jha, Tony Evers, Vy Mai
Transcript:

 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  That is “ALL IN” for this evening.

 

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now with Ali Velshi in for Rachel.

 

Good evening, Ali.

 

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris. Good to see you. Have

yourself a great evening, and we`ll see you tomorrow.

 

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Rachel is off tonight,

but she`ll be back here tomorrow.

 

And there is a ton going on today. Just this evening, we got breaking news

out of Wisconsin that that state`s Supreme Court has struck down the

state`s stay-at-home order, which the governor had issued to combat the

spread of the coronavirus. The state`s Republican-controlled legislature

sued Wisconsin`s Democratic governor, over the order. The case went to the

state`s conservative majority high court.

 

And this evening, the court ruled against the governor, saying that his

order is unconstitutional. Now, this is the first time that a state Supreme

Court has thrown out a state stay-at-home order in its entirety. And this

has huge implications for the state of Wisconsin, and potentially for other

states as well.

 

Michigan`s Republican legislature, for instance, is also suing its state`s

Democratic governor, over her stay-at-home order. We have more on the story

coming up in just a minute, including a live interview with Wisconsin`s

governor.

 

But there`s a lot to get to tonight. Stocks fell today, a lot. The Dow

Jones industrial Average sank more than 500 points, after Donald Trump`s

hand-picked Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome Powell, said the economy could

suffer long-term damage if Congress did not step in with more financial

support. House Democrats did unveil a giant relief package yesterday to

President Trump and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell saying they

are in no rush to work on new legislation.

 

Congress has been having some hearings this week, although they look a

little bit different these days. Yesterday, we saw the country`s top health

officials testify, before a Senate committee, remotely, because they were

all self quarantining after coming into contact with coronavirus-positive

staffers at the White House.

 

At that hearing yesterday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government`s top

infectious disease expert, cautioned against opening up the country too

quickly. A warning that President Trump today says he, quote, totally

disagrees with. He called Fauci`s answer, quote, unacceptable. Donald

Trump, who told people bleach might work, told the people that Anthony

Fauci`s comments were unacceptable.

 

One can only imagine what the president`s going to say about tomorrow`s

scheduled hearing in which a House committee is going to hear testimony

from the Trump administration`s ousted vaccine chief. Dr. Rick Bright, this

man, filed a whistle-blower complaint, claiming he was removed from his

post because he resisted pressure to flood coronavirus hot spots with

unproven drugs that were being touted by Donald Trump. According to

Bright`s testimony, he will tell Congress tomorrow that the U.S. faces the

quote, darkest winter in modern history, end quote, if it does not develop

a more coordinated national response to the coronavirus before an expected

resurgence later this year.

 

Quote, if we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in

science, I fear the pandemic will get far course and be prolonged, causing

unprecedented illness and fatalities, end quote. That`s the prepared

testimony of the country`s top vaccine official, who was removed from his

job, in the middle of a pandemic. That hearing is storm morning at 10:00

a.m. and it promises to be a doozy.

 

But I want to start tonight by showing you a little something from a House

hearing today. This was the very first hearing, a discussion committee, the

house created, to oversee the country`s coronavirus response. As you can

see, it`s another of these hearings conducted remotely. The House is not

actually back in session in Washington. Because the House`s Democratic

leaders are trying to avoid packing hundreds of lawmakers, many of them

elderly, and their staffs, into the Capitol, while the coronavirus is still

raging across this country.

 

They are working remotely. That`s what everyone in America has been asked

to do if they are able. But at today`s remote hearing on oversight of the

government`s coronavirus response, Republicans on the committee decided

they would pack into a room at the Capitol anyway.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA), RANKING MEMBER, CORONAVIRUS SUBCOMMITTEE: 

Congress should be leaning away. We should not be the last to come back.

The subcommittee has only called member, there are literally dozens of

rooms all around this Capitol that are open right now that can hold the

briefing safely, and with 12 members, we can achieve model social

distancing. And in fact, let me show you what is going on here, we are in a

committee room, or a briefing room here in the capital, and as you can see,

the room is set up with proper social distancing, where you can safely have

all 12 members of the economy, as well as the opportunity for the public

and the press to be here, in person.

 

And so, I wish we would show that we can do what we`re asking the rest of

the country to do.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VELSHI:  All right, I`m going to tell you, this is actually what

Republicans on the committee spent a lot of their time on today at this

hearing, complaining that not everybody was in that room with them. I mean,

they talked about a few other things. They had basically no questions for

the expert public health witnesses. But they did talk about the virus being

China`s fault, and about how Democrats just don`t want to admit how well

Donald Trump has handled this pandemic, and weirdly, there was quite a bit

of talk about how terrible impeachment was.

 

But honesty, a lot of today`s hearings was Republicans being upset that

Democrats would not crowd into the small airless committee room with them,

none of them wearing masks and their staffs and reporters and sitting there

for a couple of hours creating a little germ sauna. What`s the matter,

Democrat? Too chicken to come risk coronavirus for absolutely no reason?

 

It was so weird. Honestly.

 

And also, can we listen one more time to what Steve Scalise said at the

very end there.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SCALISE:  So I wish we would show that we can do what we`re asking the rest

of the country to do.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VELSHI:  OK, here`s the thing, no one else is asking the rest of the

country to all come back to work like normal right now. That`s only Steve

Scalise and his Republican colleagues and the president who is asking the

country to do that.

 

Many – most governors, if not most governors, and local officials across

the country, Democrat and Republican, are begging people to stay home,

wherever possible. In some cases, they are mandating that people stay home.

When they are not being overruled by conservative state courts as was the

case in Wisconsin tonight.

 

Every poll shows that the vast majority of Americans favored the

restrictions that are in place to combat this virus. They are worried about

opening up too quickly and spreading the virus. Governors who have been the

most stringent about stay-at-home orders get the highest marks in polls,

from their constituents. There are now nearly 1.4 million confirmed

coronavirus cases in the United States, over 84,000 deaths. Cases are

trending upwards in lots of places around the country.

 

President Trump and his allies appear to want Americans to believe that the

only thing we can do is throw ourselves into the breach, and hope for the

best.

 

But there is actually a detailed substantive step by step guide for how

states and localities and businesses can start to open up again, slowly and

safely. We`ve just not been allowed to see it.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT):  Obviously, the plan to reopen America was meant

to be followed by more detailed nuanced guidance. So my specific question

is, why didn`t this plan get released, and if it is just being reviewed,

when is it going to be released, because states are reopening right now,

and we need this additional guidance to make those decisions.

 

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR:  The guidances that you have talked

about have gone through the inner-agency review, the comments have come

back to the CDC and I anticipate they will go back into the task force for

final review.

 

MURPHY:  But we`re reopening in Connecticut in five days, in ten days. I

mean, this guidance is not going to be useful to us in two weeks is. So, is

it week? Is it next week? When are we going to get this expertise from the

federal government?

 

REDFIELD:  I do anticipate this guidance to be posted on the CDC website

soon. I can`t tell you –

 

MURPHY:  Soon?

 

REDFIELD:  Soon.

 

MURPHY:  Soon isn`t terribly helpful. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VELSHI:  All right. So for all that the Trump administration has done to

hollow out the federal government, the Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention continues to employ some of the world`s top disease and

epidemiology experts. These are the people you turn to, when you want to

know how the country should handle a pandemic, and how we should safely try

to emerge from a pandemic, from a lockdown.

 

Now, last week, the “Associated Press” reported that the playbook that the

CDC had created to guide the country into its reopening was buried by the

White House, which apparently found the experts granular step by step

advice too hard, and onerous. Much easier to just say, open back up again,

states. You figure it out.

 

Quote: The Trump administration shelved the document created by the

nation`s top disease investigators, with step by step advice to local

authorities on how and when to reopen restaurants, and other public places,

during the still-raging coronavirus outbreak. Agency scientists have now

been told that the guidance, quote, will never see the light of day.

 

Last week, the “A.P.” was reporting that the quashed guidance was this 17-

page document, which provided detailed instruction for child care programs,

schools and day camps, faith communities, restaurants and bars, mass

transit.

 

Are you in charge of or do you work in any of these kinds of places? Here`s

what you need to know about opening up safely. It`s written.

 

The White House shelved that guidance. Well, now, thanks to further great

reporting from Jason Dearen at the “A.P.”, we know that the CDC`s guidance

was even more detailed, and more robust than we thought.

 

Jason got hold of a 63-page document that never made it out of the CDC and

into the light of day and it soon becomes clear why.

 

Quote, the White House is opening up America again plan, that was released

April 17, included some of CDC`s approach, but made clear that the onus for

reopening decisions was solely on state governors and local officials. By

contrast, the organizational tool created by the CDC advocates for a

coordinated national response to give community leaders step by step

instructions to help Americans re-enter civic life.

 

Coordinated national response. We can`t have that, can we? I mean, here`s

just one example from page five of the CDC document, quote: Travel patterns

within and between jurisdictions will impact efforts to reduce community

transmission of coronavirus. Coordinated – coordination across state and

local jurisdictions is critical, especially between jurisdictions with

different mitigation means, end quote.

 

Now, that`s easy to figure out, right, if you have an outbreak in one

county or one state, you can`t have 50 different containment plans across

the country or across the state, not unless you are planning to

hermetically seal certain counties or state. And so, the CDC`s plan is

very, very cautious about nonessential travel. Where as the White House

guidance just says that virus cases in your area have declined for a few

weeks, travel at will.

 

Quoting from today`s “A.P.” report, quote, as of Tuesday, CDC`s web page on

travel guidance during the pandemic still linked to the White House plan.

The stricter guidance is not there.

 

Now, the White House is clearly at odds with the CDC. It`s buried the

guidance that experts at the CDC have been trying to get out to the public

for a month now. But the CDC leadership may not be covering itself in glory

either. Why hasn`t this guidance been posted on the CDC`s website? Why is

the CDC director, Robert Redfield, dodging questions, from senators, like

you heard on this today, what is going on at the CDC?

 

Joining me now is the person who probably knows more about this, other than

anyone at the CDC, Jason Dearen, reporter for the “Associated Press”, who

has broken these scoops about why the White House is burying the CDC

guidance.

 

Jason, thank you again for your time tonight.

 

The CDC director, Robert Redfield, said yesterday, that the new guidance

would be coming soon. What do you – what do you make of that? What does

soon mean? Is there really an effort to get this guidance published?

Because it is, as you are reporting, remarkably detailed information that

people need.

 

JASON DEAREN, ASSOCIATED PRESS REPORTER:  Well, first of all, thanks for

having me, Ali, I appreciate it. Yes, there has been an effort at CDC to

gets this guidance published for weeks now.

 

And what the emails I obtained showed is starting in early April, the

guidance was sent to the White House for approval from CDC, and it got

caught in kind of a logjam there for weeks. And by the 30th, that`s when

the CDC was told it will never see the light of day, according to three

different CDC officials who spoke to us on condition of anonymity. And it

was only after our first report about that being buried on May 7th, that we

heard that pieces of it were revived again.

 

So there is some move now to get some of the decision trees, and other

pieces of this out. We still don`t know when that would happen. Other than,

you know, we`ve released it, with our stories, we`ve linked to the

documents, so people can access them that way, but in terms of official

release on CDC`s website, I don`t know.

 

VELSHI:  That`s kind of amazing. I`m grateful that we can see this stuff on

the “Associated Press” because there are restaurants and bars and churches

and mosques and synagogues, and child care centers that can use this

information right now in real-time. You have reported that states have

contacted the CDC, sort of pleading with them, for guidance, on what

they`re supposed to do.

 

What do they get when they call the CDC?

 

DEAREN:  Well, they call the CDC, I`ve been told, they can get a lot of the

guidance that would have been published otherwise if the White House would

have allowed it. But we`re talking about officials in every jurisdiction in

the country, right? So counties, cities, states – that`s a lot of

different officials making a lot of different decisions, and for the CDC to

have to field all of those kinds of calls an give that out over the phone,

to each individual local health department, isn`t very efficient, and it

certainly isn`t a coordinated and efficient response.

 

So what we, what we have instead, are, you know, an agency that has the

expertise, has done the work, but hasn`t been able to put it out yet. And

so people can call and get this information, one-on-one, but it`s much

easier that we`re just, posted as it had been during previous pandemics.

 

VELSHI:  Because that would allow for discussion about it, and inquiry into

it. What`s your sense, if you can tell me, about your, the mood, among the

rank and file of the CDC?

 

This is a world-renowned remarkably important organization that probably

for many Americans has never been more important than it is now. I imagine

the people who work there think that they are on the front lines, working

hard, to try and save lives by developing guidelines, by doing everything

else the CDC does, and yet, they seem to be getting a bit sidelined.

 

DEAREN:  Right. I don`t think it is going out on a limb to say that there

is a lot of frustration by folks who I have spoken with, who have worked

there for years, or who have kind of watched the way things have gone on

with this national emergency, as opposed to previous ones. So, yes, it`s

definitely frustration, but people are still working, and they`re still

providing this expertise. It`s just not getting out as it should.

 

So I think the, some of folks that I`ve spoken with, they`re continuing to

just kind of soldier on, and do the work, because they know it`s important,

and it needs to be done. It`s our public health at stake.

 

VELSHI:  God bless the people of the CDC and public health officials across

the country who are trying to keep us safe and thank you, Jason. This is

very, very important reporting that you have been doing.

 

Jason Dearen is a reporter for the “Associated Press”. Congratulations on

this latest scoop. And thank you again for joining us tonight.

 

DEAREN:  Thank you, Ali.

 

VELSHI:  The United States is woefully behind other nations in scaling up

early testing capacity, allowing the virus that causes COVID-19 to spread

more rapidly than it might have, and that`s inarguable or it should be.

 

But the president and the allies in Congress have adopted a new line,

forget what we said before about testing, back when we said that anyone who

wants a test can get a test, our testing capacity is totally fine the way

it is and anyone who thinks we should have more early testing is actually

part of a Democratic witch hunt to make the president look bad. That`s how

things played out today at the new special House committee hearing on

coronavirus.

 

Dr. Ashish Jha, professor of local public health at Harvard, was called as

a witness to talk about America`s testing capacity. Instead, Dr. Jha found

himself on the receiving end of a political attack from one of the

president`s favorite members of Congress.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DR. ASHISH JHA, HARVARD T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH PROFESSOR:  It

was inadequate testing that precipitated the national shutdown. We must not

make the same mistakes again as we open up our nation.

 

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH):  It`s a committee designed to go after the

president. The very first witness just two minutes ago said it was

inadequate testing that initiated the shutdown. I thought the shutdown was

initiated to bend the curve so our health care system wasn`t overwhelmed.

We got a political statement from the very first witness.

 

JHA:  Let me start off by quickly responding to Congressman Jordan`s

statement that my opening remarks were partisan. They were not. Every

expert on the left, right, and center, agrees that we have to shut our

economy down because the outbreak got too big. The outbreak got too big

because we didn`t have a testing infrastructure that allowed us to hand-put

our arms around the outbreak, and so, testing was the fundamental failure

that forced our country to shut down.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VELSHI:  Now, the questions that lawmakers should be asking now, are given

how much this virus has already spread, in communities across the country,

how much more testing capacity will we need, before we can make informed

decisions about reopening. What kinds of tests should we be relying on?

 

Remember there are several kinds of tests. There are the kind that tell you

if you got coronavirus. And there are the kind that tell you, you had it.

And there are some questions about those, too.

 

And when if ever are we going to know just how many people are or have been

infected by this disease, and whether or not they have immunity. Well,

guess what? I`ve got just the person to answer all of those questions.

 

Joining us now, Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health

Institute.

 

And at this point in the crisis, Dr. Jha, thank you for joining me.

 

Is there a level of testing and tracing that we can do that will allow us

to make the decisions about reentry or reopening in a way that is not as

political as it has become?

 

JHA:  Yes, so thank you for having me on. It`s really actually surprising

that I think a couple of members of Congress decided that testing people,

to keep them safe is a partisan issue. We had on our panel two former

Republican FDA commissioners. Both of whom have come out often saying we

have inadequate testing and we need to ramp up testing.

 

It`s really stunning. As I said, there`s nobody in America, no public

health official in America, that I have met, who thinks testing is not an

important part of this. So, to your question, is there a level? There is.

And experts have some level of disagreement about what that is.

 

No one thinks we`re meeting the current level that currently we have

enough, but our assessment is we probably need about 900,000 tests a day,

other people think we need more than that, but whoever you listen to, we

all agree we need a lot more testing than we have.

 

VELSHI:  I want to ask you about testing, because back on March 6th when

the president says anyone who needs a test can get a test. It wasn`t true

then, but that was about coronavirus testing, that was see if you had

corona, if you were experiencing coronavirus. Now, we`re talking a lot

about antivirus – antibody testing, to see if you had it.

 

And a new study found that the Abbott lab tests that were used for

coronavirus, that are being used by the White House, could be missing as

many as 48 percent of positive cases. Now, Abbott Labs is strongly

disputing this study, and points out that it is not peer-reviewed, as we

often expect studies to be these days.

 

We have seen issues with smaller testing companies across different states.

What do we know – what do we know about the reliability of the tests that

are out there?

 

JHA:  So, most of the tests, for the virus, are pretty reliable, but they

do have a certain false negative rate. And false negatives are bad, right,

because if you have the virus, but the test says you don`t have the virus,

that`s a problem. Because that means you can go out and spread the disease

to others thinking you`re safe, and that`s, you know, whether that rate is

15 percent, which is sort of the floor of what we know about the Abbott

test, this study suggests it may be as much as 50 percent.

 

Either way, we need better tests, and we just have to know that testing is

very important, but it is not the end all, be all, testing, along with

social distancing, wearing masks, tracing and isolation, all of that is a

package of activities we need to engage in, to keep America safe.

 

VELSHI:  And that package of activities doesn`t lend itself to the

patchwork that we decided to employ in this country, where governors do

something, sometimes they align with other governors, some local

municipalities are doing something. So in reference to the conversation I

was just having with Jason Dearen, it would be helpful to have a broadly

agreed upon protocol for how to do this.

 

JHA:  Yes, you know, there has been a long-standing deal in public health,

and the deal goes something like this. The states run public health. But

the federal government, through the CDC, provides detailed guidance,

provides technical and often financial support, and it`s a federal state

partnership. And what we`re seeing in the middle of the biggest pandemic in

a century, is that one of those two partners is kind of is absent. The

federal government through the CDC has not been keeping up its ends of the

bargain.

 

So, do states have a role? Absolutely they have a role. But do they need

the CDC to help guide and provide resources? Absolutely. They can`t do it

on their own.

 

And that`s what we`re expecting – that`s what the federal government seems

to be expect can the states to do.

 

VELSHI:  Now, the Abbott test that we`re discussing, that is a test that is

given to people at the White House to see if they have coronavirus at the

moment. There is also this antibody testing that I think a lot of people

are eager to get, because they want to know if they were exposed to

coronavirus, do they have some immunity, can they get back to work. I think

we`re all eager to get back to some form of normalcy.

 

Are they reliable?

 

JHA:  Yes. So some of them are. Look, there are probably 70 different

antibody tests out there. But three or four of them actually are quite

reliable. So, it`s really critical if you`re going to get this test through

your doctor, to make sure you`re getting one of those.

 

And right now, we think somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of Americans

have probably been infected, and have antibodies. So, don`t be disappointed

if you turn out to be in that 90 to 95 percent who don`t. Obviously, if you

do, there is good reason to believe that you will have immunity. Though

we`re not 100 percent sure yet that antibodies confer immunity, but I think

more and more evidence suggests that they probably do.

 

VELSHI:  Dr. Jha, thank you for your testimony. Thank you for the work that

you`re doing. Thank you for the work that your colleagues at Harvard Global

Health are doing. And to all of the public health experts in this country

who are keeping us informed. I appreciate your time tonight.

 

JHA:  Thank you.

 

VELSHI:  Much more ahead here tonight. In just a moment, we are going to be

joined live by Wisconsin`s Democratic governor, the state`s conservative-

dominated Supreme Court, just overruled his state at home order. We`re

going to hear from him, next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

COLIN ROTH, WISCONSIN ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL:  The cases in Brown

County in the span of two weeks surged over ten-fold, from 60 to almost

800. And that`s two weeks that would be required for emergency rule making,

so look –

 

PATIENCE ROGGENSACK, CHIEF JUSTICE:  Due to the meat-packing though, that`s

where the Brown County got the flare, it wasn`t just the regular folks in

Brown County.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VELSHI:  It wasn`t just the regular folks in Brown County. It was the

meatpacking workers.

 

The chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court made waves with that

comment from the bench this month, saying the coronavirus cases in one

Wisconsin County had to do with the meat packing plant. Not regular folks.

 

Tonight, we`ve got a ruling in the matter at hand. In a 4-3 decision, the

Wisconsin high Supreme Court has thrown out the stay-at-home order, put in

place by Wisconsin`s Democratic Governor Tony Evers. The case was brought

by the Republican-controlled state legislature, as `The Milwaukee Journal

Sentinel” reports tonight, this ruling, is the first time that a high court

has thrown out a state-level restriction designed to stop the spread of the

coronavirus.

 

It also portends a potential stalemate on policy at a critical moment. The

Milwaukee paper reports, quote: It will force the Democratic governor and

Republican-controlled legislature, to work together on the state`s response

to the ebbs and flows of the outbreak, a dynamic the two sides have rarely

been able to achieve before.

 

Joining us, Tony Evers, the governor of Wisconsin.

 

Governor, good it see you again. Thank you for making time for us tonight.

 

GOV. TONY EVERS (D), WISCONSIN:  Thank you, Ali.

 

VELSHI:  The Supreme Court in its ruling has said that it was not

challenging your power to declare emergencies, quote, but in the case of a

pandemic, which lasts month after month, the governor cannot rely on

emergency powers indefinitely.

 

This is a legal argument that I think the entire nation is looking at

because we have sort of decided our governors are the ones who are going to

take the evidence and make decisions about whether we stay home or go back

to work, based on the best information they can get. And your court is

saying, you can`t, in this environment.

 

EVERS:  Yes, it was – it was four members of the court who made a decision

that wasn`t based on statute, precedence, or the facts, unfortunately. And

the sad thing about it, Ali, is that we have been working very hard, over

the past several weeks, and months, in the state of Wisconsin, the people

of Wisconsin have stuck to it, staying at home, making sure they are doing

the physical distancing, and all of the stuff that is important.

 

We`ve been making good progress. We`re one of the lowest number of cases

per capita, in the Midwest, and we`re doing the right things.

 

And unfortunately, in this one fell swoop, four judges who didn`t really

care about what the statutes talk about have thrown our state into chaos.

And that is such a sad thing for the state of Wisconsin. We`ve worked so

hard, the people of Wisconsin have worked so hard, to have this chaotic

situation at this point in time.

 

VELSHI:  So this would be very worrisome, if you`re in Wisconsin, because

what you`re looking for, is the best information, and the best guidance, on

how to stay home, or reopen on a staged basis, and what the court is saying

is that you now have to work out political issues, with the legislature.

 

How does that actually work in practical terms, because there was a stay-

at-home order? Does that go away? Do you have the ability to make interim

orders, or orders that expire after a short amount of time? What happens

next for Wisconsin?

 

EVERS:  We`re the Wild West, Ali. There are – there are no restrictions at

all across the state of Wisconsin.

 

The Tavern League in this state has sent messages, emails to their members

saying, we`re open tonight.

 

So, at this point in time, there`s no – no orders. There`s nothing that`s

compelling people to do anything other than having chaos here.

 

And, of course, you know, you know, people are smart in Wisconsin. They`re

not idiots. They`re going to do whatever they can to make sure that they`re

safe, but when you have no requirements anymore, that`s a problem.

 

And we`re just leaving it open, we`re going to have more cases, we`re going

to have more deaths, and it`s a sad – it`s a sad occasion for the state. I

can`t tell you how disappointed I am.

 

The people of Wisconsin have worked so hard to get to where we`re at. Just

yesterday, or days ago, Marquette University said that 69 percent of the

people that they polled support our efforts around this issue. So, it`s not

like things haven`t been going well. We`ve really done a good job.

 

And also, Ali, I just got to say, early on, I met with business owners

across the state, really important folks that are doing great stuff for the

state of Wisconsin, and they told me one thing that I`ll never forget. They

said that people of Wisconsin have to be comfortable and confident in their

health, and safety, and if they`re not, they`re not going to be good to

consumers and, frankly, they`re not going to be good workers.

 

VELSHI:  Yes.

 

EVERS:  And we have – we have reached that point tonight. We are – we are

the Wild West. There are no rules, regulations, and the Tavern League has

said open your doors and it`s not a good place.

 

VELSHI:  Governor, what is your next step then? What authority is left to

you? And what will you do next?

 

EVERS:  Well, we have no authority right now. It`s been taken away. So,

we`ll meet with the legislatures.

 

But their answer – first of all, the Republicans have never had a plan. We

keep asking for it. When they took us to court, and they sued, they said

they had a plan, haven`t seen that yet either.

 

So I`m disappointed in that, but we`ll meet with them tomorrow, but their

answer is going to be much through an administrative rule. That`s what they

told the court. That`s what the court is saying.

 

An administrative rule in the state of Wisconsin takes at least, at least

two weeks, at least. And we`re already started tonight. We`re – different

counties are saying “bring it on”, we have other counties saying, “no, we

don`t want this to happen.” So, suddenly, it is a 72-county affair, which

is going to be very confusing to people in the state.

 

VELSHI:  That is indeed. The Wild West is a good analogy of that.

 

Governor, thank you for joining me tonight – Wisconsin Governor Tony

Evers.

 

EVERS:  Thanks, Ali.

 

VELSHI:  All right. We got more late breaking news to get to next. It

concerns Michael Flynn. The judge in his case appears to be less than

amused by the Justice Department`s attempt to throw the case out. What we

learned tonight is coming up next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

VELSHI:  Less than two years into a seven-year sentence, he is out. Paul

Manafort, the president`s 2016 campaign chairman, was released from a

Pennsylvania prison today amid fears of coronavirus infections at federal

prisons. The Trump ally who was convicted of tax and bank fraud as part of

Robert Mueller`s investigation will now spend the majority of his sentence

in home confinement with his wife in northern Virginia.

 

The Bureau of Prisons had been prioritizing for release inmates who had

either served over half their sentences or had less than 18 months

remaining. As the “Washington Post” notes, Manafort is not in either

category.

 

Manafort`s release stands in stark contrast to fellow inmate and former

Trump associate Michael Cohen, Trump`s longtime personal lawyer who pleaded

guilty to lying to Congress before later testifying against the president.

As the pandemic set in, Cohen was initially told he would be released and

allowed to serve the remainder of his sentence under home confinement,

before that decision was reversed. He remains in a minimum security prison

in Otisville, New York.

 

So Cohen remains in prison. Manafort is sprung free.

 

Also not in prison, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.

His case was dropped by the Justice Department on Attorney General Bill

Barr`s orders last week. Despite Flynn having pled guilty two times for

lying to the FBI.

 

But the U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan appears reluctant to put

the matter to rest at least very quickly. We got the first hit yesterday

when Sullivan invited outside parties to file legal briefs weighing in on

the Department of Justice`s unprecedented decision. And in a new twist

tonight, Sullivan has appointed a retired judge to argue against the

Department of Justice`s decision to drop the case. He`s also asked that

judge to make a nonbinding recommendation on whether Flynn could be held in

criminal contempt for perjury.

 

Now, the move came after the president today again praised Flynn, calling

him a great gentleman, and a real fighter. The president also continued to

push the unfounded and hot on the right Obama-gate conspiracy theory that

President Obama, Vice President Biden, and others were somehow involved in

an illegal effort to target Flynn or something like that. It is a

conspiracy theory that even the president and his allies seem to be having

some difficulty explaining.

 

Today, Republican senators released a list compiled by the acting director

of intelligence, Rick Grenell of over a dozen Obama administration

officials who had made requests to unmask the names of Americans in U.S.

intelligence intercepts. Requests which they had no way of knowing would

reveal Flynn`s identity, also requests which all of them were fully

authorized to make.

 

Vice President Biden responded tonight, with a statement. Quote: These

documents simply indicate the breadth and depth of concern across the

American government, including among career officials, over intelligence

reports of Michael Flynn`s attempts to undermine ongoing American national

security policy, through discussions with Russian officials, or other

foreign representatives.

 

Importantly, none of these individuals could have known Flynn`s identity

beforehand, end quote.

 

In other words, anything to distract from the real public health crisis

that is facing this country, as well as this real non-fabricated news

tonight, in the Flynn case, that the judge seemed anything but inclined to

let this matter go.

 

So as Rachel would say, watch this space.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

VELSHI:  The headlines come from all over, after a round of mass testing,

nearly 900 workers at the Smithfield meatpacking plant in Sioux Falls,

South Dakota, have turned up positive for coronavirus. At the Tyson pork

plant in Waterloo, Iowa, there are now over 1,000 confirmed cases and

another death this week. In Nebraska, 212 workers test positive for

coronavirus after mass testing at the Tyson plant in Madison.

 

And now, in Nebraska, the governor there is not saying which plants have

coronavirus, so we`re not getting that kind of statewide information. But

in Crete, Nebraska, we do know that at least 200 cases are tied to an

outbreak at the Smithfield meatpacking plant there.

 

After dozens tested positive at the end of April, Smithfield Foods

announced that it would be closing the plant but after the president issued

his executive order declaring meatpacking plants essential, the plant

changed course and decided to stay open without testing everyone.

 

Now, that led to protests over conditions at the plant.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  Saturday, in Crete, the second round of drive-by protests

against the lack of COVID safety conditions at Smithfield Foods. Protesters

were seen donning signs down Main Street with signs like dispensable, not

disposable and they didn`t get the potential two-week closure they were

hoping to get.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VELSHI:  All right. Many of these counties, the meatpacking plants are the

main employer. They wield a tremendous amount of power. And now, with the

president invoking the Defense Production Act to keep the plants open, they

are effectively shielded from liability.

 

Behind the case, the case numbers are individuals who are working in a very

difficult and dangerous job. I want to introduce you to Vy Mai. She`s an

immigrant from Vietnam, who returned from her last semester in college in

Pennsylvania to go home to Nebraska to be with her family. Not long after

she got there, her grandfather got sick with coronavirus and died.

 

She worried that she infected him but after her entire family decided to

get tested, her results came back negative. Her aunt and uncle both tested

positive but were asymptomatic and turns out both her aunt and uncle are

employees of the Crete Smithfield plant. The family believes they infected

their grandfather and after being hospitalized with coronavirus, Vy Mai`s

grandmother returned home today.

 

But Vy Mai had a message for Smithfield about her grandfather. Quote: I

want you to know he died in the hospital alone, isolated, and scared. I

want you to know what excuse you have – I want to know what excuse you

have for not shutting down a plant with 50-plus confirmed cases. And most

importantly, I want you to see him as a person who`s been affected by this

and not just another statistic of your carelessness. I want you to know he

died in the hospital alone, isolated and scared.

 

The company sent her a note saying they too ache at the devastation wrought

by COVID-19. Quote: We are deeply sorry for your loss.

 

Vy Mai will graduate college remotely this Saturday.

 

Joining me, Ms. Mai.

 

Thank you for joining us tonight. And I`m sorry for your loss.

 

You have a family that`s involved in what is always – what has always been

a particularly dangerous profession. People don`t necessarily realize how

dangerous meatpacking is in this country but it has become suddenly more

dangerous and, you know, you risk your life now by going into these places.

 

VY MAI, GRANDDAUGHTER OF COVID-19 VICTIM:  Yes, actually, my aunt and uncle

just got retested and they fully plan on going back once they get the

results.

 

VELSHI:  Let`s talk a bit about your family. Because you`re right, these

aren`t numbers. These are people`s lives.

 

Your grandfather I believe it was was in the Vietnam War. He was a soldier

for the South. He was taken prisoner in the North. He was in a

concentration camp for ten years and then he arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska,

back in 1994.

 

MAI:  Yes, that`s correct.

 

VELSHI:  And tell me a bit about what his life was like. He turned 80 years

old last Saturday.

 

MAI:  Yes, my grandfather was a hard-working immigrant. He came here and he

started working for I believe it was called Cooks (ph) Food Processing and

he worked there until he retired. And when he retired, he would take care

of me and my sister since both my parents worked and everyone else worked.

 

He would come pick me up from school every day until I turned 16, and then

he would continue to do that for my sister.

 

VELSHI:  That`s incredible.

 

Your grandmother, what was her experience? She got COVID as well but she

has recovered and is now out?

 

MAI:  Yes. She luckily came home today. She has to quarantine for another

72 hours and if her fever goes down, that means that she will fully

recover.

 

VELSHI:  What do you – you were saying your aunt and uncle, who did get

infected, I guess maybe they have some immunity now that they have

antibodies but they are going back to work and these plants are going to

stay open.

 

MAI:  Yes. That is as much as I know. I was the one who arranged for their

first testing and arranged for the second testings as well.

 

VELSHI:  How do you feel about the response you got from Smithfield after

you posted your comments?

 

MAI:  You know, I was really heartbroken by their response. I thought,

because of the media coverage because of how everyone responded, they would

give me a more sincere response, but I don`t – I`m not even convinced they

read my message or looked at the responses that everyone else gave them.

 

VELSHI:  Your grandfather obviously knew about your impending graduation. I

imagine he`s going to be with you in spirit and he`s going to be really

proud of the fact that you`re living the dream that he came to America for.

 

MAI:  I really hope so. I hope I`m making him proud.

 

VELSHI:  I`m sure you are. Vy, I`m sorry for your loss, but thank you for

being with us tonight and for sharing your story, and congratulations on

your graduation.

 

Well, we`ve got one more –

 

MAI:  Thank you.

 

VELSHI:  – bit of news to get to tonight.

 

My pleasure.

 

We have one more bit of news to get to tonight. Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

VELSHI:  This is a C-130 military transport plane. It arrived at Joint Base

Andrews in Maryland yesterday. As you can see from the signage on the side,

this is not a U.S. military plane. It`s a South Korean plane.

 

It arrived in this country on a humanitarian mission to deliver 500,000

protective masks to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Those masks were

donated by South Korea to the V.A. as a way to honor U.S. veterans of the

Korean War.

 

While those masks were no doubt greatly appreciated, the donation is

somewhat surprising given the rosy picture that the V.A. has repeatedly

painted about its PPE situation. For weeks, the department maintained its

PPE supply was robust, despite reporting to the contrary.

 

V.A. Secretary Robert Wilkie eventually admitted supplies were not optimal,

but that was after repeated happy talk from the agency. Happy talk that

stood in sharp contrast to what we heard from people actually working on

the ground in V.A. hospitals.

 

For example, we recently told you that some workers at a V.A. Medical

Center in Charleston, South Carolina, were given just two face masks and

told them to last – make them last the entire month. Despite concerns

about PPE, the Department of Veterans Affairs is pushing to resume regular

operations at its medical centers, which would mean expanding medical

services and offering certain elective procedures.

 

Against that backdrop, V.A. health care workers have been demanding hazard

pay. The V.A., for its part, says that is unwarranted. In a statement, the

department said, quote: Hazard pay is to compensate employees when risks

cannot be reasonably mitigated and employees cannot be safely protected,

and that is the opposite of the current environment at V.A., end quote.

 

Quite a statement. It would be interesting to see what V.A. Secretary

Robert Wilkie has to say about that. Good thing he`s testifying before the

House Appropriations Committee next Tuesday.

 

Well, that does it for us tonight. Rachel is going to be back here tomorrow

and I`ll see you this weekend at 8:00 a.m. on my show “VELSHI.”

 

Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.

 

Good evening, Lawrence.

 

                                                                                                               

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