COVID response TRANSCRIPT: 5/19/20, The Rachel Maddow Show
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: But then when you think about the scope of the
crisis that likely is going to be inherited by this administration, it`s
quite daunting and this choice is going to be quite consequential.
Jonathan, it`s always great to see you. Thank you so much for joining us
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Great to see you, Chris. Thank you.
HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Much
And thanks to you at home for joining us. Tomorrow something to watch for,
tomorrow afternoon. They`re calling it a national funeral, a day of
And we have seen these kinds of protest actions before here and there. But
tomorrow, as our country approaches 100,000 Americans dead in the
coronavirus crisis, we think that protests like this are going to be
happening in roughly 20 different states tomorrow afternoon, including in
Washington, D.C., where we have seen a protest like this outside the
president`s hotel. Tomorrow, we expect to see a funeral procession of at
least a couple hundred cars, to try to bring home to the administration the
consequences of how terrible our response has been to the epidemic so far.
Again, we do think there will be protests under this national funeral day
of mourning rubric all over the country tomorrow. But the one in
Washington, we`re expecting to be a large funeral procession that is
apparently going to proceed from the home of the – the Washington home of
the leader of the Senate, Senator Mitch McConnell, to the White House, and
clergies are expected to speak in memoriam for the dead. Relatives of those
killed by the coronavirus are expected to lay out body bags outside the
White House grounds tomorrow.
We know of planned similar protests tomorrow, not just in Washington. Also
at the president`s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. Also at the
federal building in Little Rock, Arkansas. Also in Columbia, South
Carolina. We know of planned protests in Georgia, Michigan, New Hampshire,
Illinois, all over.
That`s something to watch for tomorrow afternoon. The United States does
have over 92,000 deaths from coronavirus now, by far the largest number of
deaths in the world. Our outbreak is now over 1.5 million cases. Again, the
largest outbreak on earth by far.
It`s worth keeping that in perspective though. Our epidemic is now so
massive compared to every other country in the world, it`s almost a
qualitatively different thing. I mean, look, we are – we are 1.5 million
plus cases right now, so that makes us first. But the second, third, and
fourth largest outbreaks on earth – the second, third, and fourth ranked
countries in terms of the size of their outbreaks, they`re all between
250,000 and 300,000.
Our epidemic is five times larger than the next largest outbreak on earth,
which is in Russia. It`s also slightly bone chilling, slightly eerie at
least to see that the leaders of the countries with the four largest
outbreaks on earth are Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the U.K., who has
been called the British Trump, President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil who`s
been called the Latin-American Trump, President Trump himself, and
President Vladimir Putin of Russia. I mean, it`s Boris, Bolsonaro, Putin,
and Trump now overseeing the four worst outbreaks on earth, not just
because they`re countries with large populations but because they`re
countries that have radically mishandled the virus.
I mean – and the four of them, you know, they do have some links and
similarities in terms of their style in politics. When it comes to the
virus though, it`s not hard to see how they all ended up with the four
largest out of control outbreaks on earth. All four of them took a stance
early on that it was somehow either un-macho or magically unnecessary to do
anything to try to slow the spread of the virus. And so they didn`t do
anything to slow the spread of the virus or they at least undermined those
efforts with their blow hardiness and skepticism about the public health
And now, I mean, we`re five times worse off than any other country on earth
under president Trump. But president Trump at the top of the heap is in
company he very much likes. In terms of world leader who is have blown this
crisis the most disastrously and paid for it in the lives of their
I should also just mention incidentally that in Brazil, where President
Bolsonaro is in charge, they have a raging out of control epidemic right
now. Interesting, that country`s president, Bolsonaro, like our president,
is publicly going whole hog that the idea that the malaria drugs
chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are some sort of miracle cure for
President Bolsonaro in Brazil is expected tomorrow to announce a national
expanded protocol for the use of chloroquine. He reportedly fired the
health minister because the health minister wouldn`t sign off on this
cockamamie plan. But that`s going to be announced tomorrow in Brazil. And
Boris Johnson`s government in the U.K. has also just announced a new bulk
purchase of hydroxychloroquine.
It`s like we`re now learning all the weird markers of the most poorly
managed large disastrous epidemics on earth in the era of coronavirus. I
mean, first, look for Trumpiness or Trump friendliness. Second, does your
world leader fetishize a random malaria drug that doesn`t seem effective
against this virus but this leader nevertheless insists it`s a miracle
So far, Trumpiness, weird attraction to hydroxychloroquine, and – well,
third factor, I don`t even want – I don`t even want to tell you a third
thing I could tell you about all these guys but I won`t. But we are seeing
a weird sort of stripe, a similar stripe among the kinds of leaders who are
handling this the worst.
Domestically, the American response has a pretty distinct theme song at
this point in the epidemic. It sings like this in the headlines every
single day now. Maryland reports largest rise yet in coronavirus cases four
days after reopening. We`re also just seeing headlines like this from all
over the country every day now.
Texas, North Carolina, Arizona seeing rising cases as they reopen. Quote,
Texas saw it`s largest one-day increase in cases on Saturday. North
Carolina also saw it`s largest single day jump on Saturday. Arizona
reported close to a record high as well. Seven-day average in new cases in
all three of those states has been rising. The data with the risks of the
states reopening amid ongoing outbreaks and, boy, do we have ongoing
And they`re off the coasts, they`re in the middle of the country, and in
many cases, they`re in rural cares or small cities. I mean, the most new
cases in the past two weeks, Sioux City, Iowa. The most new deaths in the
last two weeks, Gallop, New Mexico.
The highest daily growth rate in cases right now, rural Northfield,
Minnesota. The fastest growing death rate in the country right now,
Huntsville, Texas. I mean, you`ve seen all this footage, all these weeks
now of governors and state legislatures and sometimes mayors arguing we`re
not New York City, so we don`t need to worry about this. We need our
restaurants open and our churches open. We`re not New York so we should be
Yeah, well, you know, New York – you`re not New York. You`re right. New
York City`s epidemic is going away. They`re on the far side of their curve
and coming down more every day. Where it`s growing is all these places that
are emphatically not New York. And that shouldn`t be a comfort at this
The CDC just today publishing a case study in the MMWR, Morbidity and
Mortality Weekly Report, documenting a church in rural Arkansas where the
pastor and his wife held services because they thought it would be fine.
They thought the virus certainly wasn`t there.
It turns out they were both positive. It turns out they infected 35 people
in that church service. They infected 61 people in total in the community.
That has left four people dead from that outbreak already.
They don`t say exactly where that is, but it`s described by the CDC as
attendees at a rural Arkansas church in the second week of March. More than
60 infected, four dead already from the pastor and his wife.
But even as that sort of character of our local outbreaks now and the
widespread far flung locales where you can see the outbreak at its worst
right now, the national response, the federal response continues to be
I mean, the president is insisting to the public now that not only is he
taking this unproven miracle drug and it`s great, he loves it. He says he`s
definitely taking it. But he says he`s taking it as a preventive, as
something that`s going to prevent him from getting the coronavirus. It`s
like it`s a fake vaccine or something. He also says – can`t just leave it
at that. He also says all the front line workers across the country are
also secretly without telling you, they`re all secretly taking this drug as
well. They`re all taking it themselves to keep themselves from getting
There is no sign that front line health workers are doing that in any
significant workers. There`s no clinical sign whatsoever that the drug
offers any preventive effect in terms of the keeping yourself from getting
the coronavirus. The president is saying that yeah, he`s taking it for
sure, and he`s taking it as a preventative, and all the doctors and nurses
are too. They`re just not telling you.
He`s saying it`s a preventive for this disease. He`s claiming that he`s
using it himself despite the fact that those things have no support
whatsoever. But presumably, that will not just be another random one of the
president`s lies about this crisis. Presumably that will lead lots of his
supporters to try to take this drug or get their hands on this drug as
well, which of course will just compound a new public health danger on top
of the existing one that we are trying to survive.
When I say that the national response is increasingly insane, I mean,
that`s what I mean. It`s one thing to be incompetent. It`s another thing to
add a whole new self-inflicted level of public health harm, misinformation,
and almost literal insanity in terms of understanding the facts about the
virus on top of what you already have to cope with. I mean, and all the
while the president continues to try to blame somebody else, anybody else,
for what has gone wrong here.
Yesterday, you might have seen he sent this letter to the world health
organization threatening the World Health Organization anew and saying that
the United States was going to leave the World Health Organization
altogether in the middle of the pandemic. The president`s letter, in making
that threat, cited one of the most influential peer reviewed medical
journals in the world, the British medical journal called “The Lancet”, as
part of the American government`s beef with the WHO.
The president said in his letter that the WHO had ignored reports from
early December about the virus spreading in China. The president`s letter
said, quote, we know the following: the WHO consistently ignored credible
reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even
earlier, including reports from “The Lancet” medical journal.
Well, “The Lancet” medical journal wrote to the White House today to say
oh, my god, what are you talking about? I`m paraphrasing that. But that`s
basically what they – I mean, here`s what they said. I can quote it.
Quote: This statement is factually incorrect. “The Lancet” published no
report in December 2019 referring to a virus or outbreak in Wuhan or
anywhere else in China. Like I said, oh my god, what are you talking about?
They continued, quote, the allegations leveled against WHO in President
Trump`s letter are serious and damaging to efforts to strengthen
international cooperation to control this pandemic. It is essential that
any review of the global response is based on a factually accurate account
of what took place.
It is so embar – I mean, we`re beyond shame at this point. I would like to
note for the record that it is humiliating that this is the behavior of our
government. It is so embarrassing that this is the kind of thing the White
House sends out these days in the name of the American people. I mean, did
you even look that up before you put it in the letter to the WHO? Oh,
there`s stuff in “The Lancet” in early December about Wuhan. I heard it
about – on talk radio or on “Fox and Friends” or something.
And so, without checking whether or not that was true you put it in a
letter in writing and sent it to the World Health Organization, assuming it
was true or wouldn`t matter if it wasn`t. You`re not writing a letter to
the editor. You`re not some crank calling in at the end of the Rush
Limbaugh show, right, to get your dittos. You are the White House speaking
on behalf of the government – of the most powerful and previously most
respected country on earth, and you`re just making that stuff up in front
I mean, it`s one thing to be like defunding the WHO and blaming them for
what we`ve done wrong. It`s another thing to be completely incompetent at
even trying to ineffectually insult someone whose help we need.
It`s just – but it`s endemic now. It is just the way they are. And with
this president in charge for long enough, it`s now in every aspect of the
Take, for example, the Trump appointed defense secretary, Mark Esper who a
few days ago in the Rose Garden got really excited and blurted out this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ESPER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Winning matters and we will deliver by the
end of this year a vaccine at scale to treat the American people and our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Winning matters. Winning matters. We will deliver by the end of
this year a vaccine at scale to treat the American people and our partners
He`s saying by the end of the year, we – I guess the U.S. military because
he`s the defense secretary if not the U.S. government, the United States
more broadly – we will have a vaccine that prevents people from getting
coronavirus and we will have it produced and delivered at scale by the end
of the year to treat the entire American population and the population of
our allies overseas.
Boy, would that be amazing? That would be amazing. And when you speak as
the defense secretary of the United States of America, there is some
inherent gravitas to your words. We assume that you are speaking on the
basis of information that supports your public assertions.
Well, on the basis of what information from the Defense Department did the
defense secretary say we are going to have a vaccine produced and delivered
at scale by the end of this year, not only for the entire American public
but for other countries as well? On the basis of what information did he
make this assertion?
Well, I don`t know. But “Task and Purpose” today reports on the internal
guidance of such matters that`s currently being circulated inside his
department. From the person at the Pentagon who`s actually in charge of
this stuff, the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and
global security who says something that is the opposite of what Secretary
Esper is telling the public from the Rose Garden.
Quote: The Defense Department should prepare to operate in a globally
persistent novel coronavirus environment without an effective vaccine until
at least the summer of 2021. Quote: We have a long path ahead. All
indications suggest we will be operating in a globally persistent COVID-19
That`s the actual advice inside the Defense Department for the U.S.
military in terms of planning ahead. At least think about through next
summer before you start thinking about any vaccine being here to help.
Nevertheless, there`s the secretary of defense in the Rose Garden standing
there with the president saying isn`t winning awesome? We`re going to win!
Just tell people it`s all better already.
And by the way, there`s no reason to plan for any need for long term
mitigation of any kind. It`s cool. It`s all over. It`s done. Pay no
attention to 92,000-plus dead Americans and the rising daily case numbers
in most states in the country now.
And I think that we`re now calloused and immune to the lies and happy talk
from the White House, right? It`s still feel – even if it`s the Trump-
appointed defense secretary, it feels different to have that coming from
the Pentagon, right, to have that message about winning being delivered
from the secretary of defense to the American people. It still feels
different coming from the military. But they`ve got that too.
Along those lines, if you want a nomination for the most excruciating Trump
administration self-defeating cruel policy of the day, I commend to you
this new reporting from “Politico” which finally gets to the bottom of why
it is that President Trump picked a random Wednesday in June as the day his
order would expire that provides federal funding for the deployment of
national guard troops around the country to fight the epidemic.
You`ve probably seen in your local news, news about your state or news
about notable coronavirus combating efforts around the country involving
National Guard troops. Roughly 40,000 national guardsmen, guardswomen are
deployed right now around the U.S. It`s the largest domestic deployment for
the U.S. National Guard since Hurricane Katrina. And these National Guard -
- guardsmen and guardswomen, they`re doing everything from running
community testing sites. They`re doing that all over the country.
They`re providing medical staffing in hard hit prisons that have tons of
cases. They have been running food banks and food distribution sites. These
are field hospitals. They`ve been dispatched to states like Massachusetts
to run the state nursing home program for residents and staff.
National Guard has been doing all of this work from an order from President
Trump that allowed this to be paid for by the federal government. Now after
the president did that in early March, a whole bunch of different members
of Congress and senators and governors lobbied the president to please
extend that authorization so these National Guard deployments could go
right through to the fall. The federal government would continue to pay for
them as a federal deployment.
The White House would not agree to do that, would not agree to extend them
to the fall. But weirdly, they decided that they would extend it a little
bit. They decided they would extend the federal deployment to June 24th
which is a random Wednesday in late June.
Nobody could really figure out why they picked that day until somebody
finally did the math and as politico.com reports today we`ve now realized
that if this thing ends on June 24th, that means that the federal
deployment for these 40,000 national guard troops will end at day 89 of
And ending on day 89 is really important because if their deployment had
gone to day 90, if it had gone one more day, those national guardsmen and
women would have become eligible for benefits towards retirement and
education funds under the new G.I. bill if that federal deployment had gone
one more day.
So, President Trump is cutting off their deployment. They`re calling it a
hard stop at day 89 of the federal deployment, specifically so they don`t
get their benefits.
Thank you, National Guard. This is how your president thanks you. This is
how the Trump administration wants you to know that you`re valued and
appreciated for your work.
And not only do the guardsmen and guardswomen get screwed this way
personally, but the states of course that are counting on all these folks
to do all of this front line work against coronavirus, the states are also
going to lose them all, hard stop, because they`ve all got to end this
deployment on Wednesday the 24th so they don`t get their benefits.
And in fact, the states are likely going to lose these national guardsmen
and women in early June because protocol says they`re all going to need to
go into two weeks of quarantine before they go back into civilian life,
hard stop, on June 24th. I guess they`re all going to be out of commission
in terms of the states being able to use them by June 10th.
But it`s all so the president can keep them from getting them benefits. Use
them up to the moment they might get something that might benefit them in
their retirement or in their educational benefits. I mean, that takes
planning. That takes thought.
Don`t let anybody tell you the federal government is being slow or lazy or
cumbersome here. They`re nimble when they need to be, right? They`re hard
at work devising complicated systems like that to mess with the people who
are actually putting themselves in danger and doing the hardest work to
save American lives here.
And, of course, they`re also hard at work because what better time than a
global pandemic that`s going to kill 100,000 Americans by the end of this
month, what better time to try to take advantage of the pandemic to rye to
achieve some totally unrelated but very unpopular long-term goals. For
example, we have been reporting on the president firing four different
inspectors general over the past six weeks, all of them fired late on
Friday nights hoping to avoid press scrutiny.
The inspector general of the intelligence community fired after he didn`t
go along with the Trump administration`s efforts to block a whistleblower
complaint from getting to congress. That`s the whistleblower complaint that
ultimately led to the president being impeached in December. Remember
President Trump got impeached in December.
Also, the inspector general of Health and Human Services, she was fired
after she reported hospitals were short on critical supplies including PPE
as they try to fight the epidemic. The inspector general at the State
Department fired, according to the White House, at the insistence of
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as that inspector general was investigating
multiple serious investigations against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Now, tonight, we learn that the House is investigating the replacement of
the transportation inspector general as well, while that inspector general
was reportedly investigating Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for
allegedly running her federal department in a way that was designed to
shore up her husband`s political prospects in his home state. Her husband,
of course, is Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader of the Senate.
Secretary Chao was being investigated for running the Department of
Transportation in a way that was designed to maximize benefit to her
husband`s re-election effort, while the I.G. was investigating that, that
I.G. was hustled out at the Department of Transportation and replaced.
Democrats now want to know what involvement, if any, Secretary Chao`s
office had in that one as well. And what better time for it, right?
The Republicans in the Senate today though may have outdone themselves once
and for all in an effort to try to use this particular moment in American
history to go after the Obama administration. What they have done today is
an effort to try to go after the Obama administration that appears to have
backfired quite spectacularly. I mean, it`s one thing to not do the basic
work of trying to keep Americans alive during a crisis like this when we
are running the worst international response to the coronavirus on earth
and we have the body count and the case count to show for it.
It`s another thing – it`s a sort of different, slightly lower circle of
hell to try to turn the moment of this crisis to your own political
advantage either through distraction or simply having the field to yourself
while everybody else is working on trying to save lives. But then for it to
not work, and for those efforts to actually make yourself look terrible in
the process, well, that was – that was – that was part of today`s news.
And the full story of that boomerang Republican disaster today is next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Susan Rice served as President Obama`s national security adviser in
his second term, and in the final weeks of the Obama administration, she
says she made time for one final very, very final email.
Here`s how she wrote it up in her memoir. She said, quote, the email was to
memorialize a brief meeting that President Obama hosted January 5th, with
Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, FBI Director James Comey, Vice
President Biden and myself. The discussion followed a larger meeting in
which President Obama was briefed on the version of the intelligence
community report titled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in the
Recent U.S. Election”.
Quote: Obama was explicitly not seeking to inject himself in any law
enforcement business and, as always, he insisted that we proceed by the
book to avoid inappropriate White House involvement in Justice Department
matters. Rather from a national security advantage point, Obama wanted to
know if there was any risk in fully sharing information related to Russia
with the incoming Trump team. Comey offered his best judgment, which
remains classified, and agreed that if anything change, he would let the
This is what I hurriedly write, hurriedly wrote up as a summary of that
brief conversation. I say that was a final email because Secretary Rice
sent herself that email on the day, on the last day that the Obama
administration existed before president Trump became president. She wrote
up that summary. She emailed it to herself, CC-ing her deputy as national
And the reason you do that, the reason you write a note to file is so that
something like that will be in the file, so something like that can`t be
disappeared. She memorialized that conversation.
And except for not spelling out what she described as Comey`s best judgment
on whether there was risk the in sharing information about Russia with the
incoming Trump team, that assessment from James Comey was still classified
so she couldn`t describe that. Apart from that Susan Rice described what
was in that email she wrote to herself on inauguration day 2017.
Well, Senate Republicans have decided this is a scandal and have been
trying to demonize Susan Rice from day one. They`ve also been chasing this
specific email since early 2018, since just after Susan Rice`s successor,
Mike Flynn, pled guilty for lying to the FBI about his repeated contacts
with the Russian government. And, you know, maybe it`s just because Mike
Flynn and now the Trump Justice Department want to take that guilty plea
back from Mike Flynn.
Maybe it`s because we`re about to have a presidential election and Susan
Rice has a credible possibly as Joe Biden`s vice presidential running mate.
Or maybe it`s because everybody just needs a quarantine project. But
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham this week has announced plans to subpoena
officials from the Obama administration over the Russia investigation. That
list includes Susan Rice.
And today, the Trump administration decided they would declassify that
final email from Susan Rice, the email she wrote to herself, that memo to
file. They decided they would declassify it to let everyone see the untold
evil that must lie within, the smoke coming from that smoking gun.
So, now we can see the part that was previously classified, the part that
Susan Rice wasn`t able to herself disclose because it was previously
classified. This is the part that Republicans were so sure is a terrible
smoking gun and should be shown to the American people. This is what they
wanted us all to know.
Quote, Director Comey affirmed that he is proceeding by the book as it
relates to law enforcement. Quote: From a national security perspective,
Comey said he does have some concerns that incoming national security
adviser Mike Flynn is speaking frequently with the Russian ambassador.
Comey says that could be an issue as it relates to sharing sensitive
President Obama asked if Comey was saying the national security counsel
shouldn`t pass sensitive information related to Russia to Flynn. Comey
replied potentially. He added he has no information thus far that Flynn has
passed classified information to the Russian ambassador but noted that,
quote, the level of communication is unusual.
The president asked Director Comey to inform him if anything changes the
next few weeks that would effect classified information with the incoming
team. Comey said that he would. That`s the smoking gun? Who was holding it
exactly? I mean, that`s the mystery paragraph Republicans have been hell-
bent on seeing themselves and exposing to the public.
The FBI director saying he would proceed by the book but there might be a
problem with the incoming Trump national security adviser because, yes, the
level of his communication with the Russian government is unusual and I`m
not sure we should let him see anything sensitive when it comes to
something that the Russian government ought not get their hands on.
That is what Senate Republicans have finally pried loose today. That`s
their big prize. I don`t know if this is their quarantine project but I
imagine they would prefer now that this is out, they would have preferred
to spend this time doing more jigsaw puzzles.
Joining us now is Jeremy Bash. He`s the former chief of staff of the CIA
and the Pentagon during the Obama administration.
Mr. Bash, it is nice to see you. Thank you for being here tonight.
JEREMY BASH, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE CIA AND THE PENTAGON: Hey,
MADDOW: As you can tell, I am a little bit flabbergasted by this story. I`m
a little bit up to here in terms of everything that`s going on, in terms of
the coronavirus response and the trying to blame other people, trying to
distract from other things.
Big picture though, I see this as a real on goal on the part of the Trump
administration and Republicans who are really out to blame the Obama
administration and get them by showing that they were very concerned for
good reason about Mike Flynn`s communications with the Russian government.
BASH: Yeah, Rachel. What was the context here? The FBI and the national
security agencies were looking into Russian interference. Not only that
Vladimir Putin had directed Russian interference in the 2016 election but
that they were doing so to benefit Donald Trump.
And as the Susan Rice memoir that you referenced noted, the administration
had been reviewing a classified document that outlined all of this Russian
interference. This document of course was ultimately declassified and led
to the special counsel investigation. So, on January 5th, the key national
MADDOW: Jeremy – I – as soon as I started interrupting you, your audio
came back, but it was otherwise like a pixilated nightmare there for a
second where we could neither see nor hear you.
Do you by any chance have a back up phone on you that you can speak into
now that I can see you again?
MADDOW: Hey, there you go. See, that`s all it takes is triple defense. Very
Say what you were just saying in terms of the by the book request by the
president that this be handled as a by the book matter. Say again what you
were saying about that request from the president and that assurance from
BASH: Yeah, absolutely. The president made clear that he wanted the FBI
director to handle any law enforcement matters strictly by the book. And
according to this contemporaneous email that Susan Rice wrote in January
17th, Comey and the FBI leadership provided that assurance to the
president. And Susan Rice makes clear in that email that the Congress was
not asking about, initiating, or instructing anything with respect to a law
They were concerned about the national security implications of Mike Flynn
having so many conversations with the Russians, conversations he ultimately
misled the vice president about and the Justice Department said, hey, wait
a second, this guy can be blackmailed by the Russian Federation. The
incoming national security adviser could be blackmailed by the Russian
Federation because he`s clearly covering up conversations he`s having with
a U.S. adversary.
BASH: Jeremy, let me just ask you how you feel about, and how you view the
recent developments around the Flynn case. I mean, we`ve got the Justice
Department moving to drop the charges. We`ve got the lead prosecutor in the
case abruptly resigning from the case. We`ve got the judge overseeing the
case appointing a retired judge – very unusual move – appointing a
retired judge basically to argue against the Justice Department dropping
the charges against Flynn into looking whether or not Flynn may have
committed criminal contempt and lying to the court.
And now, we`ve got in Congress we`ve got the effort to expose – in
Congress and in the administration – to expose people from the Obama
administration who took a look at those intelligence reports to see who
this American private citizen was who was cautioning the Russian government
not to worry too much about the sanctions that were being imposed on them
for their interference on the election. I mean, all of these things
happening at once. It seems like Lindsey Graham is going to try to turn the
time between now and the election into an opportunity to bring Obama
officials in under subpoena to question them over this stuff.
Big picture when you look at this, how do you view this and how serious a
situation is this?
BASH: Yeah, two things, Rachel. First, the career prosecutors at DOJ, the
Senate confirmed trial judges in the district court are very concerned
here, and they are pushing back at what they view as a side door or back
door pardon effort by the president of the United States outside of
traditional constitutional processes. So, with respect to the Flynn
prosecution, we can see the discomfort that the professionals have, but I
think at the end of the day Trump will probably pardon him if he doesn`t
get his way.
Now, with respect to what`s happening on the Hill and this unmasking
scandal, by the way, the formal name is unminimizing, but I guess in an ode
to today`s lexicon, we`ll call it unmasking, that`s a process when you`re a
national security professional, you`re reading intelligence reports, you`re
interested in what a foreign official is saying but you`re talking to an
American known as U.S. person one in the report, in order to understand the
context, you need to know who the person is.
Now, you don`t know X ante who the person is which makes me laugh because
everyone is saying Susan Rice tried to unmask Mike Flynn. Well, if she knew
it was Mike Flynn, she wouldn`t have had to request his name be unmasked.
So, there`s no way to target someone for unmasking. This was done, by the
way, Rachel 16,000 times in 2018 under Donald Trump as compared to about
9,000 times under President Obama.
This happens about 40 times a day. This probably happened twice in the hour
since you`ve been on the air. This unmasking process is a very routine
process. It`s well overseen. There`s no scandal here.
MADDOW: Jeremy Bash, former chief of staff of the CIA and the Pentagon –
Jeremy, thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to help us understand
this, particularly since we had to hurdle our technical difficulties. It`s
great to have you here.
MADDOW: All right. Much more to get to tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Arizona is one of the states in the country where the state
government is getting more and more parsimonious in terms of releasing
information about what`s going on with the epidemic in their state. They
initially fired university modelers who were working on projecting –
making projections about the epidemic in that state. Then they brought them
back after a public outcry. They`ve only tested less than 1,000 of the
41,000 plus prisoners in the state, so we really don`t know what`s going on
in the state`s prisons.
There are believed to be new outbreaks in Arizona meatpacking plants but
the state isn`t releasing that information either. And we also don`t know
how many Arizona nursing homes have coronavirus outbreaks right now or how
many residents in nursing homes have died from the virus because the state
won`t release that information ether. But that explanation for why they`re
not releasing the data on nursing homes, that has evolved in a weird way.
Their first (INAUDIBLE) for explaining that was last month. The government
and the state`s top health official cited the federal medical privacy law,
HIPAA, as the reason they couldn`t tell the public where nursing home
outbreaks were happening. That makes no sense because the federal HIPAA law
is about personal information, releasing names of nursing homes with
outbreaks is not personal information.
Two weeks after that, they were asked again. This time, they gave a
different reason. This time they said it wasn`t the federal privacy law.
They said it was a state privacy law that prohibited releasing the
information and they would only tell the public which nursing homes had
coronavirus outbreaks if a judge ordered them to do so.
That at least gave everybody a way forward. The Arizona and four other
media outlets sued the states to get the names of the nursing homes. The
state is fighting that as well, but now they`re doing so in court with a
third excuse. The state of Arizona is now arguing in court they cannot and
will not release data on outbreaks and deaths in the state`s nursing homes
because it would be, in their words, bad for business. It would be bad
publicity for the nursing homes that have coronavirus outbreaks.
Quote: The department and this court cannot ignore the reality that
disclosure of the records at issue is likely to cause harm to the
businesses and their residents. Really? More harm than them dying from
coronavirus with nobody knowing where the outbreaks are?
“Arizona Republic” this week calling the excuse, quote, truly astounding.
That seems like an understatement.
Joining us live is Will Humble. He`s the former director of the Arizona
State Department of Health Services. He`s now the executive director of the
Arizona Public Health Association.
Mr. Humble, thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate you
coming back to talk to us about this stuff.
WILL HUMBLE, ARIZONA PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Good
evening. Thanks for the chance.
MADDOW: Am I right that this is the third evolving explanation for why they
can`t release the nursing home data?
HUMBLE: Yes. The first two arguments were really public arguments during
press conferences and stuff like that. And they essentially you heard the
health director invite a lawsuit which now there is one. And in those court
documents, the new argument came up which is that it would be, in quotes,
financially detrimental to the facility if we were to release that
They used another excuse too which was – get this one – it said it would
have deleterious effect on the community`s trust that the department can
prevent infectious diseases. So, that`s another one that was in the court
MADDOW: It would seem to have a deleterious effect on the confidence in the
Department of Health if the Department of Health lies to them and hides
information from them about where the virus is and what facilities might
need the most help in keeping people alive. It seems like – I know a lot
of states don`t want to release this information. But these arguments from
Arizona just are confounding.
HUMBLE: Yes, you know, it doesn`t make a lot of sense to me either. Here`s
the thing. If you look at it from a big picture point of view, when I was a
health director, I always felt like transparency is what improves the
public`s trust in your agency`s ability to do work. And when you have trust
with the community, then you can get better results because people trust
And if you hide information and if you are not transparent, people just
naturally have a lower level of trust with you. So, it`s really – you
know, I don`t understand the decision making here, but nevertheless there
MADDOW: You used to run the Arizona Department of Health Services, as you
said, do you think that this is likely a Health Department decision, or is
this the sort of thing that the governor might be leaning on the Health
Department to try to prevent this information from coming out because he
doesn`t want to answer questions about it?
HUMBLE: You know, it`s hard to tell. I`m not behind closed doors anymore.
I`m not in those conversations. So I don`t really know.
I know that they are very sensitive to stakeholder sort of concerns about
this, especially in the industry. But on the other hand, you know, you have
a big stakeholder group here called the AARP, and they`re super interested
in this. And so, you know, the public as a whole is really interested in
these results, and you are know, what`s happening out there in nursing
homes, but especially at AARP.
And, you know, as you mentioned at the top, you know, Arizona is sort of on
the bottom – actually we`re 51st when it comes to testing per capita, and
that in and of itself makes people nervous. And then you combine that with
the fact that the lack of transparency is out there and not really allowing
folks to get that information that like to have about their loved ones and
the facilities that they`re living in.
It just – it compounds that lack of trust, I think. And I think it`s
MADDOW: Will Humble, executive director for the Arizona Public Health
Association, former health state director – sir, thanks very much for your
time tonight. I am confounded by what Arizona is doing here. We`ll stay on
the story. Thanks for being here.
HUMBLE: All right. Thanks.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: On the theme of sticking one`s head in the sand and pretending that
if you hide the data, you hide the problem, here`s a doozy from the state
of Ohio. It was a big deal last month. You might remember the reporting. It
seemed like promising new there is a public health perspective.
Last month, state officials in Ohio said they would test everybody in the
state`s prisons. They started that testing in Ohio, and they immediately
found some of the highest infection rates anywhere in the country. At the
Marion Correctional Institution in Marion, Ohio, more than 2,000 prisoners
tested positive, nearly 80 percent of all the prisoners there.
At Pickaway Correctional Institution, more than 1,500 prisoners were
positive there, about three quarters of the prison population. At Franklin
Medical Center in Ohio, more than 100 prisoners tested positive there,
about one in every five. So where they were doing this universal testing in
Ohio prisons, they kept finding outbreaks.
And now, it looks like there might be another one. But after this pattern
of uncovering huge outbreaks in all the prisons they were testing, Ohio`s
apparently decided they are done with all this testing mishegoss now.
This is from “The Columbus Dispatch” this week. Quote: Belmont correctional
institution is emerging at the state`s latest prison hot spot for the
coronavirus as COVID-19 cases soar there. But the public may never know it,
because the state has stopped the mass testing that showed prisons in
Marion and Pickaway counties were the top COVID-19 hot spots in the nation.
Instead, the state is now primarily testing inmates exhibiting symptoms of
The whole point of mass testing is that you find everybody who has the
virus, not just the people who are sick from it. That`s because you can
spread it, even if you are not sick from it.
As of today, 61 prisoners and four staff members have died from coronavirus
in Ohio. Maybe Ohio has decided they would rather not know how widespread
the problem is in the rest of the state`s prisons, but not knowing, hiding
the data, really does not make the problem go away.
MADDOW: Thanks for being with us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
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