A.G. Barr TRANSCRIPT: 6/25/20, The Rachel Maddow Show

Katie Benner, Cam Patterson



president has struggled to win Republicans there. So, I – you know, at the

moment, it would take a pretty significant shift in the race for them even

to be considered a 50-50 proposition.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Home state of Barry Goldwater, birthplace of the

modern conservative movement, Arizona. It`s pretty head spinning.


Nate Cohn, thank you so much for making time tonight.


COHN: Happy to come.


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.


Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.


We start tonight with some breaking news that has posted at “The New York

Times” this evening. This is the headline, “Inside Barr`s Effort to

Undermine Prosecutors in New York.”


Barr in this headline would, of course, be Attorney General Bill Barr. This

is blockbuster reporting tonight from “The New York Times” reporters, Ben

Weiser, Ben Protess, Katie Benner and William Rashbaum. It`s a whole raft

of newly reported details about criminal cases that touch on the

president`s interests that Attorney General Bill Barr has interfered with

or intervened in since basically right after he got sworn in as attorney



Now, I know there`s a lot going on in the country right now, but this is

remarkable new reporting. I mean, the nature of prosecutor`s offices is

that we the public are not supposed to know what they`re working on and

what they`re doing until they publicly act – until they, you know, indict

someone and bring about a criminal trial. When an investigation is ongoing,

when a prosecution is potentially in the works that is by necessity secret.

We the public don`t get to know about that until prosecutor`s office acts

out loud.


And that secrecy about the prosecutorial process is a pillar of the rule of

law. We need that. We don`t need people indicted by rumor and whisper and

discussion without anybody having to prove their case, right? But that

secrecy around prosecutor`s offices also provides insulation. It provides

sort of deadening insulation, protection from public view in the event that

something goes wrong inside the prosecutorial process. In the event that,

say, someone inside the Justice Department starts messing with federal

prosecutors to twist the rule of law to benefit the president and his



So we have been waiting for this story in “The New York Times” tonight for

a long time. In this era given what this president plainly thinks about

using the law to lock up his enemies and benefit his friends one of the

things we`ve been worrying about and watching for a long time is whether or

not improper corrupting pressure from the White House or from Bill Barr is

the sort of thing that a U.S. attorneys office would squawk about.


Would they actually make noise if they got their prosecutions or

investigations of people related to the president messed with by the

president`s administration?


Well, in the Southern District of New York one of the most important

prosecutors offices in the country and one with lots of cases before it

that touch on the president`s interests, we don`t know what broke the dam

exactly tonight. By coincidence of time it appears it may have taken Bill

Barr firing the U.S. attorney in that office this past week.


But whatever broke the dam that mystery, that thing we`ve been waiting for

and wondering about for a long time now is now solved. And it turns out the

answer is, yes. SDNY will squawk if you mess with them badly enough. At

least now tonight they appear to be squawking.


And – I mean, it`s not like this comes out of nowhere. Bill Barr ordered

the case against Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn to be dropped

even after Flynn pled guilty. That happened in broad daylight.


The prosecutor on that case withdrew from that case when that happened but

he`s never spoken publicly about his decision to withdraw. Bill Barr`s

order to lower the sentencing recommendation for the president`s friend,

Roger Stone, that happened pretty much out in the open, too. One of the

prosecutors who withdrew from that case in protest did testify to the House

Judiciary Committee yesterday. He testified that sentencing recommendation

for roger stone was killed explicitly because of pressure from the

president, and everybody in the chain of command at the Justice Department

knew it.


But now tonight, thanks to this new reporting in “The Times”, one of the

things we`re learning is that the attorney general`s interference in cases

involving people close to the president goes all the way back to his very

first days as attorney general. It goes all the way back to the case of

Michael Cohen.


This is from today`s scoop in “The Times.” Quote: Shortly after he became

attorney general last year, William Barr set out to challenge a signature

case that touched president Trump`s inner circle directly and even the

president`s own actions, the prosecution of Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump`s long

time fixer. The debate between Mr. Barr and the federal prosecutors who

brought the case against Mr. Cohen was one of the first signs of an intense

relationship that culminated last weekend in the abrupt ouster of Geoffrey

Berman, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan.


It also foreshadowed Barr`s intervention in the prosecution of other

associates of Mr. Trump. By the time Mr. Barr was sworn into office last

February, Michael Cohen who paid hush money to an adult film star had

already pled guilty all of which embarrassed and angered the president.


But Mr. Barr spent weeks in the spring of 2019 questioning the prosecutors

over their decision to charge Mr. Cohen with violating campaign finance

laws. At one point during the discussions, Mr. Barr instructed Justice

Department officials in Washington to draft a memo outlining legal

arguments that could have raised questions about Cohen`s conviction and

undercut similar prosecutions in the future.


Mr. Barr`s unexpected involvement in such a politically sensitive case

suggested that he planned to exert influence over prosecutors and SDNY,

which is long known for operating independently of Washington. Mr. Barr and

other officials have told aides and other U.S. attorneys that the Southern

District needs to be reined in.


Here`s why this is such a big deal. The decision by SDNY to drop the rest

of that case over the hush money payments, to only prosecute Michael Cohen

and not go after anybody else in that case, that has always stuck out like

a – like a sprig of poison ivy right in the middle of a fairway, right?


It`s always just seemed unusual and unexplained given the fact that

prosecutors in that office explicitly identified other people who took part

in the commission of those felonies. Michael Cohen, the guy who went to

prison, didn`t even benefit from it himself. Why is he the only one who

went to prison on it?


I mean, they described the involvement of all of these other people in

those felonies, including the person who most benefitted from the

commission of those felonies and in the words of prosecutors the guy who

directed the commission of those felonies. The top of that list was

individual 1, the president himself identified by SDNY prosecutors in the

Cohen case.


When he made guilty Michael Cohen explicitly pointed at the president

saying he had acted at the president`s direction. And yes, the case

involved other people, too. Maybe you can`t charge the president while he`s

serving as president under Justice Department policy, arguably.


But it wasn`t even just the president and Michael Cohen. It wasn`t them

acting alone in this illegal scheme for which Cohen went to jail. I mean,

we`ve literally seen the checks by which they laundered the money for those

felonies through the president`s company.


All right, in addition to individual 1, SDNY prosecutors identified

executives at Trump`s company who facilitated the hush money scheme. How

can it be Michael Cohen is the only one who went to jail, the only one who

got charged?


And the investigation got closed inexplicably without warning months after

Michael Cohen got sentenced. SDNY closed the hush money investigation in a

footnote to a court filing, telling the judge, quote, the government has

effectively concluded its investigations who besides Michael Cohen was

involved in and maybe criminally liable for the two campaign finance

violations to which Cohen pled guilty and whether certain individuals made

false statements or gave false testimony or otherwise obstructed justice,

quietly in a footnote months later.


Why`d they drop that? Why`d they drop it after only Cohen went to prison?


Well, now we know that that happened after William Barr personally and

directly pressured the prosecutors in that office for months. To the point

where it seemed like he was maybe even trying to undo the prosecution of

Cohen after Cohen had started serving his sentence. He`s pressuring them on

that case about Cohen himself even after Cohen`s going to jail already. And

then they decide, OK, we`re not going to bring charges against anybody else

in this case either. No explanation why.


Well, now we know thanks to reporting from “The New York Times” because

people are apparently now talking about what Bill Barr has been doing to

the rule of law in this supposedly super independent U.S. attorneys office.

Now we know that one of the people who had been actively under

investigation for potentially having lied to investigators or trying to

obstruct the investigation was a, quote, senior executive at Mr. Trump`s



William Barr is there leaning on those prosecutors personally and directly

about how much he`s against that prosecution. So whatever happened to that?

Why did it get closed quietly in a footnote months later?


I`ll tell you one other thing from “The Times” reporting tonight. Times

reporters also say William Barr has been personally and intimately involved

in all of the details of the prosecution of our friends Lev and Igor, too.

Really, even them, too, the guys who got their trial put off until next

year after the election is over. He`s been personally involved in

pressuring them on that, too?


Joining us now is Katie Benner, Justice Department reporter at “The New

York Times.” She and three of her colleagues at “The Times” broke the story



Ms. Benner, thank you so much for talking us through this. Congratulations

on this scoop.



having me.


MADDOW: I`m not asking you to comment on your sources, and I do not want to

ask you to associate yourself with what I just said in terms of SDNY

squawking. You are not describing your sources. I don`t have any inside

information about it. I want to make that clear.


But beyond that, is there anything I just described that missed the point

or got any of this wrong, or is that the basic plot you and your colleagues

have been able to describe here?


BENNER: Yeah, you know, I think you represented a lot of the story really

well. One point I think to add is that Bill Barr believes truly that as the

attorney general he does have the right to have strict oversight over the

Southern District. The Southern District is independent not because it is

allowed to be by something in the U.S. attorneys manual or statute but

simply because of tradition. You can imagine somebody who wants to strongly

control everything that happens in the department for him the Southern

District has been particularly a thorn in husband side, and U.S. Attorney

Berman particularly a target.


MADDOW: In terms of what Mr. Barr believes he should be controlling,

though, does it seem to be out of proportion the way that Attorney General

Barr has personally gotten himself involved in cases that touch on the

president`s personal, political and business interests compared to other

types of cases that don`t relate to the president whether at the Southern

District of New York or other U.S. attorneys offices around the country. It

certainly seems like an unusual amount of personal intervention, all of

which seems to go towards lenience for the president`s associates.


BENNER: Sure. Before I address that first I want to note that Attorney

General Barr did speak on this point to NPR today. So, in his own words he

believes these accusations are essentially a conspiracy theory whipped up

usually by the media or by people who just do not trust the Justice

Department law and order.


But I want to make sure I put in his defense before I also say when you

step back and you look at this pattern of behavior, it is one of the

reasons why people suspect that he is intervening to protect the president.

Yes, he is heavy-handed attorney general, and he is a micromanager to say

the least, so it`s not surprising per se he would want to know what`s going

on in really, really sensitive matters and want to manage them.


That said, of course, between the president`s public statements and his

tweets, the way he regards Attorney General Barr, the fact he`s all but

called him his fixer or guy on the inside, he`s sort of danced around that

theme. Of course, people will say this is part of a pattern and practice on

part of the attorney general to make sure he has ear to the ground for

anything that could hurt the president.


MADDOW: You and your colleagues at the end of this piece tonight describe

the attorney general also taking a very active role in what I colloquially

called the Lev and Igor case. This case related to Rudy Giuliani`s

associates and their potentially or their allegedly having directed

hundreds of dollars in illegal contributions to Republican campaigns and to

a super PAC supporting the president`s reelection effort.


The delay of their case so their trial is going to happen after the

election may certainly be explained just by the pandemic, just by the fact

that COVID has delayed all trials and has delayed a lot of different



But I do wonder and I just have to ask if your reporting indicates anything

about whether Attorney General Barr is trying to shape the way that

prosecution goes forward. In December, federal prosecutors of SDNY said in

open court that a superseding indictment is likely in that case, one a lot

of people expected to mean Rudy Giuliani. That`s very close to the

president`s interests.


Is there any sense that part of the case is what Barr is interested in or

working on?


BENNER: Sure, I`ll take your question in a couple of parts. One, on the

timing the delay really was I believe because all the courts were shutdown

because of the COVID. There were no grand juries and not a lot actually

happening in the courts. So when something was essential like life or death

or, you know, a criminal matter that was of the utmost importance, national

security matters mostly, you were not going to see any action happen in the

courts. So that is truly a big reason for why this has been delayed.


Now, interestingly, again, this gets to the relationship between Attorney

General Barr and the Southern District another part of your question, which

was is he very closely scrutinizing this matter. He is.


Now, one reason is because we have Justice Department policy saying

anything that is going to be a matter of public interest, anything that`s

going to make the news, anything that pertains to a public figure, an

important public figure in government like the president had every

prosecutorial step has to be run by the deputy attorney general`s office

and the attorney general`s office. And I`m told that`s exactly what`s

happening in this matter.


Now, of course, we also know there are people within the Southern District

of New York who do not trust Mr. Barr`s motives, thanks to these past

encounters with him not just on, you know, the Michael Cohen case but also

on Halkbank and others. So, this – you know, it just speaks again to this

very broken relationship between Southern District and main justice and

this bigger fear that the attorney general is able to use existing rules

for the president`s ends.


MADDOW: Yeah, existing rules, exactly. And being able to put in context his

behavior toward things that affect the president versus his behavior toward

run of the mill things in the Justice Department I feel like that`s where

the story is becoming very clear.


Katie Benner, justice reporter with “The New York Times” – thank you for

helping us understand this tonight and congratulations to you and your



You know, at the start of the Trump presidency back at the start of 2017,

if you had asked most Americans to choose what they would have expected to

befall the country by the end of just this presidential term, just by the

end of this four-year term of Trump being in office, how many Americans

would have given you this list that we are now living through, right?


I mean, an unemployment chart that looks like this. This is Department of

Labor Unemployment numbers going back to 1967. Look at us there on the

right. That`s how we`re living now.


Or economic headlines like this one from CNBC today. U.S. GDP fell at a 5

percent rate in the first quarter and the worse is likely – and worse is

likely on the way. GDP is negative 5 percent, alongside rule of law

headlines like that breaking news we just covered from “The New York Times”

with Katie Benner, about the president getting his attorney general to

interfere in apparently all criminal cases that touch on the president`s

interests and his associates, right, as he tries to take over the federal

prosecutors office in New York after he already effectively took over the

federal prosecutors office in D.C., ousting that U.S. attorney already.

Taking over ongoing investigations in that office related to the

president`s interests before they ever produced potential indictments.


Reporting a criminal prosecutor to go after FBI and CIA officials who are

involved in investigating the president getting Russian help in the

election that put him in the White House, appointing another criminal

prosecutor to go after high level members of the previous administration

including, say, maybe it just so happens the very senior member of that

previous administration that President Trump is going to be running against

in his re-election effort in the fall.


I mean, maybe – maybe we all saw all of this coming, right, the economic

collapse, the rule of law collapse. But who among us saw it coming all at

the same time and at the same time as the total surrender of our country to

a highly contagious viral pandemic? Right?


I mean every country that took drastic steps to contain coronavirus took an

economic hit for it. Well, we took among the worst economic hits in the

world. We`re still reeling, except the difference is we didn`t actually

contain the coronavirus. Right?


We gave ourselves the economic hit, but we wasted it in terms of what we

used that time for in terms of containing this pandemic. We blew it.

Everybody took an economic hit, but look what they got for their time. They

got their pandemics under control. We did not.


We took the economic hit, and we are still eating it in terms of the health

impact of this thing, with 121,000 dead Americans. I mean, last night, we

reported that the United States had reached the largest number of new

infections yet on any single day since the start of the pandemic. We did

break that record yesterday.


Then today we broke it again. Today we set a new record when we broke the

record that we set yesterday. Let`s see how tomorrow looks.


Most states in the United States are seeing a rise in the number of new

infections reported each day now. Most states. Today, a whole bunch of

states hit new record numbers overall in terms of new infections reported

today – Missouri, Nevada, Alabama, those states all hit record numbers

today. Texas has hit a record number – Texas has hit a new record for

highest number of cases it has ever reported every single day this week.


Texas had almost 6,000 new cases reported today. Texas case numbers are up

340 percent since Memorial Day. That was only four weeks ago.


In Harris County, Texas, where Houston is they were reporting on average

372 new cases a day last week, 372 – 732 new cases a week last week on

average. This week on average, they`re reporting 1,090 new cases a day.


Houston area, this is Harris County, right, Houston area, ICU beds are at

97 percent capacity. Texas Medical Center in the Houston area reports today

they have hit their normal ICU capacity. They are at 100 percent. They`re

now going into newly created surge capacity. We`ll see how long that can

hold out.


The Texas governor today finally announced he will slow down plans in Texas

to keep reopening stuff further. Yeah, you think? He also ordered a ban on

all elective surgeries in four hard hit Texas counties today, which is

something they try to do to save bed space, to save PPE, to save man hours

for overworked hospital staff.


They put in place that no elective surgeries rule in four Texas counties.

And let me just tell you one last thing. I don`t know if this has had any

national attention today, but Mississippi is another one of the states that

hit a new record today in terms of the number of new infections that state

reported in the last 24 hours. Now, we`ve been keeping an eye on

Mississippi in part because when they hit another record earlier this week,

the state health direct basically just went off to the “Jackson Free



He told them earlier this week, quote, just because you`re tired of

something doesn`t mean it`s gone and we are going to pay for it. We are

paying for it now and it is just going to continue to get worse. Again,

this is the state health officer from Mississippi. He told the Free Press

earlier this week that the Mississippi outbreak was going to get in his

words really bad by fall.


He said, quote: Prepare for not being able to get into the hospital if you

have a car wreck, to have heart attack and there fought be a ventilator to

put you on.


That was what he said at the start of this week, and since the start of

this week, Mississippi`s case numbers and hospitalization numbers have just

kept rising since then, hitting new records in that state on both of those



Well, tonight that same state health officer from Mississippi just did a

press conference in Jackson in which he said he wants to revise that

statement of concern he made earlier this week. This is what he said






seen significant stress on the health system and over the past couple of

days, we`ve seen the highest number of hospitalized patients as well, not

so much ICU utilization but there`s a sequence from hospitalization and

ICU, and I`m absolutely terrified we`re going to overwhelm the health and

secure system of the hospitals and ICU not in the fall, which is something

that had worried me previously, but now I`m worried about next week, or two

weeks now.


We`re already tight. We have a massively growing population of infected

people that are going to transmit it more and more to over folks and people

who have going to have severe adverse outcomes.




MADDOW: Not in the fall, which is something that had worried me previously.

Now I`m worried about next week or two weeks from now. That is the health

director for the great state of Mississippi speaking tonight.


I think that a lot of people, a lot of Americans thought that this

presidency might be a bad one, that this leader we chose in the last

election might not have the right stuff to lead the country well. I think

that is not overstating the case.


But this level of multivariate, simultaneous, existentially threatening

mass catastrophe, this – I mean, this is what we`ve got. We`ve got

economic disaster. We`ve got rule of law disaster. We`ve got health

disaster, none of which we`re abating, none of which are abating. They`re

all getting worse with every passing day, and all of which are cresting

simultaneously now down onto us.


We have – we have got to survive it, one, and we have got to fix it.




MADDOW: It is becoming way too common for me to say this at the start of a

new segment, but this next story we`re about to do is a difficult one. It

involves a 27-year-old Latino man who died in April after he was forcefully

restrained by police officers in Tucson, Arizona.


The police body cam footage of this incident, even though it took place in

April, the footage of the incident was just released this week, and it is

difficult to watch. So if you do not want to see it, if you need to step

away from the TV for a few moments, now is the time. I`ll give time a

chance to do that, ready? Three, two, one.


OK. It was the early morning of April 21st. A family member of Carlos

Ingram-Lopez called 911 about him, to say that Carlos was drunk and yelling

and running around the house naked.


Police arrived on the scene. They confronted Mr. Ingram-Lopez in the

family`s garage and they restrained him. They handcuffed him and placed him

facedown on the floor.


The video quality on the tape is poor, but Mr. Ingram-Lopez can be heard

repeatedly asking for his grandmother, asking his grandmother for water. At

one point you can hear an officer saying if he doesn`t calm down, he will

Taser him, or as the officer, says, quote, you`re going to get zapped.


A few minutes into the video, the officers are seen placing a disposable

yellow plastic blanket over Mr. Ingram-Lopez, and you can hear in the tape

that he`s clearly in distress.




CARLOS INGRAM-LOPEZ: Please! Some water, por favor.




MADDOW: Shortly after this, it appears that an officer pulls something over

his face. It`s a mesh covering apparently that is referred to as a spit

hood covering up his face.


The officers held Carlos Ingram-Lopez in a prone, facedown position for

about 12 minutes, and then he went into cardiac arrest. An autopsy later

found that he died due to a combination of physical restraint and cardiac

arrest involving cocaine intoxication. Now, the three officers involved in

this incident resigned from Tucson`s police department last week.


The Pima County attorney`s office is now determining whether or not those

officers should also face criminal charges in addition to losing their



Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus also made a surprise officer to himself

resign when the tape of this incident emerged. He made that offer

unexpectedly during a news conference that was held yesterday.




CHRIS MAGNUS, TUCSON POLICE CHIEF: I realize that given the times we`re in,

any mistakes of this kind are viewed with great suspicion and contribute to

the lack of trust in the police. While I think this is extremely

unfortunate because I believe we have one of the best police departments in

the country, with good policies and training in place, and I believe that

our members and I work hard every single day to earn and sustain that



But to demonstrate my willingness to take accountability for these

mistakes, I am offering my resignation to the mayor, city council, and city

manager, which they can accept or handle as they deem appropriate.




MADDOW: Today, the mayor of Tucson, Regina Romero, responded saying in

part, quote: In this moment my focus is on the fact that the life of a

fellow Tucsonian, Carlos Ingram-Lopez, was needlessly lost. The chief`s

abrupt announcement of press conference yesterday shouldn`t take away from

that, by city charter, it`s the city manager`s responsibility to accept

resignations or fire department directors. After listening to the feedback

of my colleagues on the council, on the city council, I do not believe the

chief should resign.


Late tonight, the city manager in Tucson in fact rejected the chief`s

proposed resignation, so it`s official. He`s staying on. But now the city

has to move forward in large part under the leadership of the mayor, who

yesterday offered this message to her city and to Carlos Ingram-Lopez`s





MAYOR REGINA ROMERO (D), TUCSON, ARIZONA: Carlos Ingram-Lopez not only lost

his life, but his family lost a son, a grandson, and his daughter lost a

father. As mayor and as a mother, I am deeply troubled and outraged by what

happened. I am outraged that Carlos Adrian lost his life. I am outraged

that his family lost their son.




MADDOW: Joining us now is Regina Romero, who is the mayor of the great city

of Tucson, Arizona.


Mayor Romero, thank you so much for joining us tonight. I know it`s a

really difficult time.


ROMERO: It`s an emotional time for our citizens here in Tucson and, you

know, it`s difficult. We never saw this – a failure like this happening in

our city, and I`m – I want to make sure that we keep the focus on Carlos

Adrian Ingram-Lopez and their family and what happened here in Tucson, make

sure it never happens again, and the action we need to take and the reform

we need to do to offer much of a safety net from this happening in our



MADDOW: Let me – let me ask you about a foundational question in this very

troubling incident, which is the delay. This happened in April. Information

about this incident was not disclosed publicly until this week.


Do you yet have a handle on why that is, on why there was that delay in the

reporting of the death let alone the publication of these very disturbing

details about how the death occurred?


ROMERO: Well, I`m very disturbed as well as the community are disturbed as

to why the mayor and council only learned of this death in custody last

Wednesday when it actually happened April 21st. I believe there was a

breakdown in communication in the police department. We do have an Office

of Professional Standards that do an internal investigation and offers the

chief of police a recommendation in terms of what the officers – what type

of punishment the officers should receive, and that breakdown is what

brought us to this point.


Why did mayor and council not hear from the death in custody until last

Wednesday, and why did the community not hear what happened?


I offered – yesterday I offered a reform, a very quick reform that mayor

and council have to approve immediately, which is any in-custody death that

happens here in the city of Tucson must be reported to mayor and council

and the community within the first 24 hours, even if we don`t release the

names of the victim or the names of the officers so that the investigation

can be fair and neutral, the community has a right to know.


MADDOW: The Pima County attorney`s office is reportedly deciding whether or

not charges should be brought against the officers involved here. They are

all former Tucson police officers right now.


In addition to this drama from the chief offering his resignation, you`ve

said that you don`t believe the chief should resign. The city manager is

not accepting that resignation. But in terms of the fate of the three

officers who were directly involved in this incident, do you believe that

charges should be brought? Do you believe this was a criminal act by those



ROMERO: The chief has called in the FBI so that the FBI can also do an

investigation as to what happened internally in the department with the

communication breakdown. The Pima County attorney now has the case and, you

know, I want to make sure that that case is swift and thorough for the

community to learn what the charges will be. I believe that the family of

Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez deserves an explanation as to what – if it is -

- if it is criminal conduct that the officers did.


But the family deserves justice. The mayor and council and the community

deserve a swift and thorough investigation by the Pima County attorney, and

we must – right now what we need to focus on is reform and reconciliation

in our community, and that is only done with actions, in partnership and in

solidarity with our community.


MADDOW: Mayor Regina Romero of the great city of Tucson, Arizona, which is

going through so much right now in terms of the coronavirus epidemic and

the local difficulties that I know that you`re having, and now with this

crisis that has come to the public fore. Good luck to you, madam mayor.

Thank you for helping us understand what`s going on. Please keep us

apprised. I know it`s difficult days ahead.


ROMERO: Thank you so much, Rachel.


MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.




MADDOW: The Washington Regional Medical Center is not in either of the

famous Washingtons. It`s not in Washington, D.C. or Washington state. It`s

actually in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It`s a good-sized, 425-bed hospital.

More than 3,000 people work there.


Late last week, employees at the Washington Regional Medical Center in

Fayetteville, Arkansas, got this letter from the CEO of their hospital, a

letter that we have now obtained. It says in part, quote, team members, our

ongoing battle against COVID-19 intensified this week. Nearly every

component of our health system saw a meaningful surge in COVID-19 related



Our two patient, dedicated in-patient critical units experienced a dramatic

increase in both the number and acuity of patients with census nearing 75

percent of capacity. Our screening centers saw a daily average of 320

patients with staff being presented the additional challenge of having to

conduct those screenings in full PPE in the heat of summer.


Our supply chain became challenged as precious in-house rapid test kits

were utilized faster than inventory could be replaced. In short, this week

has been marked by increasing anxiety and challenges. This week, he says, I

rounded – meaning I did rounds – on our two COVID units with our nursing

leadership. I was not prepared for what I experienced.


My first conversation was with a critical care nurse concerned for his

family. My next conversation was with two critical care nurses who shared

the particular challenge of having to deliver news of a patient`s death to

loved ones, the language barrier and the strain in trying to communicate

that the loved one was not simply asleep.


A respiratory therapist shared with me her activity app results, which

showed that by late afternoon, she had already logged 28,000 steps.

Hospitalists and intensivists commented that the care of a typical patient

required three times the amount of time required for a normal critical care

patient. There were no visitors, no guests, just our teammates.


When I returned to the quiet of my office and reflected, I was overcome.

While I try to reassure each of you and truly believe we`ve got this,

there`s often in the pit of my stomach the fear of the unknown. How high is

the hill we have yet to climb?


He says, I wept, but then became inspired, a Winston Churchill quote

regarding the foolishness of trying to predict the future at the expense of

focusing on the task at hand came to mind. Then he quotes Churchill. It`s a

mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be

grasped one link at a time.


It goes on, but it`s signs the president and CEO of the Washington Regional

Medical System. Again, this letter sent to health workers at that

Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


We actually got this interestingly from a tipster who wanted us to see this

to show the scale of how bad things are getting for health care providers

in Arkansas right now as they are battling one of the fastest growing COVID

epidemics in the country.


After we got it from a tipster, we have since confirmed this letter with

the hospital. It is authentic. They provided us with their own copy which

the CEO sent to hospital staff.


It`s kind of a remarkable snapshot, right? This is clearly the sense of

hope at that Arkansas hospital, since of pride in the team there, but also,

there`s real worry, this real fear about the oncoming deluge of more sick

people coming through their doors right now given what they`re already

coping with – the question of whether or not that hospital, whether those

health workers will have the capacity and the stamina and the equipment and

the ability and the time to keep up through the end of this.


And there is reason to worry. This is a chart from the Arkansas department

of health today tracking the number of people currently hospitalized with

coronavirus in the state of Arkansas. That`s not the total number of

hospitalizations over time. This is just how many COVID patients took up a

hospital bed on any given day.


Just look at the last two weeks. Hospitalizations hit record highs 12 of

the last 14 days, and those hospitalization numbers look like that in

Arkansas because new infection numbers look like this in Arkansas. They`ve

just lit up the state since the start of June.


At the end of May, new COVID cases in Arkansas were around 200 a day.

Arkansas right now is clocking in just shy of 700 new cases a day, from 200

new cases a day to close to 700 new cases a day in less than a month. Put

that graph up there one more time.


How in that letter, he says he fears the unknown, not knowing how high of a

hill his staff will have to climb to treat all those sick patients. Well,

the experts in Arkansas think what we`re looking at here is not the top of

the hill, not by a long shot.


This is something I want to bring some national attention to tonight.

Researchers at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences say they do not

expect Arkansas to hit their peak of new COVID infections until the last

day of September when they predict Arkansas will have 150,000 active cases

of COVID, not total cases, not 150,000 cases since the start of the

pandemic, but 150,000 active cases, 150,000, among other things, contagious

people milling around the state of Arkansas at one time, many of whom will

urgently eventually need medical care.


So where does that hospital capacity come from given how stretched the

state already is months before experts in that state think they are going

to see the height of this thing?


The chancellor of the Arkansas medical school that`s making that fairly

dire prediction is going to join us live here next.


Stay with us.






GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: We`re clearly on pause here in the state

in terms of moving to lift further restrictions until we are comfortable

with where we are in controlling the spread.




MADDOW: Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas today announcing the state

won`t keep reopening right now. Arkansas began phase two reopening last

week, dine-in restaurants and bars, the whole thing. They`re not going

backwards. The governor says he doesn`t plan to re-impose any of the

previous restrictions but at least no further reopening for now.


We got that news from Arkansas tonight after the University of Arkansas for

medical sciences published a sobering projection recently. They`re

projecting that Arkansas isn`t going to peak in its COVID numbers till the

end of September, by which point the state will have as many as 150,000

active cases of coronavirus.


For perspective, there`s about 5,600 cases right now. They think they`re

going to 150,000. Right now, ICU units in Arkansas are already 80 percent



Joining us now is Dr. Cam Patterson. He`s chancellor of the University of

Arkansas for Medical Sciences.


Dr. Patterson, Mr. Chancellor, thank you so much for making time to be here

tonight. I appreciate it, sir.



SCIENCES: Absolutely. Thanks for the opportunity to be here.


MADDOW: The projection that you have made at the University of Arkansas is

incredibly daunting. Why do you think that Arkansas numbers will not peak

until the end of September and that they will peak at such a high rate?


PATTERSON: Well, that`s a great question. You know, the models are like

hurricane forecasting, and the models are now all converging on a notion

that the crest will be in late September, early October. The real question

is what is going to be the magnitude, and our models are at the high end

right now compared to other models. But our models are based on Arkansas

data rather than national data.


So I think, you know, we have to take them seriously. We have to be honest

about them, and we have to think about how we`re going to have the capacity

to manage a situation that means that we would have 30 times the number of

active cases that we have right now. It will definitely stretch our

resources to the breaking point.


MADDOW: And tell me about that breaking point. I mean we`re seeing strain,

Arkansas health providers and the heads of Arkansas hospitals talking about

how pushed health providers are right now and how worried they are about

forthcoming numbers even just over the next few weeks. A 30-times expansion

in terms of the pool of people who are infected, how does that match up

against the resources that Arkansas has in terms of treating sick people

and critically ill people?


PATTERSON: Great question. You know, right now, we have search plans in

place across the state to manage a crisis to the health care system that`s

induced by COVID-19. The problem that Washington regional hospital faces

right now is that the outbreak – the hot spot in Arkansas right now is

concentrated in northwest Arkansas.


So that particular region is being stretched to, you know, to a tight

limit. If the outbreak expands across rural parts of the state, areas of

the state that currently have capacity like Central Arkansas where I am

right now are also going to be stretched and strained. And, you know, the

challenge for us is, what can we do to mitigate this rather than simply

wait for a tidal wave to crest over us.


MADDOW: Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas for

Medical Sciences, Dr. Patterson, the numbers that you and your team have

put out there are really worrying, and I think deserve some national

attention. Please keep us apprised as that modeling develops and also as we

start to look toward what kind of resources you`re state`s going to need.

Come back.


PATTERSON: Absolutely. Thank you so much for the opportunity to be here.


MADDOW: All right. Thank you. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.




MADDOW: Thank you for being with us tonight. I know this is sort of a heavy

show tonight. A little lack of leavening as they might say. But those are

the times.


It`s good to have you here. We`ll see you again tomorrow.




Good evening, Lawrence.







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