Senator Duckworth TRANSCRIPT: 7/2/20, The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests:
Howard Koh, Tammy Duckworth
Transcript:

 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, “ALL IN”: He owns it all. And he thinks he could -

- you know, defending the honor of the Confederacy in the wake of the

largest social protest in race in a generation is going to be his way

forward.

 

Cornell Belcher and Rick Wilson, thank you both for making time tonight.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You bet, Chris.

 

HAYES: That is “ALL IN” this evening.

 

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

 

Good evening, Rachel.

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.

 

I appreciate it.

 

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. We`re really happy to

have you with us tonight.

 

It is Thursday, July 2nd, and tonight, I`m happy to report that we have

crunched the numbers. We have gone over them closely, very closely.

 

In keeping with the times, we`ve actually even made a graph to help our

understanding of these numbers. But according to our very, very, very

careful calculations, we hear at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW have determined

that we, us, our collective humanity, we have arrived finally at the

halfway point of 2020. You guys, technically, as of today, we are halfway

there.

 

It`s a leap year. So, there aren`t 365 days this year. There are 366 days

this year. At least there will be by the time we get to the end of it,

provided the giant meteor doesn`t get us or the sun doesn`t burn out.

 

So, there will be 366 days by the end of this year. Divide by two to find

the halfway point. That`s 183 days. Count up all the days we had so far.

Yesterday was day 183. That means at midnight, we hit day 184. Which means

we have made it through the whole first half of this year that we all wish

would stop already.

 

Honestly, 2020 would have been a catastrophic year in the news if it had

stopped three months ago. But we have made it halfway through. They cannot

make us do that again.

 

And it is astonishing that this first half of this year alone, more than

128,000 of our fellow Americans did not make it to see this point because

of the coronavirus. And there will be more to come. NBC`s tabulation of the

new case numbers today, these are tabulated as of 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time

each day, NBC News` tabulation as of 6:30 tonight shows America just

shattered the record for new infections in one day, and that`s a record

that we only set yesterday.

 

Today, per NBC`s numbers, we had just under 55,000 new coronavirus

infections reported in the United States in the past 24 hours, 54,915.

 

For context, when it felt like the apocalypse, especially in and around New

York back in April, the case numbers then were 30,000, 35,000 a day at the

worst of it. Now we`re at 55,000. And the curve is shooting straight up.

 

So the first half of 2020, which we are threw with now, was jaw-dropping.

We now get to do the second half of 2020. We can do it.

 

But as we put the first half of this annus horribilis as the queen would

say, behind us, as we start and what we all want to be a better second half

of this year.

 

It`s interesting. There does appear to be this cursive thing going on in

the news. The news just keeps repeating itself. The same stuff keeps

happening in slightly different iterations, both related to coronavirus and

not.

 

For example, you might have seen the news today that the Justice Department

has removed the U.S. attorney, the top federal prosecutor in New York, one

who has been overseeing some sensitive cases that touch on the president`s

interests.

 

And no, you`re not watching a rerun. It`s just that it`s happened again. It

was two weeks ago that the Justice Department ham-handedly pushed out the

U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. That`s the top federal

prosecutor in Manhattan, Geoffrey Berman.

 

Tonight, it`s a different one. Tonight the top federal prosecutor in New

York that they`ve taken out is the U.S. attorney not for the Southern

District but for the Eastern District of New York, which means he is the

top federal prosecutor whose office is in Brooklyn.

 

They did the SDNY U.S. attorney two weeks ago. Tonight, they have done the

EDNY U.S. attorney as well.

 

Now, what`s been going on in that office? Lots of stuff. It`s a big,

powerful office with its fingers in lots of different pies of national

significance.

 

About a year ago, you might remember the “Associated Press” was first to

report that that prosecutor`s office had opened its own investigation

related to President Trump`s inaugural committee. The “A.P.” reported that

prosecutors working with a grand jury in EDNY had sent subpoenas to the

inaugural committee and the committee had complied.

 

The office had also questioned Tom Barrack, a close friend of the president

and major fundraiser for the president, head of the president`s inaugural

committee. We don`t know what ever came of that investigation. But that was

EDNY.

 

You might also remember around the Geoffrey Berman firing when they fired

the Manhattan federal prosecutor two weeks ago, one of the controversies

there was the ongoing prosecution of our ex-boyfriends Lev and Igor, two

friends of the president`s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who did lots of work with

him in Ukraine. In fact, it was their work with Rudy Giuliani that led to

the president`s impeachment in December of last year. That was only

December last year he was impeached.

 

In the SDNY indictment against Lev and Igor, Lev and Igor are alleged to

have funneled illegal foreign contributions into Republican campaigns,

including the main PAC supporting the president`s reelection efforts. But

in conjunction with that case, there have been some other interesting

prospects raised. In December, prosecutors in the Lev and Igor case told a

judge that they expect to be – they expected there to be a superseding

indictment in that case. They expected there to be another indictment

related to the facts in that case.

 

Well, that came around the same time as a whole bunch of public reporting

that Lev and Igor`s friend, the president`s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, was

himself under serious scrutiny by that prosecutor`s office in New York.

Multiple sources telling multiple news organizations that they had received

detailed subpoenas about Rudy Giuliani`s business dealings and foreign

entanglements and it seemed to be a very active, very aggressive

investigation.

 

And the prosecutors from that case tell the judge in open court – yeah, we

expect more indictments here. We expect more defendants to be charged. So

that happened in December.

 

Two months later in February, Attorney General Bill Barr made this really

unusual announcement that had a big impact on the prosecutors` offices in

New York. He announced that any investigation, any federal criminal

investigation having anything at all to do with Ukraine, like say the Lev

and Igor and potentially the Rudy Giuliani cases, they now needed a few

extra layers of supervision.

 

The attorney general put out this weird notice saying that any new

information about anything related to Ukraine or any Ukraine case, any

decision on opening a new investigation that touched on Ukraine or

expanding any existing investigation, any widening or expansion of existing

matters. Anything that had to do with Ukraine had to be cleared with

Attorney General Bill Barr personally, and it also had to be run through

the U.S. attorney`s office in Brooklyn, the U.S. attorney`s office in the

Eastern District of New York, which is very strange, right?

 

I mean, there is other prosecutors and other districts. There is, for

example, Geoffrey Berman in SDNY prosecuting Lev and Igor and reportedly

investigating Rudy Giuliani, too, and expecting a superseding indictment.

This is the attorney general basically publicly pronouncing that that

office will not be allowed to make important decisions about those

investigations or any prosecution decisions on their own. They had to run

anything they wanted to do not only through the attorney general`s office,

but also through a random other prosecutors office.

 

You have to answer to him too. He is at the same level of you and he is not

in your district, but you have to run everything through him. Well, that

other prosecutor who was put in charge of anything related to Ukraine, his

name is Rich Donoghue, and until today, he was U.S. attorney in the Eastern

District of New York. But now, tonight, he is out. They have given him a

different job at Main Justice and they cleared him out at EDNY to make room

for somebody else.

 

So we don`t know whatever happened to the Rudy Giuliani investigation. We

know that Lev and Igor`s trial has been delayed until after the November

election, but what`s going on between the attorney general and these

ongoing cases touching the president? I mean, we`ve seen a lot of this,

right?

 

But today`s news isn`t a rerun. This isn`t – they just keep doing the same

play over and over again. It`s recursive news.

 

I mean, Bill Barr has now taken out the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C.

He`s taken out the U.S. attorney in SDNY. He has now taken out as of

tonight the U.S. attorney in EDNY.

 

These are all the major prosecutors` offices basically in the country where

there are major ongoing prosecutions and investigations touching on the

president, his businesses, his inaugural, his campaign personnel, and all

the myriad fallout from the Russian effort to help Trump in the last

election. Bill Barr, one by one has been picking off those U.S. attorneys

and removing them from their posts.

 

And like I said, we are at the halfway mark of this year. We are at the

halfway mark right now for 2020. It`s hump day for the year.

 

But it`s kind of like Groundhog Day for the Trump administration and the

rule of law. They just keep doing this. We keep seeing the same things

again and again.

 

There is also a very familiar feel in this recursive news we are now

getting in the headlines about coronavirus. I mean, it was back in February

when the Trump administration screwed up the development of an American

test for COVID that was sort of the original sin in terms of why we didn`t

have testing when the rest of the whole world did. That screw-up was in

February.

 

By March, as case numbers were ticking up and it was starting to look very

serious in some parts of the country, we were seeing the consequence of

that testing failure by the Trump administration all over. This was a

headline from back in mid-March in the “Denver Post”. Line cut off at

Denver`s drive-through coronavirus after wait time hits four hours.

 

This was a headline from New Mexico around the same time, again, back in

March. Las Cruces, New Mexico. Long lines for coronavirus testing in Las

Cruces, supplies run out after just two hours.

 

At the time, that New York, again, this is months ago, “New York Times” is

running big national stories with headlines like this one, The lost month:

how a failure to test blinded the U.S. to COVID-19. You see the date on

that, that`s from March, a lost month.

 

That was the lamentation, right, back in March. Wow, we lost a month. We

lost a whole month between February and March that we could have been

testing for coronavirus. We could have been understanding our epidemic. We

could have been working on it. We lost a month. It set us back a whole

month.

 

Well, now it`s July. What`s our testing situation like now? We lost a

month. We had that time to catch up. Now it`s July.

 

Now we`re halfway through the year. Now we`ve had multiple months to try to

sort out those early problems, but this is still what the local news is

like around the country right now.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The family clinic has been open for testing for about

three months now, but in recent weeks, lines have snaked through the

parking lot. People waiting for hours to get tested.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell me how long have you guys been out here?

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve been here since around 6:40.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh. What time is it now?

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now it`s 11:12. We`ve advanced a few feet I want to say.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Giovanni Salazar (ph) and his family one of many

waiting in line to get tested at the MD family clinic.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We thought we were going to be here for two hours,

three. But we`re heading towards five, six hours now.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thousands have rushed to Utah COVID testing centers in

recent weeks. Medical professionals saying they`re seeing a 50 percent

increase in those who are wanting to be tested.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s making for long lines at the drive-up testing

sites.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have higher demand because of prevalence in the

community.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, according to health directors, this backlog is

occurring statewide.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some people are even being turned away due to the

influx of those who want to be tested. But health officials emphasize

although not everybody needs it, those who have been in close contact with

someone who has a confirmed case should consider testing.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Roma Nation (ph) says the clinic is trying to

prioritize those who had direct exposure to COVID-19.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The message we`re trying to get out to folks basically

is to prioritize essential workers and especially health care worker,

because those are the ones we need on the front lines to be able to work.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The clinic had to create a waiting list due to the

skyrocketing demand for testing. This week, it started off with 30 names.

Now it`s more than 200 patients long.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, at our mobile drive-through yesterday, we

literally had the line filled before the official start time, which was

9:00 a.m.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW: It`s deja vu, right? I mean, that`s all local news coverage from

now. Our testing was a disaster in March, right? That was supposed to be

our lost month, with the Trump administration screwing it up in February,

and as of March it was still screwed up because we were a month because of

what they had done that was March.

 

Our testing was a disaster in March and we thought we knew why. Why is our

testing still a disaster in July? Why have we got people in hours` long

lines and waiting lists with hundreds of people on them, right? Why are we

now having people wait three, four, five, six, seven days for test results,

right?

 

Those were local news clips that I just showed you from Dallas, Fort Worth,

from Salt City, Utah, from Panama City, Florida. But, honestly, pick your

poison. Pick anywhere.

 

This is the local news tonight in Alabama. Long lines for testing in

Alabama.

 

This is the news in Texas. Officials in Texas` big cities say their public

testing sites are being strained. Austin, Texas, has begun to limit who can

be tested.

 

In Georgia, Georgia sees testing systems strained with rise in COVID cases.

Here is “The Tennessean” tonight, long lines reported at coronavirus

testing sites across mid state.

 

Here is “The L.A. Times” today. As of Wednesday, yesterday, there were no

available appointments for coronavirus testing at L.A. County or L.A. City-

run test sites.

 

Here is “The Washington Post” today. As cases surge, long lines for testing

sometimes stretch miles in the summer heat.

 

Americans are trying to do the right thing. Americans are trying to get

tested because they want to do the responsible thing, because they want to

keep themselves safe. They want to keep their family members safe.

 

Americans are trying to do the right thing and being very freakin` patient

about it, I might add. It is not the American people who are failing here.

It is the government that has failed to make testing available in any

workable way, even after all this time.

 

And so, okay, even if you forgive them their initial screw-up, why months

later are we still looking at the same Groundhog Day headlines about the

inability of people to get tested? I mean, even the major lab companies are

now reporting that they are not able to keep up. They are not able to

increase testing.

 

Wow. There is rising case numbers all over the country in most states right

now. They`re not prepared for that. They are not able to scale up. Why is

that?

 

Because even for the biggest lab companies in the country, which are the

same giant lab companies that we had at the start of this mess, over these

past few months, the government has done no work to make sure the big lab

companies in this country would scale up, would develop capacity to handle

what we would need. We just squandered that time.

 

Testing didn`t get any better. And the same goes for PPE. I know this is

even harder to believe than the testing stuff, but this was today. This is

not some historical artifact from the bad old days. This was today.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): This document confirms what our committee has

been hearing for weeks, that we face serious shortages in personal

protective equipment, including masks and gowns. For example, page 4, shows

demand for N95 masks dwarfed supply in March, April and May. It also shows

that we will need more than 160 million N95 masks in July alone.

 

But the imports and domestic production together will only supply about 130

million masks. That leaves a projected shortfall of about 30 million masks.

 

How is it possible that more than five months into this crisis, our country

is still facing the possible shortage of 30 million N95 masks this month?

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW: This month. Yeah. How is that possible that more than five months

into this crisis, our country is still facing the possible shortage of 30

million N95 masks this month? How is that possible?

 

But we are more than five months into this crisis. I mean, for short

hadn`t, it`s easy to remember. This thing is called COVID-19 because it was

discovered at the end of the year 2019.

 

We are now officially tonight halfway through 2020, and we still haven`t

sorted out PPE. Not even for health workers.

 

NBC News obtained a document today showing that the major medical supply

companies in the United States have just warned Congress that there is not

enough PPE. The supply lines have not been shored up that would allow us to

make enough quickly enough, and the shortages are back, and they are real.

 

Quote, the Health Industry Distributors Association tells committee staff

it has been imploring the Trump administration to create a national supply

chain for months. The companies told committee staff that obtaining

personal protective equipment for U.S. medical personnel and patients under

current conditions is, quote, not sustainable.

 

This is the medical supply industry itself sounding the alarm in July. And

again, this sounds familiar because it sounds like a rerun of the PPE

headlines that we saw months ago in March. But this is now, as we head into

the back half of 2020 because this stuff didn`t get fixed.

 

In the time that we had, in the time we thought we bought ourselves with

all the sacrifices that were made by the American people, right, after the

huge big first spike that was centered on New York and the Tri-State area,

it turns out we didn`t shore ourselves up as a country in terms of testing,

and we didn`t shore ourselves up as a country in terms of PPE. And in the

meantime, all the states sort of randomly opened up without guidance and

without regard for whether they had their own outbreaks under observation

and under control. So now we are into our second peak, which is already

much higher than the first, and it`s all over the country.

 

And now what do we do? Because we are living – we`re living this again. We

lived in April through the heartbreak, right, of seeing hospitals in New

York pushed to the breaking point. Just the moral disaster there, the

American catastrophe there. We lived through that in April with New York

hospitals.

 

Well, today this is Texas. This is the front page of the Houston chronicle

right now. Stay at home this Fourth of July weekend. It is the safest thing

to do.

 

And that`s the front page wraparound – wraparound front page of the

“Houston Chronicle” right now, because this is the news in Houston right

now. This is the headline inside the paper.

 

Texas medical center hospitals go into phase 2 surge plans as ICU capacity

exceeds 100 percent. Texas Medical Center, which boasts 1,330 ICU beds

under base operations, had 1,350 such patients in-house on Wednesday, 1,350

patients in ICUs.

 

Roberta Schwartz, president of Houston Methodist Hospital says, quote, it`s

actually possible that we could become the next New York City. I can`t

believe we`re now staring down the barrel of that gun.

 

That said, here is one thing that isn`t a rerun of something we saw a few

months ago or a few weeks ago, and it shows you, I think positively, that

we have grown a little bit. We have at least learned something.

 

In the interim, while we have been blowing it as a country and wasting all

of the time that we earned ourselves with the sacrifices that the American

people made, while we have been continually screwing up, we have learned

something. We have learned, for example, that masks work pretty well to

slow the spread of this thing. If you wear a covering that covers your

mouth and your nose, that is going to make you much less likely to infect

other people if you have coronavirus, particularly if you don`t know you

have it.

 

Well, tonight, the Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, announced a

mask requirement for anybody out in public in Texas. It applies to anybody

in any county in Texas that has more than 20 cases, there is now a mask

requirement statewide.

 

We are capable of learning. We are capable of figuring some stuff out about

how to do this better than we have done in the past. We are capable of not

just squandering all of our time and making all the same mistakes and

enduring the same horrible headlines time and time again where you have to

keep checking the dateline over and over again because you can`t believe

it`s July and you`re still seeing that, when you saw it`s all through

February, all through March, all through April, and you thought the terror

of April made it sure that we would never do this again.

 

We are capable of growing and getting better. We can do it. We can learn, I

swear.

 

Now, I do not know whether or not to include the federal government in that

under the leadership of Donald Trump as president, but here`s a test.

Because here, tonight, right now as we speak is this new question, this

new, very practical, very realistic question of why there isn`t a federal

mask requirement?

 

Texas just did it. Texas just did. Why not the country?

 

Is that the one thing this administration might conceivably get it together

to do even as they failed in every other thing they were assigned? Could

they conceivably get it together to do that? And if so, how much of a dent

could it make?

 

A live question tonight like it`s never been before, and that`s next. Stay

with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW: In Germany, they`re at nearly every train station, these big

vending machines that say masken. Masken. I don`t speak German, but I know

what that means, “masken” across the top.

 

Face masks have been required on public transportation and certain stores

in that country since April. So, this is part of how Germany encourages

people to follow that mandate. Just find a vending machine.

 

In Singapore, where masks are also compulsory, residents can scan their

government-issued IDs at any one of more than 1,200 kiosks. Just scan your

idea and how pop two free face masks.

 

In Austria, face coverings are required when entering supermarkets and drug

stores. And so, the government hands them out to you before you enter any

of those types of establishments. Dozens of countries have adopted mask

ordinances since the coronavirus pandemic struck.

 

And it would appear that they are on to something. Researchers at the

University of Washington project that the lives of 33,000 Americans could

be saved just in the next three months, just by October, if we adopted near

universal mask use in this country.

 

With that data in mind, one very prominent public health official from the

Obama administration is calling on the United States to adopt a national

mask requirement.

 

Dr. Howard Koh says in part having everyone wear a mask in public is a

simple common sense measure that has proven to significantly slow the

spread of the virus. We have seen tremendous success in countries around

the world that have quelled their outbreaks. With a vaccine still months

away, a mask requirement will free up vital economic activity without

spreading the risk of the massive coronavirus. We have to do everything in

our power to protect the precious health of all Americans.

 

You know, if there is somebody who is an expert on this type of stuff who

we might want to listen to stuff on this, Dr. Koh is one of those people.

He served as assistant secretary of health under President Obama. In that

capacity, he oversaw 12 public health offices including the office of the

surgeon general. In addition to all the other public health initiatives he

ran during the Obama administration, he also helped coordinate the national

response to the H1N1 pandemic.

 

He has had an incredible prolific career on top of all of that. He also

served for six years as the public health commissioner the great state of

Massachusetts. This is somebody who knows a thing or two about enacting big

public health policies and thinking how they can practically be put into

place.

 

He is somebody who understands the science, has done the work on the state

level and the federal level.

 

Joining us now is Dr. Howard Koh, professor of public health leadership at

the Harvard School of Health now. He also served as assistant secretary to

health in the Obama administration.

 

Dr. Koh, thank you so much for making time tonight. I`m really looking

forward to you talking about this.

 

DR. HOWARD KOH, FORMER ASSISTANT HHS SECRETARY, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION:

Thanks for having me, Rachel.

 

MADDOW: Since you have been talking about this, and because of your

pedigree and what you have been through, I have been thinking about the

prospect of a national mask requirement. I saw Vice President Biden was

asked about it and said he supports the concept this week.

 

But I now tonight feel like this is a live practical question for the

country in a way that it hasn`t been before because of this decision that

was just made by Governor Greg Abbott in Texas. I just wanted to ask if you

share that sense or if you think I might be approaching this the wrong way.

 

KOH: No, I think you got it right.

 

And let`s take a global view on this, Rachel. As you pointed out, we`re now

into month six of the worst pandemic this country has endured in a century,

and around the world we see so many countries that`s got to the other side

of this crisis, their cases going down, countries in Europe and in Asia,

Australia, New Zealand.

 

But here in the United States we have trends going the wrong way. We`ve

been setting records over the last several weeks as you noted, some 55,000

new cases today. My good friend Dr. Fauci is concerned about those numbers

rising to 100,000 new cases sooner rather than later.

 

And so this is really alarming. And you have to ask yourself why aren`t we

getting a better handle on this pandemic right now? And it`s because other

countries have realized the power of prevention, the power of public

health.

 

Right now, as you know, we don`t have a vaccine yet, although there is a

lot of research. We don`t have a cure yet, although we have some great

advancements in therapeutics. But what we have is the power of public

health, social distancing, hand hygiene, and then wearing masks.

 

And you pointed out the very important scientific data that is coming out

almost weekly now showing that masks decrease transmission, and it can

potentially save lives. And it`s time right now for our country to embrace

the maximum prevention possible.

 

Now the announcement by the governor of Texas today was welcome news, but

it`s not enough. We only have 20 states with a mandate for mask wearing.

Well need to make it 50 states. We need to move as fast as possible toward

a national coverage, a national plan to address this national crisis.

 

MADDOW: I feel like we are living through a pivot point right now when we

are seeing – certainly there are still people who have decided that masks

are a deep state plot to, you know, rewire their fillings and take away

their guns. We`ve seen conspiratorial stuff and we`ve seen people still

opposing masks as if they represent some sort of grave infringement on

freedom.

 

But at the same time, we are seeing even high profile Republican and

conservative politicians start to change both their own public behavior and

the way they are talking about these things, including it should be noted

the president softening his tone and talking about how he thinks that masks

are good and he doesn`t mind the way he looks in a mask. He himself has

moved quite some distance in terms of his public remarks.

 

How fast do you think this transition could happen? Is there some sort of

public health allegory we should look at in terms of other things that had

initial resistance what the public ultimately came around to in terms of

understanding when this sort of transformation that you`re describing needs

to be happening, when we could expect it or hope for it?

 

KOH: Well, right now, Rachel, we can all make our plans, but it`s the virus

that is dictating the outcomes. So in face of, that we need to practice the

maximum prevention we can. Now more and more people are starting to

understand the science here and the fact that this can be very powerful for

public health, that we now understand that if we wear a mask you not only

protect yourself, but you protect others around you, your family, your

friends, people you care about and love.

 

So this is a way actually of boosting freedom for people as we talk about

the July 4th weekend, of freedom to interact with other people, freedom to

go out in society and help businesses get started again – freedom from

danger, freedom from infection and hospitalization. So we need to rally

around this national strategy for the country, not do it state by state.

 

MADDOW: Dr. Howard Koh, professor of public health leadership at the

Harvard School of Public Health – the way you just described that, the way

you framed that right now in those closing remarks is absolutely priceless.

It shows that you were assistant secretary of health during the Obama

administration, sir. Thanks for talking to us about this.

 

And please come back. I think that we are in the middle of a transition

here. We`d love to talk to you about it as this policy develops.

 

KOH: Thanks so much, Rachel.

 

MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW: In the aftermath of President Trump trying to extort the nation of

Ukraine to help him against Joe Biden in this fall`s election, it`s still

so crazy that that happened, in the wake of the president`s impeachment for

that bit of craziness, part of the fallout from that debacle was legal.

 

Donald Trump`s Attorney General Bill Barr set up a whole unusual new

command structure for all federal prosecutors who might be thinking about

bringing any criminal charges that had anything to do with the nation of

Ukraine, like, for example, the prosecutors in the Southern District of New

York who were reportedly aggressively investigating the president`s lawyer

and Ukraine fixer Rudy Giuliani. Any such investigations under this new

chain of command suddenly had to be run through the U.S. attorney for the

Eastern District of New York, a Trump appointee named Richard Donoghue.

 

It was a seemingly random decision by the U.S. attorney general, but it got

weirder today when as I mentioned at the top of the show, Richard Donoghue,

the U.S. attorney was moved out of the job at the EDNY. He is no longer the

U.S. attorney there.

 

Now, it remains to be seen who will ultimately be put in charge there and

whether that person will be tasked with riding herd on any and all

Ukrainian cases in any jurisdiction anywhere in the country. So that`s been

weird.

 

But there has also been fallout from the president`s impeachment for the

people who testified in the impeachment inquiry, in particularly for

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, in his role n the National Security

Council.

 

He listened in on Trump`s infamous phone call last July in which the

president pressed the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.

Lieutenant Colonel Vindman`s testimony appeared to particularly get under

the president`s skin.

 

And as soon as the impeachment process was over, when Senate Republicans

acquitted the president in the Senate, not only was Lieutenant Colonel

Vindman fired from the National Security Council and escorted off the White

House grounds by security, so was Colonel Vindman`s twin brother, who

didn`t testify about anything having to do with impeachment, but you know,

he does look a lot like the guy who did. So he had to get fired too?

 

Lieutenant Colonel Vindman was booted from the White House in what appears

to have been a clear act of retaliation for his testimony in the

impeachment inquiry. But he remains an active duty U.S. Army officer, and

he is currently due to be promoted to not lieutenant colonel, but full

colonel.

 

That said, a couple of weeks ago trouble started brewing. “The Washington

Post” was first to report concern among a number of military and government

officials that Colonel Vindman`s promotion was in jeopardy, again, because

of his testimony in the impeachment. Usually, the Army and the Pentagon

sign off on a big long list of hundreds of officers being promoted to full

colonel each year, and then the White House signs off sort of pro forma,

and then it goes to the Senate for a big confirmation vote.

 

But multiple officials told “The Post” that the list was unusually delayed

this year over fears that the White House would strike Colonel Vindman`s

name from this year`s list. “The New York Times” followed with reporting

that White House staffers were signaling to the Pentagon that they wanted

Colonel Vindman`s dropped from the promotions list before that list even

got forwarded to the White House. They wanted the Pentagon to retaliate

against him so the White House wouldn`t have to.

 

Well, that`s all been dangling out there. We`ve been waiting to see what

was going to happen. Until today, a U.S. senator took a pretty drastic step

to try to get this thing settled and in the right way.

 

U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth sits on the Armed Services Committee. She said

today that she will block over a thousand military promotions from clearing

the Senate. She will block everybody on the list unless she gets written

assurances from the secretary of defense that he has not and he will not

block Colonel Alexander Vindman`s promotion.

 

Senator Duckworth said in a statement, quote, this goes far beyond any

single military officer. It is about protecting a merit-based system from

political corruption and unlawful retaliation.

 

Senator Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq war veteran. She is a Purple Heart

recipient like Lieutenant Colonel Vindman. She`s in her first term as a

senator from Illinois. She is also reportedly on Joe Biden`s short list as

a potential vice presidential running mate.

 

Senator Duckworth joins us live here next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW: Senator Tammy Duckworth announced today that she is threatening to

hold up the confirmation of more than 1,100 military promotions unless and

until Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirms that the Trump administration

will not continue to retaliate against Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman

for his testimony in the impeachment. There have been recent reports that

the White House has been pressuring the Pentagon to essentially take

Colonel Vindman`s name off the list of officers who are set to be promoted.

 

Senator Duckworth is taking direct action to try to block the White House

from doing that.

 

Joining us now is Senator Duckworth of Illinois, a member of the Senate

Armed Service Committee, veteran of the Iraq war, a Purple Heart recipient,

former assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

 

Senator Duckworth, I really appreciate you taking the time to be here

tonight. Thanks for being here.

 

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): Well, thanks for covering this issue, Rachel.

It`s so important for our military.

 

MADDOW: Let me – let me hear just from you directly why you think it is so

important and how you decided to approach it in this way that you are.

 

DUCKWORTH: Well, the military is supposedly an apolitical organization. It

should not be politicized. And I watched under this president that he

continues to politicize the military, and most recently by using (AUDIO

GAP) helicopters to suppress peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square.

 

In this case, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, if he is on the list, has earned

his way to the list. In order to get on the promotion list, you have to

have been recommended to be on there by your rater, your intermediate

rater, and your senior rater. So, three officers above you have to concur

that you should get on the list.

 

All I`m saying is that if his name is on the list, his name should not be

taken off by the DOD and that it should be allowed to go forward with his

name still on the list.

 

I`m afraid that the White House is pressuring the DOD to take Lieutenant

Colonel Vindman`s name off the list after he`s earned his way on to it

based on his job performance, as he was evaluated by his supervisors.

 

MADDOW: Do you have any response in hand as of yet from either Defense

Secretary Esper`s office or more broadly from the Defense Department? And

what are you expecting them to do in terms of responding to what you`ve

announced today?

 

DUCKWORTH: So all we`re asking them to do, Rachel, is very simple. All I`m

ask them to do (AUDIO GAP) certify by letter that if his name is on the

list they will not take it off the list before they send it to the White

House. That`s simple.

 

Basically, I`m telling them don`t politicize promotions of military

officers. Don`t let this White House politicize this process.

 

Their response was promptly to politicize it by, you know, accusing me of

holding up the promotions of thousands of officers and all of this stuff.

They immediately responded by being political about it.

 

And all I was saying is, just send me a letter and confirm that you will

not take his name off the list if he`s on it. That is pretty simple to do.

 

MADDOW: Senator, let me ask you about another right now just jaw-dropping

divide between the president – what appeared to be the president`s

interests and the interests of the U.S. military. I know that you`ve been

briefed, along with other senators about what`s – these intelligence

reports that Russia was apparently paying bounties for American bodies,

paying bounties to Taliban fighters and others in Afghanistan to kill U.S.

troops. There`s been open source reporting in “The Washington Post” and

elsewhere that the intelligence community believes that, in fact, those

bounties were paid because some American soldier`s deaths were initiated

because of that Russian program.

 

The White House apparently believes, the president apparently believes that

there`s no response that is necessary to this. I just have to ask your take

on this and how you think this will ultimately resolve.

 

DUCKWORTH: Well, the way it will resolve is if the administration actually

starts conducting an investigation into whether or not bounties were paid

for the death of American servicemen and women. The briefing that I

received just the other day from the Department of Defense was by people

who were not the ones that could answer my questions or any of the

questions from the senators in the Armed Services Committee that were in

the room.

 

We asked them some simple things, just, do you know if the president was

briefed on February 27th as the open source reporting says he was on these

bounties? And they have no information on that.

 

The folks that they sent to talk to us were not people who could answer any

of our questions. They did not send Gina Haspel to talk with the Armed

Services Committee. They did not send – allow us to talk to General

Miller, who is a U.S. forces commander in Afghanistan. We didn`t get to

talk to anyone who would actually shed light on this.

 

But I think it`s very telling, Rachel. The fact of the matter is that, the

president cares more about the naming of U.S. bases and of keeping the

names of dead Confederates than he does about whether or not Americans were

killed with bounties placed on their heads by the Russians.

 

He`s not done anything about it. He hasn`t even bothered to come out and

comfort the families of fallen heroes by saying he`s going to look into it.

If anything, all he`s done is deny, deny, deny and plead ignorance.

 

And we know that he was briefed. I mean, reports have shown that he was in

his presidential daily brief as early as February. If he did not pay

attention (AUDIO GAP) and has done nothing about it, that is dereliction of

duty as Vice President Biden has said.

 

MADDOW: Speaking of Vice President Biden, I`d be remiss if I didn`t ask you

about these reports that you are being seriously considered as a running

mate for Vice President Biden. I know you`re not going to answer me, but

I`m just going to ask you anyway if you can tell me whether or not you are

– you are in these discussions, and if this is a job that you`d like to do

if Vice President Biden asked you to join the ticket.

 

DUCKWORTH: Rachel, I`m all about serving my country. And whether it was in

the cockpit of my Black Hawk or in the House, and now in the Senate, our

country is facing some really dire crises right now, and we need to be able

to dig our way out of it. I believe that Joe Biden is the best person.

 

He has the empathy, the understanding and the ability to bounce back and

help this nation to bind our wounds and to (AUDIO GAP) and to come back

from them and to lead us out of the mess the Trump administration has put

us in, whether with COVID-19, our economy, with our military overseas.

 

And so, whatever it is that I can get Joe Biden into the White House, I

will do that. They have their process for the vice presidential selection

and vetting committee, whatever that is. I`m going to leave them to it.

 

I`m just going to focus on doing everything I can to get Joe Biden elected

because he has the kind of person with the resiliency and the (AUDIO GAP)

empathy for the suffering of the American people that we need right now.

 

MADDOW: Senator Tammy Duckworth of the great state of Illinois – Senator,

I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us about all these

things tonight. I know your time is precious. Thanks for being here.

 

DUCKWORTH: Thank you.

 

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

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW: There are three U.S. states right now, three U.S. states that

aren`t on the East Coast, that aren`t in the Northeast of the country where

the number of new coronavirus cases aren`t rising right now. It is only

Indiana, Nebraska and South Dakota. Those are the only three states that

don`t have rising numbers right now outside of the Northeast. But, of

course, that can be fixed.

 

Tomorrow, the president is headed to South Dakota to do a fireworks thing

at Mount Rushmore. This is the governor of South Dakota, Republican Kristi

Noem talking about plans for that event.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: We will have a large event at July 3rd.

We told those folks that have concerned that they can stay home, but those

who want to come and join us, we`ll be giving out free face masks if they

choose to wear one, but wee won`t be social distancing. We`re asking them

to come, be ready to celebrate, to enjoy the freedoms and the liberties

that we have in this country.

 

(END VIDEOI CLIP)

 

MADDOW: We explicitly will not be socially distancing. We ask you to come

and be ready to celebrate. We will not be social distancing.

 

South Dakota, as I mentioned, is one of the few states in this country that

looked like they were maybe going to start to get out from under this

thing. But you know what, it`s only a recovery if you can keep it. And this

is a heck of a way to do that.

 

That`s going to do it for us tonight. Thanks for being with us tonight.

 

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

 

Good evening, Lawrence.

 

                                                                                                               

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

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