Trump grades himself TRANSCRIPT: 3/16/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell

Guests:
Michael Osterholm, Jonathan Quick, Austan Goolsbee, Amy Klobuchar, Eric Swalwell, Vin Gupta
Transcript:

 

 

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, they`re going to happen. 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yes.

 

LAWRENCE: We know that. We just don`t know who will happen with turnout. We 

don`t know what parts of the electorate might be less likely to turn out. 

 

MADDOW: Did you see the statement from the Ohio governor and secretary of 

state in the last few minutes? 

 

O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s – 

 

MADDOW: Yes.

 

O`DONNELL: OK, so Ohio is a question. 

 

MADDOW: It`s a question. 

 

O`DONNELL: Yes.

 

MADDOW: I mean, DeWine wants for it to not happen and joins a lawsuit, 

loses on court on that and he and the secretary of state say in the 

statement tonight, it simply isn`t possible to hold an election tomorrow 

that will be considered legitimate by Ohioans. 

 

So, it`s – to me, that`s part of the drama here is what happens in Ohio 

and in those other states. 

 

O`DONNELL: So, it`s going to be a live action scene tomorrow night. 

 

MADDOW: That`s right. Suspense of all sorts. Thank you, Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL: Yes. Thank you, Rachel. 

 

Well, House of Representatives just passed its technically corrected final 

version of a bill to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Congressman Eric 

Swalwell will join us later in the hour on that legislation.

 

Senator Amy Klobuchar will join us to explain why United States Senate led 

by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has done nothing for days now while 

simply waiting for the House bill to arrive. 

 

We`ll also get Senator Klobuchar`s reaction to last night`s Democratic 

presidential debate in which Joe Biden promised to choose a woman as his 

vice presidential running mate if he wins the Democratic presidential 

nomination and my interview with Joe Biden a week ago included a very 

strong hint from Joe Biden that he would choose a woman who was on the 

presidential debate stage with him already this year. He said that he 

thought it was a very important factor that the vice presidential candidate 

have experience already at that level on the presidential debate stage. So 

that means, Amy Klobuchar is one of the women who has that experience. 

We`ll talk to her about that later in this hour. 

 

Today, at the White House press briefing on coronavirus pandemic, the very 

first question was about the time frame Americans should anticipate for 

when the situation might begin to get better in the United States and in 

response to that question, Donald Trump said two words that seemed to shock 

the stock market into further losses and surely came as a shock to most 

Trump voters who polls show have mostly not taken the coronavirus pandemic 

seriously. Those two words that changed the world for those people today 

were July and August. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER: If Americans really were band together and do what the White 

House is suggesting, how quickly can this turn? 

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My favorite question, I asked 

it all the time. How many times, Anthony, I think I ask that question every 

day and speak to Deborah, I speak to a lot of them. I get the opinions. 

 

So, it seems to me that if we do a really good job, we`ll not only hold the 

death down to a level that is much lower than the other way had we not done 

a good job, but people are talking about July, August, something like that. 

So, it could be right in that period of time where I say it washes through. 

Other people don`t like that term, but where it washes through. 

 

REPORTER: So is this the new normal until the height of the summer? 

 

TRUMP: We`ll see what happens but they think August could be July, could be 

longer than that. I`ve asked that question many, many times. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: That is by far the most reasonable answer Donald Trump has ever 

given to a question like that about the pandemic. It sent Wall Street on a 

spiral of further losses in the remaining minutes of the trading day after 

Donald Trump said July and August. They then ended with the worst single-

day losses since the Black Monday crash of 1987 on the stock market. The 

words July and August surely a came as a shock to Trump voters who get 

their news from the same defective sources Donald Trump uses. 

 

An NBC News poll released this weekend showed that Democrats already knew 

where this was going because none of them were believing what Donald Trump 

had to say about it, and most Republicans had no idea where we would be 

just two days after the poll was released. Seventy-nine percent of 

Democrats knew days ago that the worst was yet to come and only 40 percent 

of Republicans knew that because they had been listening to Donald Trump. 

 

The biggest reason for the Republican failure on this reality test was 

their belief in the words of Donald Trump. Here`s what Donald Trump told 

those unfortunate people who believed him last month. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP: Now, the virus that we`re talking about having to do – you know, a 

lot of people goes away in April with the heat, as the heat comes in. 

Typically, that will go away in April. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: April has now become July and August. And here is what the 

president said, actually said this just two and a half weeks ago. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP: When you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going 

to be down to close to zero. That`s a pretty good job we`ve done. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Yes, that would have been a pretty good job. But that is not 

what happened. We now have at least 4,421 reported cases and at least 84 

reported deaths in the United States. And today, 2-1/2 weeks after claiming 

he personally was in charge of a government defense against the coronavirus 

that was going to get our cases down to zero, Donald Trump said he`s doing 

a great job. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER: On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your response to 

this crisis? 

 

TRUMP: I`d rate it at ten. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: It`s important to remember that no other president in history 

would have answered a question like that that way. Every previous president 

would have recognized that the question was a test of his humility and his 

competence at the same time. And so, every previous president would have 

found a way of defending his competence in the crisis but would have humbly 

refused to give himself a grade. That is the minimally decent way for any 

human being to handle a question like that but Donald Trump does not have 

minimal decency, which is why once again, today, Donald Trump did not speak 

one word of sorrow over the loss of life. Donald Trump did not say one word 

of sympathy to the people who have lost their loved ones to this pandemic.

 

As usual, there wasn`t a trace of feeling exhibited by Donald Trump today 

for the pain and tragedy that this pandemic has brought to the people of 

the United States and the world. In his briefing yesterday, Donald Trump 

did very clearly express a feeling and he expressed it very convincingly, 

and it was the very first thing he said yesterday. He was so excited about 

it and the feeling that Donald Trump expressed in response to a pandemic 

that is killing Americans and is on its way to making thousands and 

thousands of people sick in this country with a possible ultimate death 

toll in the millions around the world, the feelings Donald Trump felt in 

the face of all of that yesterday was happy. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP: Beautiful day outside. I think we have some great things to talk 

about. I`ll start by discussing the Federal Reserve, as you know, it just 

happened ten minutes ago but to me, it makes me very happy and I want to 

congratulate the Federal Reserve. For starters, they`ve lowered the Fed 

rate from what it was from 1 to 1.25 and it`s been lowered down to zero to 

0.25 or .25. So it`s 0 to 0.25. That`s a big difference. That`s quite a 

bit, about a point. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Happy. A briefing on the deadly pandemic and he was happy. 

 

And he didn`t mind telling you he was happy because interest on his 

personal debts went down even lower yesterday. And it now as low as it can 

possibly go, interest cannot go lower than that, and so, the president is 

happy. He didn`t realize that lowering the rate to zero was a desperate 

move by the Fed as the economy flipping head over hills into a recession 

that could, depending on how long this continues, become a depression. 

 

The stock market correctly perceived the Feds` move for what it was, utter 

desperation so when the stock market opened it pretty much instantly 

crashed and trading had to be stopped. Happy was the only emotion the 

president expressed yesterday, the only feeling. He did not publicly share 

his feelings if he had any about the dead and the dying and the sick and 

the doctors and the nurses trying to save those lives and the family 

members trying to save their own lives while they watch loved ones slip 

away. 

 

There is not a trace of feeling in this president of the United States for 

any of the pain that America and the world are feeling tonight and there 

was a apparently no expression of such feelings by the president on a 

conference call with governors today where he told them not to expect much 

from the federal government. 

 

“The New York Times” listened to a recording of the call in which the 

president told the governors, respirators, ventilators, all the equipment, 

try getting it yourselves, Mr. Trump told the governors during the 

conference call, a recording of which was shared with the “New York Times.” 

We will be backing you but try getting it yourselves, point of sales much 

better and much more direct if you can get it yourself. The suggestion 

surprised some governors who have been scrambling to contain the outbreak 

and increasingly looking to the federal government with help with 

equipment, personnel and financial aid. 

 

After that conference call that the president had with the governors, one 

of those governors, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said this. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: This is a national problem and we need 

federal leadership. You look at the countries who have handled this. I 

don`t care if it China, South Korea, if it`s Italy. They were handled by 

national leadership. This is a national problem. 

 

It cannot be done in a piecemeal method. You need federal parameters to 

stop the national patch work of city reduction closings. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight are Dr. Jonathan Quick, 

professor at the Duke Global Health Institute and author of “The End of 

Epidemics”. He`s a former director of the World Health Organization. 

 

And Dr. Michael Osterholm, he`s the director of the Centers for Disease 

Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He`s the author of 

“Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs.” 

 

Dr. Quick, what was your reaction to July and August as the possible first 

turning in the right direction here? 

 

DR. JONATHAN QUICK, FORMER DIRECTOR, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Well, it 

depends on what we do now. I mean, we have to – we have the chance to slow 

this down as we say, flatten the curve as Korea has done and China has 

done, get down to zero cases. But we got to move quickly and aggressively, 

and we won`t be able to know when it`s going to start coming down until it 

hits that point. It depends on what we do, what the government does and 

what the virus does. 

 

O`DONNELL: In your view, Dr. Quick, what do we have to do in order to get 

that to the point where it would turn in July or August? 

 

QUICK: Well, first of all, we do need one plan, one team. This does have to 

be a whole as society, whole a country effort. You cannot fight a virus 

that moves around the country with scattered teams and scattered plans. We 

tried that in 1918 when there was no plan and it was a four fold difference 

among the mortality in different cities. So, we need a unified plan and we 

need unified messaging. 

 

We can`t confuse the public on something where people are feeling scared 

and confused already. They need clear, consistent messages that are aligned 

with what our public health officials are saying. We have a great public 

health team in charge. They need to lead on the messages. 

 

O`DONNELL: Dr. Osterholm, messages that came out this weekend, there were 

two messages that came out from two Republican office holders, both of 

these were raised to the president today in the briefing. One was 

Republican Congressman Devin Nunes encouraging people in his California 

congressional district, which is a largely farming district to go ahead and 

go out and go to any restaurants they want, Governor of Oklahoma did the 

same thing. The governor of Oklahoma tweeted a picture of himself out in 

public with his children in a public dining area. 

 

Today, the president was asked about that after it had already been said 

that nationally, everywhere in the country, no one should assemble in 

groups of more than ten and people should not be going to restaurants, and 

the president refused to say that there was anything wrong with what the 

governor of Oklahoma was suggesting and to go back to Dr. Quick`s point 

about speaking with one voice, the governor of Oklahoma is speaking with a 

completely different voice from virtually everyone else we`re hearing from 

on this. 

 

What would you say to the people of Oklahoma? 

 

DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR DISEASE RESEARCH & POLICY: 

Well, first of all, we have to realize that this virus will impact all 50 

states and it will have a significant impact. So what everyone does today 

doesn`t dictate whether the virus will go away or stay. It`s here. 

 

The second point in follow-up to the previous question is I`d like to add, 

you know, this virus, if you look in China arrived in mid-November even 

with the most suppressive human movement activities everywhere people 

really were almost in jail in their homes. This virus is still being 

transmitted there, some five months later and once they lift the movement, 

restrictions on these people and they go back to work, I think they`re 

going to see a resurgence in China. That`s a lesson for us.

 

I think that this virus clearly has legs that will take it for many, many 

months and the only way that that wouldn`t happen is if, suddenly, all of 

us got it and finally we all became immune from that or died. So I think 

any time we`re talking about what we`re going to do in this country, we 

have to realize, this is not a Minneapolis blizzard we`re getting ready 

for. This is a coronavirus winter that`s going to last for many, many 

months. 

 

So, when you say many, many months, where do you see July and August in 

this? 

 

OSTERHOLM: I think it will blow right past them. First of all, remember if 

we`re successful at blunting this as we just heard flattening the curve, 

that means it extends it out and one of the things that we want to do is we 

want to use the kind of public health activities that we believe can really 

blunt this and pull down the number of cases but that`s very different than 

saying we`ll prevent cases. With this kind of transmission where it`s 

spread basically through the air, people have contact with each other as we 

see with influenza and get infected, I think this thing is going to infect 

anywhere from 20 to 60 percent of the U.S. population between now and the 

end of the year. Anybody who thinks this is going to be over with by the 

end of the summer I think will be sorely surprised. 

 

O`DONNELL: Dr. Quick, to go back to this question of July and August having 

heard what he says, what is your view of where we`re headed there and I 

don`t think the statement today at the White House meant to say that it 

would be over with by July and August, but just July and August will be the 

first time we make a turn in an improved direction. 

 

QUICK: Well, again, I think it – I think it tough – I agree with him this 

is here to stay and it is going to keep moving, and whether or not the 

dates really depend on how good we are at the social isolation and slowing 

down the transmission but it will continue. It unlikely we`ll see it, it 

doesn`t seem – we don`t know whether this will go away or reduce in the 

summer months and we can`t count on that, at all. So, we need to be 

thinking and expect a rough time really until we get a vaccine. 

 

O`DONNELL: Dr. Osterholm, are there any parts of the United States that can 

ignore these recommendations and just feel safe? 

 

OSTERHOLM: No, and I think one of the very important lessons we have to 

learn here and we`ve seen this in other countries around the world since 

the emerging of this virus in China is that we`ll have rolling outbreaks. 

There will be areas of the country such as we see now in the Seattle area, 

I believe it`s emerging in New York. There will be states right now that 

are going to be ahead of the rest of us. 

 

We see this with seasonal flu, for example, and may be bad for several 

months and others will feel like they were spared, only to have those 

spared areas get hit. So that when you look at the cumulative number of 

cases, there will be a contribution of many epidemics going on throughout 

the country. So, no one will be spared and some will get it sooner, some 

will get it letter, but we`re all going to get it. 

 

O`DONNELL: Michael Osterholm and Dr. Jonathan Quick, thank you both for 

starting us off tonight. Appreciate it. 

 

OSTERHOLM: Thank you. 

 

O`DONNELL: When we come back, Donald Trump says he`s doing a great job of 

crisis management. Two veterans of the Obama administration disagree. Ben 

Rhodes and Austan Goolsbee will join us next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER: On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your response to 

this crisis? 

 

TRUMP: I`d rate it at ten. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Sorry to put you through that again, but it`s worth hearing 

Donald Trump say that one more time so we keep in mind the depths of the 

provision of his egomania which controls everything he does and everything 

thinks about everything and it leaves him oblivious to how he sounds to 

people who value decency and competence and realism and truth. There was 

more. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER: Mr. President, does the buck stop with you? 

 

TRUMP: Normally but this has never been done before this this country. If 

you look back, take a look at some of the things that took place in `09 or 

`11 or whatever it may have been. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Stop, we`ve got to stop that video because he just rambles on 

incoherently and ends up off in the forest somewhere. Does the buck stop 

with you normally? Normally, he says. You heard him say that on this one, 

the coronavirus, the pandemic, the buck does not stop with him, that`s what 

he`s saying. The buck does not stop with him. 

 

He refuses to accept Harry Truman`s old saying the buck stops here meaning 

in the Oval Office, meaning the president is responsible. Harry Truman 

meant the president is always responsible. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER: The stock market took another hit today. Is the U.S. economy 

heading into a recession? 

 

TRUMP: Well, it may be. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Austan Goolsbee, the former chairman of the 

Council of Economic Advisors for President Obama, he`s now a professor of 

economics at University of Chicago. And Ben Rhodes is with us, he`s the 

former deputy national security adviser to President Obama. He is an MSNBC 

political analyst. 

 

Austan, let`s start on that last line. Are we headed into a recession and 

the president of the United States simply says, well, it may be. 

 

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Look, I 

don`t know how you can deny what`s happening in the economy. It`s shutting 

down. And so much of our economy is driven by services which are exactly 

the things that shut down when we withdraw. I think the deeper issue is – 

and I welcomed the president`s tone today, it was a marked difference from 

his tone in all previous – in all previous weeks which in those previous 

weeks, he`s been trying to play down the importance of this saying no, no, 

it`s going away. It nothing you can go to work. We only have 14 cases. It 

will soon be zero. 

 

And the problem is like my old dear friend Paul Volcker used to say during 

the financial crisis, in a crisis the only asset you have is your 

credibility. And we have spent so much time destroying our credibility that 

I`m really afraid for the president and for us that it might be too late to 

now try to turn it around. Whether you like the president or don`t like 

him, we need him to succeed here. We need him to rise to the job and he`s 

not been doing that. 

 

O`DONNELL: Well, we can welcome the change today but this president mislead 

Republicans into not taking this seriously and so, we have a right to 

believe tonight that there are people infected tonight, there are people 

who are dying tonight because they listened to Donald Trump. 

 

Let`s listen to Donald Trump comparing this tone change. Let`s listen to 

what he said about the governor whose state at that time had the most 

coronavirus reported cases, Jay Inslee, governor of Washington. This is 

just ten days ago. Let`s listen to this. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP: I told Mike not to be complementary to the governor because that 

governor is a snake. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: That governor is a snake. Now, let listen`s listen to what Trump 

said about the governors today. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP: We had a great talk with the governors today. I think it was a 

really great talk. There is a tremendous coordination. There is a 

tremendous spirit that we have together with the governors and that`s 

pretty much for the most part bipartisan. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Ben Rhodes, is that a welcome change of tone or a madman whose 

meds might be working today? 

 

BEN RHODES, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I think, Lawrence, it`s a 

president that finally realized reality caught up to him. What he`s been 

doing throughout this crisis is tending to short term political interest. 

So, for a time, you`ll remember he was trying to calm markets with tweets 

saying this would go away. He was trying to keep the numbers down literally 

of cases in this country by not letting a cruise ship dock in California, 

perhaps not by moving heaven and earth to get tests out when needed. 

 

But the reality is we have to face the fact as a country we`re going into 

the crisis without a president acting like we would normally expect a 

president to act. You would expect a president to show empathy for people 

who are suffering because of this disease or lost loved ones. He talks 

about himself instead. You would expect a president to be establishing a 

national baseline for how we`re responding, for how we`re testing, for how 

we`re surging health capacity. 

 

Instead, what we have a patch work response of 50 different states and 

localities making their own decisions without that kind of leadership. You 

would expect a president to be also leading the world and right now 

frankly, this president is so not respected around the world that nobody is 

really looking to the American presidency to set a tone for how we`ll deal 

with the pandemic crisis and recession coming. 

 

So my hope is yes, this is a change in tone but we have to face the reality 

as a country that we`re really relying on ourselves as citizens to engage 

in social distancing as governors and mayors and community leaders 

conveying this message and hopefully, this president can catch up to the 

leadership that we`re seeing in state houses and cities around the country 

instead of trying to deny the very reality that his country is dealing 

with. 

 

O`DONNELL: Austan, Kevin Hassett who was President Trump`s chair of the 

Council of Economic Advisors earlier in the administration said today that 

he believes 100 percent chance, he gives it a 100 percent chance for a 

global recession, not just a recession of the United States. 

 

GOOLSBEE: Yes, look, how could you not think that? How could you not look 

what happened in China or what`s happening in Italy now or France or Spain, 

where they put their economies on lockdown and shut down wide masses of 

their economic output. I think there is a global recession. The question 

is, can we reduce the fear?

 

The one thing about contagion virus – contagion-like financial crisis is 

it`s all about this fear and if you don`t have credibility, you can`t tamp 

down that fear. Because your statements, if you sent out your economic 

advisers to week after saying the market is down there is a buying 

opportunity by Friday it is going to be back up and you`ve been disproven 

again and again on health or on economic grounds.

 

Now if you try to change the tone and follow what the Governors are doing 

or follow what somebody else is doing, there will be a whole bunch of 

people who say if they say there`s nothing wrong, then it means there is 

something wrong. If they say it`s going away, then it means it not going 

away and when you get into that paradox, it`s tough to get out of that.

 

O`DONNELL: Ben Rhodes, how does a President offer leadership in a situation 

in which the fear is legitimate. The fear is earned. The fear is real, 

which is what we`re living with now?

 

BEN RHODES, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think first and foremost, you 

have to meet people where they are and acknowledge the fear that they are 

having and you have to acknowledge the concerns that they are having. You 

have to demonstrate that you`re listening to the best experts in the world 

who are available to him as President to inform the decisions you`re making 

and what you are saying.

 

And I just want to draw back on my own experience with the financial crisis 

because I was sitting literally down the hall from Austan when we were 

still on the campaign in 2008 and the financial crisis broke out and 

Austan, I remember, sitting with me as we remark for the future President 

put the currency on can we make sure that everything that we say is 

accurate?

 

Because if we can establish ourselves as a trusted voice, financial markets 

will listen to us, citizens will listen to us, small business owners will 

listen to us and so people knew even if they didn`t agree with him, that 

President Obama was telling them the truth and that he was making decisions 

based on what experts were telling him.

 

That`s what President Trump has not done yet. And I think that the one way 

to salvage something of this and we`re going to be in this for a long time 

is if he can demonstrate if everything he says has frankly been given to 

him by someone like Tony Fauci sitting next to him.

 

It`s not anymore about his Twitter feed, about his political interest, it 

is about how he can serve as a communicator for those experts because 

clearly, he doesn`t have that credibility himself and so we need to relay 

on people who do.

 

O`DONNELL: Ben Rhodes and Austin Goolsbee thank you for joining us we 

really appreciate it. And when we come back, the House just passed its 

final version of a bill dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. That bill 

now goes to the Senate, Senator Amy Klobuchar will join us next and we`ll 

get her reaction to Joe Biden saying last night that he will choose a woman 

as his Vice Presidential running mate, if he wins the Democratic 

Presidential Nomination. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Here is the United States Senate at work today.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): We`re just playing games. Three days we wasted 

and wasting another day. When a situation changes this quick people are 

scared at home and people are looking for leadership. Leader McConnell, 

President Trump failed the people they serve. We need to get help to people 

today, let`s immediately get to work in the next round of support.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: That is Sherrod Brown of Ohio. It`s been three days since 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House of Representatives passed an $8.3 

billion Coronavirus Relief Package making testing for the virus free and 

dealing with some of economic impacts of the virus three full days and the 

Senate has not even begun to work on any version of that bill.

 

Instead, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell recessed the Senate for 

the weekend. Senator McConnell returned to Kentucky. The decision by Mitch 

McConnell to recess the Senate for the weekend didn`t just delay passage of 

the bill but it has added unnecessary health risks to Senators and their 

staffs who could have been on recess this week and staying away from their 

offices, which would be the best thing that they could do for their own 

health at this point.

 

Joining us now is Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. She is a 

member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator thank you very much for 

joining us tonight.

 

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Thanks, Lawrence. And I share its frustration. 

It outrageous this didn`t get done last week.

 

O`DONNELL: Well, this is another one of those challenging night. Could you 

please explain the United States Senate to America and what is going on 

there?

 

KLOBUCHAR: Okay, right. So instead of getting it done immediately after the 

House passed it, we`re now considering it, I hope tomorrow. I don`t think 

we should wait another day. This is important bill involving sick leave for 

American workers and then also longer period where they get at least two-

thirds pay. The two weeks would be fully paid if a longer period of time.

 

That`s very important but as you`ve heard, it doesn`t cover all workers. So 

once we pass that bill, which Speaker Pelosi valiantly got done what she 

could with the administration, then we have to start working on further 

relief for the people of this country.

 

This is not just a health crisis and it is not just a testing crisis, which 

I am personally obsessed about because I know there are some tests being 

developed, blood test that can tell us not only do you have it now but you 

have it already, do you have immunity so you can go back and be a health 

care worker and can you maybe give your blood to help other people, but it 

is also an economic crisis.

 

So all of these things must get done immediately and that`s why we are 

here, why I am back in Washington to get these things done.

 

O`DONNELL: Senator, I have the sense that the way this pandemic is moving 

and the way it`s changing and the way our understanding of its dimensioning 

change and expand every week that the Congress, the House and Senate will 

be coming back to this multiple times by the time you get a bill passed, 

you will have discovered another issue that needs to be dealt with.

 

KLOBUCHAR: Well and that is what Austan and Ben were just talking about? To 

have leadership, it`s got to start. The buck has got to stop in the White 

House. It`s got to start there and then we work together on really 

responding to every economic crisis and health crisis that we`re going to 

see but we do have immediate triage here.

 

We have to get those tests out for people so they know if they`re sick or 

not. We have to get some immediate economic help to the workers and then we 

also have to make sure that we`re working on some of the things that you`ve 

been talking about on your show like making sure our democracy is working 

and people can vote.

 

So I think we can do several things at once. I just want people to believe 

in the science and to get the facts straight. I thought that was the most 

important thing you said in the last hour. The President has to be honest 

and truthful with the American people and from there, we can start working 

on solutions.

 

The American people are a tough group but they need a leader who is 

straightforward with them and tells them the truth.

 

O`DONNELL: Senator Klobuchar, I think we all remember that dramatic day 

when you dropped out of the Presidential Race, the day before Super 

Tuesday. You immediately endorsed Joe Biden and in the process the next day 

on Super Tuesday delivered the State of Minnesota to him, which he won 

because you stepped out of the way.

 

You were leading in Minnesota if you had stayed in the race, that would not 

have been a Biden state and here he was last night and last night`s 

Presidential Debate suddenly saying he`s committing to choosing a woman for 

Vice President if he wins the Democratic Nomination.

 

I had an interview with him earlier in the week in which he came very close 

to saying he thought it should be one of the women who was on the 

Presidential Debate Stage with him this year, which really narrows it down.

 

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I`m not going to engage in these hypothetical`s Lawrence. 

One thing I know about the Vice President. He was a good Vice President. He 

was a great Vice President. He did it for eight years and he`s going to 

make his own decision on who he thinks his running mate should be and who 

he thinks - who the person is who is best for the country.

 

That`s going to be his decision. But I think one of the things, the big 

takeaways besides that one from the debate was this, one, Senator Sanders 

and Vice President Biden were very clear in their commitment that they 

would unify behind a candidate and I think that was a tribute to both of 

them.

 

And the second thing was the Vice President`s leadership that he showed 

when he talked about Coronavirus and his plans and what he would do about 

testing. I thought that shown through in the debate to the American people.

 

O`DONNELL: Senator, let me just get your reaction to that commitment by Joe 

Biden to choose a woman as his running mate on this ticket if he gets the 

nomination, just leaving the possibility of you aside just your reaction as 

a voter, as an American, when you heard that last night?

 

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think for all of us, every woman in the country, we know 

very well there is no game you can play called name your favorite woman 

President or your favorite woman Vice President because there`s never been 

one.

 

And so this is going to be a seat change and I think it`s a tribute to him 

that he made that announcement and I think it is going to be his decision 

who he picks. But I think right now the reason I`m here and I went on your 

show, I promise Lawrence and you know this is to talk about this crisis 

that we`re in now and what we need to do tomorrow in the U.S. Senate but 

also what we need to do as we hear what`s going on in Ohio today that we 

need to make sure that people can vote and Ron, DeWine and I are putting 

forward a bill tomorrow that`s going to have a lot of support that expands 

voting by mail.

 

So that when we come upon the fall, that every single person in this 

country should be able to vote by mail, of course, we`ll still have polling 

but we need to make it easier for people to vote. We need the funding for 

it. We need poll workers, of course especially for some of our seniors, it 

dangerous for them to do that in certain states and in certain situations.

 

And then we also need to make sure that voting is open 20 days before in 

every state. That`s what we`re trying to do. Right now 16 states Lawrence 

you have got to give a big reason for why you need to vote by mail. We 

should eliminate that and make it easier for everyone.

 

O`DONNELL: Senator, we have a breaking news situation right now as we speak 

with Ohio because the Governor DeWine has now said that he`s asking 

basically his health commissioner there to order the polls closed as a 

health emergency tomorrow. He then says in a tweet while the polls will be 

closed tomorrow, the Secretary of State will seek a remedy through the 

courts to extend voting options so that every voter who wants to vote will 

be granted that opportunity.

 

So this is a highly confusing situation in which it doesn`t seem that he`s 

cancelling the actual election. He`s just saying the polls will be closed. 

So you`ll have to find a way to vote other than going to the polls 

tomorrow.

 

KLOBUCHAR: Yes, so he can`t cancel their election and what he is saying, I 

believe, is that he`s going to make it much longer period of time for 

people to be able to vote in Ohio. I think he`s got to also extend that 

deadline for getting absentee ballots. That`s got to be a big piece of 

this.

 

And as you know, I think it`s really important for your viewers to know 

that the voting is still happening tomorrow in Arizona, in Florida and in 

Illinois. Those are big, big states and those primaries are going forward.

 

And so the idea here is to make sure that the voters of Ohio are allowed to 

vote and that they have as much ability as anyone else by voting by mail 

and maybe ultimately in the polls but that has gone back and forth all day 

with the courts and with the Governor about what is happening but you`re 

right, that`s where it just ended up in the last half an hour.

 

O`DONNELL: And Senator, just quickly, do you have any sense of whether that 

is legal according to Ohio law?

 

KLOBUCHAR: No, I don`t. I just know that because this announcement was made 

early this morning, a lot of the poll workers then decided not to go and so 

you would have that issue, as well, would there be poll workers? And what 

we want to make is people vote. We all know it can`t be more important than 

any other time in our history right now.

 

People have to vote. And I want to make clear those major states of Arizona 

and Florida and Illinois, people can go and vote tomorrow and they should.

 

O`DONNELL: Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you very much for joining us 

tonight. We really appreciate it.

 

KLOBUCHAR: All right, it`s great to be on thank you Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL: And joining our discussion now is Democratic Congressman Eric 

Swalwell from California. He is the Member of the Intelligence and 

Judiciary Committees and Congressman Swalwell, I want to get your reaction 

first of all to Governor DeWine of Ohio in effect finding another way 

tonight within the hour of trying to cancel voting tomorrow in Ohio.

 

He says that his health commissioner will order the polls closed as a 

health emergency in Ohio tomorrow. And while the polls will be closed 

tomorrow, Secretary of State will seek a remedy through the courts to 

extend voting options so that every voter who wants to vote will be granted 

that opportunity.

 

What is your reaction to this latest in a series of attempts by the 

Governor today to stop voting at the polls tomorrow in Ohio?

 

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Good evening, Lawrence. With the agility during 

these tough times by our leaders but this is not agility. This is just 

saying we`re not going to conduct an election. While we need physical 

distancing, we do not need Democratic distancing.

 

I would propose maybe having a longer voting window extended through the 

end of the weekend so that you can separate folks, have them vote in waves 

and even see this as a stimulus for people who have lost work or have lost 

hours to allow them to come in as poll workers to make sure that people 

have access to the polls but, you know, democracy dies in darkness as we`re 

always told and not having an election, doesn`t get darker than that.

 

O`DONNELL: Congressman in California, in fact some of your district, I 

believe, includes the area that - where there is an order for a number of 

counties for people basically to stay home, to - is it an order, is it a 

recommendation? What is the situation there?

 

SWALWELL: People are told to shelter in place, Lawrence, unless you`re 

going to the doctor or unless you`re going to the pharmacy, unless you`re 

going to get gas, unless you`re going to get groceries or if you work in a 

job that is essential to conducting what I just said right there.

 

I have two brothers who are police officers in Alameda County and they are 

working hard to make sure that people get the services they need but the 

best thing we can do is to be a little bit uncomfortable right now but to 

share with me and leaders in our country how this is affecting your health, 

your livelihood and your financial stability so that when we have a future 

stimulus, we understand what the need is and Lawrence, that for me is 

personal when it comes to students. 

 

I know personally what student loan debt can do to a family and I fear that 

there are so many students who are going to be homeless or without food 

security or have loans but not get the credits they need.

 

So we`re assembling the stories right now so that in a future stimulus, I 

can work with our Chairman Bobby Scott of the Education Committee to make 

sure that we address this.

 

O`DONNELL: So you`ve got the bill through the House tonight with some 

technical corrections, the Senate now officially has it. What do you expect 

the Senate to do and then what does the House do because the situation 

keeps changing around you even as you past this legislation?

 

SWALWELL: We need the Senate to move a hell of a lot faster than they are 

Lawrence and frankly, right now, we feel like in the House, we are the 

responsive government. We have a President who is not been truthful, an 

administration that continues to mischaracterize the problem and a Senate 

that didn`t want to work over the weekend to take up the House legislation 

they we passed.

 

So they need to stay pace with us but our bill included paid sick leave. It 

included an extension of unemployment insurance. It increases the resources 

that will go to hospitals and also to make sure that anyone, you know, who 

needs the personal protective equipment is able to get it.

 

That again, this is just step one. There`s going to be future phases. But 

we need the Senate to keep up.

 

O`DONNELL: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you very much for joining us 

tonight. We appreciate it.

 

SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thanks, Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL: Thank you. And coming up, there`s no such thing as being too 

careful these days. If you think you`re overreacting to the Coronavirus, 

you are not. So says our highest authority on the subject, Dr. Anthony 

Fauci. That`s next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Just over two weeks ago, Donald Trump called the Coronavirus a 

hoax. That was his word, “hoax.” The President of the United States accused 

the news media of overreacting to the Coronavirus. Today, standing on the 

White House Press Briefing Room Stage with the President of the United 

States, Dr. Anthony Fauci said this.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS 

DISEASES: When you`re dealing with an emerging infectious diseases 

outbreak, you are always behind where you think you are if you think that 

today reflects where you really are. Therefore, it will always seem that 

the best way to address it would to be doing something that looks like it 

might be an overreaction. It isn`t an overreaction. It`s a reaction that we 

feel is commensurate, which is actually going on in reality.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Dr. Vin Gupta, a Pulmonologist and 

Global Health Policy Expert. He is an Affiliate Assistant Professor at the 

University of Washington Medical Center. Dr. Gupta, your reaction to what 

Dr. Fauci said there, that there is really no such thing as overreacting 

here.

 

DR. VIN GUPTA, PULMONOLOGIST: I think he`s spot on. Dr. Fauci is our 

leader. He`s our appointed leader in public health. What I would say just 

to emphasize is in any pandemic, it`s especially if recent history is 

illustrative, we`re reacting. We`re not great at preventing pandemics.

 

Our pandemic preparedness efforts have had fits and starts. So we`re 

definitely reacting to this we`re responding as the threat evolves, and I 

think as evidence of that, we don`t even have testing at scale. So he`s 

spot on, on that.

 

O`DONNELL: And what other equipment - there`s been a lot of concentration 

on testing, but if we are ever to get to the right level of testing, 

wouldn`t that then suggest that there`s a lot of other equipment, 

ventilators for example, that then become the next challenge?

 

GUPTA: Yes, spot on. Right now we have a capability Johns Hopkins estimated 

it at 160,000 ventilators for the country at maximum capacity, assuming we 

don`t mobilize the military. 160,000 a moderate outbreak, the estimates are 

saying that we need 200,000 ventilators.

 

If the Spanish flu happened again today, we`d need over 700,000. So we are 

grossly unprepared from an ICU level standpoint. I can say that as an 

Intensivist. We need more. We need more of that sophisticated capability.

 

I will say President Trump saying that states should be responsible for 

purchasing respirators, that`s a heavy ask. Respirators cost between 4 and 

$40,000. That`s a huge ask to expect states to really foot the bill on 

that. And so we have a lot of ways to go in terms of true preparedness for 

a respiratory pandemic like this.

 

O`DONNELL: But also with the respirators, where do you put them? I mean if 

you suddenly need to double, triple the number of respirators in this 

country, where do they go?

 

GUPTA: To me, storage of medical equipment should be the least of our 

concerns. I can say this as a former military doc, we used to be–

 

O`DONNELL: Hold that dual doc, I don`t mean storage. I mean is there space 

in hospital facilities now to add that kind of equipment?

 

GUPTA: Short answer, no. We don`t have enough ICU beds. This is where we`re 

going to have to build out triaging beds. We`re going to have to build out 

- there`s some talk about National Guard and mobilizing the military to 

create temporary hospitals in college dormitories or on military bases.

 

I think that`s the direction we have to go. Governor Cuomo, I think, is 

ahead of the curve on this, activating National Guard, really focusing on 

that capability that I believe President Trump has yet to utilize to the 

full effect.

 

O`DONNELL: And how do we maintain the health and safety of our health care 

workers who are involved in this?

 

GUPTA: That`s such a good question. I have to say myself, speaking for so 

many people in our health care community, we were spooked last night when 

we got word that two E.D. doctors are critically ill, one here not far from 

Seattle, one in New Jersey.

 

And a lot of that comes down to public health education that who should and 

should not be purchasing personal protective wear, like face masks. We need 

to preserve that for our frontline health care workers, nurses, doctors, in 

ERs and in ICUs especially. 

 

My wife is a pediatrician right now working in a pediatric clinic in –. I 

want her to have a surgical face mask. We have to have that capability we 

have to have that equipment. Some experts are saying we need over a billion 

and 95. So we have over 10 million right now. So there`s a gross lack of 

capabilities both in terms of equipment and PPE.

 

O`DONNELL: Dr. Vin Gupta, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. 

We really appreciate it.

 

GUPTA: Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL: That is tonight`s LAST WORD. “THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian Williams 

starts now. 

 

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. 

 

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

BE UPDATED.

END    

 

Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC.  All materials herein are 

protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, 

distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the 

prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter 

or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the 

content.>