Wisconsin voters TRANSCRIPT: 4/8/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell

Guests:
Ashish Jha, Ron Klain, Amy Klobuchar, James Hildreth, Katie Porter, Sara Nelson
Transcript:

 

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, they just gave me the signal we`re

together. I didn`t have that a second ago.

 

So one of the things you and I are missing by not being in New York right

now is this 7:00 p.m. tradition where basically pretty much the whole city

on rooftops, out their windows clap and applaud, cheer the doctors, the

nurses, the people in the hospitals saving lives. And we got a video sent

in from a LAST WORD viewer that we`re going to show.

 

I hope we can collect these because it`s happening all over the city in

different places, some with larger sounds than others, but it`s such a

perfectly New York thing, and one of the things I really wish I could be

there experiencing.

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I will tell you that I have been looking at just

on social media – looking at clips of that every day because it`s been

happening every day and it`s like, you know, instead of starting the

baseball game with the national anthem, I start my news reading of the day

weeping looking at those videos, so I know exactly what you mean.

 

O`DONNELL: So Rachel –

 

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL: Can you give me an idea how long I was sitting here ignoring you

because I really don`t know.

 

MADDOW: Oh, no, I actually have great news for you. Because wherever I`m at

work and I don`t know that a television camera is on me, I could be doing

any number of completely horrifying and career ending things. You

apparently –

 

O`DONNELL: Yes, what was I doing?

 

MADDOW: You had a totally normal look on your face, working communicating

with producers and looked serious in command. It was the best possible way

to accidently be on camera.

 

O`DONNELL: Whoa. OK. Thank you, Rachel.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MADDOW: You`re great at this, Lawrence, even when you don`t know you are.

You`re great at this.

 

O`DONNELL: Oh, boy. Scary. Thank you very much, Rachel. See you.

 

Well, Senator Amy Klobuchar will join us tonight now that her husband has

recovered from the coronavirus.

 

And later in the hour, we`ll be joined by two people who if they feel like,

it could just seize control of the rest of the show because each in her own

right is an overpowering force when she gets going, and you`ve seen each of

them get going on this program before. Congresswoman Katie Porter will join

us and when she does, she will be teaming up with Sara Nelson, the head of

the Flight Attendants Union. And they have now teamed up to force the Trump

administration to support workers instead of corporate executives in the

recent bailout legislation. And their challenge has become even more

difficult now that Donald Trump has fired the inspector general, one of the

inspector generals who is supposed to be able to investigate how Donald

Trump is handing out that money.

 

We`ll also find a minute, I hope, to talk politics with Katie Porter who

appeared on a vice presidential short list today. Loyal Bernie Sanders

supporter Sarah Silverman tweeted her short list for Joe Biden`s running

mate now that Bernie Sanders dropped out. And there it is, Alexandria

Ocasio-Cortez, Stacey Abrams, and Katie Porter.

 

Katie Porter endorsed Elizabeth Warren early in the campaign. I`ll ask if

she`s ready to change the endorsement tonight.

 

But we begin tonight as we must with the numbers. The United States now has

427,824 reported cases of coronavirus and as of tonight, the United States

has suffered 14,721 reported deaths from coronavirus. Every day in this

country and around the world, we are seeing awe-inspiring human courage in

the fight against this virus but that does not include this person.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUM, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re the federal government.

We`re not supposed to stand on street corners doing testing.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Testing has never been part of Donald Trump`s approach to this

pandemic because in testing, there is a truth that Donald Trump does not

want to know and does not want you to know how many people are infected in

the United States. We have no idea. At the rate we`re going, we will

probably never know.

 

Donald Trump tried to prevent a cruise ship from docking in California

because he was afraid that the number of infected Americans would go up

when people on that cruise ship were counted. That was last month. And he

was afraid that the cruise ship would increase the total number of

Americans infected by about 20 and we are now closing in tonight on half a

million reported cases.

 

The richest state in the Union with the largest population of any state,

California, has tested less than one half of 1 percent of the California

population because California is on its own when it comes to testing

because Donald Trump is president.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP: States can do their own testing. States are supposed to be doing

testing.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: A recent poll shows that most Americans by a wide margin believe

that Barack Obama would do a better job at confronting this pandemic than

Donald Trump and this morning, President Obama had this to say about the

Trump administration`s failure on testing.

 

Social distancing bends the curve and relieves some pressure on our heroic

medical professionals. But in order to shift off current policies, the key

will be a robust system of testing and monitoring, something we have yet to

put in place nationwide.

 

“The Washington Post” reports today three months into the coronavirus

epidemic, the Trump administration has yet to division a strategy to test

Americans for the deadly disease, something experts say is key to blunting

the outbreak and resuming daily life, even the most aggressive states have

tested just a small fraction of their residents.

 

Once again today, Donald Trump said that he is eager for everyone to go

back to work but he absolutely refuses to provide the testing that would

allow people to begin to think about how and when people might be able to

return to work.

 

In a tweet today, Donald Trump envisioned a magical moment which he said

would be sooner rather than later, and in which he said that moment would

open up our country, open up our great country. That`s what he envisioned.

And in that tweet, he said that when that happens, the horror – and he

called it a horror, the horror that we have been through, quote, must be

quickly forgotten.

 

And it surely will be quickly forgotten if you`re Donald Trump and if

you`re not infected with coronavirus. In that tweet, Donald Trump

acknowledged that it will not be quickly forgotten by quote those that

sadly lost a family member or friend. But everyone else Donald Trump

expects will forget this horror quickly, but if you don`t lose a family

member or friend.

 

Because Donald Trump thinks that you are just like him. Donald Trump thinks

there`s no such thing as tragedy if it doesn`t happen to him. Here is

someone who is not like Donald Trump at all.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DR. AJIT RAI, ANESTHESIOLOGIST: My name is Ajit Rai. I`m an

anesthesiologist in California. I did my medical training in Los Angeles

and New York, which is why New York City has a special place in my heart,

and it`s also why it was so difficult for me in California just waiting for

the coronavirus tsunami to hit us because it felt like New York City was on

fire, and I was just watching my friends and colleagues burn. So I felt

this sense of calling and I abruptly packed my bags, booked a one-way

ticket to New York and received emergency credentials at my hospital in

Manhattan and requested time off back home. I also didn`t tell my parents

that I was flying into the inferno, so that was a fun conversation.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: That is the kind of conversation that has never ever occurred in

the Trump family, in any generation of the Trump family. No member of the

Trump family has ever gone off to war, any war, not Donald Trump, not

Donald Trump`s father, not Donald Trump`s children, no Trump has ever gone

as Dr. Rai just put it, flying into the inferno.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

RAI: And what has been so surprising to me is that the resource depletion

I`m seeing in one of the wealthiest cities in the world reminds me about

the limitations I experienced when I was providing medical care for war

wounded refugees in the Middle East working for Doctors Without Borders.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: As Rachel and I were just discussing, at 7:00 p.m. every night

in New York City, the city stops to cheer and clap for the heroes like Dr.

Rai who are flying into the inferno every day and here is what it sounded

like tonight from just one rooftop on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

 

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

 

O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight is Dr. Ashish Jha. He is the

director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

 

And Ron Klain is with us. He`s the former aide to Vice President Joe Biden

and President Obama. He served as the so-called Ebola czar during the Obama

presidency. He`s now co-host of the podcast “Epidemic.”

 

Dr. Jha, there is interesting statistical developments in New York today.

Governor Cuomo had to report the largest number of deaths on a single day

yet, 779. But the total number of hospitalizations seems to be moving in a

downward direction.

 

How many days of consistent downward movement do you need to know where you

are in relation to the peak?

 

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes, so good

evening, Lawrence. Thanks for having me on.

 

It was a hard day. A lot of Americans died today and we are still at a

phase where many more Americans will be dying over the upcoming days and

weeks. So, it`s going to be a difficult period. In terms of the peak and

have we hit it in New York, I think as your question sort of insinuates,

you can`t look at any one day. My sense is several days of consistent drops

and I think we will feel more confident that we have plateaued and started

heading in the right direction.

 

All of the hard work that social distancing has been happening across the

country, I think we`re starting to early signs that it`s beginning to pay

off.

 

O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, what do – what do – what do you think the

government is looking at in these statistics? What do you look for when

you`re working on this within the government, and how do you know where the

peak is at different places around the country?

 

RON KLAIN, EBOLA CZAR OBAMA PRESIDENCY: Yes, I think, Lawrence, it`s

important to know the peak is really important for making sure health care

resources match the number of cases. But it`s not where we should be

looking in terms of relaxation of social distancing or talking about going

back to work or anything like that.

 

Half the cases, half the deaths occur after the peak. The day after the

peak is the second worst day of the epidemic and so, we`ve got a long way

to go. Even if we were at the peak, we have a long way to go before this

can be said to be under control or really down to a low level of cases. So

I think we have to be patient here and not let our hands off of the key

thing that Dr. Jha was talking about, which is the rule in which is social

distancing, stay at home, these measures keeping play in keeping this thing

under control.

 

Once we`re past the peak, we know that the health care system probably

won`t break but that means – it doesn`t mean we`re out of the woods in

terms of number of cases, people dying and the impact on Americans.

 

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Dr. Fauci said today on a podcast about

what we have to keep doing.

 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

 

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

DISEASES: When you gradually come back, you don`t jump into it with both

feet. You say, you know, what are the things you can still do and still

approach normal? One of them is absolute compulsive hand washing. The other

one is you don`t ever shake anybody`s hands, that`s clear.

 

The other thing, depending on your status, the possibility that when you

are in a group of people that you can`t avoid the six-foot limit, and you

can`t stay out of ten feet, that you might want to wear a cloth face

protection.

 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: So, Dr. Jha, even when we go back to work, whenever that happen,

however many months down the road that is, it`s not going to look and feel

like the workplace you left. People are going to be behaving differently.

People will probably be wearing masks.

 

JHA: That`s right. Dr. Fauci is absolutely right. Dr. Fauci is pretty much

almost always completely right.

 

But in this case, what we have to understand is that this is not an opening

where you open the doors and go back to life as normal. Beyond the things

that he mentioned, we`re going to have to do things a bit differently.

We`re not going to have crowded restaurants and bars. I don`t think we`re

going to have baseball games this summer where people pack into a stadium.

 

So, life will look different. If we do our job right, if we have a fabulous

testing infrastructure, if we are doing things smartly, we can stay open

but open is not the same as what life was like before. People just have to

understand things are going to be different until we have a vaccine and we

can bring this pandemic to a close.

 

O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, California which seems statistically to be doing

relatively well so far, but it`s only been able to test less than half of 1

percent of the population in California, let`s suppose a miracle occurs and

you`re able to test 20 percent of Californians, which seems even at this

stage unlikely, how could you make decisions at the governmental level

about resuming activities if you`ve only tested 20 percent of your

population?

 

KLAIN: No, Lawrence, I think that`s a great paradox of president Trump`s

position. I mean, on the one hand, as you`ve said in your introduction, he

seems unwilling to embrace the idea of testing and willing to do much to

promote testing. In fact today, the federal government announced they`re

going to withdraw support for the testing that states are doing that

federal government`s helped do.

 

So, on one hand, he`s been kind of no testing president. On the other hand,

the surest path to being able to safely go back to work and safely reopen

businesses is to have the ubiquitous system of testing where we can sort

out the sick and well and where professionals like Dr. Jha and his

colleagues can identify cases and then track those cases down. See who is

sick and who is spreading the disease by testing people.

 

So testing, I understand President Trump doesn`t want to test because he

doesn`t want to see the numbers go up, but only by having widespread

testing can we send people back to work, can we send people back on the job

without – with some confidence that those people are not spreading the

disease and, by the way, only that way will customers come back to business

with confidence when they patronize the business, that people – they

aren`t giving them the disease.

 

So, if you want a robust economy, you should want robust testing.

 

O`DONNELL: Dr. Jha, how much testing is enough testing? What percent of the

population do you think needs to be tested?

 

JHA: So, we don`t have. There is no exact number. Our estimates are that

right now, we should be testing about a half a million Americans every day,

500,000. That number could come down a little as the disease wanes, as we

continue social distancing.

 

But that`s 3.5 million Americans a week. That`s about 1 percent of the

population every week. I think that`s kind of a minimum of what we need if

we really want to open our economy open again.

 

O`DONNELL: Dr. Ashish Jha, Ron Klain, thank you both for starting us off

tonight. We really appreciate it.

 

JHA: Thank you.

 

KLAIN: Thanks, Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

 

And when we come back, Senator Amy Klobuchar will join us. Her husband has

just recovered from the coronavirus after being hospitalized and you will

hear from a nurse who when she finished work yesterday in Wisconsin rushed

to vote and was denied her right to vote at her polling place in Wisconsin

because they said that that nurse was three minutes late.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

RAI: For doctors and nurses around the country who are just waiting, the

time is now and we need you. Some clinicians believe because of their

specialty, they may not be able to contribute to the care of critically ill

patients but the truth is at a time like this, anyone and everyone with

medical training has value. We`re seeing a disproportionate amount of

disease and death in one region. So, for me, it just didn`t feel right to

sit back and watch it happen.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: In Wisconsin yesterday, some of the heroes on the front line of

the coronavirus war had to take time, time out of that crucial work to line

up to vote because the Trump majority on the Supreme Court supported

Republicans` argument that the Democratic governor of Wisconsin, Tony

Evers, should not be allowed to postpone yesterday`s primary election just

because voters might get killed if they went to vote.

 

In Milwaukee, nurse Rene Bacon (ph) rushed to vote after work and was

turned away because they said she was three minutes late.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m upset. I really am upset because they`ve been

saying so many different things how we supposed to vote, can`t do it now

and they should keep the polls open later. I wish I had did an absentee

ballot or something but I didn`t know it would be all this chaos.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi included a national vote by mail in

the last relief bill that was passed, but Republicans removed that in

negotiations in the Senate. Speaker Pelosi has indicated Democrats will

seek funding for mail in voting in the economic relief package being

negotiated right now.

 

One of the strong experienced Senate voices in that negotiation is the

senior senator from Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar.

 

And joining us now is Senator Amy Klobuchar.

 

Senator, thank you very much for joining us tonight –

 

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Thank you, Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL: I want to begin with your husband who I know now is out of the

hospital and one of the good stories about recovering from the coronavirus.

 

KLOBUCHAR: He is. He`s doing so much better. And I will say after going

through that myself and our family and not being able to be by his side and

waiting six days for the test, like so many Americans right now, and you

think about those that are in the hospital, can`t be with their loved ones,

some of them tragically dying alone, or with just the nurses and doctors

there.

 

And then you think about that nurse in Wisconsin who`s there on the front

line and simply wanted to go and vote, exercise a right to vote and she

couldn`t because she was being the hero.

 

And so I think all of this is tied in, Lawrence, because this

administration didn`t plan for this pandemic when they could have. And your

last guests, Dr. Jha and Ron Klain, just explained that. They didn`t plan.

They didn`t get the testing underway.

 

And now, we are not going to let them take this democracy away from us.

 

And that`s why we`re leading the way in the Senate and working with

Republican and Democratic secretary of states across the country to make

sure that we extend vote at home, vote by mail to every American, and also

make sure that these polls are open early, 20 days early in November in

states across the country so people have more of a chance to go to the

polls without congregating in the same place.

 

There is so much we can do, and all I can think of when I heard that nurse

is the president sitting in the White House. You know what he did? He just

ordered his vote by mail ballot, an absentee ballot, from Palm Beach,

Florida.

 

So he and his wife get to vote that way, while she`s doing her work on the

front line and is then not allowed to vote. No one in America is going to

tolerate this.

 

O`DONNELL: Yes. It`s nurse Rene Bacon and I just want to say her name one

more time because she put in a heroic day`s work, and then, she then

volunteered for what was another heroic act yesterday in Wisconsin, which

was voting, which was trying to get in the line to vote.

 

KLOBUCHAR: Uh-huh.

 

O`DONNELL: And she was denied that opportunity.

 

Senator, what do you think are the possibilities with Republicans,

President Trump saying today, hey, mail in voting, getting an accurate vote

from people, that`s not helpful to Republicans. Basically said, we can`t

win if you make it easy for people to vote.

 

KLOBUCHAR: First of all, when you look, Lawrence, at the states that have

the mail in ballots, they are blue states, they are red states, they`re

purple states. Utah has a high percentage of people voting by mail.

Arizona, Nevada and then states like Colorado, Oregon.

 

Then you have states that make it really hard to do that and you have to

have two witnesses or a notary signed something so it really runs the

gamut.

 

That`s why Senator Wyden and I and our bill that we`re leading the Senate,

which was the one taken up by the House and Speaker Pelosi, what that does

is say, let`s remove those barriers, let`s make it so people can vote early

if they want to vote in person at the polls, let`s make it so we train a

new generation of poll workers. And then also, let`s extend with postage,

with envelopes this mail in ballot possibility to everyone.

 

And I will say as far as the funding of this, we got $400 million in the

first major bill, but we have to do a lot more. And as the Republican

secretary of state in Iowa said, we need this funding yesterday.

 

So unlike what the president is telling the country, there are Republican

elected officials and Republican secretary of states who believe that we

should have a right to vote. And the president can explain why senior

citizens, veterans of war, why we should say to them – sorry, you can`t

vote because you`d be risking your life because you`re in a vulnerable

population.

 

No one is going to tolerate that.

 

O`DONNELL: And he got up at the White House briefing today and lied about

this. He lied about some kind of rampant fraudulent voting by mail. We`ve

seen exactly –

 

KLOBUCHAR: No evidence.

 

O`DONNELL: – one, we`ve seen one criminal case of voting by mail. It was

Republicans who were running a conspiracy to obtain absentee ballots from

people and use them to vote for a Republican congressional candidate, and

that election was then invalidated because of that criminality.

 

We`ve only seen the one Republican case in one congressional district, and

so, Donald Trump just gets up there and lies about it as if it`s this huge

problem.

 

How do you counter that when he has that microphone of lying about it every

day, which he is going to do?

 

KLOBUCHAR: We counter it with Republican secretary of states who are duly

elected in states in this country, as well as Democratic secretary of

states, who are the ones in charge of the elections. We counter it with the

facts. We counter with the fact that we have not seen this fraud, with the

fact that these are actual paper ballots people send in because, of course,

remember, they were trying to deny us paper ballots before when they

wouldn`t pass my bill, a bipartisan bill with Senator Lankford to allow for

make backup paper ballots in every state in the country, and that was

something that Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump stopped.

 

So, once again, you see them doing it again.

 

And I think we have to make this patriotic plea to the people of this

country to call their elected officials. We have time to fix this. It was

Donald Trump at the Republican convention who stood up and said, I alone

can fix this.

 

That`s what he said, Lawrence, about our government. And now look where we

are –

 

O`DONNELL: I remember so well –

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

O`DONNELL: Yes, Senator, I want to get reaction –

 

KLOBUCHAR: Not the testing we need. Go ahead.

 

O`DONNELL: I want to get your reaction to your colleague Senator Bernie

Sanders dropping out of the presidential race today.

 

KLOBUCHAR: Well, Bernie and I –

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: – see the crisis gripping the nation,

exacerbated by a president unwilling or unable to provide any kind of

credible leadership and the work that needs to be done to protect people in

this most desperate hour, I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a

campaign that cannot win and which would interfere with the important work

required of all of us in this difficult hour.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Senator, Bernie just wanted to get a word in there before you

responded. Go ahead.

 

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I was so proud of Bernie today. As I said, we`re friends.

We came into the Senate together. I talked to him today and, by the way, he

was back on calls with senators today, talking about what he thinks needs

to be done on coronavirus. He got right back to work immediately.

 

And what he did was an act of patriotism today. He could have dragged this

out. He didn`t do it.

 

He knew it was right for the country. He saw all those people in lines as

he said today to me that it was an outrage. It was heartbreaking.

 

And when you see that and he picked this good moment to do this, to

basically say, you know, we`re not going to play into your games anymore.

We`re going to unite behind a candidate and we`re going to go forward and

take on Donald Trump. And he`s going to play a pivotal role in this

election in November.

 

O`DONNELL: Well, getting back to work in the Senate was exactly what he

said he was going to do right after that statement today.

 

KLOBUCHAR: He already did it.

 

O`DONNELL: And it`s good to have the confirmation that he did. Of course,

he did.

 

Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We

really appreciate it.

 

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

 

And when we come back, we first reported the disproportionate impact that

coronavirus is having on African-Americans on Monday night because that was

the very first time we had any statistical information on that problem.

Tonight, we finally have more data. This time, from the CDC, and this time,

covering 14 states, not just a few cities. And it remains deeply

disturbing.

 

Dr. James Hildreth of Meharry Medical College in Tennessee will share his

lifetime of experience studying infectious diseases with us next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Here is Dr. Stefan Flores, a New York City emergency room

physician.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DR. STEFAN FLORES, EMERGENCY ROOM DOCTOR: These communities where people

come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, who are black and brown, these

migrant communities, these are the people that are disproportionately

affected. They can`t afford to miss a paycheck. They can`t socially

distance. They can`t Uber or Lyft to work nor can they actually take work

from home or Skype in or use a Zoom meeting.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Today, the CDC finally released some data on how COVID-19

affects African-Americans. The CDC data showed that in 14 states, one-third

of all coronavirus cases are African-American, while African-Americans make

up only 18 percent of the population of those 14 states.

 

Here is Nashville`s Coronavirus Task Force Director, Dr. Alex Jahangir.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DR. ALEX JAHANGIR, NASHVILLE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE DIRECTOR: The people

this virus impacts the most are those individuals who are the most

vulnerable medically. This happens to be disproportionately minorities and

those have limited access to health care.

 

I think it is important to know this information within our communities. As

Chair of the Metropolitan Board of Health, I have directed Dr. Caldwell and

his team to gather information on race and ethnicity as best they can for

all Nashvilleans who test positive for this virus.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Joining us now from Nashville is Dr. James Hildreth. He is the

President and CEO of Meharry Medical College. Dr. Hildreth is a magna cum

laude graduate of Harvard College with a PhD in Immunology from Oxford

University in England. And he obtained his medical degree at Johns Hopkins

University School of Medicine.

 

Dr. Hildreth, thank you very much for joining us tonight. What is your

reading of the racial impact, the racial distribution of this virus so far?

 

DR. JAMES HILDRETH, PRESIDENT AND CEO, MEHARRY MEDICAL COLLEGE & INFECTIOUS

DISEASE EXPERT: Well, Lawrence, it doesn`t come as a surprise that this is

happening because we have data from China that indicated that individuals

with underlying conditions, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, asthma,

they`re going to be more prone to severe disease and death.

 

And it`s been true in the United States for a long time that minority

communities (inaudible) a burden of all of those things. So it`s really not

a surprise that minority communities are being disproportionately affected

by.

 

And the other thing as was mentioned by the young physician you just had

on, minority communities are not able to social distance and do some other

things that are required to keep the virus out of those communities. So

there is a double impact that they have, a double thing having (inaudible)

in terms of being able to social distance and keeping the virus out of

those communities.

 

On top of that, having the underlying conditions that make them more prone

to severe disease. So I think that`s what`s accounting for what we`re

seeing right now.

 

O`DONNELL: And on the social distancing challenge, I mean, we certainly see

that in New York City where everyone has more of a challenge social

distancing in New York City, but the lower you go on the economic ladder in

New York City, the more crowded the housing is, the more crowded everything

is about life, including subway travel and all of that. And so there seems

to be an economic component that`s interacting with this.

 

HILDRETH: I think that that reflects, again, the fact that these

individuals are not able to work from home as others are. They have to be

on the job, on the factory floor, or serving others in various capacities.

 

So - and the economic challenge is the fact that these individuals have to

go to work. They have no choice but to go to work. And some of those

working conditions are not conducive to social distancing and protecting

oneself against the virus. So minority communities have a lot of things

working against them, and that`s just another thing added to the challenges

they have to face to be protected from the virus.

 

O`DONNELL: Dr. Hildreth, this is not the first mysterious infectious

disease that you`ve tracked. You did pioneering work on HIV research back

at a period when people knew very, very little about it. What do you see in

what`s happening now that is familiar, and what do you see in what`s

happening now that might be mysterious to you?

 

HILDRETH: Well, the first thing that`s happening is quite familiar. Now it

is the fact that African-Americans are 13 percent of the population, but

they are 43 percent of all the HIV cases in the United States. So in the

current pandemic and in the pandemic we`ve been dealing with since 1981, we

see the same pattern that minorities are disproportionately represented

among those who are infected by the virus.

 

And until last December, no one had ever experienced this virus before. So

we`re learning a lot. And again, we`ve been studying HIV for 39 years, and

there are still things that we`re learning about the virus. For example,

there are reports that there might be unique presentations of COVID-19

unlike those that are so familiar. People might present with cardiac issues

and that would be mistaken for something else.

 

So there`s so much that we`re learning as we go, and that was the same for

HIV that there are so many things to learn about a new pathogen that will

impact our ability to control it. And I`m very excited that all over the

world, scientists are collaborating to find answers, and that`s very

exciting and very encouraging from my perspective.

 

O`DONNELL: Dr. James Hildreth, really an honor to have you join us tonight,

and we hope you can join us frequently in the days to come. Really

appreciate it.

 

HILDRETH: Thank you so much, sir. Appreciate it.

 

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

 

And when we come back, the dream team, the dynamic duo - every one of those

terms applies here. Katie Porter and Sara Nelson - Congresswoman Katie

Porter has teamed up with labor leader Sara Nelson, and they have a plan to

save your paycheck. Katie Porter and Sara Nelson live together for the

first time right here on THE LAST WORD next. I can`t wait.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Airline companies and airline executives did not get the bailout

that they wanted from the American taxpayer in the historic $2 trillion

relief legislation that Congress just passed. The airlines got the version

of assistance that Sara Nelson wanted them to get.

 

Sara Nelson is the head of the flight attendants` union, and she may be the

most effective labor leader working the halls of Congress today because

Sara Nelson helped guide Democrats and the House representatives and the

Senate to deliver aid to the airlines so that the airlines could continue

to keep their personnel on the payroll. Pass the money straight through the

airlines to the workers.

 

And so the flood of applications for unemployment benefits does not now

include the airline personnel who Sara Nelson represents. Congressman Katie

Porter saw Sara Nelson in action and decided the Nelson plan should be the

plan to cover workers in other fields. And so Sara Nelson and Katie Porter

have teamed up and are now trying to save the paychecks for millions more

Americans.

 

And joining us now is that dynamic duo, the most formidable pair of guests

I have ever introduced on this program at the same time. Congresswoman

Katie Porter who represents the 45th Congressional District in California,

a former Republican district that Katie Porter turned blue in the last

election, and Sara Nelson is the President of the Association of Flight

Attendants.

 

Congresswoman Porter, what drew you to the Nelson plan?

 

REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): I love that you`re calling it the Nelson plan

because this really is a plan that comes from Sara`s advocacy for airline

workers. And so, having survived and watched what happened with the TARP

bailout of Wall Street in - after the economic crisis in 2008 and 2009, I

knew how angry Americans were going to be when they got the short end of

the stick and big corporations got sweetheart deals.

 

And what I saw in the CARES Act is that legislation was written very, very

quickly. It was not good. It was a sweetheart deal for corporations. And

then all of a sudden, these amazing workers centered provisions came into

the CARES Act for the airline industry, and that was the result of Sara

amplifying those voices and House Democrats and Senate Democrats standing

up for workers and putting them first in this coronavirus relief package.

 

O`DONNELL: Well, as Washington tradition has it, when you come up with a

plan, it gets named after you, and that`s why I`ve been calling it the

Nelson plan. And as any veteran of legislative process in Washington knows,

when it`s a big bill and it`s last minute and it`s rushed, all sorts of bad

things happen.

 

And Sara, I have to tell you when I was working there in the Senate Finance

Committee, I saw labor leaders, including President of the AFL-CIO rush in

there at the last minute, and it was too late. The corporate America just

steamrolled them. And so I am kind of in awe of what you`re able to

accomplish there. How do you think it can be translated out into other

fields?

 

SARA NELSON, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: Well, Lawrence, I want to be

really clear that what we did here was revolutionary, but it`s also really

simple. And we need simple plans in the middle of a crisis. And so these

payroll grants are intended to go out. They were intended to go out on

Monday. Secretary Mnuchin still has not put them out.

 

And actually Reuters released a list of questions that the airlines are

getting today in order to apply for these grants. 15 questions long, one of

them is about payroll. Four of them are about their frequent flier miles,

the people who are the investment bankers and they`re helping Secretary

Mnuchin.

 

And so that`s why we need the Congressional Oversight Commission

established right away to make sure that Secretary Mnuchin is implementing

this the way Congress intended and also that this can be applied as a plan

to all Americans so that we can keep the paychecks going, keep people in

their jobs, connected to their health care, and ready to lift our economy

off again on the other side of this threat.

 

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Porter, we have some bad news so far with

President Trump basically firing one of the inspectors general who`s

supposed to be overseeing this kind of - basically the benefits of this

legislation. He`s not the only person involved in that oversight, but it

certainly is a setback at the very beginning for that process.

 

PORTER: I think it`s an opportunity. It`s an opportunity for the

Congressional Oversight Commission to step up quickly. And it makes the

work that that commission has been tasked with doing in the CARES Act all

the more important.

 

So what the Trump administration basically said is, because the Inspector

General is an administration official and is part of the executive branch,

we can ignore that person, we can fire that person. Well, those arguments

do not apply to Congressional Oversight. And so that`s why I`m so

interested in the Congressional Oversight Commission and making sure that

it gets stood up quickly.

 

As Sara said, we need to get these paycheck protections out to these

aviation sector workers immediately, and then we need to be taking that

model and applying it to every single industry that`s looking for help.

It`s a replicable model that will put workers first and make sure that

these dollars are being used to help our overall Main Street economy.

 

O`DONNELL: Sara, what does it feel like to have Katie Porter on your side?

Katie-Nelson, it might just blur into that at some point with the two of

you. What does it feel like to have Katie Porter on your side? Because I

remember the first time I saw Congresswoman Porter asking questions in one

of her first Congressional hearings, and I was just stunned by what I was

watching, just kind of a brilliant approach to it that I had never seen

before. And so she`s a pretty unique ally to have in the halls of Congress

these days.

 

NELSON: I do have to tell you that I feel like I`m at the justice league

right now. And when Katie called - when Katie called, out of the blue, by

the way, no warning at all, just called and said, we`ve got to get going on

this, and I love your plan, let`s apply it to the rest of America, so let`s

work on this together.

 

What I think that the rest of the American public needs to know is that

this is a simple plan to keep people in their jobs. And never before has it

been focused on individual Americans when we bail out in the middle of a

crisis. This is for the workers first.

 

And through the Congressional Oversight Committee that I hope Katie Porter

is going to be on, we can make sure that we are holding Secretary Mnuchin

accountable to these principles that are in the aviation portion of the

bill and can be applied in the 450 -almost a half trillion dollars

allocated to the rest of America to get people help right away. And so the

American public should know that that help is coming. All you have to do is

call for it.

 

O`DONNELL: All right. I`m watching my clock here. Here`s what I`d love to

do. I`d like to squeeze in one more commercial break.

 

Sara Nelson, I would like to just let you go off into your evening because

I have some politics I`d like to talk with Congresswoman Porter after this

break. She`s endorsed Elizabeth Warren in the Presidential campaign. I want

to find out if she`s ready to make a change in that endorsement and maybe

some little question or two about the vice presidential nomination.

 

Congresswoman Porter, can you stay for that now that you know what`s

coming?

 

PORTER: Yes.

 

O`DONNELL: OK. Great.

 

Sara, thank - thank you very much for joining us, Sara. We really

appreciate it.

 

NELSON: Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: And we`re back with Congresswoman Katie Porter.

 

Congresswoman, I hope you follow Sarah Silverman on Twitter because she

issued a very important tweet today. Sarah Silverman, of course, endorsed

Bernie Sanders four years ago, endorsed Bernie Sanders again this year,

loyal Bernie Sanders supporter. But now that Bernie Sanders has dropped

out, she tweeted her shortlist for Joe Biden`s possible choice of vice

presidential nominee. There it is, up on the screen. Alexandria Ocasio-

Cortez, Stacey Abrams, and Katie Porter.

 

So, now that you`re on the shortlist for vice president and you were an

endorser of Senator Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders dropped out today, are

you ready to make an endorsement or change your endorsement?

 

PORTER: Oh, I`m absolutely ready to endorse Joe Biden today and delighted

to do so and really honored that he`s embraced a lot of what Elizabeth

Warren made as key platforms of her campaign, particularly his commitment

to fighting money in politics. This is someone who, as early as 1973, was

calling to get private money and dark money out of politics.

 

And so I`m honored to endorse him tonight on your show and really looking

forward to continuing to hear his voice during this very scary time for our

country. I think it`s incredibly important for the American people to have

examples of what leadership looks like right now, what effective, honest,

trusted leadership looks like. And that`s what Joe Biden is.

 

O`DONNELL: And do your kids have the right outfits ready to go when they

have to go out on the stage of the Democratic convention when you`re

announced as the vice presidential nominee if there`s a convention?

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

PORTER: That is the farthest thing from my mind. Honestly, I get up every

day with so many projects and so many ideas. I`ve been really focusing on

the pandemic, obviously, pushing hard to make sure that we have testing and

treatment that`s available to people regardless of insurance, working on

all of the accountability issues with Secretary Mnuchin, very concerned to

make sure this is not a bailout to big corporations.

 

And then I`ve been doing so much important listening to the voices of my

community. I`ve been doing calls with constituents, hearing about their

challenges and their successes in navigating things like distance learning

in our public schools, SBA assistance programs. So I have been incredibly

busy. I get out of bed every day with a million things on my mind, but I`ve

got to confess, that has not been one of them.

 

O`DONNELL: Now - and you`ve issued a report about what you found the

administration is doing in terms of misallocating medical resources.

 

PORTER: Absolutely. So I think I - one of the things I really pride myself

on as a teacher was never walking into a classroom without being prepared.

I try to approach this job serving the American public in the same way,

doing my homework.

 

And with my terrific staff, we located public data that shows that during

those critical months of January and February when our country needed to be

increasing its supply of masks, of ventilators, of gowns, in fact, our

exports went up by over 1,000 percent of masks during that period, and our

imports of things like hand sanitizer and masks and ventilators fell by 11

percent.

 

And we also looked at the government contracting data. So we had an awful

lot of questions about where is the supply, where is this equipment. And

what we learned is that the government`s contracts for this PPE will not

arrive until September or October, long after we`re hopefully through the

worst of this.

 

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Katie Porter gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thank you

very much for joining us again tonight.

 

PORTER: Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL: And that is tonight`s LAST WORD. “THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN

WILLIAMS” starts now.

 

 

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

BE UPDATED.

END    

 

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