Gov. Whitmer TRANSCRIPT: 4/30/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O. Donnell

Michael Osterholm, Marty Walsh, Tammy Duckworth, Jamie Raskin, Rob Davidson




You know, that old phrase, sergeant-at-arms, the “arms” part seems archaic

and meaningless, and then you have – then you have days like today.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yes. Those scenes from – I mean, we have shown

them on this show in the past, pictures of the end of Governor Gretchen

Whitmer`s driveway, with guys standing at the end of her driveway holding

guns and wearing all the pro-Trump stuff and shouting about the president

and telling her to drop her policies, but it`s another thing to see them in

the legislative chamber. I don`t know which one feels more anti-democratic

but that`s where we are.


O`DONNELL: And we always stress, Michigan has 9.9 million people, about 200

them of them decided this today. I can`t do the math on how tiny a slice of

less than 1 percent that is, but that is a very, very tiny group that`s

doing this.


MADDOW: Yes, I mean, I think if you did a census of everybody in Michigan

who braves their beard hair and wears fake military gear without being in

the military, it might be a significant proportion. But if you`re actually

looking at them versus the general population, yes, you`d lose yourself in

the zeros.


O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.


MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.


O`DONNELL: Thank you.


And as April draws to a close, Massachusetts saw its largest one day

increased in the coronavirus death toll with 252 deaths. The county

hospital in Dorchester, the Boston neighborhood where I grew up, became

this country`s very first hospital dedicated entirely to COVID-19 patients

and that happened all the way back on what was supposed to be a celebratory

day in Boston, St. Patrick`s Day, March 17th. Boston saw this coming.


Boston`s Mayor Marty Walsh will join us tonight.


Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois will also join us. She`s a combat

veteran who is outraged, I think the word is, that Donald Trump is forcing

West Point cadets to travel back to the campus in New York state so that

Donald Trump can give graduation speech. One West Point official has

estimated that 60 percent of the cadets might already have coronavirus.

Senator Duckworth will tell us what`s happening at the meatpacking plants

in her state of Illinois as those plants have become the new epicenter of



And Congressman Jamie Raskin will also join us. He`s just been named by

speaker Pelosi to the new coronavirus oversight committee in the House.


And we will also be joined tonight by emergency room physician Rob Davidson

from Michigan, where tonight the governor, Gretchen Whitmer, as Rachel just

said, has been against the will of the Republican legislature, has ordered

an extension of the state of emergency there that she issued after a few

hundred protesters, just a few hundred protesters, showed up at the capitol

today. But they made their point about their willingness to risk their

lives while carrying their guns. Dr. Davidson will get the last word at the

end of this hour.


April is the cruelest month. That is the opening line of T.S. Eliot`s 98-

year-old poem entitled, perhaps appropriately for tonight`s discussion,

“The Wasteland.”


Elizabeth Drew reminds us of that line in her latest column entitled

“Trump`s cruelest month.”


How cruel has April been? On April 1st, the United States had 211,149

reported cases of coronavirus. On this the last day of April, we have over

1 million – 1,069,637. On the first day of April, the United States had

suffered 4,735 reported deaths from coronavirus. And on this the last night

of April, the United States has 62,836 officially recorded deaths from



We all have to hope tonight that April is the cruelest month, that May will

be better. And some of the numbers in some parts of the country are

trending in the right direction and Dr. Anthony Fauci has given us reason

to hope this week. He announced preliminary results of tests in which the

drug remdesivir appears to shorten the recovery time for some coronavirus



Were those patients going to recover anyway? Does the drug just spare

recovering patients two or three days of anguish? We don`t know.


But if that`s all this drug can do, that is a very, very good thing. And a

very hopeful thing as Dr. Fauci said, this drug might just be the first

building block in a research effort that leads to more effective drugs. But

it`s something. It`s something where the day before we had nothing.


April`s cruelty includes the largest one-month American death toll in our

lifetimes. COVID-19 is killing Americans much faster than any war in our

history. We`ve never seen anything like it. And to borrow a phrase from

another poet, we as Yeats said are changed, changed utterly.


We have discovered that we can live without things we thought we could not

live without. Some trivial like going to the movies now seems, and some

profound like going to funerals, paying our respects, offering our

sympathies. Tens of thousands of people died in America in April and we had

no funeral, or we gathered online somehow in a sort of virtual funeral.


But there was no hugging, no hand holding, no loving whispers into the ear

of the new widow. No hand holding at the deathbed. We are changed.


None of us could have imagined any of what I just described just last

Christmas when we were gathered together with family. April was

unimaginable then. April was unimaginable until it happened and now we



We will never take Christmas for granted again. We don`t know if we will be

able to gather and hug next Christmas because Dr. Anthony Fauci guarantees

us a second wave of coronavirus which could give us a month somewhere in

the fall or winter that`s even more cruel than April. We don`t know.


But we do know now to take nothing for granted. We don`t have summer plans.

None of us can plan anything. The word plan lost all meaning in America in

April of 2020.


None of us have any plans. Only hopes. We are changed. Changed utterly.


Well, most of us are changed. A tiny minority, tiny minority, wants to

pretend that nothing has happened. A tiny minority with guns marched into

the state capitol in Michigan today to lobby in their raucous way against

the governor`s request that the legislature extend Michigan`s stay-at-home

order. The Republican legislature bent to the will of a couple of hundred

people with guns in a state of 10 million people.


Of course America has everything, so America has a tiny, tiny number of

people relatively speaking around the country who protest sane scientific

safety measures to keep them alive. And since television cameras love the

colorful and what`s more colorful than protesters with guns, TV news will

always wildly overemphasize that kind of protest, which in fact only

represents a very, very, very tiny sliver of the American population.

Protests of the same size for any liberal cause in America would not

attract a single television camera.


Coronavirus is not the only cruelty America had to bear in April. Trump-ism

found new ways to express its cruelty. With meatpacking plants around the

country becoming the new epicenters of coronavirus, with thousands of

employees in those meatpacking plants testing positive for coronavirus and

with the death count in those meatpacking plants rising every day, Donald

Trump finally used his powers under the Defense Production Act, not to

order the production of necessary medical equipment but to order

meatpacking plants to stay open. The president did that at the exact moment

when one worker lawsuit against one of the meatpacking plants was making

progress in federal court. President`s order might derail that lawsuit.


Donald Trump was in effect ordering the workers in those meatpacking plants

to walk back into those buildings and risk their lives. And if any of them

were thinking about deciding to stay home, Republican governors in pure

Trumpian style issued direct threats to those workers saying they would not

be eligible for any unemployment benefits at all. If you don`t walk into

that plant, you get no money.


Cruelty is not an accident in Trump-ism. We have not seen cruelty in

government and the workplace in the almost 100 years since Franklin

Roosevelt with the guidance of the first woman cabinet member Frances

Perkins set this country on a steady march toward more and better worker

safety and workers` rights.


The cruelty that existed in the workplace in the 1920s was deliberate. And

the Trump cruelty is deliberate now. On this the last day of the cruelest

month, Dr. Anthony Fauci began his day in a hopeful discussion of what

might be our first breakthrough in the treatment of coronavirus.




SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: You said that remdesivir is not a

knockout. This isn`t a miracle drug. But it sounds like it is a

breakthrough. Can you explain why?



DISEASES: Well, it`s a really important proof of concept because this is

the first very highly powered about 1,100 individuals and it was a placebo-

controlled randomized trial, which I`ve been talking about for some time

now which is really the gold standard of how you prove something is safe

and either works or doesn`t work. Although the results were clearly

positive from a statistically significant point, they were modest. The

improvement was 31 percent better chance of recovering and getting out of

the hospital. That`s important.


But it`s the first step in what we project will be better and better drugs

coming along. Either alone or in combination drugs of this type and drugs

addressing other targets of the virus. So, it`s good news that I was very

serious when I said this is not the total answer but any means but it`s a

very important first step.




O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight is 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.”


What is your reaction to Dr. Fauci`s news about remdesivir?



POLICY: Well, actually, I have very similar feelings about it as he did. I

think it`s a modest finding. It gives us a proof of concept that something

can be done.


But it by itself will have a limited impact on this unfolding pandemic. So,

we surely need to continue to research this drug and all the other drugs

that we hope will actually have much more impact than what this one appears

to have as the initial study.


Also, I have to add that while we had the good news today and, again, I

want to celebrate that at the same time a study was published in a medical

journal coming from China showing no positive impact from this drug. So,

we`ve got a ways yet to go to figure out just what these drugs can and

can`t do.


O`DONNELL: The China study was a smaller group than the study that Dr.

Fauci had.


But what do you make of Dr. Fauci, he was talking how it reminded him of

the very, very first breakthrough in HIV research, which in itself was not

something giant but it was – it gave him the very first building block

that eventually got us to the kind of drugs that would work.


OSTERHOLM: Yes. I think we all along have said that drug therapy surely

could play a role in this disease and how the pandemic will unfold. I think

the challenge we have right now, Lawrence, is that we`re working on virus

time, not human time, and most of the serious damage that this virus is

going to do is going to occur in the next 12 to 16 to 18 months.


And so, unlike other situations where we`ve been researching drugs for

years like HIV to find the right combination, we need drugs now and I think

anyone who has been looking into hospitals, looking what is happening

recognizes that. Yes, this is a step forward, but we need other big ones

right now so that we can use these drugs right now.


O`DONNELL: You were one who saw all of this coming. You were giving us the

predictions of where these numbers were going to go back in March. What do

you make of Dr. Fauci`s what is now it sounds like he`s giving us a

guarantee in his mind that there will be a second wave.


Do you agree with that? When would we expect that?


OSTERHOLM: Well, our center issued a report late this afternoon on this

very issue, there is no question we`re going to see many more, more

infections. To date probably 5 percent to 15 percent of the United States

depending where you`re at have been infected by this virus. And that`s not

many considering what we`ve been through and the pain and suffering and

deaths we`ve experienced.


But this virus won`t stop transmitting until we get to 60 or 70 percent of

the population infected and hopefully develop what we call this herd

immunity. Now, how we`re going to get there is not clear. There`s kind of

what I call virus gravity that`s going to keep drawing this virus to



It may be a big peak that could occur sometime in late summer, early fall.

It could be a whole series of peaks that just kind of overlay on each other

in many different areas. And then finally, it could jus be a slow burn that

just continues and continues and continues. That`s the challenge where we

have a coronavirus unlike a flu virus where most of our modeling comes



But there is no question we`re going to have major, major challenges with a

number of cases of serious disease. As I`ve said multiple times on this

show here with you, we`re only in the second inning of a nine-inning game.

And so, we`ve got a long ways to go.


O`DONNELL: You`ve also said before that the end of the line is vaccine,

that there`s really – that everything between now and a vaccine is a

version of struggle of some kind. Where do you – where do you see us now

in the vaccine with the news from Oxford this week that they`re making



OSTERHOLM: You know, first of all, don`t confuse having a vaccine that you

can use and researchers having a vaccine that`s safe and effective. We`ve

seen far, far too many vaccines. Look at the HIV world itself. It`s been

littered with promising technologies that then failed.


I do think we have a chance for a vaccine, but this is a very difficult

virus. The coronavirus experts have been telling us for a long time that

it`s very challenging to make a long-term effective vaccine that has

protective immunity against this virus. We don`t know.


In the short term, we have growing evidence, yes, we can get some immunity

for possibly months. Maybe it would be long term so – but I`m very careful

because somebody is testing a vaccine right now doesn`t mean that it`s

going to be effective. But the fact that we`ve got 100 vaccines that have

lined up to be tested, again, is a very positive thing, and I applaud the

NIH. I applaud a number of organizations that have moved quickly to get the

research in place so that we can actually determine what we need to do to

find a safe and effective vaccine.


O`DONNELL: How do you read the numbers nationally at the moment? We are

seeing what seems to be a curve downward in the New York area and does that

mean that April will be our worst month, that May might be better?


OSTERHOLM: Well, I think you have to look at this again from the long term

basis. We may see cases go up and down multiple times. I said the other

night here that when Governor Cuomo described the fact they are on the back

side of the mountain coming down, I suggested that maybe he rethink that.

Maybe they were just in the foothills, the mountains where you have to



And I say that because again, going from that 5 percent to 15 percent

infected population to 60 percent or 70 percent that`s one heck of o a

journey. That`s going to be very tough and painful. And that`s what we`re

not getting ready for.


When I hear this happy talk if we can just get over this particular peak,

we can just get through this time, we`re home free. We have to learn a lot

more about how to live with this virus because it`s going to be with us for

the months to come and happy talk will not get us there. We have to figure

out how are we going to deal with increasing cases? What happens when we

see a big spike in cases? Again, which will happen.


How will we do it? You`ve been talking tonight about the problem with

people not wanting to shut down where we are now. How will the country

respond? That`s what we have to concentrate on.


O`DONNELL: Michael Osterholm, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

We really appreciate it.


OSTERHOLM: Thank you.


O`DONNELL: And when we come back, Massachusetts has the third worst

coronavirus infection rate in the country and hit a new high in the number

of deaths yesterday. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh will join us next.




O`DONNELL: Massachusetts has been hit hard by COVID-19. The state has the

third highest infection rate in the nation after New York and New Jersey.

Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker extended his stay-at-home

order this week to May 18th.


Boston saw this coming. The Carney Hospital in the Dorchester section of

Boston was converted to an all COVID-19 hospital back on March 17th. That

was a St. Patrick`s Day like no other in Boston history with the parade

cancelled and the coronavirus patients being wheeled into the county



Joining us now is the mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh.


Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate



I just want to start with what you can tell us about how the county

hospital`s handling this tonight, and that`s a very provincial interest of

mine since I grew up within a stone`s throw of that hospital. That`s the

first hospital I ever set foot in. I was very proud, actually, to hear that

it had taken the burden of COVID-19 as fully as it did.


MAYOR MARTY WALSH (D-MA), BOSTON: Yes, it was great to see the county do

that in Dorchester, as you know, and they put a floor up there that`s been

expanded since then, and they`re doing really great work here. You know,

this whole COVID-19 situation in Boston, watching the hospitals and all of

the different institutions step up has really been amazing to see as we go

through this difficult time.


O`DONNELL: What has it meant to Boston that you are surrounded and you

include some of the great medical science institutions in this country?

You`ve got Harvard Medical School with researchers working on this there.

Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women`s Hospital – you just

have some of the greatest medical practitioners in the country.


Has that given the city an extra sense of security about this?


WALSH: I think in some ways it has. It`s definitely given me a sense of

security knowing that not only are we providing world class care for people

of Boston and the patients that come in there, but also we`re at the

forefront of the research.


We`re doing right now a pilot program, an antibody pilot program at Mass

General Hospital where we`re doing 1,000 tests on people to kind of get an

understanding of who might have had the virus, to prepare our kind of

reconnecting or going back to work, if you will, at some point, looking at

that information.


And the fact that you know, you have Mass General doing that, you have

Brigham and Women and Beth Israel Deaconess, other hospital, (INAUDIBLE)

Tufts, doing so many great things. It`s amazing.


And we have about 9,200 cases of coronavirus in Boston. About 300 people

have lost their life, and I think that if we didn`t have these great

hospitals in Boston, I think more people would have lost their life.


O`DONNELL: Mr. Mayor, where do you think Boston and Massachusetts is on the

curve of this? You just recorded – the state recorded a record number of



WALSH: Yeah, you know, I think we`re still – we`re still in the curve. I

don`t – we haven`t – I haven`t seen at least in the last five days here

in Boston a leveling off. We`re still averaging about 200-plus cases a day

of coronavirus. (INAUDIBLE) people testing positive in the commonwealth of

Massachusetts fluctuated between 1,500 to 1,900 in the course of a day.


I still think we have a bit of a hill to climb here to see a plateau. And

there`s – you know, there`s a lot of work. We`re doing a lost work about

explaining social and physical distancing and explaining to people the

importance of washing your hands and covering your face. But it seems like

we still have the plateau.


The positive side is our hospitals, we built a – as you know, a hospital

(INAUDIBLE) called Boston Hope. Right now, we have about 142 people in

there. That`s with the side of – we have homeless folks in there and we

have hospital people in there.


And so, it`s not full but it`s definitely helping alleviate some of the

pressure on our hospitals to keep our hospitals available for emergency



O`DONNELL: Mr. Mayor, what do you need?


WALSH: Tests.


I need two things. We need tests. We need to be able to do a larger

sampling of tests to get an understanding of how do we move forward and how

do we begin a phased in approach to restart the economy in Boston and

Massachusetts. I think number one.


And number two we continue to need PPE. We have – we have hospitals that

continue to need supplies, backup supplies. We have nursing homes and

assisted living facilities that need these equipments. And we also need



So, all of that stuff we`re ordering on our own and trying to buy it from

third parties, which is fine. We can do that in Boston. But the problem is

the supply is not there and I think that those are the some of the biggest

concerns I see moving forward here.


I think the fact of rushing back to work like I`m seeing other states, I

hope that they`re OK and I hope that it works out for them all. But I know

here in Boston and Massachusetts, it`s not the time to rush back. We need

to be planning what it looks like going back, but your previous talked

about we`re going to be in this conversation and situation for months and

possibly a year ahead of us, and we really have to think about how do we

make sure we prepare, so we don`t have a second surge when we start to send

people back to work.


O`DONNELL: Mayor Marty Walsh, I can`t thank you enough for joining us

tonight. I know what your days and nights must be like during this

pandemic. We really appreciate it.


WALSH: Oh, thank you, Lawrence. And I love the accent. It was great. And

thank you for doing the incredible job covering this.


O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it. Thank you, Marty.


Coming up, Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois will give us an update on

what`s happening in the meatpacking plants in her state that Donald Trump

is ordering to stay open.


Senator Duckworth joins us next.





O`DONNELL: Three Illinois meatpacking plants were forced to close last week

because of the coronavirus. The Chicago Tribune reports the United food and

commercial workers International Union which represents 1.3 million food

and retail workers said Tuesday, that 20 food processing and meat packing

union workers in the United States have died of the virus.


An estimated 6500 are sick or have been exposed while working near someone

who tested positive, the union says. Joining us now is Sen. Tammy Duckworth

of Illinois. She`s a member of the Armed Services Committee and she`s one

of a dozen Senate Democrats on the congressional task force on the



Sen. Duckworth, Illinois has not been as hard hit on this meat packing

pandemic of its own but what do you think is necessary to reopen these

plants safely? Can`t they slow down that line so the workers don`t have to

work so frantically and can space out farther apart? Is there a safe way to

do this?


SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): Well, I`m not an expert in meat packing but I

can tell you what we need is we need federal help. Right now these workers

don`t even have adequate PPE. They`re in the same boat as all of our first

responders, our clinicians. There`s just not enough PPE or testing to go



So if you want these workers to come back to work in addition to the actual

physical slowing down of the lines, you have to get them all the equipment

they need to protect themselves which this president has failed to do over

and over again to everyone.


O`DONNELL: I want to talk to you about the new unemployment numbers we had

of 3.8 million new filings for unemployment benefits with reports of many

more people on that trying to file and being on able to file.


At least 30 million people now officially unemployed. The real number may

be much higher than that. How do we come back from this? Well, we need to

do a methodical process to come back from this. We certainly need to make

sure that the money that we are passing out of the Senate and the House for

small businesses gets to small businesses.


In Illinois, small businesses are 95 percent of our employers and yet so

much of that money was just very poorly directed by the Trump

administration, not going directly to small businesses but instead to the

likes of Pot Belly Food and - and large corporations.


We need to make sure the money gets to small minority owned, women owned,

disadvantage owned small businesses and the regular mom and pop shops down

the street and then we need widespread testing, Lawrence.


I mean listen, you can`t go forward without widespread testing and this

administration has failed time and again. They don`t even know how many

test kits they have, let alone how many we need.


I think we did up upwards of 5 million a week and we are not anywhere near



O`DONNELL: Sen. Duckworth, West point is at least there`s some reports

indicating, they plan to test all of the returning cadets who now have to

return to the state of New York and one of the most the most dangerous

state you can travel to in America now and they have to make their way back

there through commercial airlines or however they can get back there for a

graduation ceremony that is really being held for Donald Trump.


Donald Trump wants to go, speak there for a graduation. I know you`re a

combat veteran. You have more standing than I do to comment on this. What`s

your reaction to this?


DUCKWORTH: Well, forcing all of these cadets, a 1000 of them into a single

location just so that the President can speak at them is really a failure

of his role as Commander-in-Chief. He`s needlessly exposing these cadets to

this virus, the potential to become sick and you know what, that means they

can`t should report to their next duty station.


That means that he is now affecting military readiness. These guys and

girls are you know, they`re ready to go out and join the United States

military become army`s next - you know next leaders of the army and if they

get sick and God forbid if any of them get sufficiently ill that they have

to be medically discharged of the military, now they`ve ended their careers

even before they started.


And we, the taxpayers just pay to send them to school for four years so

this is really just you know, I mean it`s irresponsible. It`s probably the

kindest way I can put it but it`s ultimate narcissistic behavior by this

President who can`t seem to sink low enough when it comes to how he treats

our military men or women.


O`DONNELL: Mitch McConnell wants senators to go back to work next week.

There`s a surprising report in Politico saying that the Capital physician

says that they don`t have the capacity to test all 100 senators.


I have to say I would have thought that the Senate would have found a way

to do that. Are you are you surprised at that?


DUCKWORTH: I am not surprised at that. I also will tell you that the

attending physician of the capital is a very, very thoughtful and

deliberative - deliberate person. He`s a navy admiral actually and he`s

actually turned away senators because there are so few test kits available

that he`s turned away senators wanted to be tested just to be tested and

that`s rightly so.


But you know by bringing us back next week without a real agenda as to what

we`re doing, it`s not just about 100 senators, we`re well taken care of, we

have good health insurance. But what about the janitors and the people who

have to man the capitol, all the capitol police officers and I have to open

these additional buildings and man all of these entrances.


We`re really putting the working folks into the front lines of this COVID

pandemic when really needlessly. We don`t have to do this.


O`DONNELL: Senator, I know a lot of those people who you`re talking about

back when I used to work in the Russell Senate office building and there is

- it just doesn`t make the slightest bit of sense to do it. Sen. Tammy

Duckworth, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate



DUCKWORTH: My pleasure.


O`DONNELL: And when we come back Donald Trump told governors they`re on

their own for testing. Maryland governor Larry Hogan made the best of it.

He and his wife helped get a half a million tests from South Korea but he`s

afraid the Donald Trump would use his presidential powers to seize that

equipment and so he`s hiding it. That`s next.




O`DONNELL: Maryland`s Republican governor Larry Hogan was able to rely on

his wife`s diplomatic skills to help obtain 500,000 coronavirus test kits

from South Korea. Yumi Hogan was born in South Korea, speaks Korean and got

on the phone to help put that deal together.


Today governor Larry Hogan told Robert Costa, the Washington Post that he

is using Maryland National Guard to protect the tests in an undisclosed

location in part because he is concerned that the federal government may

try to seize those tests.





reporting, you had some concerns about whether the Feds would seize these

tests when you brought them over from South Korea. Is that true? Were you

concerned that the federal government would - would try to take those tests

out of your hands?


GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Well, it was a little bit of a concern about

trying to get these things to try to make sure that we landed this plane

safely. We make sure it landed at BWI airport instead of Dallas so it`s the

first time a Korean air passenger plane has ever landed at Baltimore

Washington International Airport. We landed there with a large contingent

of Maryland National Guard and Maryland state police because this was the

enormously valuable payload.


It was like it was like Fort Knox to us because it was going to save the

lives of thousands of our citizens and there had been reports of for

example, in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker told the story of his

plane load that came in with masks was basically confiscated by the federal

government and he had to then get Robert Kraft, the owner of the Patriots,

to fly a second mission with a private plane to try to bring some of that

equipment in and a couple of other states had similar stories.


So we were just making sure that - that was so important to us that we want

to make sure that that plane took off from Korea safely, landed here in

America safely and that we guarded that cargo from whoever might interfere

with the - us getting that to our folks that needed it.




O`DONNELL: Joining us now Congressman Jamie Raskin, Democrat from Maryland

and the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of

the Oversight committee. Yesterday, House speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed

him to the new House select committee on the coronavirus crisis.


Congressman Raskin, the president technically does have the power to seize

those masks that your governor managed to maintain apparently through the

powers he has as Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Production Act. Is that

correct? Is that your understanding of the law?


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, first of all, he would have to exercise it

and secondly, I`m not sure that he would. In any event you know the real

point here Lawrence is, it`s a complete inversion of how federalism is

supposed to work. The federal government is supposed to be coordinating

with the states to assist the states to help the people.


That`s the whole idea of having a federal-state partnership built in to our

constitutional structure but look, what happens. The national government of

United States is raiding the supplies of the states. So these are

Republican governors. Your governor in Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, our

governor of Maryland Larry Hogan are Republican.


And they`re having to call out the National Guard to defend their supply

against the president who won`t do anything to use the Defense Production

Act to mobile the defense sector. The production sector to create the PPEs

we need or the ventilators we need but he might use it to try to steal some

other people`s supplies or to compel the livestock industry to keep

producing meat.


It`s the most irrational thing so you know but just like the impeachment

process was a test of the separation of powers and we only half passed it

with the House of Representatives, this is a test of federalism and if we

can recover how federalism is really supposed to work with the central

government aiding the states, assisting the states in getting what they

need, rather than pitting the states against each other in this brutal

competition for resources and for medical material which really takes us

back to the articles of confederation.


It`s like before we had a constitution but after the revolution in every

state had its own trade policy and all the states were fighting each other

for goods and for material resources and there were trade wars and so on.


The reason we have a constitutional national government is to coordinate.

The president is forfeited. The real question is whether Congress can step

up and pass something like the Reopen America Act which we`ve introduced

that would actually coordinate this process.


O`DONNELL: What would that - what would that bill do?


RASKIN: So the first thing it would do is to create a Health Equipment

Production Board modeled after the War Production Board in World War II so

the national government would say we are going to activate the industrial

sector to create all of the material we need.


So instead of stealing stuff from the states, we`re going to produce the

stuff and we`re going guarantee to the states, they have what they need.

Secondly, we`re going to create a scientific advisory panel of the nest

scientists in the country so we can lead the country and help coordinate a

scientific approach.


And then the final component is about reopening and how should reopening

take place. We say the federal government should step up and tell the

states, you can come and petition us, you can apply to us for reopening

funds when you`ve met two criteria that are determined by science.


Number one, your hospitals can meet medical demand without being

overwhelmed and two, and related to that is that the transmission rate has

fallen below one and as you know Lawrence, what that means is that each

person who`s infected is infecting fewer than one other people.


Hopefully nobody but 0.2 or 0.4 or 0.6 but if it`s about one, if it`s 1.4

or 1.8 or 1.9 or 2.2 where we`ve been, you`ve got pandemic conditions

because you get exponential growth and then it`s out of control. So you

bring it below one and then the states say, here`s our plan for reopening

and here`s our plan for K212 and here`s our plan for the higher education.


Here`s our plan for commerce, for restaurants. Here`s our plan for social

life and so on and then the scientific advisory panel will make some

suggestions, some amendments. You can apply by yourself as a state or in a

group, the way that these regional compacts are starting to form, you can

apply together and then we say you`re in and we`re going to pay for it.


The federal government will pay for you to reopen. That`s a coordinated

rational scientific way to go about it.


O`DONNELL: Congressman Jamie Raskin, please come back and join us when the

new select committee on the coronavirus crisis has its first organizational

meeting and you know what direction you`re going in and what the - what the

- how that committee will supplement the work of other committees.


Would love to be able to talk about that when you have a chance. Thank you

very much for joining us tonight.


RASKIN: It`s a deal, Lawrence. My pleasure.


O`DONNELL: Thank you. And when we come back, the last word tonight goes Dr.

Rob Davidson, an emergency room physician who will join us from Michigan.

Dr. Davidson has some thoughts on that group of raucous lobbyists with guns

who showed up at the Michigan state capitol today. Dr. Rob Davidson will

get tonight`s last word. Next.




O`DONNELL: two polling data shows that Donald Trump has a lower approval

rating than every single governor in the United States, all 50 of them.

Every governor polls higher than the President of the United States in that

governor`s state.


In Michigan 63 percent of people approve of how the Democratic governor

Gretchen Whitmer has handled the coronavirus pandemic. 36 percent of people

approve of President Trump`s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.


Tonight, after Michigan`s Republican led legislature rejected Governor

Whitmer`s request to extend the state of emergency declaration, Governor

Whitmer issued a new executive order extending the declaration until May

28. Hundreds of people demonstrated outside Michigan`s capitol building



That`s a couple of hundred people in a state of 10 million people. Those

people were protesting measures Gov. Whitmer put in place to keep those

people safe from the spread of coronavirus. Many protesters carried assault

weapons and had pro-Trump signs and pro-Trump campaign paraphernalia.


As protesters moved into the capitol building, Democratic state senator

Dayna Polehanki posted this photo saying, “Directly above me, men with

rifles yelling at us. Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are

wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeant-at-Arms more than



As of tonight, the state of Michigan has 41,379 confirmed coronavirus cases

including 3789 confirmed deaths from coronavirus. One of the medical

professionals treating those patients is Dr. Rob Davidson. He`s an

emergency medicine physician in Michigan. He`s also the Executive Director

of the Committee to protect Medicare.


Dr. Davidson, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. What is the

situation in Michigan tonight?


DR. ROB DAVIDSON, ER PHYSICIAN: Well, I think when it comes to this - this

virus I think it is tenuous. Our - our cases aren`t going down. Our

governor is trying to follow the guidelines set out by the White House

itself and yet we have a state legislature that is run by Republicans in

both the House and the Senate that have like you said, voted to strip her

of emergency powers, that are giving tacit approval to these protesters who

are gathering against the advice, not observing social distancing.


And I just saw this evening cell phone data from the last round of

protests. The ones that are president tweeted out the #liberateMichigan

about giving them approval. I saw cell phone data showing those cell phones

scattering around the state predominantly to West Michigan where I work.


And we`re seeing cases in West Michigan go up by 50 percent, 100 percent,

200 percent in some counties over the last few weeks and - and I just know

that from today`s protests people are going to go back to their communities

in other parts of Michigan and we`re just going to keep doing the same

thing over and over, we`re never going to get out of this.


O`DONNELL: Doctor, what does Michigan need? What do you need tonight?


DAVIDSON: We need the ability to test individuals. We need the ability to

test every single symptomatic person which now we can do in about the last

week and a half which thankfully that`s possible but it I know in my

hospital, we`re a couple of days away from - from being out of swabs.


So we need the ability to test all of the contacts of those positives. We

need the ability to test essential workers before they go into factories,

before we go in the hospitals and we don`t have that ability.


I know in this country we need at least a 0.5 million to 1 million times

per day and we`re currently sitting around 250,000 tests today. So the

President of United States needs to use his powers with the Defense

Production Act to get us those supplies and the tests, not just the tests

that Vice President Pence said but the ability to do the test so we can get

ourselves out of this.


O`DONNELL: Doctor, I want back to do the numbers. Now I`ve made the point

that it`s a tiny number of protesters within the total population of a 10

million person state but the point you were just making was those few

hundred people today, all breathing on each other, all close to each other,

all touching whatever, passing signs around, things like that.


That - that group has the capacity to keep Michigan`s coronavirus numbers

moving in the wrong direction?


DAVIDSON: Correct. As Congressman Raskin was saying as that or not, our

transmissibility number is still probably around two, maybe - maybe a

little less but it`s more than one. You know one person`s giving it to more

than one person. If those people go back to their communities and they go

into grocery stores, they go to their homes, they go visit with family, I

don`t believe they`re probably observing social distancing at home as well

as they should if they`re willing to go to a rally like this.


That`s just going to continue to spread up the virus and people who live in

these other communities unbeknownst to them and they`re doing everything

they should. They are now at risk if these folks don`t wear masks out in

public like they`re supposed to. Again if they want to get out of this

situation, the chance to do that is to just listen to the governor, give it

a few weeks and we can work ourselves out of this using data and science.


O`DONNELL: Dr. Rob Davidson, thank you very much for the work you`re doing

and thank you for taking some time to join us tonight. We really appreciate



DAVIDSON: Thank you.


O`DONNELL: Dr. Davidson gets tonight`s last word. The 11th hour with Brian

Williams starts now.





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