HHS Watchdog TRANSCRIPT: 5/4/20: The Last Word w/ Lawrence O. Donnell

Margaret Hamburg, Sharon Duclos, Dr. Sharon Duclos, Adam Schiff, Gene Sperling


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. That is a great

Pulitzer story and a great journalism story.


Rachel, I have to thank you for basically booking a very important guest in

tonight`s show. Dr. Sharon Duclos who made an appearance on video from

Iowa. Doctor in that very, very emotional press conference. She`s going to

be with us tonight to discuss the situation there. But we know about her

exclusively thanks to you and running that powerful video last week.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”:  Well, thank – I`m really, really glad

you`ve got her. I mean, the situation that she`s in, she and her colleagues

are in Black Hawk County, Iowa is really illustrative, and the thing that

makes – I mean, there are a bunch – there are a bunch of counties in the

country right now who are dealing with huge numbers of cases without the

resources to deal with them.


But Black Hawk County, her and her fellow local officials and health

providers have been so eloquent and so outspoken in trying to explain the

gravity of what they`re in, that it has attracted national attention and

will change the course of how things go in Iowa because of it, just because

she and her colleagues are so eloquent.


O`DONNELL:  And they certainly were living their lives where they didn`t

think they would be in front of a national microphone in their lives, and

suddenly, especially thanks to you bringing them to us, and not just the

doctors, but others, the officials there, they really have told the story

in a way that is invaluable and very hard to get from anyone else.


MADDOW:  Yes. They are brave and competent and clear-hearted folks. I`m

really happy you got it. Well done, Lawrence.


O`DONNELL:  And Congressman Adam Schiff is going to join us, too, Rachel,

with the latest on what the House of Representatives is trying to do.

Congressman Schiff will be later in the show.


Thank you, Rachel.


MADDOW:  Excellent. Thanks, Lawrence.


O`DONNELL:  Thank you.


Well, John Kenneth Galbraith, President Kennedy`s ambassador to India, was

the most famous economist in the world. By the time in the 1970s, he

created a BBC documentary series entitled “The Age of Uncertainty.”

Professor Galbraith published a companion volume with the same title, “The

Age of Uncertainty”.


And the uncertainty that John Kenneth Galbraith was describing was the

uncertainty created by science. The uncertainty created by knowledge. The

uncertainty we`re living with tonight – the uncertainty that surrounds the

world tonight as we wonder what`s next in the coronavirus pandemic.


The uncertainty John Kenneth Galbraith was describing was the dramatic

change in the previous 100 years or so in the relatively new body of

knowledge known as economics. In the 19th century, Galbraith pointed out

the economic theory was relatively simplistic and in the 20th century

economic theory became more and more complex as our economic experience and

our economic activities became more and more complex. And the increasing

complexity of economic theory created increasing uncertainty about the

effectiveness of economic policy. Which idea is better than the other?


Life was simpler centuries ago when the general consensus was that the

earth was flat and Christopher Columbus sailed westward in the

counterintuitive hope of reaching the east and suddenly the world was

round, which meant the world was more complex. Scientists and scientists

are attracted to the uncertainty. They venture off into the uncertainty to

try to find some valuable certainties like vaccines.


Many people if not most of us are at minimum uncomfortable with uncertainty

and in some cases utterly incapable of bearing any uncertainty at all. And

so, when there is no certainty, they install certainty to ease their

discomfort, some people turn to religion for such certainty.


The ever certain Pat Robertson said recently that God would end this

pandemic if the American people would, quote, turn from their wicked ways.

Robertson said, quote: You confess your sins and forsake them, and then he

heals the land.


That kind of thinking had dominance for centuries until science got in the

way, until science raised the uncertainty there might be something better

to do in the face of a pandemic than confess our sins. Maybe we have to do

more like wash our hands and not touch our faces and search for a vaccine

and hope, hope in the face of the uncertainty that we don`t know if we will

get the coronavirus even if we take every possible precaution that we can,

the uncertainty that we don`t know how long we will be locked down in our

homes, the uncertainty that we don`t know where we are tonight in the fight

against the coronavirus.


Has it peaked? Is it generally trending down overall in this country, or

are we just at a plateau? Is it going up? Is it going to go back up?


Dr. Anthony Fauci using his scientific knowledge and experience, has

guaranteed us a second wave of the coronavirus, guaranteed it, removed

uncertainty about a second wave. But is he right?


We can admire and respect Anthony Fauci and hope against hope that he is

wrong about that second wave. We can hope that.


And so, even Anthony Fauci`s guarantee carries the mandatory uncertainty

that all predictions must. No matter how authoritative because they are

still just predictions.


And so, tonight, we wade deeper into the uncertainty again with new

projections, reveal today showing dramatic increases in coronavirus cases

and coronavirus deaths just when some states are increasingly loosening

their restrictions on the belief that the worst is behind us. There is a

limit to how much uncertainty each of us can bear before the strain of it

just hurts. Ask any high school senior waiting for colleges to decide on

their applications. The agonizing months of uncertainty, now ask the same

high school seniors and their parents how it feels to be living with the

uncertainty that the colleges they were accepted to might not actually be

open to students in the fall.


We are all trapped in a maze of uncertainty, which has very little chance

of being invaded by certainty any time soon. We are uncertain about

everything in the coronavirus pandemic. We are uncertain about the number

of people who have been killed by the coronavirus in America because the

virus is killing people weeks before we knew it was in this country and

because people have been dying at home without being tested for coronavirus

either before or after death.


And so, I can report to you that the official reported number of

coronavirus cases as of tonight is 1,182,994, but we are uncertain just how

much that number understates the truth and I can report to you that we had

officially 68,934 official reported deaths from coronavirus but we are

uncertain as to how many more thousands of people have died from

coronavirus in this country. And we are profoundly uncertain about how many

more will die.


Professor Chris Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

at the University of Washington has been running a model of the coronavirus

and Professor Murray`s model which has in the past been used by the White

House has now been revised to project about 135,000 COVID-19 deaths in the

United States by early August.


Here is Professor Murray with Katy Tur today.





increase in our numbers is coming from taking into account the trends in

mobility. People are out. They`re more active in the last week or 10 days

and we`re seeing that there`s taking off of social distancing that has a

direct impact how much contact and mobility that people will have. That

gets factored into the model and that`s driving up the numbers.




O`DONNELL:  Professor Murray`s model predicted that we would be roughly

exactly where we are today on the number of deaths and now, he`s predicting

a dramatic increase.


“The New York Times” is reporting that the Trump administration has a model

that it has not publicly released that projects that the death toll will

double by June. The White House issued a statement saying that that model

is a work in progress of sorts by some researchers and has not been used by

the White House coronavirus task force.


Donald Trump himself has constantly revised his own imaginary model of the

coronavirus death rate.





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.


We have to be calm. It will go away.


Looks like we`ll be at about a 60,000 mark, which is 40,000 less than the

lowest number thought of.


Look, we`re going to lose anywhere from 75,000, 80,000 to 100,000 people.




O`DONNELL:  That was last night. The Trump model is now projecting 100,000

deaths and the Trump model has never been right. The Trump model has always

under estimated what was coming.


The search for a coronavirus vaccine is filled with uncertainty. How long

will that search take? How can that vaccine once discovered be manufactured

and distributed to the world assuming we find a vaccine that really does



And in the meantime, we live with the uncertainty about antibodies, some

antibody testing that`s already in use has been flagrantly inaccurate and

proven inaccurate, and we are uncertain about how much protection

antibodies provide to the people who have them.


If you get coronavirus and you then recover from it, are the antibodies

there then going to make you immune from the coronavirus? We do not know.


Here is Dr. Najy Masri of Louisiana State University`s hospital. He has

been keeping a video diary for us of life and death in New Orleans.





This is Dr. Masri. Videolog, May 2nd, 2020.


Currently at our hospital, we have two patients previously diagnosed and

treated with COVID-19 and tested negative prior to discharge. They are now

back testing positive. That`s scary.


Not only do we know that that virus is contagious, it`s deadly in a select

population, now we have proof that what we thought was true immunity may

not actually be protective. There`s a lot of people out there who subscribe

to the theory that everyone should get this virus and therefore be

protected from its effect. The so-called herd immunity theory which clearly

doesn`t hold water if patients like this can get re-infection.


There`s other people that believe in immunity passports. That if you`ve

been exposed to the virus, you should be getting a passport to roam around

society freely. Well, again, that has holes in that theory if patients like

these can be re-infected.


The only thing really that we know, the only thing that we are immune to

right now is the truth, the honest truth, which is the fact that we

actually don`t know enough about this virus to come up with a definitive

plan on how to move forward.




O`DONNELL:  What we hope to do in this hour, every night, is give you as

much guidance as we can to help you steady yourself in this age of

uncertainty and begin tomorrow with hope.


Leading off our discussion tonight it Dr. Margaret Hamburg. She`s a former

commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and former New York City

commissioner of health.


Thank you very much for joining us tonight.


And I want you to take us right into the new uncertainties over these new

projections that the death rate is going to keep going straight up.



right. There is huge uncertainty that surrounds this unfolding pandemic and

how best to control it. These new models tell us information that we should

pay attention to.


Models, however, are simply that. They are models of different possible

futures that depend on the assumptions that went into the models, what

factors you choose to emphasize and how much weight you put on them, but it

certainly gives pause when you look at the escalation in numbers and

clearly, the escalation when you think about the relaxation of some of the

social distancing that`s going on.


To me, it reinforces the message that we should not only pay attention to

the models but we should look at the data that we have at hand, and we do

know that there are certain criteria that should create the frame work for

decision making about whether we`re ready to sort of begin to go back

towards whatever the new normal will be and that is very important.


What is the rate of new cases? Is it coming down in your area and the rate

of hospitalizations? Are your hospitals operating at full capacity or do

you have some play in the system so that if you have more cases, you can

manage them? Do you have adequate testing to be able to identify not only

those who are clearly showing symptoms, but also looking at what are the

rates in the community of as yet unrecognized spread of this virus, and

importantly, in certain congregate settings like nursing homes or

meatpacking plants where we know the risks of an intense explosion of new

cases can occur rapidly and very seriously?


And then, do you have the public health infrastructure to track and trace

those who are infected and make sure they are isolated and those who have

been exposed that need to be quarantined while you determine if they are,

in fact, going to get sick?


O`DONNELL:  I want to go to a point we just heard from Dr. Masri, which is

this question of antibodies and there`s a lot of controversy around the

testing because we`re discovering some of the antibody tests that have been

rushed out don`t work, and I mean, in really big numbers, not a small

margin of error.


But there`s the question of what antibodies, what kind of immunity if any

do antibodies provide. When are we going to have certainty and how do we

get to certainty about antibodies?


HAMBURG:  Well, it`s a critical question and it matters in our

understanding of individual behavior, and this notion if you have

antibodies you`ve been infected before and you`re somehow safe now to go

back into either high risk settings if you`re a health care worker or

frontline responder or, you know, a component of how we think about heading

back into workplaces and other situations where there is larger gatherings

of people.


It`s also very important as we think about what will make for a successful,

effective, protective vaccine and it is an area where we need to drill down

as deeply and as quickly as possible into the science. We need to look at

the experience about infection and then risks of re-infection in other

countries that have already been grappling with this coronavirus epidemic

and we need to do very specific studies to understand, you know, sort of

what does immune protection look like with this particular disease?


And important to both the research and our public health and medical care

management is having quality tests that actually work. And I`m glad that

today the FDA announced as I understand it that they`re going to be

requiring all companies to submit data about the validity and reliability

of these antibody tests. I think it was unfortunate that as we were in

earlier stages of this outbreak, that a decision was made to exercise

what`s called enforcement discretion and not require all companies to

submit data about these tests because if you don`t know if they work, it

doesn`t help you with managing patients. It doesn`t help you with actually

doing the research needed to understand what antibodies mean.


O`DONNELL:  Let`s go to that uncertainty question about where we are in the

timeline of this, which includes the timeline of how long we`ll be locked

up at home, which can vary by region. And that`s the question of Dr.

Anthony Fauci`s guarantee, his removal of uncertainty about a second wave.

He has said unequivocally, there definitely is going to be a second wave.


Do you think we have certainty about a second wave?


HAMBURG:  Well, I think you`re absolutely correct that there is uncertainty

about how all of this will unfold and a lot of it depends on what we do.

Some of it depends on the virus itself and it`s clearly a very formidable

foe. We might have the scenario where we have rising cases into the fall. I

hope that`s not the case and we`ll continue to exercise, you know, good

judgment and prudent public health practice in terms of managing social

distancing and reducing opportunities for spread.


We may be successful at reducing numbers quite significantly and have

another wave because that`s the nature of the virus, and it will come back

as people become more mobile and interactive and the restrictions are

loosened. We may have a series of waves. It may not be one large wave. It

could be a bunch of, you know, smaller but significant bursts of disease in

different places across the country.


O`DONNELL:  Dr. Margaret Hamburg, as I thank you for joining us once again

tonight, I also want to thank you as a physician for using your medical

degree for public service. We all know there is ways your medical degree

could have been used in many, much more financially rewarding directions

and all of you physicians who have made this choice are very, very

important to our public health tonight. So, thank you for that.


HAMBURG:  Well, thank you and thank you for the work you do.


O`DONNELL:  Thank you very much, Doctor. Thank you.


When we come back, Dr. Sharon Duclos will join us. You first met her as I

told – as Rachel and I discussed on video last week on Rachel`s program

when she made a deeply moving statement in a press conference in Iowa about

what the coronavirus pandemic centered in the meat packing plants is doing

to her community. Dr. Sharon Duclos will join us next.







I think about what would the person say to me who just died from this? How

would they advocate helping other people not go through what they just went

through? So that`s what I think about.


So, for the other businesses, churches, restaurants, think about your

community and think about your actions and think about how you can best

serve the greater good.




O`DONNELL:  That was last Wednesday when Rachel first introduced us to Dr.

Sharon Duclos who will join us in a moment. She`s the medical director of a

local clinic in Waterloo, Iowa.


And since Dr. Duclos pleaded with Iowans to keep social distancing, there

have been 2,860 more confirmed cases of coronavirus and 40 more deaths from

coronavirus in the statement of Iowa.


Dr. Duclos` clinic is in Black Hawk County which has not reopened for

business as much as other areas but where at least 15 people have died of

coronavirus including two reported yesterday. Since early March, Black Hawk

County has seen a consistent increase in the number of cases. There are now

1,546 cases in a county of 130,000 people. In Black Hawk County, up to 90

percent of the cases have been tied to Tyson`s largest pork processing

plant, which is in Waterloo. That plant is just four miles from Dr. Duclos`



Today, Tyson said the Waterloo plant will remain closed for now.


And joining us now is Dr. Sharon Duclos. She`s a family physician and chief

medical officer of People`s Community Health Clinic in Waterloo.


Doctor, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate



And, first of all, to that concern you expressed last week, the worry about

your own staff, how are you and your staff at the clinic doing and is

everyone healthy?


DUCLOS:  We`re actually doing really good. The majority of my staff are

healthy. We`ve been quite lucky that we have not had many positive COVID



But we continue to be diligent about wearing our PPE as we take care of

people, so that I gave – I gave an order to all my providers and my order

was you cannot get sick. That`s an order. So I`m your boss. You cannot get



O`DONNELL:  Well, give me that order, too, doctor. I`ll take that order.

I`ll appreciate it.


Doctor, what was the impact of your statement locally that it was televised

locally, it was also televised nationally last week, and do you have a

sense of what you – that what you were trying to communicate to people in

Iowa got through to people in Iowa?


DUCLOS:  So you hear a lot when you care for patients and you really feel

for everybody right now because there is so much uncertainty. So as I`m

working with one patient who has a family member who is struggling with the

COVID infection in the hospital, then I move on to my next patient who is

currently laid off and doesn`t understand why this has to happen.


So it`s either feast or famine for a lot of people. What we noticed was is

because you always doubt yourself, God, is this really helping? Is it

making a difference, this social distancing?


And then when, all of a sudden, we started to see our positives and we

realized it was positive the person works at Tyson`s, positive the person

works at Tyson`s, then you`re like, we have a problem, you know, 2,700

people. And our urgent care exploded just within the next, you know, week

to two weeks it just exploded with the number of sick people.


What was even more profound is when you got those positive test results

back, then you started to make the phone calls. So, tell me who all lives

in your home? Where does this person work? And so, you realize it is an

underserved population like we`re used to treating and then there is

several people that live in the home, eight to 15 people.


So, Joe goes to work at Tyson`s, he comes home. He`s married. He`s married

to somebody that works in a long-term care facility at another

manufacturing plant.


And then that`s when the weight of what is going on that you realize, oh,

my, here it goes. Here goes this spread. And that`s exactly what happened.


And so, our plea was is that social distancing is working, and just that

one manufacturing plant – I just remember thinking, oh my gosh, this is

just one plant. We had people lined up outside. We were trying to do the

social distancing, getting them in rooms as quick as we can, making them

wait in their cars so they stay away from other people.


We didn`t want them to go to the pharmacy. We would run medicine to their

car so they didn`t have to walk through our building. But it was explosive,

and overwhelming.


And then again, the phone calls, and I think then to me the follow-up was -

- is here Joe, I`m using Joe as just a generic name, he goes home. He`s

trying to provide for his family. You know, he`s trying to make a living,

and then what happens is he gives it to his parents who he`s been taking

care of and now his elderly parents are in the hospital and they`re

struggling and not going to make it. And I think that`s just the whole - he

just feel that pressure and you feel for patients going through that.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Doctor, how do you handle it yourself when

you talk about you feel that pressure?


DR. DUCLOS: I eat, which is not the best way to handle pressure. I

exercise, which is better. What I`ve told my staff is doesn`t turn to

alcohol because it only makes matters worse and then talk about it. I think

it`s important for everybody to talk about it.


I think we can all talk about the numbers, the most important thing to

realize today is uncertain. We don`t know how long this is going to go on?

And we have to live with the uncertainty. So how can we live with the

uncertainty and take care of ourselves?


And it is about the best we can do in the social distancing, washing your

hands, wearing the mask out in public and not to protect yourself but to

decrease the spread of germs so you`re not passing that on to someone else.

So there are some things that we can do to help each other and right now I

think that`s what we need to focus on.


O`DONNELL: Dr. Sharon Duclos, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

You`re the hero in our lineup tonight and please come back from time to

time to let us know how things are going there and help guide us through

this uncertainty. We really appreciate it.


DR. DUCLOS: Thank you so much.


O`DONNELL: Thank you. When we come back, House Intelligence Committee

Chairman Adam Schiff will join us. We`ll get Adam Schiff`s reaction to the

White House forbidding Dr. Anthony Fauci from testifying for Congress.




O`DONNELL: Dr. Anthony Fauci said today in an interview with National

Geographic, “Everything about the step wise evolution over time strongly

indicates that this virus evolved in nature and then jumped species”.


That hasn`t stopped the Trump Administration pulling the President and the

Secretary of State from trying to blame China for deliberately creating the

virus in a laboratory and then letting it loose on the world first by

killing China`s own people.


Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California. He is

the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Chairman Schiff, thank

you very much for joining us tonight. Anthony Fauci in this interview today

has very little patience for any discussions about what might or might not

have happened in Chinese laboratory?


He`s saying look, this was transmitted from bats. We`ve seen this pattern

before. We know how to detect it. It`s not a mystery for him.


ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA): Well look, the President, as you know, a couple days

ago said that he has high confidence that this virus escaped the lab.

Secretary Pompeo said there is enormous evidence of that. If there is

anything to have high confidence about in that regard or enormous evidence

they have yet to share it with Congress.


And we are told that we are currently informed on the latest intelligence.

So I don`t know where they`re getting this apart from either expressing

their desire or they`re withholding information from Congress but I don`t

see what would be gained by doing so.


I think what they are clearly trying to do is deflect attention away from

the administration`s terrible mishandling of the virus and all of the false

narrative that the President was putting out early on about this going away

on its own, being no worse than the flu that we`re going to contain it down

to zero and so they have chosen to go after China.


Look, there is a lot to criticize China about it I don`t want to make any

mistakes about that. They should have been far more transparent about the

human to human transmission and they did conceal things. But whether they

can get the intelligence agencies to somehow search for the conclusion they

want to reach, that`s not how the agencies are supposed to work.


And there is a danger in the administration either putting out theories

that cannot be substantiated or deliberately provoking a fight during the

middle of a pandemic.


O`DONNELL: Dr. Fauci also said today about that point that President Trump

made that at a certain point, he said it was just going to disappear. Dr.

Fauci said I don`t think there is a chance that this virus is just going to

disappear. It`s going to be around and if given the opportunity, it will re



We`ll have a few months, May, June, July August to prepare. We need to not

only have tests but to make sure the people who need tests get tested so

that by the time we get to September, we don`t have this dialogue

continually fixated on testing.


Shame on us if we don`t have enough tests by the time this so-called return

might come in the fall or winter. These kinds of statements that Dr. Fauci

is making to National Geographic are clearly against what President Trump

is saying in the message President Trump is pointing out and it sounds like

the kind of testimony you would get if he was not banned from testifying to



SCHIFF: Well, I think that`s exactly right and the President does a

tremendous disservice to the American people when he precludes some of the

foremost experts from testifying before Congress and sharing what they



Now it is clear why the President doesn`t want Fauci to come to Congress

even though he`s allowing Dr. Fauci to speak at these White House

propaganda sessions for the President. And it`s because a part, you know,

and away from the glare of the President, he`s concerned that Dr. Fauci

will be even more candid with the country about the dangers of this virus

and feel more free to contradict the false claims that the President is



That`s a very poor reason to keep someone from Congress during a pandemic.

But look, it is consistent, completely consistent with his efforts to

replace Inspector General with his efforts to silence those who disagree

with him and now hiss effort to deflect responsibility on to China for many

of the administration`s own failings. So it`s part and parcel of the

President`s modus operandi but a real disservice to - continuing disservice

to the country.


O`DONNELL: Chairman Schiff, I would like to talk you about the President`s

moves against Inspector General and including the Inspector General who

started what became the impeachment process at effect by the Intelligence

Community`s Inspector General.


If you could stay with us over the commercial break, we`d like to do that

when we come back and including the Health and Human Services Inspector

General that the President has gotten rid off. If you could give us a

moment, we`ll be right back with Chairman Adam Schiff.


SCHIFF: Of course.


O`DONNELL: Thank you.




O`DONNELL: Donald Trump continues to get rid of the Inspectors General who

tell truths that he doesn`t want to hear. The latest was Christi Gram who

was the Principal Deputy Inspector General of the Department of Health and

Human Services.


She assured a report saying that there was a severe shortage of testing and

testing supplies in this country in hospitals throughout this country and

that was enough for Donald Trump to get rid of her.


Congressman Adam Schiff is back with us and Chairman Schiff, we`ve seen

this before, Donald Trump`s attack on the Inspectors General and it

includes anyone who says the wrong thing of Donald Trump`s ear during this



SCHIFF: That`s all too true and of course, this is very dangerous. The

Inspector General system was a post Watergate Reform designed to deal with

the abuses of that era and now those abuses are back.


The President has systematically gone through and got rid of the Inspector

General for the Intelligence Community who reported to Congress that a

whistle blower complaint was being withheld in violation of law.


He got rid of the Inspector General that was going to oversee the release

of the pandemic relief funds that could hold the President accountable

whether the President was using favoritism or cronyism in the allocation of

relief funding or PPE to different states.


And now going after the Health and Human Services Inspector General who

reported all too accurately that she was hearing from hospitals all around

the country that they did not have the ventilators or the protective gear

or the testing capacity while the President was saying that all of that was

going perfectly well and because she contradicted because the facts

contradicted his preferred narrative.


He views that as the ultimate disloyalty. But the result is a lack of

accountability and one final point on this, Lawrence it doesn`t have to be

this way. The Congress could stand up to this President but we have the

confluence of a President who tramples on these norms and he is not guided

by ethics or anything else except self interest apparently.


And a GOP in Congress that is too weak or too unwilling to do anything

about it. If the Republicans would join us, we could put requirements into

law today that say the President cannot remove an Inspector General except

for cause.


I think when he`s gone, we`ll be able to do it but Republicans will not

defend their own institutions right now and it means that there`s a real

lack of accountability during a pandemic and that is deadly dangerous.


O`DONNELL: And we can`t act even slightly surprised by this because you

told us this was going to happen in your argument in the Senate impeachment



SCHIFF: Well, we certainly told the Senators that he was not going to

change, and there was no way to constrain him that he is who he is and he

would continue to operate the way he had. And indeed, that`s exactly what

we`ve seen since.


The one thing I think we dramatically under stated is when we asked the

question if you found him guilty, do you really need to remove him given

that there is another election only nine months away how much damage could

he really do?


We said a lot but little did we know just how great the casualties would

be? Some days we lose the equivalent of the number of people we lost on

9/11 and, you know, I think that there is no way we could have foreseen

just how tragic his damage would be in his remaining months in the



O`DONNELL: Chairman Adam Schiff thank you for joining us tonight. We really

appreciate it.


SCHIFF: Thank you, Lawrence.


O`DONNELL: Well, we are racing past a recession toward a depression. The

likes of which we haven`t seen since the 1930s when Democratic President

Franklin Roosevelt crafted the new economic policies necessary to lift us

out of that depression.


This depression is very different. This depression pushes us into an

economic age of uncertainty unlike any other. Gene Sperling was an Economic

Adviser to President Clinton and President Obama. Gene Sperling will join

us next.




O`DONNELL: We now have the largest number of claims for unemployment

benefits in the history of the unemployment program. 30.3 million first-

time unemployment claims have been filed just in the last six weeks.


And those unemployment claims understate the real unemployment that has hit

America since so many people have been struggling to file and haven`t been

able to file within their state`s systems that are overburdened.


And so we are in an economic age of uncertainty tonight unlike any other we

have experienced. Joining us now is Gene Sperling. He is the Former

Director of the National Economic Council for Presidents Obama and Clinton.

He is also the author the new book “Economic Dignity” which will be

published tomorrow, which means it`s available online for purchase at

midnight tonight.


Gene Sperling, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And, gene, with

these unemployment numbers, we`re racing past anything that we ever

described as a recession before, and we are getting ever closer every day

to what FDR inherited as President in the 1930s, an all-out depression,

which is the ultimate robbery of economic dignity from a population.



absolutely. You know, I mean I think that obviously we`re going to be

seeing shocking numbers this Friday on the number of jobs lost, on the

unemployment rate, over 20 million, maybe over 20 percent.


But, you know, as you say, this is that moment. This is a moment of truth

on economic dignity for our country. You know, Lawrence, you and I both -

we both have one thing in common. We both really like Martin Luther King`s

speech to the sanitation work - at the sanitation workers strike in 1968.


And what did he say? He said not only did all labor had dignity, but that

the sanitation worker and the physician were both essential to our health,

to our well-being, and that might have seemed kind of idealistic, but not



Right now it`s very real. And I think the recognition of what it means - of

the value of farm workers and deliverers and home health aides and domestic

workers has never been higher. But we are not having that FDR moment yet

where we say that we recognize that dignity, and we`re going to treat

people with that level of dignity.


And just take, for example, the discussion you were having earlier. You

know, people working in the meat processing and poultry, those are among

the most dangerous occupations. They`re poorly regulated. In the poultry

industry, some people have had to wear diapers because they couldn`t have

time for bathroom breaks.


And to have the President of the United States order you back to work as an

essential worker and then take away the responsibility of your employer to

ensure you are safe, that is an example of treating people without the kind

of basic level of dignity.


And the question for us is going to be not just do we have the kind of

essential workers bill of rights that Ro Khanna and Elizabeth Warren have

talked about which we should, but whether this is going to make us rethink

our economic compact, whether we`re going to have a greater economic

dignity compact and have a new, new deal.


And I think if this moment doesn`t push us towards that, I don`t know what



O`DONNELL: Well, Gene, what strikes me is it did - the depression did push

us toward our first major steps toward economic dignity through FDR`s new

deal urged on him by Elizabeth Perkins. And that was at a time when the

country was bankrupt and, you know, Republicans could argue Federal

Government cannot afford this.


We cannot afford these interventions. We`re going to hear those arguments

in this situation where we can - you know, we can afford to bail out

certain corporations, but we cannot afford the kind of support for workers

that you`re calling for.


SPERLING: Right. I mean, look, we can`t afford to spend any money that`s

wasted, that`s on people who don`t need it, on large corporations that are

going to give them unjust enrichment, where it`s not connected to them

helping workers, which is exactly what President Trump and his team are

calling for.


But believe me, we can afford every penny that helps make people whole,

that gives them 100 percent replacement on unemployment, or that does the

type of things Congresswoman Jayapal and Bernie Sanders and Mark Warner

have been talking about to ensure that people who would be laid off through

their company are kept on the payroll.


We can afford to do universal paid sick leave and to deal with the tens of

millions who may be losing their health care not just because it`s the

right thing morally, but because if we do those things, we will have -

we`ll be safer.


We`ll have less community spread. And so I think we`ve seen some movements

towards that new, new deal. We`ve seen gig workers getting unemployment

insurance. We`ve seen some move towards universal paid sick leave and

perhaps a greater impetus to the idea that there should be at least a $15

minimum wage and universal health care.


But I think the real fight is going to be are we going to get this now and

then turn our heads, or is this going to - or are these temporary reforms

going to be part of our larger and longer-term social compact?


O`DONNELL: Gene, what`s the basic takeaway you want readers to get from

your book, “Economic Dignity”?


SPERLING: That our north star for economics shouldn`t be about a metric

like GDP or productivity. It should be about what our ultimate aspiration

is for lifting up human happiness, fulfillment. That`s what economics

should be about.


And I wanted to define economic dignity in a way that it could be that

North Star, that it means three things. It means the ability to care for

your family, to be able to pursue your potential and purpose, and to be

able to work without the type of domination and humiliation that we still

see today even before our eyes.


O`DONNELL: That is the single best definition of governing policy toward

economics that I have heard.






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