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Trump blasts media TRANSCRIPT: 3/19/20, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams

Guests: Michael Joseph Mina, Anne Rimoin

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And with those the jobs of all the people who  make that city go.

Well, good evening once again, 1155 of this Trump administration, 229 days  until our presidential election. And two numbers were way up today.  Confirmed cases and new claims for unemployment. What this virus has yet to  do to people it is doing to the American economy.

Just tonight Governor Gavin Newsom of California announced a statewide  stay-at-home order. Remember, this affects some 40 million Americans. That  came just after he warned that upwards of 25 million Californians may  contract the virus, a number too large to even begin to process.

Confirmed cases in the U.S. are now above 13,000, which The Washington Post  now reports is double the number since just Tuesday of this week.

The death toll in Italy has now overtaken the death toll in China. The U.S.  State Department issued an extraordinary warning today, telling Americans  to avoid overseas travel. The upcoming June G7 Summit at Camp David has  been canceled. It will be a video conference just like every other  consequential meeting these days.

NBC News has also confirmed a Reuters` report that Trump plans to place new  restrictions on travel between the U.S. and Mexico.

America`s health care professionals, of course, remain on the front lines  of this battle against the outbreak. Tonight groups representing hospitals,  medical professionals are warning they are quickly running short on  supplies. NBC News reporting they`re now asking Congress for at least $100  billion in financial aid right now.

At the White House, Trump, who yesterday described himself as a wartime  president, was asked why he hadn`t yet put into effect the law allowing him  to tell manufacturers to make more medical equipment for starters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You enabled, I guess is probably the best way to put it,  the defense production pact yesterday, but you didn`t pull the trigger on  it.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, because we hope we`re not  going to need that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s the rationale for not doing it?

TRUMP: First of all, governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work,  and they are doing a lot of this work. The federal government is not  supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping.  We`re not a shipping clerk.


WILLIAMS: Trump then appeared to indicate that the administration was  caught off guard by the growing need for lifesaving supplies.


TRUMP: We`re working very hard trying to find. Nobody in their wildest  dreams would have ever thought we need tens of thousands of ventilators.  This is something that`s very unique to this.


WILLIAMS: This afternoon in the President`s home city of New York, which  now has upwards of 1,000 coronavirus cases, Mayor Bill de Blasio blasted  the President.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY): I will only say to the President, I don`t  understand. I think there are millions and tens of millions of Americans  who don`t understand what you are doing right now. You are not using the  tools of your office. Through the Defense Production Act, the President can  authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to order  manufacturers to provide materials and services and to use their private  facilities for manufacturing needed items. That has not happened.


WILLIAMS: On the matter of treatment, Trump also announced he was directing  the FDA to push forward with tests for two drugs already used for other  illnesses.


TRUMP: Earlier this week we began the first clinical trial of a vaccine  candidate for the virus, and that was launched in record time. We`re also  pursuing antiviral therapies. A drug called chloroquine, and some people  would add to it hydroxychloroquine, we`re going to be able to make that  drug available by prescription or state remdesivir, and that`s a drug for  other purposes. That has also been approved or very close to approved in  that case by the FDA.


WILLIAMS: Note that there has been no FDA approval yet for these  treatments. And now to those suddenly out of work, the U.S. Department of  Labor reported 281,000 new claims for unemployment insurance just last  week. The latest Republican Aid Bill emerging in the Senate is a trillion  dollars in stimulus. That includes direct cash payments for some Americans.  NBC News reporting the White House wants to see a vote on the bill on  Monday.

Trump ally South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham was asked about the  potential for getting the bill to the floor with minimal delay.


LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, NBC NEWS: Senator, on timing can you still get this  done, like, early next week? If all of these -- 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If we don`t, we`re going to get our ass kicked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So Democrats are having -- 

GRAHAM: So that`s why we`ll do it. I`ll be the first one to kick myself.


WILLIAMS: And speaking of the Senate, Republican Richard Burr of North  Carolina, who famously enjoins his privacy is squarely in the public eye  and public conversation tonight. NPR reporting that Burr, Chairman of the  Senate Intelligence Committee, warned a small group of his constituents and  donors three weeks ago to get ready for the severe economic and societal  effects of the coronavirus according to a recording of his remarks obtained  by NPR.


SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-NC): There`s one thing that I can tell you about this,  it is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have  seen in recent history. It`s probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.


WILLIAMS: Senator Burr`s warning came on February 27th, the same day Donald  Trump said this.


TRUMP: It`s going to disappear. One day it`s like a miracle. It will  disappear.


WILLIAMS: NPR also reporting in his public comments about the threat of  coronavirus, Burr never offered the kind of precise warning that he  delivered to that private gathering even though on February 7th, Burr co- authored an op-ed that laid out the tools the U.S. government had at its  disposal to fight this coronavirus.

ProPublica also reports tonight that Senator Burr sold up to $1.7 million  in stock after reassuring the public about coronavirus preparedness.  ProPublica notes the sales were on February 13th, around the same time his  committee was receiving daily coronavirus briefings.

Tonight one of Burr`s aides tells NBC News the stock sales, "Were made  several weeks before the U.S. and financial markets showed signs of  volatility due to the growing coronavirus outbreak." And new reporting  tonight that the recently appointed republican U.S. Senator from Georgia,  Kelly Loeffler, dumped millions in stock after attending a senators-only  coronavirus briefing.

And the following dynamic continues to play out. Trump and his party and  his friends in the news media have grappled with the optics of this growing  coronavirus outbreak. They have often and pointedly taken great pains to  refer to it as the Chinese virus and, worse, even though medical experts  and the World Health Organization say that`s inaccurate, not to mention  stigmatizing.

Well, it showed up again today in this photograph captured by Washington  Post still photographer Jabin Botsford as Trump stepped to the podium for  today`s White House briefing, the word "corona" was crossed out and  replaced in sharpie with "Chinese."

On that note, here for our leadoff discussion on a Thursday night, Shannon  Pettypiece, a Veteran Journalist and Senior White House Reporter for us at  NBC News Digital. Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New  York Times, and Dr. Michael Mina, an expert and epidemiology infectious  clinical microbiology immunology. Happens to be Assistant Professor at  Harvard School of Public Health and a core member of the Harvard Center for  Communicable Disease Dynamics. And Doctor, because of all the bona fides I  just read aloud, I`d like to begin with you and specifically your reaction  to this stay-at-home order for 40 million souls in the State of California.

DR. MICHAEL JOSEPH MINA, HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH ASSISTANT  PROFESSOR: I think that it`s the right thing to do at this point in time,  in particular in the absence of good testing and wide scale testing. We  don`t really know where we are in the course of this epidemic, so these  what seem like somewhat extreme measures are actually the one way that we  really know we can stop the fast transmission of this virus that seems to  be really sweeping across the globe.

WILLIAMS: People are already asking questions as people are eager to do. If  California is doing this, does that mean almost by association that New  York City, such a dense, concentrated, urban center, should be doing that  same thing at minimum?

MINA: I think New York City probably should be. I mean it`s an  extraordinarily dense city as you say, and this virus is very likely to  transmit widely throughout a city like that and really across most urban  centers. And so I think that it needs to be balanced, of course, against  the economic impact that it will have and the social impact. But I think  from a public health and medical perspective, what we`re really trying to  do is we`re trying to preserve the health care and the health care industry  from sort of ripping at its seams as a result of this virus. And these are  the types of actions that we really need to start taking as a society right  now.

WILLIAMS: Looking at Times Square in New York, still such an incredible  image of the usually teeming crossroads of the world. Shannon Pettypiece,  to your reporting now. How do we deal with the stoppage of transportation  between the U.S. and Mexico in both directions? How do we, for that matter,  go about bringing home the Americans who are flung about the world?

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC NEWS.COM SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Right. Well,  I mean it could be a precursor to more restrictions even still to come with  international travel. You know, you have the White House and the  administration now advising people against international travel, but we  don`t see a full-out ban on international travel. And so that`s another  step that could be -- you know, this could be a precursor to all that.

So the latest action they`re taking, though, on international travel is  stopping the flow of any nonessential travel between the U.S. and Mexico.  That`s something our reporting indicates that the administration is  planning to announce, could be as early as tomorrow. It will be very  similar to what was announced with Canada on Wednesday where, again, the  border was essentially closed to any nonessential travel between Canada and  the U.S. and with the Canada situation, that doesn`t affect trade, so we  believe that with Mexico, it won`t affect trade at all.

But I`ll note, you know, the Trump administration has long talked and  threatened about closing the border to Mexico because of concerns about  illegal immigration. We are coming up into a time of year for the harvest  where farmers need a lot of migrant workers, and the farm bureau actually  put out a statement earlier this week saying that they need the state  department to pick up the pace of approving migrant worker visas to get the  harvest season so the food supply is not disrupted from having a lack of  migrant workers. So I think a big question out there right now is obviously  the U.S. has been trying to crack down on illegal immigration, but what`s  going to happen to legal immigration coming from Mexico?

And, you know, I should also note Mexico only has about 118 cases of  coronavirus right now. Of course that`s confirmed cases. We don`t know what  the testing situation is like there. We`ve obviously had our own testing  struggles here. But, you know, we`re closing down this flow of people when  we don`t necessarily know there`s an enormous problem in Mexico right now.  Of course the Mexicans might not want Americans coming into Mexico since we  seem to have a much bigger problem than they do at this point, at least  according to the data available that we have. But I think there`s going to  be a lot of issues that come from this move if indeed the administration  announces it soon as our reporting indicates it will.

WILLIAMS: Peter Baker, a little history that you already know. The Spanish  flu, 1918, wasn`t Spanish at all. It likely originated in Kansas, right  smack dab in the middle of our country. But on that same theme, it is clear  the President, the White House staff, their friends at Fox News have  decided they need to make China an enemy in this story. We`ll listen here  to the President criticizing China.


TRUMP: It would have been much better if we had known about this a number  of months earlier. It could have been contained to that one area in China  where it started. And certainly the world is paying a big price for what  they did, and the world is paying a very big price for not letting them  come out -- 


TRUMP: Excuse me. Before we started reading about it, it could have been  stopped in its tracks. Unfortunately they didn`t decide to make it public.  But the whole world is suffering because of it.


WILLIAMS: Peter, this is part of a larger effort to tell us what we saw and  heard for ourselves in the past. Indeed, the second thing I`m going to play  for you is the President eight weeks ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You trust that we`re going to know everything we need to  know from China? 

TRUMP: I do, I do. I have a great relationship with President Xi.


WILLIAMS: So, Peter Baker, among those two guys who happen to be the same  president, who`s right?

PETER BAKER, THE NEW YORK TIMES CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah,  look, there`s plenty of room for criticism the way the Chinese government  has handled this. Remember, of course, the doctor who was the early  whistle-blower tried to bring more attention to what was happening in Wuhan  province was of course suppressed by the Chinese government. It`s one  reason why my colleagues in The New York Times and our compatriots in The  Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have just been told they have  to leave the country because in fact their reporting from Western News  Media, I think, has probably embarrassed the Chinese government.

But that`s not what the President is only talking about. That`s not the  only thing going on with the President here. He works better in a political  sense when he has an enemy, and in this case he`s decided that China is the  enemy, which is a foreign threat. That fits into of course the pattern  we`ve seen throughout his presidency. His presidency has been built in  large part on the theory that the outside world is a threat to the United  States, whether it be rapists and gang members or trade or security  threats, now disease, it`s all coming from the outside, which justifies  tougher measures at the border. It may be right that these measures are  taken at various points along the way. But to frame this as the China virus  is meant to play a political, you know, role in the President`s  policymaking and to deflect attention away from the things that he and his  own administration didn`t do early on.

WILLIAMS: Shannon Pettypiece, a story that is custom-made to light a  prairie fire of populist anger. People are generically just angry at the  situation now already as this story about Senator Burr, and it could wind  up to be several members of the U.S. Senate because it combines insider  information and personal profit. Tonight I noted, of all people, Tucker  Carlson on Fox called straight-up for the senator to resign. This sure will  make an interesting plot line in the days to come.

PETTYPIECE: And I think it highlights this sense we`ve been getting all  along that there`s, you know, two Americas here like people have pointed  out in other similar crises and situations. You have the one where athletes  and celebrities are able to get the coronavirus test, and other people are,  you know, waiting in line or told by their doctors, I can`t get that for  you. I don`t know how to get testing.

You have one where the President is telling people this virus is going  away, where you have the President`s economic adviser, Larry Kudlow,  telling people to buy the dip, you know, when stocks are down just 1% to 2%  at the beginning of this stock market rout that we`re going through right  now. And another where senators are getting these private briefings and  selling their stocks. And so many people at home concerned about their  jobs, seeing their 401(k), their kids` college savings tumble, I think this  is really going to resonate with a lot of people.

WILLIAMS: And, Peter Baker, Wall Street Journal story on Senator Patty  Murray, an interview with her. She just becomes another voice saying that  she raised alarms with the administration about the testing shortages since  mid-February as more cases began appearing in her state. She just becomes  the latest voice to say all this. "All of my conversations with them was  not to worry, by Friday we`ll have `x` amount," she said. The numbers just  seem so made up."

Peter, this is where the words out of the West Wing won`t match the reality  people are living across this country.

BAKER: Yeah, I think that`s right. You know, we`ve heard weeks ago from the  White House that there would be 4 million tests available, but of course at  the moment only a certain number of, you know, tens of thousands, less than  tens of thousands have been administered at this point. We`ve heard story  after story of people waiting in line, unable to get the test calling  around to various places, told they can`t.

Our local doctor here in Washington says, look, I have no tests. Don`t come  to me about that. That`s a common experience among people in hard-hit  places. That`s why I think people have looked at what they`re hearing from  some of these briefings with a little bit of a jaundiced eye. It doesn`t  match the reality that a lot of them and a lot their neighbors are hearing.

I think that the President has had a tough time sort of owning up to this  and saying, yeah, this has been a problem, and we`re doing the best we can.  But, yes, it has been something that hasn`t gone right. Instead of course  he`s busy defending himself. He wants credit for everything he`s done. He  gave himself a 10, on scale of 10 on how he`s handled it so far and that  doesn`t square with a lot of people see in their own lives.

WILLIAMS: Doctor, you get the last word and that`s about this malaria  medication that`s been around for decades, that the President mentioned  today went as far as to say could be a game-changer, maybe not. People are  grasping for anything positive here, doctor. How should we regard this  medication as a potential treatment after the fact?

MINA: I think we have to take it -- we really have to wait until we see  what some of the clinical trials show. There are certainly trials that are  ongoing now.

There`s some decent evidence that came in particular after SARS. This was  explored sometimes in animal models and experimental systems, and there is  some mechanistic understanding that this could work. There`s some early  evidence from earlier in this epidemic.

But I think to really understand just how beneficial will chloroquine  actually be for fighting this virus in individuals, I think it`s really  going to take some rigorous testing and the trials are starting. And so  hopefully within the coming months we`ll have a much better idea of just  how effective this and some of the other medications that he listed off  might actually be.

WILLIAMS: As I say, everybody`s eager for good news. To Shannon Pettypiece,  to Peter Baker, to Dr. Michael Joseph Mina, thank you very much for coming  on tonight.

And coming up for us, an unexpected finding from the CDC about one of the  groups ending up needing the most critical care.

And later, the most peculiar question at today`s briefing. We`ll play it  for you as The 11th Hour is just getting started on this Thursday night.



GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): A state as large as ours, a nation state is many  parts. But at the end of the day, we`re one body. There`s a mutuality, and  there`s a recognition of our interdependence that requires of this moment  that we direct a statewide order for people to stay at home. That directive  goes into force and effect this evening, and we were confident, we are  confident that the people of the State of California will abide by it.


WILLIAMS: There has never been anything like this in our country. As  governors across this country struggle to keep hospitals supplied, there is  this headline from the Los Angeles Times. More than half of Californians  could become infected with coronavirus, the governor says to Trump,  projecting 25.5 million people in that state potentially infected. And so  it`s very important to have with us tonight from Los Angeles, Dr. Anne  Rimoin, a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public  Health and Infectious Disease Division of the Geffen School of Medicine.  She specializes in emerging infectious diseases, started her career in fact  in public health as a peace corps volunteer in West Africa. And we`ll get  to that too before this discussion is over.

Doc, what do you make -- you`re in California. What do you make of that  entire state and the new rules of the road going forward starting tonight?

DR. ANNE RIMOIN, UCLA SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH EPIDEMIOLOGY PROFESSOR: I  think it`s a really good thing. What we really need to be doing right now  is what I like to say, we`re pulling together by staying apart. And that`s  what the State of California is really trying to do. That`s what our mayor,  Eric Garcetti, put forward today.

I think that this is a smart thing. What we really need to do is we need to  do what everybody is saying. We need to flatten the curve. We need to slow  down the pace of infection so that our hospitals don`t get overwhelmed and  we can protect all of these vulnerable populations here, the elderly,  people who have underlying conditions, all the things that we`ve been  hearing. This is the measure that will make a difference. And all you have  to do is look at the global data to see this is what actually works. This  is what worked in China. This is what worked in other places like  Singapore, Hong Kong, and it`s what`s starting to bring down the curve in  Europe as well.

WILLIAMS: I`ve heard the advice that if we all walk around as if we know we  have it and we all regard the space between us that way, that is something  that would indeed flatten the curve, is that correct?

RIMOIN: Absolutely. If we all act like we have it and we try not to pass it  on to somebody else, we`re going to do a really good job at keeping the  amount of disease down. That`s a perfect way of putting it.

Keeping six feet away from each other in public places, covering your mouth  when you cough, sneezing into your arm, taking really good care of hygiene,  that`s what we need to do. So if everybody acts like they have it and  doesn`t want to pass it on to somebody else, that`s the best-case scenario.

WILLIAMS: We`re going to talk about spring break before this broadcast is  over. Young people being young people have been going on spring break. Are  you concerned at the new stats today showing this uptick in disease and  severity that we didn`t think was necessarily happening among young people?

RIMOIN: This is actually data that is not surprising to many of us who have  been following the global data. We know that all age groups except the very  young have very serious, serious outcomes. What we`re seeing now is a study  focusing on this younger group and seeing that these people too do not get  out scot-free. Everyone can be affected by this virus, and that`s why we  have to be very, very careful.

This is not really surprising data, I should say. I think that the issue  is, is that people haven`t been focusing on the young people, and many of  these young people weren`t tested, so we don`t really have a full picture  at this point either. When we have more data on children, we`ll really know  what the true effects are in this population.

WILLIAMS: Doctor, as I mentioned, I know you`re justifiably proud of your  time in the Peace Corps. We had a family member in the Peace Corps, the  daughter of dear friends of ours I just learned is home from her work in  Africa. The Peace Corps has never, ever ordered all their volunteers home,  but it has happened now, and this must break your heart.

RIMOIN: It does. Now, I`m always happy to answer any question about Peace  Corps because it totally changed my life. And I really feel that what the  Peace Corps did by pulling people home was the right thing to do.

We have young volunteers, also older volunteers all over the world but  living in a variety of different circumstances, living in communities often  without running water, electricity, and certainly without good health care  in most places. So it is very prudent to be bringing people home right now.  It`s a wonderful program, and it will start up again once we`re through  this. So right now the best thing to do is bring them home, keep them safe,  and let them back out when it`s time to go.

WILLIAMS: Well, I`m hoping and assuming you are immune from the shelter in  place order, and I`m hoping and assuming we can do this again and you can  be free to join us again, Dr. Anne Rimoin with us from Southern California  tonight. Thank you so very much for coming on.

Coming up for us, the #Where`sFauci was trending today. Why has the  nation`s top immunologist been missing from the on-camera scene of late?


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