BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1,180 of the Trump administration. 204 days until our presidential election, which seemed to get clarified further today. And it`s actually difficult to clarify or assess or synopsize (ph) what happened during today`s White House briefing.
Upon watching it, a good many people thought this was as close to a meltdown as you ever want to see from a U.S. President. It was, as much as any pandemic press briefing can be, about him, his image and reputation, his slights and grievances, news coverage of him, settling scores, resetting the record, rewriting the history of January, February, March and thus far in April.
In his telling of events, he has taken decisive action starting very early on to protect the country, which he now wants reopened. A first in our history today, the White House produced a campaign video that played in the briefing room and to a national audience showing how right he has been all along on coronavirus.
He made a declaration of presidential powers that our framers risked their lives to avoid. He declared his own authority to be total. He said the nation`s governors know that and will cooperate perfectly. And we will hear all of this in just a moment, but doctors, nurses, and patients should be cheered to hear that Mike Pence declared today our hospitals are not overwhelmed. The President summed it up for his team, everything we did was right.
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DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: January 31st, in the United States not one person had died because of the, again, the Wuhan virus. So I issued travel restrictions on that date even though nobody -- and I got brutalized over it by the press because I was way too early. I shouldn`t have done it. Brutalized by the press. But, you know, sort of I`ve been brutalized for the last four years. I used to do well before I decided to run for politics. But I guess I`m doing OK because to the best of my knowledge, I`m the President of the United States despite the things that are said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: And it`s against that backdrop we now offer a report from the real world tonight. It`s exactly one month since the President declared the pandemic a national emergency when there were just over 2,000 cases.
Tonight the death toll across our country is now at more than 23,000, the most of any country on earth. We`re home to more than half a million confirmed cases, but repeating with fewer than 1% of the population tested, we have no idea as to the real number of cases in our country.
In New York, which has the nation`s highest number of cases, more than 10,000 people have lost their lives. Today the Governor and Dr. Tony Fauci noted that the key indications of the outbreak`s severity, the number of deaths and the number of those in hospitals, those both continued to decline.
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GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO, (D) NEW YORK: I believe the worst is over if we continue to be smart. And I believe we can now start on the path to normalcy.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We`re starting to see in some areas now that kind of flattening, particularly in a place that was a hot spot like New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Trump is eager to reopen the country, as he says, to restart the economy, which, after all, was intended to be the centerpiece of his re- election campaign. Although the federal government issued guidelines in effect until April 30, the authority to loosen restrictions on businesses and American life by removing emergency stay-at-home orders, that lies with state governments.
Trump is claiming incorrectly that it`s his call. This morning he posted this, "some in the fake news media are saying that it is the governor`s decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States, and the Federal Government let it be fully understand that this is incorrect. It is the decision of the President and for many good reasons."
Today seven governors of northeast states announced a planning group to formulate a reopening strategy. Three west coast governors are doing the same. In that two-hour White House briefing, Trump insisted he had the power to lift state restrictions.
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TRUMP: The president of the United States has the authority to do what the president has the authority to do, which is very powerful. The president of the United States calls the shots. They can`t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States. When somebody`s the president of the United States, the authority is total.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said when someone is president of the United States, their authority is total. That is not true. Who told you that?
TRUMP: OK. You know what we`re going to do? We`re going to write up papers on this. It`s not going to be necessary because the governors need us one way or the other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Shortly after that, New York Governor Cuomo had this response.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The President of the United States comes out and lays out a plan that you think is not responsible and not right for New York, would you tell New Yorkers to ignore what he is saying and overall it and say, no, listen to me as the governor. This is what we will do?
CUOMO: If they came out with -- if, hypothetical, if the President came out with a plan that I believed was irresponsible and could jeopardize the public health or the people of the state of New York, I would oppose it legally, period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: It was clear during this briefing Trump was fuming about The New York Times investigation that came out over the weekend. It featured extensive reporting on the President`s apparent failures to heed warnings from inside his administration about the potential impact of the coronavirus. "Throughout January, as Mr. Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government identified the threat, sounded alarms, and made clear the need for aggressive action."
Mr. Trump`s response was colored by his suspicion and disdain of what he viewed as the deep state, the very people in his government whose expertise and long experience might have guided him more quickly toward steps that would slow the virus and likely save lives. They go on to note that the final days of February, perhaps more than any other moment during his tenure in the White House, illustrated Mr. Trump`s inability or unwillingness to absorb warnings coming at him. Yesterday Dr. Tony Fauci was asked if that delay cost lives.
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FAUCI: Obviously you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives. Obviously no one is going to deny that.
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WILLIAMS: Trump later re-tweeted this post on Twitter calling for Dr. Fauci to be fired. Today at the White House in rather forced remarks that had the air of a hostage tape, Dr. Fauci seemed to backtrack on his answers during this CNN interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: The other point I wanted to make is that I had an interview yesterday that I was asked a hypothetical question. The nature of the hypothetical question was if, in fact, we had mitigated earlier, could lives have been saved? And the answer to my question was, as I always do and I`m doing right now, perfectly honestly say, yes. If mitigation works and you instigate it and initiate it earlier, you will probably have saved more lives. If you initiated it later, you`re probably going to have lost more lives. You initiate it at a certain time. That was taken as a way that maybe somehow something was at fault.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you doing this voluntarily or --
FAUCI: No, I`m it -- Everything I do is voluntarily, please. Don`t even imply that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: After that, Fauci sat down. The president took over and proceeded to devote a substantial amount of time refuting The New York Times investigation. He showed a taxpayer-funded campaign-style video defending his response in the early days of the epidemic and argued with reporters who challenged him.
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TRUMP: January 21st, OK? Still early. There was one case in the whole United States. We had one case. I`m supposed to shut down the government, the biggest economy in the history of the world? Shut it down. We have one case.
PAULA REID, CBS NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The month of February, that video was a gap.
TRUMP: What do you do when you have no case in the whole United States --
REID: You had cases in February.
TRUMP: Excuse me. You reported it. Zero cases, zero deaths on January 17th.
REID: In January. The entire month of February --
TRUMP: I said in January.
REID: You video has a complete gap.
TRUMP: On January --
REID: What did your administration do in February with the time that your travel ban brought you?
TRUMP: A lot. In fact, we`ll give you a list. What we did, in fact, part of it was up there. We did a lot. Look, look, you know you`re a fake. You know that. You`re whole network, the way you cover it, is fake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Here for our leadoff discussion on a Monday night, Dr. Vin Gupta. He specializes in treating respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. He`s also an Affiliate Assistant Professor with the University of Washington, Department of Health Metric Sciences, Ashley Parker is back with us as well. Pulitzer Prize-Winning White House Reporter for the Washington Post. As is Jonathan Lemire, White House Reporter for the Associated Press.
Ashley, I`d like to begin with you with this question. What did we witness today? What was that because we still adhere to the tenets of a polite society, I figured I`d turn to you? You have an Ivy League degree and a Pulitzer Prize, and you`re bound to be better than me at describing what that was.
ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: It was jarring to watch, Brian. And the president has long had a me, me, me ethos. That`s not new. But what was so striking is the President stepped to the lectern today on a day when the death toll rose above 23,000. You know, during a stretch where 16 million people have applied for unemployment. When we see those pictures of people parking their cars, waiting in line for food banks that seem to stretch on for eternity. And for most of that press conference, he in no way addressed not just the public health aspect of this crisis but the suffering that so many Americans are struggling with right now. And it was, as you said, all about his gripes and grievances and who was nice to him and who was mean to him and who praised him in a video, and who in the media he didn`t like. And when those reporters -- you showed some of those clips, challenged the version, the incorrect frankly version of reality he was trying to present in that briefing room. And they did so armed with facts, he basically shut them down.
You saw him to Paula Reid of CBS, she said what did do you in that month of February that you bought yourself to try to prepare for this virus? He could not provide a single specific. He said a lot, a lot, and then just dismissed her. And so you sort of saw a campaign rally in the briefing room in a way that I think a lot of people found quite surprising.
WILLIAMS: Jonathan Lemire, some staggering reporting by The New York Times, by The Washington Post in the last 48 to 72 hours. As you`ve been reporting as well on the time that was lost, and I think the common assumption is six to eight weeks were lost in dismissal, denial, inaction. And today of course we see the reaction to that reporting.
JONATHAN LEMIRE, ASSOCIATED PRESS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That`s right, Brian. The President seethed about those stories all weekend long. We saw it burst into view today from the James S. Brady White House briefing room. He was angry about The Times story, about the piece that myself and my colleagues at the A.P. put together. The Washington Post has done great reporting on this as well, illuminating that stretch where after he ban someday travel from China -- and must be pointed out that since he put that into effect, more than 400,000 people still traveled to the United States from China.
But afterwards, very little else was done, and the White House -- it was a White House plagued with infighting. Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was on his way out the door. The President himself was distracted by the impeachment trial. There was a dispute between Mulvaney, who still headed the Budget Office at that point and the Health Human Services Secretary, Secretary Azar, about how much money would be needed to combat the virus as it started to reach American shores.
When the President spoke in mid-January at Davos, at that moment the United States had just one patient, a coronavirus patient, a lone figure in Washington State. A month later when he finally addressed it from the White House briefing room in the first of these task force briefings that have now become daily rituals, the United States had just 15. And he said, we`re ready. We`re going to stop this.
Now, of course, as we sit here today, over 23,000 Americans are dead. So the President today, in an unprecedented fashion, you know, used that taxpayer-funded video to try to refute these reports, tried to lay out his own version of the time line. But in this case, Brian, it seemed like the facts were certainly not on his side.
WILLIAMS: Hey, Doctor, it occurs to me that the reason restaurants and movies and workplaces are empty today and tonight isn`t so much the orders we received as it is something quite basic, and that is nobody wants to get this. The reason flights are aloft across this country tonight between Los Angeles and New York, those few that are flying are virtually empty. No one wants to get this. So having established that, what does reopening look like to you? Do you believe it can be done regionally? What sets of standards would you want to see met prior to a date certain?
DR. VIN GUPTA, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Brian. You know, I think standard one is that it`s not in the interest of the President to make a martyr of Tony Fauci or Debbie Birx. And so the first standard is let`s listen to the public health experts that he has progressively tried to enfeeble instead of empower. And what they`ve been advocating for has been essentially a national lockdown. We already have a regional approach. A shelter in place in Washington State from Governor Inslee has meant something entirely different from Missouri, where nonessential businesses remain open.
Florida is talking about potentially a staggered approach already in terms of opening schools. So we already have a regional approach. And we`re going to bear the consequences of that. I think it`s laudable what the northeastern governors are doing and the northwestern, all the west coast is doing. But, you know, listen, any return to work strategy, whether it`s regional or national needs mass testing and it also needs parallel approaches for contact tracing. So if we do detect a case, we have a scale really easily, maybe even using Bluetooth technology, where was that positive case and who have they interacted with, so we can actually get contact tracing at scale, a reality, and get departments of public health the critical help they need. They can`t do it alone. So that`s why we need tech (ph) or innovation. But we need the President to message accordingly and to empower Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, not enfeeble them.
WILLIAMS: Ashley Parker, what`s all the hyper ventilation, what`s all the argument from the President about? He`s not fighting with us really. He`s fighting against this virus. He may know intellectually that the only thing worse than what we`re living through now would be a false start and a second curve where we`re seeing elsewhere in the world. He`s developed this kind of set of repetition and go-to phraseology, and it`s almost like the perfect call, some of his repetition, what he`s labeling this. But to what end, do you think?
PARKER: Well, it`s a good question, and I think you saw the President grappling with this. His own aides and advisers will say he`s best when he has an enemy, when he has an opponent. But this virus is not like Jeb Bush in 2016. It`s not like the media he can dismiss as fake news. It`s not like Joe Biden, who he can call sleepy Joe. You know, you can`t tweet it away. You can`t mock it away. You actually have to be a leader and handle it. And I think that was one thing people close to him, when we asked what happened in that lag, there was this period where the President thought that his normal rituals and routines could work.
Then more broadly in the White House, there is this discussion, and they just don`t have a good answer yet because they`re faced with a legitimately hard question for any leader to grapple with, which is they want to open -- reopen the economy. People do want to get back to work. Again, we talked about the 16 million jobless claims, the people who are struggling to pay their mortgages, struggling with mental health, struggling with child care, struggling with food. There`s a real, genuine incentive to reopen the country. And then you have the public health officials, who say we really need to mitigate. We can`t reopen. And so it is a balancing act, and that is one thing they are working on now. But the President is leaning towards wanting to reopen in some form or fashion, and that does not mean to be clear that everyone goes back to work on May 1st, but by that May 1st date, and they do not have any clear plan on how to do that.
WILLIAMS: Jonathan Lemire, the gas lighting again today in full view. The graphic we just showed, part of a freeze frame of the video clips that the media diminished the rise of the coronavirus. It seems, depending on what you read, that most of the people watching are the people arguing none of us should be carrying these events live, which is a conversation and a debate for another time. Who is watching, and who do you think he`s aiming at? Is this straight to the base because this is a two-hour undertaking for any and all of us who watch this.
LEMIRE: Certainly some of this is aimed at the base, and we`re seeing the attacks in the media play towards that audience. The President knows that a lot of his supporters dislike the mainstream media and he can always score some points. But more than that, it`s trying to undermine the press` credibility when -- the media, when we report bad headlines down the road, perhaps his supporters will be less inclined to believe them because of the shots the President has taken, the attempts that he tries to paint us as biased when that is not what journalists are trying to do. In that briefing room, they`re trying to get information. That needs to not be overlooked here.
It was a full 40 minutes in today`s briefing before the President delivered anything in the sense of sort of facts of information in terms of updating a scared and mournful American public as to what the latest was on the pandemic. That took a back seat to his airing of the grievances, his attacks on the press. But he is certainly wrestling with the decision. Ashley is right. There`s a real tension in the White House right now from the public health officials who are suggesting a slow, cautious approach here as to whether or not to -- when the nation`s economy should reopen. Others, including a task force that the President is going to announce tomorrow that`s going to include the likes of Larry Kudlow, Steve Mnuchin, Ben Carson and others who are forging forward to see how can the nation reopen and when. And we know what the President wants.
He was close to pulling the trig tore have it open up on Easter. It took Fauci and Birx to show him the models of how bad things could get if we were to do that to ward him off that idea. He is pretty centered on this May 1st date. He`s given himself some wiggle room, yes, but that is what he wants. I think we`re going to see in the coming days attempts to justify that decision. This is a President whose whole re-election is based on a strong economy. He needs to get it going again.
WILLIAMS: Hey, Doctor, far from the economy, no one yields to New York in terms of the sadness and the death toll. People are passing away while we`re having this conversation. Everyone is thirsting for good news. But does the doctor part of you cringe a little bit when you hear even the slightest bit of good news from a governor anxious to announce good news? Do you fear that it will lead to behavior that will reverse how good the American people have been up to this point, if you understand what I mean?
GUPTA: Yeah, absolutely, Brian. I think there`s probably two things. You know, first of all, I think we all need a little hope right now. I think I can say that as an ICU doc watching colleagues, nurses, respiratory therapists struggle with patients that are critically ill. You know, we and a lot of them pass away. We need that hope. And so it`s helpful to know that we`re making progress. On the same point of view, though, to your point, we can`t take the foot off the pedal here. We`ve got to keep going. Every model that the President is looking at that forecasts death and disability from COVID-19 insists that we have to keep doing what we`re doing until the end of May at the very least. So, yes, I think Governor Cuomo and others are walking a tight rope that they have to message like this. But it`s a delicate balance to your point.
WILLIAMS: Our thanks to our guests for having us all into their homes tonight. Dr. Vin Gupta, to Ashley Parker, to Jonathan Lemire, thank you very much for being with us.
And coming up as we take our first break, the Trump response. What he`s getting wrong about history, the law, presidential power and public health for starters.
And later, in normal times it would be our lead story on this broadcast. Bernie just endorsed Biden. What it means for the Democrats when we continue and as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting under way on this Monday night.
WILLIAMS: Today the President on the defensive clearly during today`s briefing. He was asking if he would start sharing coronavirus information with Joe Biden since he`s the apparent nominee. The President, as one does, used the opportunity to go after the Obama administration.
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TRUMP: They had the H1N1, which is swine flu, and that was a big failure. That was a tremendous failure. They had a lot of failures. And you take a look at what -- you take a look at the history. And, you know, 17,000 people died. And you talk about late. They were so late, they were late like it never even existed. That was a big problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Let`s bring in our two guests, Ron Klain, a political veteran now informally advising the Biden effort. Among his many roles in the White House over the years, he oversaw the response to the Ebola outbreak during the Obama presidency. He is these days co-host of the podcast about the coronavirus called appropriately, Epidemic. And Jeremy Bash is with us, former Chief of Staff at CIA and the Pentagon. Former chief counsel to the House Intel Committee.
Jeremy Bash, I`d like to begin with you. Both of you gentlemen have something in common. Neither of you advertises the fact that you both went to Harvard Law School, about which I know only that you can`t graduate unless you`ve completed constitutional law. So tell me, Jeremy, when the President says, the president has total power, is that correct?
JEREMY BASH, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: No, of course not, and actually Ron knows this even better than I do. We both took professor tribe`s con law class. But it really goes back to Runnymede. It really goes back to the Magna Carta. It goes back to the foundations of the American constitutional system. We declared in our constitution that no person is above the law. In fact, owing to that tradition, it says that the monarch, the king, the ruler of the nation should be below the law. And so in Supreme Court case after Supreme Court case, the justices have said that the president is subject to the law. There is something called judicial review. That`s Marbury versus Madison.
And then even in the modern era, if you look at cases coming after 9/11 when the president tried to assert plenary authority over issues of national security, the court said, no. The court said that the president had to comply with laws mandated by Congress. And in this case of course we don`t want the president sliding into autocracy, sliding into the mode of a king or monarch or dictator, grabbing power for himself. When this president stands to the podium and says my power is total, my power is absolute, he`s absolutely and totally incorrect.
WILLIAMS: Ron Klain, you heard the President. He`s done everything correct in his estimation, but it was you guys, the Obama crowd, that left the cupboards bare for when they arrived.
RON KLAIN, OVERSAW EBOLA RESPONSE UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes, so virtually everything the President said today was a lie. We could start with his attack on H1N1. Let`s just go to the numbers. More Americans have died of COVID in ten days than died from H1N1 in an entire year. The HHS inspector general found that the Obama administration response to H1N1 was appropriate and right. The inspector general found that President Trump has left the hospitals bereft of the supplies they need and the action they need.
And I`ll say one other thing. President Obama fought H1N1 while dealing with an economic crisis he inherited. President Trump`s manage management of COVID has led to an economic crisis. So, you know, if we want to go into the record business, I think the record difference is really clear. The challenge is this, if President Trump was to reopen the country, it`s not just a question of legal authority, it`s a question of fighting the disease. And as long as the disease remains raging as it is, the president can say whatever he wants. Consumers won`t go back to stores. Workers won`t go back to their jobs. Any reopening will be a failed reopening. We need to get the disease under control so it`s safe for people to do business and safe for people to go back to work.
WILLIAMS: Well, Ron Klain, here`s this in "The New York Times" about New Jersey, number two state in cases of coronavirus. "The backlog for coronavirus testing in New Jersey, the state with the second-highest caseload in the country, has been getting worse. Initially, the strain came from a lack of test kits, but now there are not enough nasal swabs, not enough nurses. There is a pileup at the labs themselves and a limited supply of the chemicals needed to identify the virus."
How can we ever, Ron, have that discussion about going back when we have, as I keep saying, no earthly idea how many Americans are walking around with this virus?
KLAIN: Brian, I think it`s pretty simple. If the president wants Americans to go back and do their jobs, he needs to do his. And that means fixing this testing problem first and foremost. What`s amazing is that Vice President Pence promised we`d have 27 million tests by the end of March. We`re barely at 3 million now in the middle of April.
Every single promise the president has made has been broken on this testing issue. So it`s time to stop standing at the White House podium and show propaganda films and start to stand there and take control of the production through the Defense Production Act, take control of the key elements here, produce the tests. You know, this week the federal government cut funding for testing. I think it`s hard for people -- they cut off aid to state governments to do testing. The president needs to step up, get people tested so we all can get back to work, get back to our lives.
WILLIAMS: Jeremy Bash, the president keeps asking the question in one form or another, what would have happened if without a case in this country or a death in this country, he had tried to shut the government down. Is that the right question?
JEREMY BASH, FORMER PENTAGON CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, I think it`s clear he acted too late. And, in fact, the testing got off the ground too late. All the efforts to do contact tracing, all the efforts to do surveillance of the disease came off way too late. And I think you alluded to it earlier in the show, Brian. There is now ample documentary evidence that the president`s advisers, including Bob Kadlec at the Department of HHS, Health and Human Services, his deputy national security adviser in the White House were holding regular meetings in January and in early February saying we got to get our arms around this. We have to understand the impact to the American economy and to the health of the American people.
And the president moved way late. It wasn`t until all of February went by, the beginning of March went by, and only in the middle of March did he stand there and declare a national emergency.
WILLIAMS: Two veterans of government and now unmasked two graduates of the Harvard Law School, Ron Klain, Jeremy Bash, gentlemen, thank you both for coming back on the broadcast with us.
Coming up, Nick Kristof has covered a lot over his long career, including more hell holes and hot zones than he cares to remember, I`m sure. His latest is on the war zone inside our nation`s hospitals. He`s standing by to join us to tell us what he saw behind the scenes.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody`s asking for ventilators. Nobody`s asking for beds because we built hospitals. No one who has needed a ventilator has not gotten a ventilator.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our hospitals were not overwhelmed and are not overwhelmed at this hour.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: "New York Times" columnist Nicholas Kristof put it best in his latest column. "The best way to understand the coronavirus is not by tuning into White House briefings but by tuning into the distress on the front line." That`s exactly what he did. Kristof accompanied by video journalist Michael Kirby Smith granted rare access to the hot zones inside two hospitals in the Bronx.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Death here has no dignity. Patients can`t have visitors. They`re scared. They can`t even see their nurse`s eyes. I`ve reported on lots of deaths in my career, and this feels particularly brutal.
DR. NICOLE DEL VALLE, RESIDENT: Someone codes. Someone dies. They go on to the next patient. Someone codes. Someone dies. They go on to the next patient. And you don`t have time to process those emotions until you get home. Like I have cried just at home thinking about it. Well, just, you know, when you get home, you finally take a breather, and that`s when you let it all out because you don`t have time to process those emotions here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: We`re thankful to our friend Nick Kristof, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The New York Times" for being back with us on the broadcast tonight. Nick, I`m going to repeat the quote from Pence at the podium today. "Our hospitals are not overwhelmed at this hour." Square that with what you saw.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING JOURNALIST: Well, Pence is right that there are some hotels -- some hospitals that are not overwhelmed, but those hospitals that I visited are completely overwhelmed and, in particular, the Jack Weiler Hospital in the Bronx. The emergency department had traffic jams of stretchers as you entered the hot zone. They were having to bus people out to other hospitals to make room. There were some people who were seated because they couldn`t -- they didn`t have stretchers available at that moment.
And so the idea that that hospital was not overwhelmed when the staff themselves are heroic in trying to deal with these challenges is a, you know, complete misperception of what was going on. I wish that the vice president and the president might indeed actually drop by the front line and visit these places. And they would not say that these hospitals are not overwhelmed if they had seen what I saw.
WILLIAMS: Nick, in addition, of course, to the dead and dying and their families, my chief concern is the medical personnel. And for those viewers who don`t share that concern, it just means you haven`t needed medical personnel lately. I worry that we`re going to lose some portion of a generation of them, especially when you consider how many states have asked how many med schools to allow the about-to-graduate class from this summer to be released as young doctors, kind of emergency residents, right now.
KRISTOF: You know, I found the -- not only the doctors but the nurses, the respiratory therapists, the technicians, the cleaners to be utterly inspiring. And their challenge, they`re going to have PTSD. You -- Dr. Del Valle who you saw briefly there, you know, she goes home at night and cries. But she goes home at night and cries after performing extraordinary services in the hot zone, going patient to patient, consoling them, holding their hands, doing intubations but also encouraging them.
And so indeed, I mean, the doctors and nurses and others are scared. They`re afraid for themselves. They`re afraid about infecting others. They worry they don`t have enough PPE, and we haven`t done enough for them. But I must say that they are the real heroes in this, and I didn`t talk to any who were talking about abandoning medicine. They -- it is a calling for them, and it was just admirable to see them rise to this occasion.
WILLIAMS: Indeed, I came away from your work amazed at the diligence, at the empathy and sympathy and the fact that still in an assembly line, the most grim sort, the circumstances you reported and recorded and repeat to us tonight, the effort to individualize care and to calm patients who are, unless medicated out of it, in certainly the panic and crisis of their lives.
KRISTOF: You know, the patients are terrified. And the fact that they are alone makes it so much more difficult for them. They don`t know if they`re going to see their loved ones again. They`re feverish. They`re coughing. They -- you know, they`re struggling to breathe. They feel like they`re drowning. And then the doctors and nurses take the time -- I saw an intubation, and what struck me is that the intubations frankly don`t work very well. And about 70 percent to 80 percent of those who are put on ventilators end up dying. But this nurse was holding the hand of this frightened woman as she went through this intubation.
And when people do pass, then the doctors and nurses and medical staff take the time and they gather the team together, and they hold the patient`s hands. They repeat the patient`s name. They have a moment of silence, trying in some way to honor, to assert the dignity and shared humanity that we all feel in this incredibly difficult time. And in the chaos of the E.D., it was just tremendous to witness.
WILLIAMS: Nick Kristof, tremendous piece of reporting work, the type of which we didn`t see coming in this country compared to all the places in the world where you`ve been. Nick, thank you very much for coming back on the broadcast with us.
KRISTOF: Thank you.
WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, one month ago, they went at each other, you`ll recall, on a debate stage. Today, very different story. Steve Kornacki will be at the big board for us on what today`s big endorsement between these two towering Democrats will mean.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, I am asking all Americans, I`m asking every Democrat, I`m asking every independent, I`m asking a lot of Republicans to come together in this campaign to support your candidacy, which I endorse, to make certain that we defeat somebody who I believe, and I`m speaking just for myself now, is the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So that happened. Less than one week after ending his campaign, Senator Bernie Sanders was back online today with a full-throated endorsement of Joe Biden.
Our own Steve Kornacki is at the big board tonight for our discussion. Steve, let`s talk about endorsements. Ideally, they deliver vote. You and I had never seen an endorsement like Congressman Clyburn in South Carolina. I`ve never seen a more emotional or better carried-out endorsement. Without Congressman Clyburn, we`re not having this discussion tonight. The question to you is what gets delivered? What vote was transferred today to Joe Biden?
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It`s an interesting question, Brian, because I think part of the story of this Democratic primary here in 2020 is our understanding of who and what makes up the Bernie Sanders coalition. I think it`s changed. I think it`s changed somewhat dramatically just over the course of the last few weeks. So to answer that question, one word here, activists.
Bernie Sanders did very well with activists. You could see it in caucus states. What was Bernie Sanders` best state this entire campaign? Obviously, it was the Nevada caucuses. Remember, he won that runaway victory. We were talking about that night all the questions about, was he going to run away with the nomination. Well, what you saw in Nevada was it was a caucus state. You had extremely low turnout compared to some of these primary states and in an atmosphere like that, Bernie Sanders could excel. We saw him do well with young voters, with self-described very liberal voters, with liberal activists. That`s sort of the core constituency for Bernie Sanders. You could really start to see it in caucus states.
Of course, there just weren`t as many caucus states this time around as there have been in the past. That`s one of the reforms Democrats imposed for 2020. The Sanders campaign had been in favor of that. And as a result, there weren`t that many Nevadas on the map for Bernie Sanders. But, certainly that core Sanders constituency, the Biden campaign hopes he`ll be able to -- Sanders will be able to bring those voters over to Biden without much incident. We`ll see if that happens.
But when I say our understanding of the Sanders coalition maybe has changed a little bit, to give you an example here, these are the new numbers we just got today. Remember, just before Sanders dropped out last week, they had the Wisconsin primary. They had the vote. Today, they actually released the totals. This is what happened there last week, 63 percent for Biden, 31 percent for Sanders. This was one of Bernie Sanders` best states in 2016. Remember, he won by 14 points in Wisconsin over Hillary Clinton in 2016. This time, he lost by a two to one margin.
Look, this is what Wisconsin looked like when it was Sanders versus Clinton. Almost every county in the state except Milwaukee, every county in Wisconsin was Sanders in `16. In this time around, not a single Bernie Sanders county on there. We saw that in Wisconsin, we saw that in Michigan, we saw it in Illinois, in Missouri, in Minnesota, the Midwest, those Midwest states where you saw rural, blue collar, non-college white voters in 2016 who were there with Sanders and were such a problem for Hillary Clinton in the general election, they were not with Bernie Sanders this time around. They were with Joe Biden.
And that raises a question, I think, for Joe Biden for the general election. What he hopes is that portends for him the ability to break through with those voters in the fall in a way Hillary Clinton couldn`t in 2016, Brian.
WILLIAMS: As I say in normal times, we`d all be huddled around the big board. It would have been our lead story tonight. Thank you for making the lineup nonetheless and helping our understanding of just where the Democratic race stands as we go into the 2020 November election.
We`re back with more right after this.
WILLIAMS: This comes courtesy of Steve Fulop, the mayor of Jersey City, across the river from New York City. A photo taken by his neighbor of the rainbow that came out late evening, late afternoon, early evening in the New York area tonight. The picture is important. Our thanks to the mayor because it nicely sets up what we`re going to talk about and the day it was after we take this break.
So, coming up, we`ll take stock of life in this country. Just another lockdown Monday when THE 11TH HOUR continues.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, just a look at some of the news from this long, strange trip we are all on as a nation. And while the following is good news, all it does is point out a huge and rolling, ongoing national tragedy. We saw this today. Last month was the first March without a school shooting in the United States since 2002. Let that sink in.
Then there was the news last night of the approaching severe weather amid all of this. It started in the south on Easter Sunday. Over 30 people were killed when it was all over as rough weather, high winds, tornadoes tore across half a dozen states. A weather system that was still potent enough this afternoon to register an 82-mile-an-hour wind gust on the Jersey Shore. So, yes, that rainbow was welcome. And where it hit the hardest, a very big concern ended up coming true.
With everyone in their homes across the south, those in the path of the worst of it had to get to storm shelters during this time of social distancing when we`re not supposed to be around anybody, let alone crammed into a shelter next to somebody. But for some families, it was that or lose their lives. A lot of them came home to no possessions, nothing standing where their home once was.
And finally, during this time when people are confined to home, deliveries are everything for millions of us. Families have made posters. They`ve left snacks as a thank you to the FedEx and UPS drivers, especially the U.S. Postal Service. And so it`s a strange time for the president to go to war with the U.S. Postal Service because their efforts these days have been so heroic, their workers have been so heroic. Many of them have gotten sick. The president, though, ordered them cut out of that $2 trillion relief bill. But they have a lot of fans in Congress and among the people, all those people at all those addresses where the mail got delivered despite COVID and tornadoes again today.
That is our broadcast for this Monday night as we start a new week. On behalf of all of my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night from our temporary field headquarters.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END