BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening on this day 1,202 of the Trump administration. Six months to our Presidential Election, now 182 days away.
There`s a developing story we wanted to give you a heads-up on tonight. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg hospitalized at Johns Hopkins for nonsurgical treatment of a benign gallbladder condition this afternoon. The Justice, who is 87, is said to be resting comfortably. She`s expected to take part in the court`s teleconference arguments tomorrow. We`ll have more on that story coming up.
Tonight in phoenix in an interview with ABC News, the President admitted lives will be lost during the reopening of our country currently under way. He said workers wishing to return to work, "should have no problem getting tested." We should point out that`s certainly not the truth that citizens and workers are finding across this country.
He compared the death toll as it stands right now with filling up Yankee Stadium with death as he put it. About the economy, he said, it is what it is and quickly added, "Even the Democrats aren`t blaming me for that."
When asked about why he diminished the threat of the coronavirus early on, he said again today, "I want to be a cheerleader for this country."
Back in the real world tonight the death toll here in the U.S. stands at 70,972. The number of confirmed cases now well over 1.2 million but we quickly add as we always do, only about 2% of our population has been tested at all.
And tonight a new whistle-blower complaint from the government`s top vaccine official paints a damning portrait of the administration`s response to this pandemic.
Dr. Rick Bright alleges he was reassigned last month for refusing to embrace that anti-malaria drug the President repeatedly pitched as a possible treatment.
In his written complaint, Bright says he, "Opposed the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as lacking scientific merit even though the administration promoted it as a panacea and that New York and New Jersey be flooded with these drugs." He also, "Felt an urgent and compelling need to inform the American public that there was insufficient scientific data to support the use of these drugs for Covid-19 patients."
There`s also this on the issue of personal protective equipment and medical supplies. "Dr. Bright was alarmed about the scarcity of critical resources and supplies, including N95 masks, swabs, syringes, and began clashing with Health and Human Services leaders as he pressed for them to take appropriate action to address these shortages."
The complaint also notes, "Dr. Bright acted with urgency to begin to address this pandemic but encountered resistance from HHS leadership, including Secretary Azar, who appeared intent on downplaying this catastrophic threat."
During a conference call this afternoon, Bright described his experience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. RICH BRIGHT, OUSTED HHS OFFICIAL: Time after time, I was pressured to ignore or dismiss expert and scientific recommendations and instead to award lucrative contracts based on political connections. In other words, I was pressured to let politics and cronyism drive decisions over the opinions of the best scientists we have in government. We are in an extraordinarily difficult global crisis, and the worst might still be ahead of us. Americans need to have all the facts. They need to know the truth about this pandemic. They need to be able to trust their government and the information that they hear from politicians is based on scientific merit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Dr. Bright is asking for his old job back and a special counsel investigation. He`s also scheduled to testify before a House Committee next Thursday, the 14th.
Today`s other big pandemic news concerns the White House coronavirus task force. While in Arizona today, the President essentially confirmed the White House is in the process of demanding the task force at a time when coronavirus cases are just now ramping up in some parts of our country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA (CNN): Vice President Pence said there are discussions underway about winding down the task force.is that a good idea during a pandemic?
DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Well, I think we`re looking at phase two, and we`re looking at other phases. Mike Pence and the task force have done a great job, but we`re now looking at a little bit of a different form and that form is safety and opening. And we`ll have a different group probably set up for that.
ACOSTA: Are you saying mission accomplished?
TRUMP: No, no, not at all. The mission accomplished is when it`s over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Earlier the Vice President, who don`t forget runs the task force, said the White House is looking at Memorial Day as a date for closing out the task force. This is happening, of course, as more states open up, as infection rates continue going up, and as new models warn the situation could get much worse as we head into the summer and fall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the doctors saying that there might be a recurrence of coronavirus in the fall, why -- can you just explain why is now the time to wind down that task force?
TRUMP: Well, because we can`t keep our country closed for the next five years. I`m not saying anything is perfect. And, yes, will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open, and we have to get it open soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: As we mentioned, the President was in Arizona on his first trip outside the Washington area in almost two months. He flew there to tour a Honeywell factory making N95 masks for the government. Trump did not wear a mask to tour the mask factory, and peer pressure perhaps got the better of those in his circle, who also opted to go without masks though in close contact with people nonetheless. In the They Can`t Make This Up category, here what`s the music blaring during the President`s visit to one work station.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the material that traps the particulates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: For those scoring at home, that was indeed Live and Let Die. Trump, as you saw, did wear goggles and before leaving, he was interviewed by ABC News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: How many deaths and how much suffering are you willing to accept to get back where you want to be? Do you see it that way? Do you believe that`s the reality we`re facing, that lives will be lost to reopen the country?
TRUMP: It`s possible there will be some because you won`t be locked into an apartment or a house or whatever it is.
MUIR: For any American worker who`s nervous about going back, if they want to get tested to see if they`ve been exposed to the virus, they can have access to both the antibody test --
TRUMP: They should have no problem. They should have no problem. And as good as this is, we`re even getting better. We came up -- don`t forget, the cupboard was bare.
MUIR: What did you do when you became president to restock those cupboards that you say were bare?
TRUMP: Well, I`ll be honest. I have a lot of things going on. We had a lot of people that refused to allow the country to be successful. They wasted a lot of time on Russia, Russia, Russia. That turned out to be a total hoax. Then they did Ukraine, Ukraine, and that was a total hoax. Then they impeached the President of the United States for absolutely no reason.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Here for our leadoff discussion on a Tuesday night, Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize-Winning White House Reporter for The Washington Post, Jeremy Bash, Former Chief of Staff at CIA and the Pentagon, former Chief Counsel to House Intel, and Dr. Anne Rimoin, a Professor of Epidemiology at UCLA, where she also runs the university`s Center for Global and Immigrant Health specializing in emerging infectious diseases.
Good evening and welcome to you all. Ashley, I`d like to begin with you. You`ve been reporting on Jared Kushner`s role in pandemic response in the West Wing. How does this complaint by the whistle-blower, Dr. Bright -- how do some of the allegations in that mesh with your Washington Post reporting?
ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: It`s striking the similarities between the whistle-blower complaint and another complaint that we reported on today that was filed by a volunteer under Jared Kushner`s sort of shadow task force to House oversight on April 8th. And this volunteer was one of about two dozen young men and women, very smart, hardworking, talented, who came from private equity consulting farms to Washington to volunteer their time to try to help with this. And what this whistle-blower wrote in this complaint, which sort of echoes Dr. Bright`s compliant with different specifics, is that they encountered an environment full of challenges. They didn`t have any experience with procurement, and they were tasked with procuring PPE.
They didn`t have any existing relationships with the manufacturers that they would need. Dr. Bright, you just mentioned, he talked of facing politics and cronyism and how he said he was supposed to steer business and decisions. These volunteers also reported that within the White House, their effort -- there was a VIP list where internal VIP requests were tracked on a VIP spreadsheet and external ones from someone like Fox News` Jeanine Pirro or Brian Kilmeade were told to be prioritized, and they took up a lot of volunteers` time and energy even though it was explained to us these tips weren`t necessarily any better or worse than other ones. And so it was a level of mismanagement and chaos that caused one of these volunteers to go so far as to file a complaint to House oversight that in many ways, on a very different track, is not dissimilar from what Rick Bright outlined in his whistle-blower complaint.
WILLIAMS: Hey, Jeremy Bash, we kind of know how Trump feels about whistle- blowers. He is not apt to wax grandiose about enshrined rights and those who at great personal and career risk, to paraphrase Ted Kennedy, see a wrong and try to right it, and come forward to try to fix it. How do you see this playing out?
JEREMY BASH, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: Yeah, Brian. Nothing makes the President of the United States more nervous, more twitchy than a well- written complaint from a highly credible whistle-blower. And what you saw in that 89-page complaint from Dr. Rick Bright today was a very detailed outline of how his repeated warnings based on science, based on his career in science, based on his expertise in vaccine research were continuously downplayed. He was marginalized, and he was compelled, as he wrote in this complaint, to steer contracts to -- lucrative contracts to political cronies of the President.
And so of course this whistle-blower comes forward today, and I think we can expect that he will be drawn and quartered by the MAGA crowd, by the President`s allies. And I think this requires, Brian, a large investigation, an oversight investigation by Congress, but ultimately at the end of this, a national coalition to understand exactly how we got so far off course.
WILLIAMS: Dr. Rimoin, let`s leave aside the President and his participation and let`s not confuse the task force news conferences in the West Wing with the task force on coronavirus per se. But I`ll repeat the question posed to the President, only to you. Is this a good time to disband the White House task force on coronavirus?
DR. ANNE RIMOIN, UCLA SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH EPIDEMIOLOGY PROFESSOR: I think that it`s very interesting. I`m going to start by saying I think it was very interesting how the President responded to that question, which was we can`t keep the country closed for five years. So the difference of what you are asking is should we be keeping the country -- or should we be keeping this task force going? My response is, yes, we should be keeping a task force going because we need to have national strategy for how we are going to keep moving forward in this epidemic, in this pandemic. And right now we are not near the end. We are just at the beginning of this very first phase, and we could very easily slip back.
Now, the fact that the President`s answer was, well, we can`t keep the country closed for five years suggests there`s a very big disconnect between what the purpose of a task force is, which is to advise on how we need to be working to be able to mitigate the effects of this pandemic and to lead the country through with a national strategy, that national strategy is not to keep the country closed for five years. It`s how to figure out how to be moving forward. So I think there`s a very fundamental problem here with what the President is thinking that this task force should be doing and what the task force should be doing for our country.
WILLIAMS: Jeremy Bash, conspiracy theorists on the right have accused Dr. Fauci of nothing less than trying to overthrow the nation, I guess. And it could be said that Dr. Birx has learned keenly to tailor her comments or her silence to this President. People called her out for not standing up and waving her arms on disinfectant and UV light day as it will be known forever in that briefing room. But doing away with the task force does mean doing away with the regular briefings. Is it a defeat for medicine and science in your view?
BASH: I think so. Look, I`m not going to shed a tear by the fact that we don`t have to spend hours at the end of every day listening to Donald Trump about the virus because, of course, he was a font of misinformation, of disinformation, sometimes outright lies, sometimes lethal lies. And so from that perspective, I`m final to see the task force go. But I do think the task force was this interesting mash-up of scientific expertise and political hackery. People who actually wanted the public health of the United States to be protected and people who were very focused on Donald Trump`s re-election.
And to that extent, that was an inevitable clash that was not going to be sustainable in the eyes of the President. So I`m not surprised at all that as this pandemic rages, as it becomes more serious, as we contemplate tens of thousands of infections and deaths a day, as we contemplate a fall that is much worse than the spring that we just went through, I`m not surprised at all that he wants to move on, say everything is done, there`s nothing to see here.
WILLIAMS: And now, Anne, I`m going to intentionally walk you right up to the jagged edge of politics and ask you a similar question. Do you fear this is a Trojan horse, an effort to sideline or reduce the television time and exposure of someone like a Dr. Fauci?
RIMOIN: I think that it`s really a shame that the United States is not going to benefit from the wisdom of Dr. Fauci on a regular basis. I will also say that I do think that the fact that we are not going to be having these press briefs every day, these briefings which have often been very confusing to the public, may, you know, may be useful. But I think there are other ways for Dr. Fauci to be able to communicate, then maybe there will be some good news here. That`s my -- that`s how I`m navigating that jagged edge.
WILLIAMS: Fair enough. Ashley Parker, do you -- and the story we mentioned briefly at the very top of the broadcast, the word that Justice Ginsburg is hospitalized tonight. Everyone`s happy to hear that it`s expected to be a one to two-day hospitalization, that she has seen much worse, that she`ll be taking part in oral arguments tomorrow. But, you know, there isn`t a cottage industry built around speculation of the literal interior workings of an Associate Justice Breyer or Alito. She is in her own very special category. In your view, why should people sit up and take notice at a health update on the health of this woman?
PARKER: Well, any health problems with this justice in particular is the Democrats` worst nightmare, the idea that she might get so sick that she would have to step down from her post and that President Trump would be given yet another appointment. And it`s worth putting this in the broader context, which is that the President does all sorts of things that even Republicans don`t always like.
But a lot is forgiven because if you look at his record on a number of key issues from deregulation and especially Supreme Court appointments, and even just conservative appointments more broadly, he has the record that in a different universe, a President Cruz or a President Bush or a President Rubio could be proud of. And so his -- not just his base, but Republicans in general are willing to forgive so much for some of these things. And this is again why Democrats are so worried. And also the interesting question now is if something like the mishandling of coronavirus, how that tilt the scales with our two conservative judges worth, for instance, the current situation our nation is in.
WILLIAMS: Our thanks to our big three tonight for their expertise and their candor. To Ashley Parker, Jeremy Bash, and Anne Rimoin, thank you very much for starting us off.
And coming up, a former White House insider`s sobering prediction of what could happen exactly a month from now if we rush to reopen.
And later, his world food kitchen is providing hundreds of thousands of meals to Americans in need. We will talk with Chef Jose Andres. THE 11TH HOUR just getting started on a Tuesday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The whole concept of death is terrible. Think of the number, 2.2, potentially 2.2 million people if we did nothing. If we could hold that down between 100,000 and 200,000, we all together have done a very good job. And I think we`ll be substantially hopefully below the 100 number, probably around 60, maybe 65,000. They`re estimating 60,000 people. Looks like we`ll be at about a 60,000 mark. 50, 000 I`m hearing, or 60,000 people. 60,000, 70,000, 65,000 people. I used to say 65,000, and now I`m saying 80,000 or 90,000 and it goes up, and it goes up rapidly. 75,000, 80,000 to 100,000 people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Those are human beings he is talking about there. And as our next guest wrote just yesterday, "We`ve been lied to about the potential death toll in this country, and it matters.
So with us now is Andy Slavitt. He`s the former Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under Obama. He was instrumental in the turnaround of the healthcare.gov rollout. These days he`s the Board Chair for the nonprofit group the United States of Care, and a good many people follow him on social media to get the latest on this pandemic.
So, Andy, after we`ve now made clear that he`s talking about human souls, loved ones, people with beating hearts, we have seen the model in Washington State jump. Please help people navigate how to think about this movement to get the country back out to work. Chris Christie put it this way over the weekend. Saving the American way of life -- I`m paraphrasing, even if we lose Americans in the process.
ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER ACTING ADMINISTRATOR OF THE CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES: Look, this isn`t easy on anybody, and everybody`s trying to figure their way out of a very challenging situation. So I think, you know, given that we`re doing the best we can, we have to realize, I think, the circumstances we`re in and someone needs to level with us. Otherwise, we take unsafe actions.
The truth is we`ve done a very good job over the last couple of months staying inside, slowing down the infection rate. That has saved people`s lives. But nothing`s happened to the virus in the meantime. There was no magic act where that virus became less infectious. And so as soon as we go outside again and start interacting more, if we`re not testing and tracing and wearing masks and taking really profound steps, then the infection rate`s just going to grow again dramatically. And where we sit today is much, much higher than every other country in the world.
Now, I sympathize with Governor Christie`s point, but I would just say we`re not choosing between either a good economy or fewer deaths. The truth is that for us to have a better economy, we have to fix the public health crisis. Nobody`s going to start spending money at stores, buying cars, investing in small businesses, signing leases until they feel this crisis is behind us. And so what Governor Christie and President Trump are presenting is not a choice we actually face.
WILLIAMS: You`ve said the virus is waiting us out. Talk about this virus and what we know about it. What`s its biography thus far?
SLAVITT: Well, I really love the way you put that. Particularly in the, what do we know so far. I mean we are within -- we are a couple months into this virus. Ten years from now, you can imagine, Brian, that we`ll look back, and we`ll know a whole lot more than we do today.
And we may even think that some of the things we believed now were silly to believe. But we know it`s a novel virus. We know none of us have immunity. At best there may be a couple percent of the population that have gained immunity. We know that it infects people and keeps -- and while it infects them they`re asymptomatic or a good bit of the time if not the entire time. And so it goes from person to person until it finds a host where it can become lethal. And it takes just a small speck through the air for that to happen. And if it gets into a nursing home or a meatpacking factory or a prison or a public housing unit or any place where people congregate and multiple generations live, it can wipe out large communities.
And so we`re seeing death tolls now on a daily basis that are soon to approach the number of people that died on 9/11 continually. We have to ask ourselves how we reverse, course from where we are, and we can. But we can`t if we don`t admit the facts, if we don`t face the facts.
WILLIAMS: As a young man, I remember listening to my parents` stories of what life was like stateside during World War II. My father was in the army. The shortages, the gas rationing, the tin and rubber collection. And isn`t it uniquely American that we kind of looked around and said, that was such a World War II-like seven or eight weeks. It was a dark time. Oh, look at the weather. It`s the first nice weekend of spring. We`re out of here. To some extent, kind of the professionals who track this stuff, you`re fighting human nature. We`re pushing back against human nature.
SLAVITT: Well, you know, I don`t know if the public is where the political -- some of these political folks are. I mean, I think that people want to be safe first. I think they want -- we all want our lives back. But people don`t want to endanger their selves or their families. They don`t want to endanger others. I actually think that a lot of this, "economy" opening, yes there are scenes of people in beaches on TV, and yes there`s scenes of people rallying with guns but the blind cheer people, I think want a plan to open up the country safely. And that`s not too much to ask. Germany has done it. Japan has done it. New Zealand has done it. I mean, this is not impossible. We just want to open up safely. And safely means we have to do things. We have to have testing and tracing in placing. We have to masks in place. The Czech Republic has done it. Greece has done it. Italy is doing it. Why are we the country that decides we`re going to open up unsafely?
WILLIAMS: Yup, indeed what you say is backed up so far by opinion polls where most people respond that they`re not in a tearing hurry to go to a restaurant, attend a concert. Remember concerts in maybe there will be some again someday. Andy Slavitt, thank you as always for spending a few minutes with us. We greatly appreciate it.
Coming up for us after this next break, a member of the group whose ad triggered the President into reaching for his phone and losing his temper after midnight, as one does.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I guess they don`t like me, but let me just tell you, these are losers from day one. Guys like Bill Kristol. He`s 0-32. George Conway, you take a look at him. Just take a look at that guy. The man`s a stone-cold loser. So they should not call it the Lincoln project. It`s not fair to Abraham Lincoln, a great President. They should call it the Losers Project.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The President not happy with a new ad from a group of conservatives who haven`t been shy in going after him. On Monday, the Lincoln Project released this ad. They call it "Mourning in America," but it`s a different spelling of morning than the gauzy Reagan campaign ad of the same title. This one you see is about our current President and the coronavirus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s mourning in America, and under the leadership of Donald Trump, our country is weaker and sicker and poorer. And now Americans are asking if we have another four years like this, will there even be an America?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: And in that way just by adding the letter U, you can get everybody`s attention. The ad was debuted on social media a few days back, but then it aired last night on Fox News.
And so just before 1:00 a.m. this morning, the President took to his phone to attempt to filet the founding members of the Lincoln Project, including our next guest.
Back again with us tonight, Steve Schmidt, Veteran Political Strategist who led John McCain`s `08 campaign and has since left the Republican Party entirely. So, Steve, why did you guys get under his skin now?
STEVE SCHMIDT, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think the ad, Brian, states a truth, which is that his leadership has been profoundly deficient. This is somebody who ran for President promising to make America great again, and his legacy will be one of death, suffering, and economic collapse. And the scenes that we`re seeing play out all over the country did not have to be.
The job of the President is to protect the country. Donald Trump has been completely derelict in his duty. The Chinese played him for a fool. A dozen times he said that the Chinese were doing a tremendous job at this, that this would disappear overnight, that there were 15 cases here, but soon there would be zero, and we`re cruising towards 100,000 dead Americans.
And we see the moral incapacity of this President to grieve with the country, to understand the level of suffering. And when we look at the economy, I think it`s important to understand the economy did not collapse because of the coronavirus, and it has not collapsed in other countries around the world. It collapsed because of the ineptitude of the governmental response to it. And he`s making it worse, not better. And I think that ad hit a truth, and he didn`t like it very much. But I think that we`re going to see more truth-telling in the weeks and months ahead, and Donald Trump can`t spin his way out of reality, which is that he`s the most inept President in a crisis this nation`s ever had. That`s why he looks so small next to Abraham Lincoln in the temple that we erected to honor the memory of the man who saved the union.
WILLIAMS: I was going to ask you about that. Your group is so named because of your collective love for Abraham Lincoln, something all of you founders made clear in a series of speeches at Cooper Union in New York as you stood behind the lectern that Lincoln himself used. I wanted to know what you made of the image of this President sitting, in effect, at the stone feet of Lincoln and saying, without irony or box seats for our American cousin, that he`s been treated worse than Abraham Lincoln.
SCHMIDT: It`s truly incredible. It just shows the weakness, the profound weakness of Donald Trump as a leader, as a man to sit there in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln, who was martyred really on the anniversary of the day that Lincoln was laid to rest in Springfield, sitting there at the feet of the greatest president, our American martyr, between on the walls the Gettysburg address and the second inaugural that talks about charity for all and malice towards none.
He possesses literally every quality that Lincoln stood opposed to. The qualities of Lincoln`s greatness literally Donald Trump shares none of them. He has a lack of empathy, a lack of humility, a lack of vision, a lack of competence. He`s been the worst President in the history of the country facing a crisis. Ironically, the worst President until now was the man who preceded Abraham Lincoln, the 15th President Buchanan. I guess he`s smiling up there looking down, gratified he`s not the worst President in American history anymore.
WILLIAMS: The President contended today not even the Democrats blame him for the state of the economy and unemployment, but do you?
SCHMIDT: Well, of course, and I think it`s not the case that Democrats don`t blame him. Look, nobody blames Donald Trump for there being a coronavirus, a novel coronavirus. I think what`s fair to blame Donald Trump for is the lack of preparedness by the federal government, the lack of vital equipment, the lack of testing to this day.
We have the President of the United States on a stage from the white house advising the American people to shoot up Lysol. It`s an absurdity. These news conferences every day, we have a President of the United States talking to the country in one of the great crises in the history of the country, comparing his ratings to The Bachelor finale. At every conceivable level, he has shown himself unfit for this moment, and the challenge for the country as we look ahead to the Presidential Election, the recovery from this event, which is one of the most epic in the country`s history, will take many, many years. We`re likely to see unemployment rates of 30%, and what he`s demonstrated is a complete incapacity for leadership over and over and over again, whether it`s the dishonesty, whether it`s the happy talk, whether it`s the partisan attacks.
At every moment when he was called to be bigger, when he was called to be great, he was small, and therefore greatness in a moment where the country required it and needed it has eluded him. And what the country has been saddled with is a level of ineptitude and incompetence that makes our allies tremble and our adversaries cheer.
WILLIAMS: Steve Schmidt, thank you, sir, for being with us. Thanks for having us in. We always appreciate it.
Coming up for us, in the middle of a crisis, our next guest has made it his job to feed people. Jose Andres will join us live when THE 11TH HOUR continues.
WILLIAMS: You`ve seen pictures like these during the pandemic. These pictures we have to show you today are from a high school in Maryland. Cars lined up for boxes of food. And in most cases, these are people who never dreamed they`d need to accept food from a kind stranger.
We`ve also seen farmers struggling to sell their wares for lack of a supply chain to get their products to market. According to The New York Times, "Not since the great depression has so much fresh food been destroyed."
Our next guest says he has a solution to help that`s already gotten bipartisan support in this country. For more, we welcome to our Broadcast Chef Jose Andres, Founder of the World Central Kitchen and both chef and owner of the Think Food Group. His organization just passed 5 million fresh meals served in 35 states and territories during this pandemic. And following natural disasters like Puerto Rico, allow me to say he is often up and running before FEMA, and that`s one place where he saved a lot of lives.
Chef, it`s a great pleasure having you on. Let`s begin by having you explain your concept.
JOSE ANDRES, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN FOUNDER: Well, this is something we`ve been already doing for many weeks. The idea is simple. We have many restaurants that are closed. Like I`m from the private sector, and it happens I founded this NGO. Why we don`t put those men and women without jobs right now, those restaurants that are closed to make sure that they are the ones that take care of the needs one neighborhood at a town time, one town, one city, one state at a time.
Right now World Central Kitchen, we have more than 600 restaurants that we partner with across 30 states to do something very simple, what they do best. Let`s produce food. Let`s put men and women up and running and make sure that we take care of the elderly, of the hospitals, of low-income families, homeless, one pick the food at a time, it`s a very simple solution. That`s what we`ve been doing.
WILLIAMS: So part of what you`re saying is, isn`t it, that government would have to raise their hand and identify the need and just say they need it, and you have all these experienced culinary men and women as a standing army ready to go?
ANDRES: So World Central Kitchen has been doing this, and we prove concept. So I`m very thrilled that the Feed Act that is being supported by Congressman Thompson, Matt Coburn, but also Congressman Davis, so this makes on the House side already bipartisan. And on top of that, we got senator Kamala Harris and also Senator Tim Scott all of a sudden makes it bipartisan in the Senate.
It`s now beautiful that in this moment it seems everybody is a part, every comes together to put food at the center, making sure we recognize that we have a humanitarian crisis, and where Congress comes with a solution that can be happening in every single state. Governor Newsom already is doing this in partnership with FEMA across the state to take care of the elderly. Let`s make sure that we put the weight and the power of the federal government with the various solutions, using the private sector, the NGOs. It`s a win/win for everybody.
WILLIAMS: When you were a young man learning how to cook, did you ever dream that you would have to someday learn as much about politics and the names and parties of our lawmakers to navigate your world because of how thick and how thoroughly politics has muddied our waters?
ANDRES: 30 years ago I came first time as a sailor in the Spanish Navy. 27 years ago I arrived Washington, D.C. I met Senator Patrick Moynihan. He told me, if you love America, America will love you back. As an immigrant, the only thing I`ve been doing is putting my profession, my little know-how about feeding people at the service of everybody around me.
So in Washington I`ve been lucky. I`ve been meeting a lot of people around the years of both parties, all great people, great Republicans, great Democrats. Many of them, they want to work together. This is a great opportunity use to work together, to be bipartisan, and to bring more solution to feed the Americans that right now they are in need. Every problem has a very simple solution. I`m very happy that this bill hopefully will make it, and we can be celebrating simply that this is going to be making a lot of people happy. People we eat and restaurant will go back to work. Farmers will keep producing. Again, a very smart solution if we can put this through.
WILLIAMS: Chef, no one is ever going to be able to say that you haven`t given way more to our country in return than you`ve received from our country. The chef has agreed to stick around with us for just a few more minutes. We`re going to go to a break. When we come back, we are going to ask this nice man to explain something we saw during quarantine in his kitchen.
WILLIAMS: We are very fortunate that Chef Jose Andres, Founder of the World Central Kitchen, has agreed to spend a few more minutes with us. Chef, because I follow you on social media, I saw what we`re now going to share with our audience, an example of what it`s like at home with a world famous chef, especially if you`re his two daughters. We`ll talk about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She likes it, but not cooked (ph). Look, it`s caramelized. Look at, look at, number nine, we are about to finish. The omelet goes on the plate! Here, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. Put ice cream. Oh! We`re finish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So, Chef, there`s so much to talk about here. Number one, cooking is an aerobic exercise for two. Number, as a father of a daughter, I say affectionately, your daughters have you handled. They know your number. They know exactly what they`re dealing with. Number three, for people without knowledge of international recipes and treats, tell the good people watching what ice cream is doing on eggs and why you are pouring whipped sugar over the whole top.
ANDRES: Oh, my gosh. Listen, my mother was a nurse. My father was a nurse. They used to make for me this dessert, which was a sugar omelet. And they would put sometimes whatever leftover ice cream on top of that omelet that happens is very sweet and is delicious and brings memories of home. And I think in moments like this, I wanted to share with my daughters and with anybody who wanted to watch what was for me growing up.
Even in times we didn`t have a lot of money at the end of the month, my mother, my father will feed us with whatever is left. I`ve been doing recipes with all bread, with two eggs and ice cream, recipes that everyday Americans can do at home even in these moments that many families have to be in a remote because they`re losing their jobs, et cetera. We`re trying to make it fun. People need to forget sometimes that we`re going through kind of a difficult times. And you know in this moment it`s great to be celebrating family, life, cooking together in the kitchen.
WILLIAMS: Chef, it was one of the bright spots, one of the warm moments so far during quarantine. So in addition to thanking you for all the work you`re doing for people you will never meet, thank you for things like, moments like that video and sharing it with the world. Chef Andres, thank you for coming on our broadcast. It was a great pleasure.
Coming up for us, the kind of random act of kindness that can make such a big difference these days.
WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, a reminder to be kind to and thankful for the letter carriers and delivery people who are nothing less than a lifeline for all of us who are staying out of circulation these days. That means local delivery folks including groceries and takeout and pharmacies and especially the men and women of the U.S. postal service, UPS, and FedEx. And what a wonderful story one mom posted on social media about their FedEx driver who discovered it was her daughter`s birthday. She was unable to celebrate the way little kids like to celebrate their birthdays. Their FedEx driver went to dairy queen on his own time, returned with -- wait for it -- ice cream cupcakes and the only thing better than that was when a young man on Twitter named Austin Price posted this. This is my dad. He said he was going through all the comments with his dad and it was pure pride on display following a random act of COVID-era kindness, the kind of thing that keeps us all going.
And with that, that is our broadcast on a Tuesday night. 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