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Covid-19 death toll TRANSCRIPT: 5/12/20, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams

Guests: Anne Rimoin, Stephen Sample

  BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1,209 of the Trump administration. 175 days to go now until our next Presidential Election.

And tonight once again the news is in the form of a projection, and it`s grim. Tonight a leading model often cited by the White House is out with a startling new projection for coronavirus deaths. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation now predicts a death toll of 147,000 by the first week of August. That`s up 10,000 from the last round of projections just two days ago.

And a reminder here. These projections have amounted to a moving target, and these days they are based on simple math. And that is what the doctors and scientists are seeing in so many states that are opening back up, the people who are getting back out, gathering once again, the very activity the virus depends on for its own survival.

Tonight, and this never gets any easier to report, our current death toll stands at 83,421. At today`s Senate hearing, Dr. Anthony Fauci noted that he and the other experts now believe that the daily toll from the virus is higher than being reported.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Most of us feel that the number of deaths are likely higher than that number because given the situation particularly in New York City, when they were really strapped with a very serious challenge to their health care system, that there may have been people who died at home who did have COVID, who were not counted as COVID because they never really got to the hospital. I don`t know exactly what percent higher, but almost certainly it`s higher.


WILLIAMS: Dr. Fauci then had this warning about what happens if we move too quickly to reopen.


FAUCI: My concern is that some areas, city, states, or what have you jump over those various checkpoints and prematurely open up without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently. My concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks.

There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control, which in fact paradoxically will set you back, not only leading to suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to trying to get economic recovery.

There`s no guarantee that the vaccine is actually going to be effective. You can have everything you think that`s in place, and you don`t induce the kind of immune response that turns out to be protective and durably protective. So, one, the big unknown is it will be effective. Given the way the body responds to viruses of this type, I`m cautiously optimistic.


WILLIAMS: Here`s why all of that matters. Dr. Fauci`s warning, of course, comes as more states are lifting their stay-at-home orders and allowing for the reopening of businesses, a move the President supports as the pandemic has, of course, flattened our economy. Some communities are still cautious about reopening. Health officials in L.A. County are saying that some stay- at-home regulations could be extended for three more months.

California State University, the nation`s largest public college system, will keep all 23 campuses shuttered this coming fall, moving all classes online.

As states try to get back to life before the pandemic, there continues to be a lack of widespread testing. Less than 3% of our U.S. population`s been tested so far.

Yesterday Trump and Assistant Secretary of Health Admiral Brett Giroir announced an effort to expand testing while also claiming the U.S. had surpassed South Korea`s number of coronavirus tests conducted per capita. Trump even boasted that the U.S. had prevailed on testing.

Well, during today`s Senate hearing, Mitt Romney made it clear, admiral or not, he wasn`t buying it.


SENATOR MITT ROMNEY, (R) HEALTH COMMITTEE: I understand that politicians are going to frame data in a way that`s most positive politically, but of course they don`t expect that from admirals. But yesterday you celebrated that we had done more tests and more tests per capita even than South Korea. But you ignored the fact that they accomplished theirs at the beginning of the outbreak while we treaded water during February and March, and as a result, by March 6th, the U.S. had completed just 2,000 tests whereas South Korea had conducted more than 140,000 tests.

So partially as a result of that, they have 256 deaths, and we have almost 80,000 deaths. I find our testing record nothing to celebrate whatsoever.


WILLIAMS: There were harsh words from Senator Rand Paul toward Dr. Fauci. Senator Paul challenged Fauci`s guidance on keeping children out of school to protect them from the virus.


SENATOR RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY HEALTH COMMITTEE: I think we ought to have a little bit of humility in our belief that we know what`s best for the economy. And as much as I respect you, Dr. Fauci, I don`t think you`re the end all. I don`t think you`re the one person that gets to make a decision. If we keep kids out of school for another year, what`s going to happen is the poor and underprivileged kids who don`t have a parent that`s able to teach them at home are not going to learn for a full year.

FAUCI: You used the word we should be humble about what we don`t know, and I think that falls under the fact we don`t know everything about this virus. And we really better be careful particularly when it comes to children because the more and more we learn, we`re seeing things about what this virus can do that we didn`t see from the studies in China or in Europe. We better be careful if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune from the deleterious effects. I am very careful and hopefully humble in knowing that I don`t know everything about this disease.


WILLIAMS: By the way, there`s new polling that gives some indication of how the American public is feeling about Dr. Fauci right about now. 67% trust him for coronavirus information while 36% trust the President. Another poll shows only 43% of Americans approve of Trump`s response to the virus while 71% approve of how their own state`s governor has dealt with it. 56% disapprove of the President`s effort, yet only 27% find fault with their own governor`s effort.

Trump has had his own explanation for governors` high ratings these days. "Remember this, every governor who has sky high approval on their handling of the coronavirus, and I am happy for them all, could in no way have gotten those numbers or had that success without me and the federal government`s help. From ventilators to testing, we made it happen."

On that note, let`s bring in our leadoff discussion on a Tuesday night, shall we? Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize-Winning White House Reporter for the Washington Post, John Heilemann, National Affairs Analyst, Co-host of The Circus on Showtime, Editor in Chief of The Recount, and Dr. Anne Rimoin, a Professor of Epidemiology at UCLA where she runs the Center for Global and Immigrant Health specializing in emerging infectious diseases.

Good evening and welcome to you all. And, Ashley, I`d like to begin with you for any reaction you`ve been able to gauge inside the White House about what they heard during today`s hearing?

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, two things. There were already people inside the White House, and to be clear not everyone, but who were frustrated with the medical and public health professionals and who felt that they are being overly alarmist and who don`t like that message, however true it may be, being public because their focus is on trying to reopen the economies.

But what was striking to me from his testimony was actually that clip you played a bit earlier where he was making the point that is going to be what the White House is grappling with now. The President does want to reopen the economy. A lot of his advisers are also pushing him to do that. But as Dr. Fauci said, the public health advice and the public health side of this is actually tied to the economic side. If you go and you reopen too quickly and there are spikes in cases and outbreaks and deaths and they can`t be contained, the economy is going to tank. As we`ve reported and as the White House understands, this is as much about consumer confidence and psychology in many ways as it is about just simply opening up a grocery store or a nail salon or a restaurant and saying, go ahead. Go spend your money. So those two parts have to work interchangeably, and that is what the White House is still grappling with right now.

WILLIAMS: John Heilemann, I want to play for you a moment from Tucker Carlson earlier tonight on Fox News.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Is this the guy into whom you want to vest all of your trust? Is this the guy you want to chart the future of the country? Maybe not. This is a very serious matter, the decisions we`re making right now. Tony Fauci has not been elected to anything. He`s had the same job for nearly 40 years. That means the majority of American voters never even indirectly picked him for the role he has now.


WILLIAMS: So, John Heilemann, memo to self. It`s the elected officials we should trust. Who`s going to tell Jared? And I want to read you this from Liz Cheney tonight on Twitter.

"Dr. Fauci is one of the finest public servants we have ever had. He is not a partisan. His only interest is saving lives. We need his expertise and his judgment to defeat this virus. All Americans should be thanking him. Every day." John, what do you make of any or all of it?

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, Brian, as you pointed out in the polling, a lot of Americans are, an overwhelming number are thanking Dr. Fauci every day and grateful for the fact that he`s there. In our society, in our politics, in our public square, for someone to have nearly a 70% approval rating is almost totally inconceivable.

And so to hear our friend Mr. Carlson seeming to argue that the fact that he served in Republican and Democratic administrations alike, that he is someone who actually, he`s done the same job, he`s been someone who has expertise, he has tenure, he has a nonpartisan profile, and for some reason those things add up to we don`t want to trust that guy. That tells you how messed up the situation is, Brian, that those are black marks in the eyes of some of our friends at Fox News about Anthony Fauci.

And I think what`s great about this moment is that Tucker Carlson can say that, and then you can read that opinion poll that says, you know what? Americans actually look at Tony Fauci and say, yeah, expertise, tenure, and nonpartisan affiliation, all this guy cares about is saving lives. And I`ll say one more thing about Tucker Carlson. I don`t believe there is a question on the table where anybody is thinking that they should arrogate all power over decision-making to Anthony Fauci. I don`t think that`s a question anyone has raised, and I don`t anyone expects Anthony Fauci to make every decision.

But I think what we saw today after a President who yesterday who lied repeatedly, detailed on the show and others, lied repeatedly in his press briefing yesterday, we got to see someone today who was focused on telling the truth, and I think that`s another reason why Tony Fauci is at 70% and Donald Trump`s in the 40s.

WILLIAMS: Anne Rimoin, what did you make of today`s hearing? Was it a battle between what we should be and what we are? Do you think both sides found enough to come away with their own specific arguments?

DR. ANNE RIMOIN, UCLA SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH EPIDEMIOLOGY PROFESSOR: Listen, in this pandemic, we are thinking about public health, but we are being guided by politics here. And I think that it is very important as we think about what happened today to see how much politics were infecting how we hear public health advice.

I think that Dr. Fauci was able to communicate very clearly the things that are very important for people to understand, number one. We still have a long way to go. There is hope, but we cannot base what we are doing on hope. We need to base it on fact and on evidence and on science. And so therefore I think that it will be interesting to know what everybody heard today, but I think that everybody is hearing public health through various political filters. And, you know, at the end of the day, what happens next is going to be how -- is going to dictate where we are in terms of morbidity and mortality.

WILLIAMS: Ashley Parker, meanwhile your beat, otherwise known as the West Wing of the White House, is its own tiny hot spot in Northwest Washington. When the messaging from elsewhere in the West Wing is let`s move on, crisis, what crisis it`s a problem when there is this going on in the background.

PARKER: Yeah, it sure is. And this was a question the President and the Press Secretary have been asked repeatedly when you have cases of coronavirus inside the compound, inside those 18 acres where they are doing -- Well, actually they`re both doing everything right and everything wrong. On the one hand, the White House and the West Wing has long been modeling poor behavior. The President is not wearing a mask. The Vice President only very recently started wearing a mask. Only yesterday did a memo go out urging masks. Those early press conferences with the President were a nightmare for social distancing, people standing very close together, all using the same microphone on the one hand. They`re offering guidance to the public, and they`re not following it themselves.

On the other hand, the White House does have the luxury of having basically daily testing. In the White House, it`s true, anyone who wants a test or needs a test can get a test. When someone is infected, as happened with Vice President Pence`s press secretary, they`re actually able to do very robust contact tracing, and neither of those things are available in the country writ large. And so, again, you can see if this can even happen in the White House, how can you plausibly go to another community without widespread testing, without contact tracing and say it`s absolutely safe to open when they can`t even keep the people around the President safe. Half of those people testifying today were quarantining because they had been exposed in their capacity working for the administration.

WILLIAMS: Indeed. And what a stark and surreal look for a Senate hearing. The senators themselves wearing mask masks, those who did show up in person for the hearing. Everybody else, including the chairman, joining electronically.

John, where does the President go from here? And I know the literal answer is Allentown, PA, later this week. But let`s start with what his message is. What`s his re-election case if he had to make the case this week?

HEILEMANN: Well, I think the fact that he`s going to Allentown, PA, is meaningful, BRIAN, and I don`t mean just because Pennsylvania is a swing state. I think as we contemplate what this campaign looks like going forward, there are a lot of imponderables. The fact that the President has every expectation, every intention to go and try to run something close to a conventional campaign, he says he`s going to have a convention in August when I would bet almost every dollar in my pocket that there will not be a physical democratic convention in August.

The President seems bound and determined to do that. I think he is going to try not just to have a virtual campaign. He already has one of those, and it`s spending a lot of money in the air, on digital, and so on. But he is going to try to go to these background states. Pennsylvania is a key one. And he`s trying to -- talk about modeling behavior, he`s modeling political behavior here and saying, the water is safe. And if you, Joe Biden, want to hang back and not go out and complain any place and stay in your basement.

And I`m telling you I`ve watched a lot of Trump TV to see the messages they`re sending. Every night they`re talking about Joe Biden`s in the basement, Joe Biden`s in the basement. He`s out of touch. He`s afraid. He`s old. He`s demented. He`s not in this. Donald Trump wants to be in motion. And the message he is sending is, it`s fine to go out right now. The public health problems are now on the plates of the governors. I`m going to be aligned with the economy 100%, and that guy over there, Joe Biden hiding in the basement, is not the guy you want when it comes time to restart this economy. I, man on the move, man unafraid, I`m the one who`s going to try to do it. And if it means that costs a few 10,000 lives, 50,000 lives, 100,000 lives, so be it.

WILLIAMS: Meantime, Anne Rimoin, there`s increasing at least anecdotal evidence that may be the definition of wishful thinking that the President has come to believe the miracle story he once told, that this will just go away, that it will fade away on its own absent a vaccine. Tell us about that.

RIMOIN: Well, I think it might have been the Mayor of Houston or somebody said if we treat this virus like old news, we will be reminded by either ourselves or somebody that we love that it is not. And it is foolish to think that this virus will go away, that the threat is over, when it is very clearly right here in front of us. We do not have testing. We do not have therapeutics, and we do not have a vaccine. So, therefore, there is no reason to believe that we are in a better space today and safer from this virus than we were several weeks before. So I think that the bottom line is we all have to be taking this very seriously. We are not in a better place today than we were. And we are just as much at risk right now. As Dr. Fauci said, if we open up too quickly, we`re going to lose all the gains that we have won so -- with such difficulty and could become in a situation that will be much worse.

WILLIAMS: Much appreciation to our big three on a Tuesday night. To Ashley Parker, John Heilemann, Anne Rimoin, our thanks for coming out and having us in.

Coming up for us, is the President indeed above the law? What about his taxes, financial records? Some surprising arguments at the virtual Supreme Court today.

And later, why Mitch McConnell is taking heat for what he said about a former commander in chief. All of it as THE 11TH HOUR is just getting under way on a Tuesday night.


WILLIAMS: The United States Supreme Court now considering two cases involving releasing the President`s financial records following another history-making day of arguments over conference call. The second -- the first case, rather, concerns congressional subpoenas for financial documents. The second case, a grand jury subpoena for tax records in a New York criminal investigation.

The President`s lawyers argued the records in both cases should be withheld. Adam liptak of The New York Times writes it this way. "There was no question that the questions before the court were momentous and consequential -- for Mr. Trump, for the court, and for the separation of powers in government." Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow argued the President is temporarily immune from the subpoena in the New York case in this exchange with the chief justice.


JAY SEKULOW: We have targeted the utilization of the temporary immunity here to the subpoena, that`s correct.

CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: Well, in other words, it`s okay for the grand jury to investigate, except it can`t use the traditional and most effective device that grand juries have typically used, which is the subpoena.

SEKULOW: You can`t use a subpoena targeting the President, and under his article ii responsibilities and the Supremacy Clause, that is our view would be inappropriate and unconstitutional.


WILLIAMS: We are so happy to have back with us tonight former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, a 25-year veteran as a federal prosecutor. Counselor, it`s great to see you again. If you were counsel for Trump today, did you have a good day?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: You didn`t have a good day. This was not an impressive outing for the President`s arguments.

WILLIAMS: Tell us why.

VANCE: Well, you know, with Trump, Brian, it`s never a question of whether he`s above the law or not. He assumes he`s above the law. The question is how far above the law can he become. And so oral argument -- and I spent about ten years as an appellate lawyer. I was the appellate chief in my office. When you`re arguing to a panel of judges trying to decide these appellate cases, they ask a lot of questions that don`t really give much insight into where their personally sitting on the case. They`re testing arguments. They`re trying to persuade their colleagues. The bottom line after hearing these arguments for both sides today is that the President didn`t walk out of the courtroom with a case that was any better than the one he went into it with, which is to say a weak case.

The President`s arguments had been dismissed by every court that had heard them previously. They were all about separating the President from the legal requirements that exist for everyone else. The courts don`t seem to be buying much of it. And even on the Supreme Court, there was significant pushback today.

WILLIAMS: I want to play for you another exchange, this between the President`s lawyer, a different counsel, and Justice Ginsburg.


JEFFREY WALL: . that`s a common theme that runs through the court`s cases, that the President gets some measure of heightened protection because you can`t proceed against the President as against an ordinary litigant, and all I`m saying is that Congress hasn`t met that standard here.

JUSTICE GINSBURG: How did that work out in the Paula Jones --


WILLIAMS: Interesting response from Justice Ginsburg. Joyce, let`s talk about precedent here. How much precedent the court will have to go on in either case, and they must be mindful because the place is built on it, that whatever they write, whatever they say, they are deciding for this President and all who follow him.

VANCE: I think that`s a really important point here. This case isn`t just about this President and these facts. It`s about what the contours of this situation looks like going forward. And we heard over and over today justices who were expressing concern about what sort of oppressive, truly oppressive action could be taken against a President, and how whatever they decide in this case plays in the future. So that is why I think we hear the justices sometimes taking positions that are a little bit contemporary to what we think the position they might assert would be based on who put them on the bench. But the reality here is that there is very limited case law. It is not directly on point because this case is different. These subpoenas, this action isn`t directed to President Trump. It`s directed to third parties. And that means he`s in a weaker position than either President Nixon or President Clinton were in the two cases that are largely being considered as framing for this argument, the Paula Jones case and the Nixon tapes case. Trump really doesn`t come out as well as either one of them do, and of course they both lost.

WILLIAMS: Joyce, I have a straight-up consumer taxpayer question. In an era when Amazon can ship us a chemistry set in three days` time during a pandemic, A, do you doubt any of the nine wondered how they`d vote when they hung up today? And, B, if that`s true, why do we have to wait until July for a ruling on an issue that could be fast-tracked, I`m guessing, and an issue of heightened public and political concern?

VANCE: So first I`m glad to know that you`ve been working on your chemistry skills while we`ve all been spending time at home. I think what happens here -- you know, we`re so used to things happening quickly, right? Law and order and it`s all over in 30 minutes. The reality is, though, these arguments have to be tested carefully. There will be a lot of concern about trying to get as close to a unanimous decision as possible. The court`s tradition, particularly in these difficult political cases, is to try to avoid the 5-4 splits that lead to so much concern and so much really politicization of the courts.

So they`ll take time to try to get other justices onboard for arguments. Folks will want to get as close to that unanimity as they can remembering that both the Paula Jones case and the Nixon tapes case involved unanimous courts. And the arguments are difficult to craft. I mean you can`t write these overnight. Sure, everybody has a lean for how they`re going to vote going out of oral argument. Whether or not they end up there is an entirely different question.

WILLIAMS: OK. Well done in defending the nine. And because I follow you on Twitter, to you and your son, I know you`ve been going about the research how to get Jiffy Pop to work in a fire pit. On behalf of a grateful nation, thank you for your diligent work, and I`m following every development along the way. Joyce Vance, we have missed you on this broadcast. Thank you so much for joining us again tonight.

Coming up for us, our next guest, an emergency room doctor, says when it comes to this virus, we`re just getting started in parts of the American heartland. And he has some thoughts about people refusing to wear a mask in public.



SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER, (R) TENNESSEE: All roads back to work and school go through testing.

In my opinion, this will require millions of new tests, many from new technologies.

What our country has done so far in testing is impressive but not nearly enough.


WILLIAMS: That was Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander. He has reason to be concerned about testing. According to an unreleased White House report obtained by NBC News, one county in his state, Trousdale county, Tennessee, has what appears to be the highest spike in the nation right now, up 1,000% over a seven-day period due mostly to an outbreak in a prison.

Then again parts of the Nashville metro area have their own hot spots they`re working on, in some cases traced back to a local homeless population. No state has been immune. The virus doesn`t respect state or county lines. It can`t distinguish red from blue.

We are joined once again tonight by Dr. Stephen Sample. He`s an ER doc at Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper, Indiana.

Doctor, thank you very much for being with us, and I want to find or where you think we are in this. New York`s on its downward glide path. L.A. is probably going to extend their rules for another couple of months. We have today`s projection of 147,000 in a death toll by the first week of August. Where do you think it is, and where is it from where you sit?

STEPHEN SAMPLE, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, JASPER INDIANA: Well, I think -- good evening, Brian. I think the heartland is just getting ready to get to know this virus, right? We are opening up. Everybody has been screaming for us to open up, and the states are starting to open while the rest of us, other than our colleagues in New York, are seeing cases spike actually. They`re starting to take an upward trajectory. And I think we`re about to get to know this virus a little more personally out here in the heartland.

WILLIAMS: In your daily travels, what percentage of people do you see and/or encounter wearing a mask or facial covering, and what would you say to those who don`t?

SAMPLE: Well, I`ll tell you, about two weeks ago it was probably about half. I was out today, and it was probably about 10%. And I`ve been thinking a lot about this today in particular, and I`ve been thinking about not only my community but the community of the United States of America. And I`ve been extremely frustrated. We have a shared purpose. We have a common enemy. And in our history, when we have had a common enemy in the past, we have risen together as a people, right? And we`ve risen, and we`ve accomplished things that we should not have been able to accomplish.

And now for some reason, over the last couple of weeks, asking people to just wear a mask in public has become a step too far. Now, it`s communism, it`s fascism. We`re part of a secret cabal to take down the President. we just want to keep grandma well. And I`ve been very frustrated about it. I`m sorry, I`m stuttering a little bit, but I`ve been pretty hot under the collar all day.

WILLIAMS: No, I think you`re right. The Normandy landings made very little sense on paper. The mission to the moon made even less sense. I`m curious as to how you think we got to a point where not wearing one has become, I guess, a political kind of badge of honor.

SAMPLE: Yes. You know, when this all started, we saw people -- how seriously people took this virus seemed to depend on who you voted for. And now we seem to be back in that place. I felt like we were coming together a few weeks back, and now I feel like there`s so much toxicity on the internet. I spend 90% of my time online anymore not learning how to take care of patients with this virus, but I`m shooting down conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory.

We`ve got the urgent Care Bros from California. We`ve got this plandemic crap that`s going around out there. And doctors all over the country are having to spend their time and energy just begging people to listen to people who actually know what they`re talking about. And it`s just -- it`s just been a mess really, frankly.

WILLIAMS: This is exactly why we wanted to talk to you again tonight. Thank you for always being generous with your time and with your expertise. Dr. Stephen Sample, thanks for having us in this evening.

Coming up for us, the buck doesn`t stop here. The majority leader joins the President in placing blame on our previous president. We`ll have that story coming up.



BARACK OBAMA, FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: It would have been bad even with the best of governments. It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mind-set of "what`s in it for me" and "to heck with everybody else," when that mind-set is operationalized in our government.


WILLIAMS: A blistering critique from former President Obama on the Trump administration`s response to this virus thus far he made those comments in what he thought was a private call with former members of his administration. It was recorded. It was leaked. That prompted an equally harsh rebuttal from his former sworn enemy and obstructist in the Senate.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: You know, generally former Presidents just don`t do that. I remember President George W. Bush and his father went right through eight years of Democratic administrations after they left office and kept their mouths shut because they didn`t feel it was appropriate for former presidents to critique even a president of another party.

So, I think President Obama should have kept his mouth shut, you know. What we know he doesn`t like much this administration is doing. That`s understandable. But I think it`s a little bit classless frankly to critique an administration that comes after you.


WILLIAMS: So much to react to there, and we will with our guest Howell Raines, a veteran journalist and author. Also happens to be an MSNBC contributor and the former executive editor of "The New York Times."

Howell, there`s so much to react to there. Let`s begin with David Frum`s count on social media last night that Donald Trump has tweeted at/or about Barack Obama 451 times as of last night. Where McConnell is concerned, it`s hard to come up with a more obedient kind of superior in that role remembering that even Dick Russell pushed back on LBJ. What`s the chance McConnell has hopped on top of Trump`s shoulders and may ride him all the way to the title of minority leader? Do you feel that will ever really happen in this coming election?

HOWELL RAINES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think you put your finger on it exactly, Brian. My former colleague in the Washington bureau of "The Times" Carl Hults just posted a very astute story saying that McConnell is on the attack because he`s scared. He`s scared that with seats endangered in Maine, Colorado, and North Carolina, that he`s going to be out his majority leader. And as you suggest, this has been one of those revelatory days in Washington. We`ve been drenched in lies by the White House for weeks, and today in the course of a few hours, we heard the truth from Dr. Fauci that a speedy reopening will cost us thousands of lives.

And interestingly, we heard the truth this morning from two Republican senators. Senator Lamar Alexander, while choosing his words carefully and gently, admitted that we have no national strategy for testing and that we`re way behind. And Senator Mitt Romney called out Admiral Giroir for serving as the White House spin doctor, trying to misrepresent the scale of the testing strategy.

So, this is a quite extraordinary day in that regard, and I think the message is the truth is now beginning to bite President Trump. And we saw in those polls, for example, showing that only one in three Americans believe they should take his advice on coronavirus while two out of three say that they believe Dr. Fauci. And those same polls show that the mayor - - that the governors in states like Pennsylvania and New York and Ohio, who are going slow despite Trump`s urging, have 70% and 80% approval ratings while the most obedient governor in the nation, Governor Kemp of Georgia, has just slipped below 40% in approval ratings. And Atlanta is, I think, beginning to reel from shock from the force of the reopening that he`s allowing there. So as I say, it`s been a pretty extraordinary day.

WILLIAMS: Howell, let me talk about the reopening. You just mentioned Georgia. Some states are finding out there is an equal and opposite reaction after reopening. Georgia had a 40% by some accounts spike, I`ve been looking at your numbers in Alabama and with the last data known, it looks like you`re on the upward side of an upward trend arrow. Of course you had come down from your peak like most other places.

RAINES: Yes. Well, Governor Ivey did a good job of trying to tamp down the political pressure to reopen here, but with Trump pushing, it`s a bit out of the bottle right now, and we`re going to have some hot spots. Mobile is particularly bad right now. And I want to add a -- you know, Trump likes to call himself a wartime president, and he is, I think, a wartime President in this sense. He is starting a new class war in America over medical care. There`s a privileged class that he`s appealing to, people like myself who are lucky enough not to have to go to the office and have the means not to go to the office.

And then the victims, the targets in this new class war, are the people who have to go to grocery stores, hospitals, and factories to get their hourly and weekly paychecks. And the price they have to pay is to risk their health and their families.

So, I think this is another case where we see that Trump`s vision for America is division, setting one part of the population against the other, and I think this is one of the most cynical things we`ve seen in a long time. And it underscores that he does not have a strategy for dealing with the nation`s economic and medical problems, but he does have a political plan for re-election. And I think we`re seeing the beginning of a reaction pushing back the other way in a number of cases.

WILLIAMS: Well, as they say in west Texas, it`s a mess, and if it isn`t, it will do till the mess gets here. Howell Raines, it`s always a pleasure having you on. Thank you for taking our questions.

Coming up for us, perhaps you`re old enough to remember packed airports, the crush of boarding, walking down the concourse seeing nothing but packed gates, complaining about packed planes, in other words, old-timey air travel in the U.S. of a few months ago. That story when we come back.


WILLIAMS: I need your attention for a minute here. Today the CEO of Boeing used the word "apocalyptic" to describe the crisis the airline industry is facing right now. And think about it. maybe you`re in an unusual line of work, but if not, ask yourself how many people do you know who have flown lately from anywhere to anywhere. And because it`s a virus that loves spreading in enclosed, tight spaces, can you envision the day when air travel is back like it was in the old days a few months ago?

Our report tonight from NBC News correspondent Tom Costello.


TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Calling the threat to the airline industry grave, the prediction from Boeing CEO to Savannah Guthrie on "Today" sent shock waves through Wall Street and airline offices.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, TODAY HOST: Do you think there might be a major u.s. carrier that just has to go out of business?

DAVE CALHOUN, CEO, BOEING: Well, I don`t want to get too predictive on that subject, but yes, most likely. You know, something will happen when September comes around.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Dave Calhoun did not say which airlines are most at risk, but with few exceptions, every airline is flying less than 10% full. On September 30th, the federal government`s bailout money comes to an end. Airlines are already warning that as many as 100,000 employees could be laid off if passengers don`t return in large numbers.

EMILY GOLCHINI, AIRLINE PASSENGER: You don`t know who has what and how clean things have been, at least on the flight.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Flying in a COVID and post-COVID world, expect airline and airport face mask requirements. Six feet of separation while lining up. Airport health screenings. A new scanner checks for elevated body temperatures at Paine Field in Washington State. Now 346 airports nationwide are calling on the TSA to check every passenger`s temperature at security. The TSA so far not embracing the idea.

KEVIN BURKE, AIRPORTS COUNCIL INTERNATIONAL: We have to make certain that those who choose to travel by air make it through the airport and feel as though they are as safe as they were if they were in their own home.

COSTELLO (voice-over): When will airline travel get back to normal? Boeing`s CEO again with a sobering assessment.

CALHOUN: It may take us three, five years to get there.

COSTELLO (on-camera): Meanwhile, Delta, United, and American Airlines are requiring passengers to wear masks to board. They can be denied boarding if they don`t. But once the plane leaves the gate, flight attendants will ask, not force passengers to comply.


WILLIAMS: Our thanks to Tom Costello for that report from Baron National Airport in Washington.

Coming up, a staggering act of generosity that took place in the space of one hour last night.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, if you know the story of Robin Hood, you can guess what the Robin Hood Foundation does in New York City. They take from the rich and all kinds of generous people from all incomes and all walks of life, and they give to the poor. They have always had the most powerful people in New York on their board, including hedge fund managers, captains of industry, entertainers. They pay for all the costs, so 100% of the money raised goes to the poor, and they`ve been doing it that way for 30 years.

And so last night in New York, they held a live televised one-hour fund- raiser. Big names all around every second just as Robin Hood has done after 9/11, after Hurricane Sandy. But this was different for so many reasons. Performances from home, of course, but also in this crisis, a lot of essential workers are the very definition of working poor right now, and they need help. Tina Fey was the host alone in a live studio at 30 Rock, and then came the moment when she asked for the total raised over the one- hour broadcast.


TINA FEY, ACTRESS: OK, let`s look at what we`ve done tonight. The envelope, please. Is this real? OK. $115 million, we did this. You did this. We are difference-makers, $115 million. What a great day for New York. Thank you to everyone who gave and gave and gave from all over the world.


WILLIAMS: A lot of people donated a lot of money to help a lot of people in New York last night. Robin Hood wants us to tell you to please keep giving because it`s not like the need is going away anytime soon.

That`s our broadcast on this 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