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no fans at MLB Stadiums TRANSCRIPT: 5/13/20, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams

Guests: Nahid Bhadelia, Lovely Warren, Lauren McLean, Steve Schmidt

  BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1,210 of this Trump administration. 174 days to go until the Presidential Election.

And as predicted on this very broadcast two whole nights ago, today the President criticized his government`s chief infectious disease expert for his candid testimony during a Senate hearing, a hearing where he couldn`t appear in person because he`s been exposed to a case of coronavirus in the White House during a pandemic. But if you`ve read any journalism this evening expressing any hint of surprise that Trump criticized Fauci today, it means someone`s not doing it right.

This was as predictable as the sun coming up tomorrow morning. And it`s because the advice that Fauci is duty-bound to give doesn`t match the plot line of the President. Crisis largely over, let`s get back, it will disappear on its own without a vaccine. And for his trouble and for his service Dr. Fauci is getting attacked on Fox News.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Fauci has been wrong quite a bit. Sometimes he`s absurd. Now he`s praising China for its transparency. And we have the tape of that. We`re not attacking him, OK? We`re just as citizens asking questions. What the hell is going on?


WILLIAMS: At this point we should probably pause to point out the U.S. death toll tonight stands at nearly 84,506. Trump`s predictable break with the top pandemic expert came during a meeting with the governors of Colorado and North Dakota. It came when Trump was asked about reopening schools and about Dr. Fauci`s warning yesterday about rushing to reopen our country during a pandemic.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I think they should open the schools. Absolutely. I think they should. It`s had very little impact on young people. It`s up to the governors. It`s the governors` decision. But the state is not open if the schools are not open. I`m surprised by his answer, actually. Because you know, it`s just -- to me it`s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.

This is a disease that attacks age and it attacks health. And if you have a heart problem, if you have diabetes, if you`re a certain age, it`s certainly much more dangerous. But with the young children, I mean -- and students it`s really -- just take a look at the statistics. It`s pretty amazing.


WILLIAMS: Here is what Dr. Fauci told senators yesterday about the risk to children specifically from the coronavirus.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We`ve got to be careful if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects. We just have to see on a step-by-step basis as we get into the period of time in the fall about reopening the schools exactly where we`ll be in the dynamics of the outbreak.


WILLIAMS: What`s concerning Fauci and others in public health is the rise of a rare and deadly inflammatory syndrome apparently related to this virus. Over 100 children in at least 17 states have developed it. CDC`s now working on guidance for health care professionals so they can track incoming cases. At least three children have died.

Meanwhile, Trump is making moves to tighten his control of the race to develop a vaccine. He`s appointed a former drug company executive and a four-star U.S. general to lead the project known as Operation Warp Speed.

Tomorrow the nation`s top official on vaccines Dr. Rick Bright will testify before a House subcommittee about why he believes he was removed last month and what he sees as failures in the White House response to this virus.

In prepared testimony released today Bright warns the virus "has the potential to eclipse the devastation wrought by the 1918 influenza which globally claimed over 50 million lives. We must act urgently to effectively combat this deadly disease. Our window of opportunity is closing. I fear the pandemic will get far worse." He goes on to add that without clear planning and action, "2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history."

As that unfolds tomorrow, the President will be on the road visiting the battleground State of Pennsylvania. Part of his push to reopen the economy. Trump`s going to tour a medical equipment company in the Allentown area that has been sending PPE to hospitals across the country. He`s been supportive of protests against the Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and his decision to only open certain parts of the state at a time. The governor threatened to withhold federal aid money from counties that defy his decision.

Late today in Wisconsin the state`s Supreme Court struck down that governor`s stay-at-home order. As he admitted tonight, the only thing that will keep people at home now is good state. He called his own state the Wild, Wild West.

There`s also new reporting on the CDC`s attempt to provide guidance on reopening the nation. It would conceivably guide states and cities and their planning to slowly reopen.

A.P. reporting the CDC plans that were shelved by the White House included advice on shutting down communities during flare-ups of COVID-19 that a former chemical industry executive nominated to be the nation`s top consumer safety watchdog was involved in sidelining those guidelines.

Today a top official at the World Health Organization gave a sobering assessment about this virus indicating that we may have to learn to live with it.


DR. MICHAEL RYAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: This virus may never go away. I don`t think anyone can predict when or if this disease will disappear.


WILLIAMS: The words come amid reports of resurgence and return of the virus in parts of South Korea and China following the easing of restrictions there. The Chinese are going to test everyone in Wuhan province. There`s also this warning about the economic impact of all of this. Goldman Sachs predicting we`ll see 25% unemployment.

Today Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said it`s time for Congress to focus on another relief package.


JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR: Since the pandemic arrived in force just two months ago more than 20 million people have lost their jobs. Almost 40% of those in households making less than $40,000 a year have lost a job in March. To date Congress has provided roughly $2.9 trillion in support. Additional fiscal support could be costly but worth it if it helps avoid long-term damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery.


WILLIAMS: Here for our discussion on a Wednesday night, Robert Costa, National Political Reporter for the Washington Post. He`s also Moderator of Washington Week on PBS. Anita Kumar back with us, White House Correspondent and Associate Editor over at Politico. And Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious diseases physician, Medical Director of the Pathogens Unit up at Boston University School of Medicine. She worked along with the World Health Organization during the West African Ebola epidemic, is also among our medical contributors.

Good evening and welcome to you all. Bob Costa on politics, I`d like to begin, let`s take Tucker Carlson at his word that he`s not attacking Dr. Fauci, just questioning him as he did we noted last night on the air. What does this split with Donald Trump, predictable as it may be, do to Dr. Fauci and does it further distance Fauci from his customers, the American people, who are eager to hear information about this virus?

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: The President has been for weeks concerned about Dr. Fauci`s high profile. That is based on my conversations with White House officials and associates of the President. He wants to be driving the conversation about the nation`s reopening. He`s unhappy within only the whistle-blower, Dr. Bright, testifying before the House but Dr. Fauci going before the Senate. Though it is controlled by Republicans, to not be in tune. Dr. Fauci unlike so many people around President Trump is a non-partisan official, not an appointee of President Trump, and at 79 years old and at this point in his career with all of his accomplishments he`s not worried about being on message with what President Trump is saying day to day. That is frustrating the President. And the Post has reported extensively about how these frustrations have grown and grown.

WILLIAMS: Probably not helped by the difference in polling numbers, Robert, between Fauci`s approval when you ask the American people how he has handled the virus, if they trust his information, and one Donald Trump.

COSTA: And there`s also a growing gap between the President and Dr. Fauci and some of the nation`s leading health officials about how to proceed both on medicine -- and you see this with Dr. Bright. He is saying in his document that he`s going to testify about tomorrow that this administration was pushing in his view hydroxychloroquine as a so-called miracle cure to deal with this pandemic. And you also see Dr. Fauci and others saying that the nation`s governors are moving far too quick in many instances, not meeting the metrics that the federal government has set. So as the President urges governors to reopen and has an encouraging message for them, there`s a message of caution from Dr. Fauci and that has gone well noticed by the President.

WILLIAMS: OK, Anita, tomorrow the President goes to Pennsylvania, suburb of Allentown, a place where the economy was already cruel during the, "best of times." It has turned especially cruel now. The visit is not billed as a campaign event. It`s a Presidential event. Sometimes, however, during a factory address the President sounds like a campaign event. Anyone talking about any chance to change messaging tomorrow?

ANITA KUMAR, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What you`re really going to see and what the President wants to do is it is sort of a campaign event even though it`s not, right? He`s going to a swing state. Last week he went to Arizona, also a swing state. But the message is clear from the White House. There`s been a shift there in recent weeks, that it is all about the reopening.

Now, that doesn`t mean that Dr. Fauci and the rest of the administration at FEMA and other places aren`t working on testing and other issues. But from the President`s point of view and his immediate aides it`s all about selling this reopening to the American people. You`re going to see him traveling on average once a week now to sort of show he can get out and be doing things. People can travel again. And you`re going to be seeing him like he was today talking to governors, bringing them in. Not just any governors but governors that are opening up their states on how they`re doing that and why that`s important. This is going to be the entire shift and focus of Donald Trump and his staff in these coming weeks.

WILLIAMS: Doctor, it must be a bit of a maddening time to be in the public health business because we have two equal and opposite camps in our country who view their patriotic duty exactly opposite from one another. Some folks believe that staying out of circulation and staying home is their patriotic duty. Other folks believe it`s the opposite, that only by getting out can they fulfill their patriotic duty. Do you think, Doctor, Americans are within their rights for feeling these days pretty much on their own and hoping common sense will prevail?

DR. NAHID BHADELIA, INFECTIOUS DISEASEs PHYSICIAN: Brian, let me start by commenting on Dr. Fauci`s position and the conversation you just had. Dr. Fauci hasn`t just been a leader leading this country through multiple outbreaks over the last decades but he`s also been an inspiration for generations of infectious diseases physicians. My entire profession with his steady hand and his wisdom, which is really what we need in situation because going back to your point I think it`s become a false dichotomy, what public health officials have always said is, we know there needs to be some sort of modified reopening at some point before the vaccine is available, because we can`t stay indoors.

But what we need is this balance where we work through what the measures are that need to be in place and those have been outlined. What you`re hearing from Dr. Fauci in terms of the caution of not opening too soon and taking stepwise measures, what all other public health folks are saying.

Today Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO Director of Emergency, said the same thing. He said, we don`t want to be caught in a vicious cycle where we go from a health crisis to an economic crisis. Where we open up too fast and then, you know, we see a lot of cases and we close up again and all these money that we`re putting in the stimulus is for naught because we close up, because we have another health crisis. And that`s why that thoughtfulness and the leadership that we see from Dr. Fauci is so important at this time.

WILLIAMS: Robert Costa, an abrupt turn into politics and the Capitol Hill variety. I need to get what you know about the FBI serving Senator Richard Burr, North Carolina Republican, with a warrant to see his cell phone activity. All of this goes back to his stock sales at the start of the pandemic. Are you able to gauge how much exposure he has? And apparently he`s not alone among senators in having that exposure.

COSTA: The Los Angeles Times broke this story just a few minutes ago about the Fed`s looking into Senator Burr. We`ve known about this investigation for weeks. But now they are pursuing the investigation even further, looking for his records. This is a serious case. A senator who was part of briefings about the pandemic behind the scenes at times, a powerful person in Washington. The chairman of the senate select committee on intelligence, someone who has access to all kinds of information as one of the most powerful leaders in the nation. He and his family are under scrutiny not just by the press. And we`ve been on this story for weeks. But by the federal government. Maybe in their view selling stocks, selling his own stocks ahead of when the market started to crash at some point due to the pandemic. And that`s old school story of alleged insider trading for a major senator. We`re going to keep close tabs on it. We don`t like to make any conclusions before we know more information, but this is a case that the federal government is not just putting on the shelf to say the least.

WILLIAMS: Indeed. Anita Kumar, we turn back to the White House. And dovetailing with our discussion about Dr. Fauci, how concerned are you able to gauge at least the White House is about Dr. Bright`s testimony tomorrow, portions of which we just sampled.

KUMAR: You know, I`m hearing that they are worried. It`s just another headache for them, right? They`ve got their hands full with other things. There have been a lot of oversight hearings in these last few years. Obviously, the biggest were the impeachment hearings. And it`s just something they hadn`t anticipated. And here they are in this same situation yet again with oversight hearings. Particularly more problematic in the House, obviously the Senate`s also doing some, but in the House where the democrats are again, once again going, you know, probing the administration.

It really -- I think the thing I`m hearing the most is this is something that we heard a lot of reporting in the media in various outlets about what has happened these last two months, but here we now have this doctor, Dr. Bright, and others will come forward to talk about what they saw. So this is sort of putting more information out there about what people have already heard that the administration didn`t take this seriously, they didn`t start right away. That was the reason there wasn`t testing, there wasn`t supplies. And other accusations that there were political decisions made. Decisions that should be made on medicine were actually made because of the President`s whims or because of political connections.

So the American people are going to start to hear all these accusations. Obviously, they`ll need to decide whether these witnesses are credible or not. But the White House and President Trump`s aides, you know, for them this is just another headache in a time where they have so much to do and they did not anticipate that there would be another round of oversight hearings like this.

COSTA: Brian, can I just jump in here real quick?

WILLIAMS: Yeah, go ahead.

COSTA: Brian, it`s important to note that the White House is not providing a complete picture about what happened with Dr. Bright. Peter Navarro, the White House Trade Adviser, has been asked to testify before this House Subcommittee. He has declined. Anna Eshoo, the Subcommittee Chair, has told me she asked Secretary Azar from HHS to testify as well. No response from HHS. So the House, which is trying to do its role in the constitution of oversight, is not getting compliance from the White House on this Dr. Bright matter beyond Dr. Bright`s cooperation.

WILLIAMS: And Doctor, you get the last word. Back on the subject of public health, which should be the underlying foundation of this entire discussion. Something the President`s been quietly pushing is a return to school for children across the country with exceptions. What happens? In terms of public health, when some kids go back to school and some kids don`t?

BHADELIA: Well, Brian, one thing we now know as you mentioned at the top of the hour is that there is a new disease entity that`s discovered that seems to be correlated with children who may have had COVID-19 or actively had it, with that inflammation of blood vessels. And so for the most part it`s a disease that kids can recover from, but in some cases it can be severe and potentially fatal. And it`s a classic example of how we don`t know everything about this disease and potentially how it plays out in children.

The other thing to note is when children go back to school and they merge with the bigger population they`re potentially coming back to multigenerational homes where their grandparents are there or around parents who might have medical co-morbidities. So they don`t exist in a vacuum and that`s why this needs to be thoughtful and it needs to be in place with contact tracing and testing.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, great point to make and one that does need to be thought out. To Robert Costa, Anita Kumar, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, thank you for starting us off on this Wednesday night. We appreciate it.

Coming up for us after our first break tonight, two mayors of two very different cities who during a pandemic now are forced to make life and death decisions. It`s part of the job in deciding how to keep their people safe.

And later, the special guest at the White House today and what it may mean for the race against Joe Biden. THE 11TH HOUR, as we`re just getting under way on a Wednesday night.



MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, (D) NEW YORK CITY: I would love nothing more than to see the Yankees and Mets playing again and all the major league teams. But Wolf, certainly not with fans in the stands anytime soon. That`s much farther in the future according to our very careful slow reopening.


WILLIAMS: In this crisis it is so often the mayors who are making the tough calls, emphasizing safety even though it has meant saying no to some annual spring and summer traditions. In Rochester, New York it meant postponing this year`s (inaudible) -- with every new day and every new wave of data on this virus. And so we welcome the mayors of both of those cities to our broadcast tonight. Lovely Warren is the Mayor of Rochester, New York. Lauren McLean, Mayor of Boise, Idaho. Welcome to you both.

Mayor Warren, we`ll start with you. Upstate New York, tell us how Rochester is handling the pandemic?

MAYOR LOVELY WARREN, (D) ROCHESTER, NEW YORK: Well, as you already indicated, of course the Lilac Festival has been delayed. And also our big festival, our international jazz festival has been canceled as well. So many of the different activities in the summertime that people look forward to have been canceled and we are trying to do everything we can to keep our residents safe. We are also having many fiscal challenges because our revenue has been threatened. But we`re looking as a community, we are resilient and we`re looking forward to the future and looking forward to working with our community partners to make sure that our residents are safe and that we`re doing everything possible to make sure that everyone is social distancing and doing what they need to do to come out of this pandemic on the other side.

WILLIAMS: Mayor McLean out West, same question to you?

MAYOR LAUREN MCLEAN, (D) BOISE, IDAHO: Yeah, we are slowly reopening now. We shut our city early, and because of that we were really lucky in terms of not experiencing the waves that many have. At the forefront of our mind is working hard to protect our community`s health to make sure that we can reopen and our economy can recover as quickly as possible.

So we currently are in our first stage of reopening where we`re still as a city requiring physical and social distancing. We have rules around the airport and group sizes. But we`re optimistic the data will tell us in the next couple days we`re able to move ahead to another stage and open more city facilities. But it`s so important we have to play --

WILLIAMS: And Mayor McLean, as a health matter, has the pandemic gone easy on you or have you fought a lot of cases in Boise?

MCLEAN: We`ve been blessed compared to other big cities. Of course we had it here. We had a surge early. Our hospitals were able to stay on top of it and ahead of it. And we shut our city early, which really helped in those days of March and April.

WILLIAMS: Mayor Warren, back up to you. I know for a fact you have a robust summer education program in Rochester, and I am guessing your heart breaks every day that schools are not in session in your city. When you hear the President say it`s about time to go back to school, does that influence your thinking and ultimately your decision?

WARREN: Well, right now of course, Brian, we are working under the leadership of Governor Andrew Cuomo, and he has done an extraordinary job of really leading New York State and letting us know what in the path that we should take. So Monday we will begin -- on Friday actually we will begin phase one of reopening in our region. And we are going to work very closely not only with the governor`s office but with our county exec.`s office to make the best decision possible for our community and to keep our residents as safe as possible.

The governor has already said that school will not be in session this year. We will close out this year and many of our schools have started to shut down as it pertains to the buildings. But children are still learning online and doing digital learning. And so we have to make sure that we put lives and saving lives first before making any decisions as it pertains to sending children back into an environment that can be detrimental to their health or their family`s health.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely. And Mayor McLean, back out to you. We`re witnessing historic unemployment nationwide. How cruel has the economy been in Boise, and are your numbers anywhere close to the national average?

MCLEAN: So shutting our economy down to protect our public health was such a hard decision to make, but it was one we had to make, and we`re seeing here what people are seeing around the country. People are struggling. Businesses are shut. People are waiting for their stimulus and unemployment checks. And we are going to have to focus on ensuring that as we reopen that we do it carefully so we don`t have to shut again so we can get everyone back to work. And also at the same time reimagine what the economy of the future in post-COVID looks like.

WILLIAMS: Two great cities I`ve had the personal pleasure of visiting. And our thanks tonight to Mayor Lovely Warren of Rochester and Mayor Lauren McLean of Boise. We appreciate adding your voices to our broadcast tonight. Thank you both.

Coming up for us, in a time of crisis people look to their leaders for guidance but one of our next guests says pay no attention to the magical thinking of this particular leader, when we come back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Fauci yesterday was a little cautious on reopening the economy too soon. Do you share his concern?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reopening the economy too soon. Some states.

TRUMP: Look, he wants to play all sides of the equation. I think we`re going to have a tremendous fourth quarter. I think we`re going to have a transitional third quarter. And I think we`re going to have a phenomenal next year.


WILLIAMS: The president with another very optimistic outlook on the economy despite over 20 million jobs lost just last month alone. One of our next guests Eugene Robinson writes the president is trying to project a sunny lack of concern on the pandemic. "After 80,000 U.S. deaths the president is still engaged in magical thinking. He has long maintained the virus will go away without a vaccine though experts tell him it will not. His vanity will not allow him to be photographed wearing a face mask. The phrase whistling past the graveyard comes to mind."

Here with us again tonight, the aforementioned Eugene Robinson, for good reason a Pulitzer prize-winning columnist for the "Washington Post." And Steve Schmidt, former political strategist who led John McCain`s `08 effort, has since left the Republican Party but he sure hasn`t left politics.

Gentlemen, good evening to you both. Eugene, take another whack at explaining magical thinking for the good folks watching tonight.

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGYON POST COLUMNIST: Magical thinking. Well, Brian, recall that the United States and South Korea on the same day, both countries experienced their first case of Covid-19, first identified case.

South Korea to date has had 260 deaths. We have had 84,000. And the reason is that South Korea engaged in actual realistic thinking and containing the virus and did the sort of testing and contact tracing early that was necessary.

The president took the attitude that the virus wouldn`t come and if it did come it would just disappear. He always makes this curve in the air with his hand like that when he talks about how it will just disappear. The one thing we know from the experts is it will not just disappear. It will not just go away.

And in fact, it has now invaded his own residence. The White House complex itself. He`s had two cases that we know of, of COVID-19. And this daily testing and this contact tracing and the trying to contain it there. But there`s no such program available for the rest of us.

And so the president is determined, he`s begging on governors to open the economy up again, and we`re all just going to have deal with the situation that we`re kind of living inside Trump`s imagination. And that`s no way to be safe from COVID-19.

WILLIAMS: Steve Schmidt, public health says protection of the population when presidents engage in matters of public health, they are the very definition of playing with house money. You have long argued that this is the worst president ever elected. You tweeted this week that the president in your view is beginning to panic. What do you see?

STEVE SCHMIDT, FMR. REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, good evening, Brian. What Donald Trump sees and why we`re reading accounts in newspapers like the "Washington Post" and the "New York Times" about the turbulence in the campaign or poll numbers that show his numbers collapsing in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and close contests in states like Texas, so the American people are watching this play out every day. And they understand that this is not what competency looks like. This is not what a strong leader looks like.

And I think the American people in majority numbers are coming to a conclusion, which is this president is totally out of his depth. He`s outmatched completely. He lacks literally every conceivable quality necessary for leadership at a national level in a crisis. And he`s failing at a time of testing for the country at a historic level.

There has never been an American leader who has performed as incompetently, as ineptly, as poorly as he has in literally everything he says. We range from the imbecilic, which is the suggestion that the American people should protect themselves by injecting disinfectant. To the daily dishonesty and lying that the American economy, which will touch on 25 percent unemployment, will magically be restored in the fourth quarter or the first quarter next year.

And it`s all magical think, as Eugene says. Just like when he said two months ago that -- when there were only 15 cases it would soon go away. Just like when he said the Chinese were doing a great job and he had full confidence in President Xi.

This response by this administration couldn`t have been worse if you had a group of saboteurs working in the West Wing of the White House trying to harm the country. It`s just epically terribly bad. So, we see now the inventions of the ludicrous Obamagate scandal. We`ll see the race-baiting, xenophobic, bash China and blame them.

But he`ll put himself into the role of America`s biggest victim. He will portray himself as the injured party, as what happens in this country, the world`s epicenter of coronavirus death and suffering as our death count crosses the $100,000 -- the 100,000-person threshold, and then ultimately 200,000-person threshold and likely north of that, and none of it ever had to happen. None of it had to happen.

WILLIAMS: Both of these gentlemen have graciously agreed to stick around during the break. And coming up, a presumptive nominee, a virtual convention, a presumptive campaign season. It`s enough to make Democrats worry about their chances. Our guests will weigh in when we come back, and we will.



JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Based on the outcome of all the national polling data we seem to be doing very. Matter of fact, in a bizarre way the president the more he`s out there the more he hurts himself, I think.


WILLIAMS: Campaigning during a coronavirus looks like nothing we have seen before. The candidates face exceptional challenges, reaching out to the voters. "New York Times" tells it this way. "Less than six months before election day, Mr. Biden finds himself in an extraordinary position. Party leaders have quickly united around him, and he has an edge over President Trump in most polls. But he has yet to prove himself as a formidable nominee who can set the political and policy agenda for Democrats and the nation, and his campaign has so far not solved the unprecedented challenges of running for the White House from the seclusion of his home."

Still with us are Eugene Robinson and Steve Schmidt. Steve, I`ve got one for you because when Maggie Haberman speaks we listen. She tweeted this tonight. "POTUS had a meeting with his political team at the White House today to go over latest polls, fund-raising, et cetera. There was a special guest later in the day. Karl Rove, from three people familiar with the meeting."

So, Steve, what does the old campaigner, the fox staple, the Bush 43 veteran, going to do for them do you suppose?

SCHMIDT: Well, Karl`s visiting the White House as a senior statesman in the Republican Party. Someone who was the top strategist for two successful presidential elections. He is like an ambassador from reality. He`s going in there to look Donald Trump in the eye and tell him the truth, which is that he`s on track to lose the election and lose it to Joe Biden badly and his performance in these briefings and everything he`s been doing has done nothing but undermine the confidence of the American people in his leadership.

Karl will be fearless in communicating to Trump the reality of the situation. We know from media accounts that Donald Trump is deeply upset about the campaign manager, who`s gone out and bought a bunch of Ferraris and expensive real estate on his dime. We know that Corey Lewandowski is trying to get back into the campaign. We know that Jared Kushner`s trying to stop that.

So, sounds like there might be a bit of a meltdown over at the Trump campaign headquarters as they`re starting to cast the ballot. Remember, nothing is ever Donald Trump`s fault. And that`s part of the political problem.

You know, Americans as a people, generally we don`t have much tolerance for losers and for whiners and complainers. And every day we see someone up there casting blame on his mistakes, on everybody else, whining, complaining. Honest to goodness, when he`s not up there at the briefings talking about how big his ratings are, he talks about the fact that he`s had it tougher and worse than Abraham Lincoln did or that no one has ever had it harder or no one`s ever been meaner, you know, to him than the press is to him. It`s all about him. He`s America`s biggest victim.

And so nobody`s going to be able to sit in the White House and tell Donald Trump that the reason he`s losing the election to Joe Biden is because of his awful performance and that he`s a reality show host who has no capacity intellectually, mentally or morally to be the commander in chief of the American nation.

And therefore, it`s going to be a finger-pointing and blame game. And so I`m sure they asked Karl to come in as the voice of competence to lay it out on the line for him. But Donald Trump`s not going to listen to Karl Rove. He`s not going to listen to anybody. Donald Trump has shown over and over again he listens to one person, and that`s the voice in his head.

WILLIAMS: Eugene, you`ve got to admit the guy has a way with words. Eugene, let`s talk about polling. We try never to cast aspersions on polling because we know that good money and good methodology and intentions go into them. No matter who has the poll in the field. But when people look to the CNN numbers from today, battleground states, and didn`t believe them, what do you make of it?

ROBINSON: Well, look, the numbers -- the CNN poll had from the battleground states just don`t agree with the other numbers that we`ve had from battleground states. And so that`s why people looking at them with a certain skepticism, because every once in a while the best of pollsters have an outlier, an outlying poll. And so this may be bad. I don`t think you dismiss any poll out of hand. You go back and check, as Steve said.

But very quite consistently polling to date at least has shown President Trump in trouble not only nationally but especially in those battleground states. The polling has shown Republican Senate candidates to be in trouble in states like -- republican states like Montana and North Carolina, much less a state like Maine where Susan Collins is vulnerable and Arizona. It has shown a very bleak picture of a near tie in Texas.

And as Steve Schmidt said, this is Donald Trump`s fault. I mean this is Donald Trump`s -- he`s the incumbent president. So it`s his election to lose and he`s losing it. And he loses a bit more every time he goes out. And has one of those briefings. The last time we got not only the usual assortment of too many lies to chronicle, we also got to see the kind of overt blatant racism that was shocking I think to a lot of people and the whining and victimization and woe is me that we`re accustomed to.

So I`ve got to think that Joe Biden is applauding every time he hears that the president`s going to give an afternoon briefing because it probably helps him incrementally in the next poll.

WILLIAMS: Gentlemen, thank you both. Thank you for prevailing through my quarantine voice. We have freeze warnings posted in the New York area tonight. And I keep checking the calendar. But it`s as cold as winter. Gentlemen, thanks. Eugene Robinson, Steve Schmidt. We`ll do this again.

Coming up for us, coronavirus again comes close to home. As it has for so many. Now it`s hit someone you have seen on this broadcast, and we will hear his story when we come back.


WILLIAMS: So today we learned a member of our own on air medical team is sick with the Coronavirus. Dr. Joseph Fair, he`s a New York-based virologist who you have seen on this broadcast and others. He announced today he`s been hospitalized after experiencing trouble breathing days ago.

Back on March 4th, when we were still in our studios, we had Dr. Fair on our broadcast from New York. And I remember it because when I greeted him, when he came out during the commercial break, he was the first person I encountered who decline politely a handshake. He explained, and I appreciated hearing it, that we had to stop doing that. And turns out he was right. And while he was always careful, now he is sick. And our own Dr. John Torres today spoke with Dr. Fair about his ordeal.


DR. JOHN TORRES, NBC NEWS MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today NBC News science contributor Joseph Fair posting the stunning news from his hospital bed that he`s got COVID-19.


TORRES: Fair, a virologist, spent years in Africa studying some of the most deadly viruses known to man including Ebola. Now the virus hunters believes he was infected with the coronavirus after traveling on a crowded plane two weeks ago to New Orleans.

FAIR: My flights were packed. And I had a mask on, I had gloves on, I had my normal wipes routine. But, you know, obviously you can still get it through your eyes.

TORRES: Joseph first started noticing symptoms about three days after the flight. He lost his appetite, felt nauseous, and developed muscle aches.

FAIR: About six or seven days into that is probably when my lung infection developed because I started getting really short of breath. I really couldn`t take a full breath. And that`s when I decided to take 911. A first for me. My first ambulance ride.

TORRES: At the hospital he tested negative for COVID four separate times. Fair says it`s most likely because he waited too long to get the test. The virus levels dropping at this stage of his recovery. He`s now being treated with oxygen while his lungs heal. It`s a surprising development for someone who`d been showing us how to protect ourselves in public places.

(on camera): Social distancing, using masks, cleaning your hands, not touching your face and you still got the virus.

FAIR: I did do all those things. You know, occasionally you make a mistake. Even people like me who do this for a living. But I can`t overtly remember one if I did make it.

TORRES: What`s your message to people?

FAIR: Don`t be in a hurry to open up. I know it seems like your life is over. You know me, John. I`m a healthy 42-year-old. I know we can get through this as a nation. But really we have to take it seriously.


WILLAMS: Both fascinating and scary. And of course we wish our friend Dr. Fair a full and speedy recovery. Another break for us. And coming up, how it is that researchers in a pandemic have turned to a very few very good dogs.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight. We know dogs can multitask. We know their talents are vast. For starters, anytime you see a dog in a vest it means they`re on the job. Which admittedly is a second job as the first job of any dog is to love us forever.

To that end, researchers in the U.K. are working with some very good dogs to sniff out the coronavirus. We`ll just get out of the way here and let you watch the very good dogs. They are trained to sit down when they detect it amidst all the other samples.

And in these days when there`s talk about the tsa taking all of our temperatures at the airport prior to boarding a flight, which remember, would not reveal an asymptomatic virus carrier, listen to this professor`s thoughts on how dogs could help.


PROF. JAMES LOGAN, LONDON SCHOOL OF HYGIENE AND TROPICAL MEDICINE: The key here is that we can screen a lot of people very quickly and it`s non- invasive. So we don`t need to take a sample, you know, from the mouth or blood or anything like that. And the dogs would be able to detect this from people who are passing through.

So if you imagine a dog in an airport that`s looking at, you know, detecting drugs and explosives, walking down a line, it would be the same sort of method. And each individual dog could screen up to 250 people per hour. So we could get through a lot of people very, very quickly.


WILLIAMS: So in other words, dogs will save us. They`re used to that, as you know if you`ve ever loved a dog.

That is our broadcast for this Wednesday night. Thank you so very much for being here with us. 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