COVID-19 surges TRANSCRIPT: 6/25/20, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams

Guests: Ron Nirenberg, James Carville, Keith Mayes

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1,253 of the Trump administration, 131 days to go until the Presidential Election.

Today Donald Trump was politicking in the State of Wisconsin. As the director of the CDC reported that the number of Americans who have been infected with coronavirus is likely 10 times higher than reported. That would put the number well north of 20 million Americans. Over 123,000 people have lost their lives thus far.

Tonight, Trump was asked about the impact of the pandemic during a town hall on Fox News. And he once again made the erroneous connection between the rate of testing and the surge in cases.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have more cases because we do the greatest testing. If we didn`t do testing, we`d have no cases. When you do 30 million, you`re going to have a kid with the sniffles and they`ll say it`s coronavirus, whatever you want to call it. If we didn`t do tests, we`d look great. But you know what? It`s not the right thing to do.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Treatment, vaccine, where are we?

TRUMP: We`re going to have an answer very soon, very soon indeed. I think it will be even before the end of the year we`ll have a vaccine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: This virus, of course, is not done with us, and as many health experts and even some officials now note, the numbers in a majority of the states are going in the wrong direction.

Right now over half the states are seeing an increase in new cases in fact. They`ve been trending upwards of 30,000 a day for the past week. Yesterday surged north of 40,000.

Tonight we`re learning that the White House Coronavirus Task Force will hold a briefing tomorrow. It`s rare. It`s a first in two months. The last one was on April 27th.

NBC News reports the task force has been quietly tracking the rise in cases even as Trump has been insisting the virus, "will go away and will fade away." Indeed, earlier today two senior administration officials tried to minimize the threat of the latest outbreak.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX AZAR, HHS SECRETARY: We`re working aggressively with states and local leaders in this situation, but it`s important for the American people to know this is a localized situation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re going to have hot spots. No question. We just have to live with that. But the economy is not going to be closed down again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Meanwhile, NBC News has learned all Trump 2020 staffers who were in Tulsa for last Saturday`s rally are currently working remotely and will be tested for coronavirus before returning to Virginia headquarters. A senior campaign official says they`re also doing contact tracing.

As the nation records more daily infections than ever before, the epicenter of the resurgence right now is in the States of California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona. And let`s not forget four states containing well over a quarter of our total population as a country.

The Houston Chronicle says Texas reported nearly 6,000 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday. That`s the state`s highest single-day increase. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has paused the state`s reopening plans. As of today, he`s ordered hospitals in four counties to suspend elective surgeries for starters to preserve hospital space for coronavirus patients. Those counties include the state`s largest cities, Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio. Hospital admissions have been steadily rising and the Texas medical center in Houston reports its ICUs are now fall.

Health care workers say they`re concerned how they`ll handle for patients.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. CEDRICK DARK, BAYLOR UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Right now, we`re finding that, you know, situation is we don`t have any hospital beds available in the Houston area.

ALIS CUMMINGS, BAYLOR ST. LUKES MEDICAL CENTER: We`re trying to prepare for this surge, and we`re trying to find ways to be proactive because we want to have enough beds for our patients that need our help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uptick in kind of clusters of patients that were out at bars and clubs over the past two or three weeks have been coming in droves, testing positive unfortunately.

DR. ELIZABETH HADDOCK, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: I am very worried about the upcoming July 4th holiday. One thing I`d like to see is more masks available everywhere. I haven`t seen any public displays of free masks. And at this point in the pandemic, that`s something we should be producing and making available to everyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: So those are folks in the health care industry. Arizona today reported 3,056 additional cases of the coronavirus, fourth day in a week in which the state had daily increases of over 3,000. Arizona now has the highest rate of illness on a per capita basis of all the states. 85 percent of regular hospital beds, 88 percent of ICU beds are in use for COVID-19 and other patients. Well, today the governor of Arizona said he expects things to get worse and decided to put a hold on reopening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. DOUG DUCEY (R-AZ): The rate of the spread of this virus is unacceptable because there is no consideration of increasing activity. Arizona is on pause.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: After the heated debate over wearing masks has developed and now shows no signs of going away, despite research backing up prevention, two cities -- Charleston, South Carolina, and Miami, Florida, now requiring face coverings in public areas to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Just today we learned the virus has cost another 1.5 million American jobs. This is the 14th straight week that over a million people have filed for unemployment. The news comes as a New York Times Sienna Poll of six battleground states shows Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump in all of them. Fox News poll in Florida shows Biden in the lead there. The Former Vice President was in Lancaster, PA, today where he criticized Trump`s response to the pandemic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He thinks that finding out that more Americans are sick will make him look bad. That`s what he`s worried about. He`s worried about looking bad. Well, Donald Trump needs to stop caring about how he looks and start caring about what Americans -- what`s happening to the rest of America. This pandemic didn`t happen to him. It happened to all of us, and his job isn`t to whine about it. His job is to do something about it, to lead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: That brings us to our leadoff discussion on a Thursday evening. And for that, we have Kimberly Atkins with us here, Senior Washington Correspondent for WBUR, Boston`s NPR News Station. Jonathan Lemire, White House Reporter for the Associated Press. And Dr. Vin Gupta. He`s an E.R. doc specializing in these illnesses, also an Affiliate Assistant Professor with the University of Washington`s Department of Health Metrics Sciences.

Good evening and welcome to you all. Doctor, I`m compelled to begin with you and the question, what did they expect? Another way of saying that is reopening was a big risk. We knew that. It was a political and economic calculation and not a medical calculation. I have for you now just a summary, a look back of what went into it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I can tell you on COVID or coronavirus or whatever you want to call it, plenty of names, tremendous progress is being made. I spoke with the Governor of Texas where they`ve done a fantastic job. He`s got it in great shape, Texas. Florida is doing very well.

Numbers are actually going down. You look at Florida, the State of Florida, a great job. The numbers are going down very substantially without question. I mean very powerfully going down. You look at Florida, they`ve been open or very substantially open and pretty much completely open in some cases.

The job the governor of Florida has done, it`s incredible. The numbers they`re doing, you`ve got to open it up. We`re doing record numbers. We`re doing numbers like nobody`s ever seen before actually.

We`ve made every decision correctly. We`ve made tremendous progress. We did the right thing. Now we open. We got to get it open.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Doctor, he`s right about one thing. We`re doing numbers nobody`s ever seen before. Again, what did they expect?

DR. VIN GUPTA, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Good to see I, you, Brian. Let me start here, just nomenclature on testing. What matters here are the number of tests per confirmed cases. We can talk about aggregate tests all we want. It doesn`t. I`m a doc. I was just in the ICU. I still do not qualify for a test even though I was caring for patients on ventilators with COVID- 19. Our tests are still narrowly focused on those who we think are symptomatic or who we think are highly likely to turn positive, which is why the number of tests we do per confirmed case is around 12.

You know Estonia does? They do 52 tests per confirmed case. Taiwan, about 90, South Korea about 90, New Zealand which has figured this out 270 tests per confirmed case, that`s what mattered. For your viewers out there, don`t get distracted by what the President or the Vice President says. Look at facts that matter. We are narrowly testing. And then yesterday the President decided to pull funding for community health sites that are doing testing, underserved areas, communities of color, places where we need to know what`s happening. He pulled funding for that, so we`re not going to have funding in 13 sites that are critical in places like Texas, that`s going through an outbreak.

So, Brian, there`s a lot of explanation here but if I may speak to the nation`s governors, mandate masks just like you man date a ban on indoor smoking. Let`s stop with indoor dining. We know there`s enough data now suggesting dining is a super spreader event like the Tulsa, the Tulsa rally. Let`s focus there, let`s increase testing and for got sake, let`s get some dialysis nurses, trained up, let`s get portable ICUs, triage in places like California and Houston. That`s what needs to happen. And we`re looking to governors to lead because we know the President won`t.

WILLIAMS: Kim, two months of silence, yet the coronavirus task force is going to brief tomorrow. Why now, do you think?

KIMBERLY ATKINS, WBUR SENIOR NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, these numbers are increasing inasmuch as the President wants to ignore them, it can`t be ignored anymore. There has to be some White House response. The lack of leadership from the White House is one of the major factors behind the poll numbers we`ve seen for the President going south for him. But of course tomorrow that press conference is going to be led by Mike Pence, who for a period of time was the face and the lead of this response.

But we`ve seen from Mike Pence in recent weeks repeating the same points that the President has made, that this is some sort of -- the rise in numbers is some sort of trick that has to do with how much testing is being done, which is not true just as Dr. Gupta laid out. And so we have to wait and see just how much that is tempered by other information like we saw out of the CDC today as you pointed out, suggesting as many as 20 million infections have happened in the United States, that it still remains a major threat. That report also expanded the number of people who are in danger of serious illness. This idea that the young people will get it and they`ll be fine just isn`t true, also pregnant women at a greater risk than originally thought. So it`s a lot of bad news that is coming out of the administration. What I`m looking for tomorrow is what the vice President will say and will he continue with President Trump`s messaging, or will he confront some of the hard facts that are being laid bare each day.

WILLIAMS: Jonathan Lemire, in a very dark piece, Michelle Goldberg in the New York Times says our country is too broken to fix this. She points to the carnage we have just now allowed and baked into our society in things like mass shootings. And while that`s a debate for another time and while people want to think we`re better than this, is this position on the President`s part sustainable? A point we made last night is you can take the map of red states of coronavirus and overlay the political red state map. These are going to start aligning in front of a bright light.

JONATHAN LEMIRE, ASSOCIATED PRESS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: The President and his advisers have made a calculation. Their bet is reopen the economy, and they think that the nation will follow. That`s a risky bet, and we`re seeing here particularly in the last week or two, as you just said, these red states are the hot spots now. I was with the President on Tuesday in Arizona when he tried to throw some red meat to the base, right? He tried to change the subject a little bit. We went to the border wall. He stood in front of it, autographed a piece of it. He sort of touted his signature 2016 accomplishments.

And then we had an event in a mega church in Phoenix, which is very different than the sort of frankly humbling rally he had in Tulsa a few days before. It was packed. It was shoulder to shoulder. No social distancing, no masks, no temperature checks. As much as the President reveled in the crowd and responded to their use of a racist term to describe the coronavirus pandemic, there was trouble on the horizon. This could very well be a super-spreader event.

There were no precautions taken, and the virus is sort of shadowing everything he does. As much as he is trying to sort of move forward and focus on the economy to change the subject, he can`t. And we`re seeing now skyrocketing estimates of death totals, particularly in these red states. We saw a number of battleground poll states today, Brian, the New York Times and Sienna College, the President is down and he`s down big in the states that are going to decide this election. Is it early still? Could he still come back? Of course. But right now it`s troubling, and his advisers sort of know that. And as much as he`s playing to the base, there is a limit to how much that can work and at a certain point it seems like even though those voters who support the President, who largely like him, may not forgive him for his handling of the crisis, particularly now as the death toll continues to go up and increase. There`s no excuses anymore. This isn`t February or March. No one`s caught off guard. This is happening now. The President and the administration know this.

WILLIAMS: Dr. Gupta, I was just going to say another thing Americans don`t like hearing is we may not be allowed to fly to Europe. When you look at the chart of what the E.U. did and has done and you look at our chart, the blue line heading up, trending upwards, I`d love to know what did they do? What, for that matter, did New York City do, which on its best day seems like an ungovernable mess most of the time?

GUPTA: We had strong leadership, Brian. That`s the common denominator, New York City and Washington -- I mean New York State and Washington State, strong leadership, across the E.U., paradigms of excellence when it comes to strong leadership. We have 50 different maps, roadmaps here in the United States. Governors have to go their own way. So when you have 50 different approaches, you`re going to get 50 different outcomes. Unfortunately we`ve gotten a really bad one. To Jonathan`s point, there is no patience for social distancing, but let me tell you what there`s less patience for -- failed leadership, doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists across the country, we are all clamoring. People are going to die and ICU beds that don`t exist if we do not get straight quickly.

The answers are before us here, mandating masks upfront. That`s obvious. That`s low-hanging fruit. We`ve talked about testing. We need to be serious about what a lockdown looks like, outdoor dining only. Otherwise we`re going into a full lockdown.

WILLIAMS: So, Kim, you listened to Dr. Gupta`s answer, and it should get everyone`s attention. And then tell me how Republicans on the ballot in November are viewing this. They`ve so far looked at it kind of paralyzed, scared to death of the President. Is that just going to be their look until Election Day?

ATKINS: Well, we`ll have to see. We`ve already seen some sort of movement. I mean masks, the issue of masks, became politicized not only throughout the country but even on Capitol Hill. We saw lawmakers fighting over rules that were imposed requiring masks on the House side, for example, during meetings. But increasingly and as both houses were back in session this week, you saw a lot of people, including Republicans, wearing the masks. And some Republicans privately saying that they wished the President would do the same because part of the problem with trying to impose social distancing, impose measures like the wearing of masks is that you need the public to buy in on it. And the President very early on said that it wasn`t a good look, and it became a political fighting point.

You literally have people in local communities fighting for their right to not wear a mask despite all the evidence that shows that it will help stop the spread. So it`s basic problems like that that`s preventing the buy-in. Add that to the fatigue of having stayed home so long and now seeing these numbers go up again. It`s really much harder to put that genie back in the bottle than it would have been if there was a consistent policy from the beginning that encouraged everyone to buy in. So now Republicans are trying to move back, but we don`t know if it`s too late at this point.

WILLIAMS: Indeed. Our thanks to our big three on a Thursday night, Kimberly Atkins, Jonathan Lemire, Dr. Vin Gupta. Greatly appreciate it after a long day`s work.

Coming up for us, they say everything`s bigger in Texas, but this is one record nobody wants. San Antonio, among other cities, with its highest single-day count of coronavirus cases. The mayor standing by live to talk with us.

And later, is anything going right for the President? On the other hand, does anyone really believe all these polls at this point? James Carville with us here to sort it out this evening as The 11th Hour is just getting under way on a Thursday night.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN PATRICK, (R) TEXAS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: There are more important things than living. I don`t want to die. Nobody wants to die, but, man, we got to take some risks and get back in the game and get this country back up and running.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The increased occupancy of hospital beds, it does raise concerns, but as shown today, there is no reason right now to be alarmed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: That was June 16th. There is a bit more urgency in Texas tonight. As we mentioned, the governor issued an executive order suspending elective surgeries, and that`s a start. In the four counties that have seen record numbers of hospitalizations. The City of San Antonio in one of those counties hours ago the mayor reported a single-day high in new confirmed coronavirus cases and a jump in area hospitals. Over 200 patients are now in the ICU. That`s the highest thus far. 94 of those patients are on ventilators, and that`s troubling.

And we are happy to have with us tonight Ron Nirenberg, the Mayor of San Antonio, Texas. Mayor, I have my own guess, but I want to ask you by way of thanking you for coming on with us, what went wrong?

MAYOR RON NIRENBERG (I-TX), SAN ANTONIO: You know, I think there`s a myriad of factors that have led to the rising cases in Texas, Brian. First, we have a Texas economy that`s opening up in phases that lacked the gating criteria being met before we even started. So we didn`t have the allocation of testing or tracing that, you know, health experts say is needed for us to be able to isolate -- to identify and isolate cases that we knew are going to happen regardless of us opening up.

The second thing that happened is that we started moving through phases of reopening without the benefit of the data supporting the decisions that were being made. We were going too fast. And while that was happening, even though the urban areas of Texas have had a pretty strong containment, as that was happening, you also started to hear the mixed messaging of mask- wearing and physical distancing and the politicization of these techniques that health professionals say are needed.

And in fact, in late April, we had the ability to enforce mask mandates which we had in place, stripped away from our local orders. And so all of that, I think, contributed to a feeling in local communities that we must be out of the woods. And so people let their guard down, and we`re seeing the results.

WILLIAMS: And be honest. If you and I took a walk right now, left your home and went down to the Riverwalk, what percentage of people would we see wearing a mask?

NIRENBERG: You know, I think it`s changed thankfully since we found a path with our county judge to begin mandating masks in businesses. I think people are starting to see these numbers and get pretty alarmed. But, you know, a week ago you were probably seeing outside less than 25 percent, maybe 10 percent.

Now you`re starting to see half of folks walking around with masks. And, you know, it`s critically important, though, when you`re not able to maintain physical distance that you do so, and then especially when you`re indoors. And until recently, we didn`t have the authority to enforce that. So we`re hoping we get a change in behavior because we`ve got to get a grip on this virus. It is beginning to take a foothold in Texas in every single urban area of our state.

WILLIAMS: To the folks watching, we aired the lieutenant governor`s now famous Fox News interview on our way out of commercial here where he said there are some things more important than living. I want to play for you, Mayor, his comments from tonight. We`ll discuss on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICK: The good news is we`re not seeing it translate to the ICU unit or into fatalities. We put on a pause on elective surgeries to make sure we have plenty of room, but we`re not stepping backwards. When they say in Texas, well, it`s 90 percent, 95 percent full, that`s with non-COVID patients. So as those cases end, we have plenty of room.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: So, Mayor, is he right? Is he right? In your jurisdiction when we talk about figures north of 90 percent, that`s non-COVID patients crowding the ICUs?

NIRENBERG: Well, so there are non-COVID patients in the hospital as there always are, but the Lieutenant Governor is dead wrong about this not impacting our hospitals. We`ve seen almost a 500 percent increase in hospitalizations related to COVID-19 and ICU cases related to COVID-19 and now in ventilators related to COVID-19. You know, it`s one thing we`re starting to see a steep rise in cases. In fact, the majority of our cases are now in 20-year-olds, believe it or not. And it would be one thing if we said that, you know, 20-year-olds, they`re probably going to be OK. They`ll get through this. There will be some damaging effects on their health and in their finances, by the way, if they end up in the hospital. But we`re not seeing a flattening of the curve in the hospitals. The hospital rates are going up almost as fast as the infection rates overall. And when we started this process back in March, flattening the curve meant we built and maintained capacity to treat the ill. If we overwhelm our capacities, if we overwhelm our hospital system, that flattening the curve is out the window. And I got to tell you, Brian, I`m a little frustrated by all this simply because when we had our local orders in place and we were doing everything we could as urban communities, Bexar County, San Antonio had one of the lowest infection rates per capita of a big count in the United States.

We`ve seen that turn on a dime in the last three weeks. And we want to work together. This should be a nonpartisan issue. This is a health issue, a health crisis in our community that is quickly turning into an economic one as well. We`ve got to work together at every level of government to get a handle on this virus before it`s too late.

WILLIAMS: Mayor the San Antonio, Texas, a great city. It will be a great city to visit very shortly once again. Ron Nirenberg. Mayor, thank you so much for having us in and making time for us tonight.

Coming up for us, are things really as good as the polls are making it seem for Joe Biden? The legendary James Carville joins us when we come back.

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WILLIAMS: The New Fox news poll that shows Biden leading Trump in major battleground states also shows growing support for Obamacare. 56 percent of those surveyed now in favor. That`s up nine percentage points since 2019 and a good place to start with our guest tonight, James Carville, veteran democratic strategist who rose to national fame with the Clinton presidential campaign. Currently co-host of the 2020 Politics War Room podcast.

James, it`s good to see you. Give me some grizzled political wisdom. Do you believe a single poll out there?

JAMES CARVILLE, VETERAN DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes. I think there is a better chance that Donald Trump does not run for re-election than he`s re- elected. There`s no chance he`s going to be re-elected. And if you just take the events of the last 10 days, all right, obviously he has no control over the virus. He has no control over the tensions in the streets. He doesn`t even have control over a North Carolina Republican congressional district. It`s just nothing.

He`s lost control over everything, and of course I see people calling me with 15 different private polls a day, statewide polls, congressional polls, you name it. It all confirms everything that we`re seeing now. And you can see the fear in the voice of these Republican politicians. I mean it`s -- there`s zero chance he`s going to be re-elected.

Look at -- I mean Peggy Noonan`s column in "The Wall Street Journal" coming out tomorrow. Wall Street Journal Editorial page. Brian, you`ve been covering American politicians almost as long as I`ve been involved in it. The Wall Street Editorial page is the go-to place for right-wing economic conservatism. It`s gone and somebody is going to have to go tell this guy, look, you just can`t risk the humiliating defeat that`s going to come your way.

And Jared or somebody has got to sit down and have a real like talk, you know, a real man-to-man, a come to Jesus as people used to say. I don`t know what it is. But that which can`t continue will not. And the Republican Party can`t continue in this direction. They got to think of something different. I mean that. I`m serious.

WILLIAMS: I`m going to play for you -- no, I understand that, and I appreciate your candor. You have a very delicate audience watching tonight that is hoping you`re right but almost doesn`t want to hear you form the words and say it out loud.

CARVILLE: Right.

WILLIAMS: I`m going to play for you what Trump said about Biden tonight. We`ll talk about it on the other side.

CARVILLE: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here`s a guy doesn`t talk. Nobody hears him. Whenever he does talk, he can`t put two sentences together. I don`t want to be nice or un-nice, OK? But I mean the man can`t speak, and he`s going to be your president because some people don`t love me maybe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: so, James, let`s be honest. There are some dedicated Democrats who brace themselves every time Joe Biden talks because he`s halting and often imprecise. A lot of us are. He made a mistake today. He meant to say 120,000, he said 120 million. The president of the United States tweeted out that clip, and it`s like a mob movie. You know the way they`re going to come after you. You know because you`ve said it on this broadcast. Biden has always been covered through a double standard, especially in the era of Trump.

Is your party going to get tougher and hit back because thus far, the most effective ads are being run by your friends, the former Republicans over in the Lincoln Project.

CARVILLE: Democrats by nature are nervous. They are so traumatized by 2016. They have to get over it, all right? And I get this all the time. Please don`t say that because if people think we`re going to win, they`re not going to come out and vote. That`s idiotic. We`re going to win. What do you want me to do, come on television, talk to Brian Williams, and lie to people? That`s not going to do any good. That`s not part of my persona. It`s evident to everybody what is going to happen.

And part of democratic coaches, well, you can`t -- you don`t need to look, look what happened. You`re right, I`m a big admirer of these never- Trumpers, bulwark people and the Lincoln Project people. They just get up in the morning. Every time you call a Democratic (INAUDIBLE) conference call. Get off the conference call and do something.

These guys don`t do conference calls. They`re out there attacking, and Biden`s 120,000 or 120 million, by the way, if somebody put a string of all of Trump`s gaffes together, you would have no idea where it would end up. Every politician makes gaffes. Every politician misspeaks.

The Biden campaign has actually been pretty good. He did pretty good in the debates. It`s just assume that the campaign is not good. I think it`s pretty good so far. Of course he`s going to make gaffes between now and election day. It just sends 25 percent of the Democratic Party into some kind of state of depression. Get over it. Toughen up, people.

I mean he`s going to say whatever he`s going to say. He`s dropping at every level that you can imagine a politician is dropping, and that is just what is going on in this country now. I`m sorry. That`s just the truth. Deal with it, Democrats. You`re going to win.

WILLIAMS: All right. We`ll give people a chance to run to their medicine chests. We`ll take a break. James Carville has agreed to stay with us.

And coming up, Joe Biden here in a little while is going to name a running mate, let`s not forget. We`ll talk about the top contenders with Mr. Carville when we come back.

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RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": If he asked you to be his running mate, would you say yes?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Yes.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): Obviously I would be honored if i were being considered.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I`m qualified and ready.

REP. VAL DEMINGS, FORMER ORLANDO POLICE CHIEF: I`m not sure I want the job as much as the job may want me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I certainly would say yes.

WILLIAMS: There`s a long list of possible VP candidates, all of them women. The ongoing protests for racial equality are fueling speculation that Biden may choose a black woman for a running mate. Still with us is James Carville. James, in the name of all that is holy, including but not limited to LSU football and your beloved U.S. Marine Corps, I need from you two honest answers. Who do you want it to be? Who do you think it will be?

CARVILLE: I want it to be whoever Joe Biden is comfortable with, and I don`t know Vice President Biden well. I`ve known a lot of people around him very well, and he`s somebody that picks people and sticks with them. He picks who he`s comfortable with.

He has earned the right. The Democrats in the United States overwhelmingly get cede it to him to pick. And whoever he picks -- and I love these answers by the way. Yes, of course I`d do it. Yes. That is the correct answer. If the country calls you, you answer the call. And I hear that from Senator Warren, Senator Harris, you know, Linda Abrams (ph), all across the board. OK. I don`t want to forget everybody.

But that is all the correct answer. And whoever he calls, whoever he calls, then that is going to be who I`m with. And I have no doubt that he`s going to pick someone he`s comfortable with. He`s not the kind of person that -- he`s not a very gimmicky kind of person, and I don`t think people are looking for a gimmicky president.

And I`ve said before in a kind of exaggerated way, I don`t care. Pick Sarah Palin. I`ll be for her too. I just want to win this thing. But he has some excellent choices to choose from, and whoever he does, it`s all pre-cleared with me. And it should be pre-cleared with every Democrat in this country, every independent, every never-Trumper. That`s good. Voter switch. Let`s go to post.

WILLIAMS: James Carville, it`s why we keep asking you back. Thank you so much for your time and your candor and your opinions.

CARVILLE: It`s all I can do is tell you what I think. We can`t be wrong. But thank you, man. Appreciate it.

WILLIAMS: Someday LSU is going to play football again. Just you wait and see. James Carville in Louisiana.

Coming up for us, exactly one month since people hit the streets across this country because of the man in the mural. We`ll talk about where this movement goes from here.

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REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): We`re tired of police violence in a country where the constitution promises equal protection under the law. We`re sick and tired of being sick and tired. That is why we should act. It`s time to end racial profiling, time to criminalize the choke hold, time to demilitarize the police, time to end qualified immunity.

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WILLIAMS: That was today in the House of Representatives in the middle of a pandemic. The police chief in Tucson, Arizona, offered to resign on Wednesday while releasing video showing the death of a 27-year-old Latino man in custody.

Back on April 21st, officers restrained Carlos Ingram Lopez face down for 12 minutes. Police say they didn`t use a choke hold on him. He was not struck with anything by the officers. But the police chief said officers violated training guidelines by restraining him in a prone position facedown.

Ingram Lopez can be heard on the video asking for water multiple times. The medical examiner Ingram Lopez died off cardiac arrest while intoxicated by cocaine and being physically restrained.

Three officers have resigned from the department and now one month after the death of George Floyd, tonight the house passes the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. But of course the bill has a long way to go. Mitch McConnell has nothing like this in mind. He decides what gets to go through the Senate and what makes it all the way to his man, Donald Trump, for signature.

Here with us again tonight to talk about all of it, Keith Mayes, author, professor of African-American Studies at the University of Minnesota. Professor, here we are. We`ve had people in the streets every day and every night for over a month now. And unbelievably they have been propelled in new protests in waves by the new cases that have come to light, almost like supplying reinforcements for those people who have fallen back.

KEITH MAYES, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES: Yes.

WILLIAMS: My question to you is what have we learned in these days and nights, and what has changed?

MAYES: What we`ve learned, Brian, is that this movement is not going to stop anytime soon. We are marching on all the way to November 3rd. We will make the necessary changes that have to be made. We will put Joe Biden in office, and we will see what the Democrats will do.

I`m not confident that we will get any meaningful legislation passed while Donald Trump is in office and while the Republicans hold the Senate. So we`ll see. I think we have to rely on the protest movement and the grassroots activity that`s out there on the streets nationally and internationally. This movement moves forward. It continues on. The struggle continues.

WILLIAMS: I think a lot of people share your view that you kind of can`t wait for Washington. Does this not, in a weird way, because Mitch McConnell is Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump is Donald Trump -- does this not in a weird way reflect attention back on the local politicians that have been in the news depending on where you live for these last couple months because of a pandemic? I`m talking about governors and mayors.

MAYES: Governors, mayors, city councils, state legislatures. I think that in many ways, the pressure that has to be mounted on public officials to get anything done, all your local and state leaders. You`re absolutely right. I think that in many ways they have the ear of the movement. I think that the organizations, the grassroots organizations are closer to these particular elected officials. I think that they are open and ready for real change.

You see what the Minneapolis city council did a few weeks ago in calling for a complete remake and a reform of the Minneapolis police department, almost an abolishment of it and to start over, yes. I mean the movement is calling for -- they`re using words like "abolish" and "defund," and Washington is talking another language.

Now, some of the stuff that`s coming out of the House of Representatives is good. I don`t know about the Senate. The Senate, the kinds of ideas coming out of the Senate seems to be anemic. They don`t seem to go far enough. So we have to take this thing in stages and pressure all of our public officials. But I think you`re absolutely right. I think the local and the state ones are poised to respond much more than the national ones.

WILLIAMS: I want to play for you and by extension our audience what Donald Trump said tonight in this Fox News town hall about the protesters and listen for the "r" word.

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TRUMP: I stopped it the other night. I stopped it a number of times. But you`ll see what`s happening, and we told them every night we`re going to get tougher and tougher. And at some point there`s going to be retribution because there has to be. These people are vandals, but they`re agitators, but they`re really -- they`re terrorists in a sense.

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WILLIAMS: What do you think he means by retribution?

MAYES: We have to take control of the streets. What did he say the other week? We have to -- we have to sweep up the streets. We have to take action. I think these are dog whistles. But in many ways, we have to take him seriously. He`s talking about using the power of the state to crush the movement. It`s just as simple as that. It`s no different from what they did in the `60s in terms of criminalizing all forms of black protests, black protest activity whether it be sit-ins or black protest speech. They want to in many ways end the movement.

I think, Brian, we`ve heard so much about some of the other cases that are coming forward because of the police body cams and things are being revealed. Looked at what happened in Wilmington, North Carolina, with the police officers basically saying that, we are ready to shoot and kill. We cannot -- we hate these N-folks, and we are ready to move on them and deal with them. That`s all as a result of Donald Trump and his ability to give the green light to those who want to murder black people. It`s simple as that.

WILLIAMS: Professor, thank you for having us in. Thank you for coming on the broadcast. We appreciate it.

MAYES: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, an update from the southern U.S. Darkness on the edge of the American coastline when we come back.

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WILLIAMS: Hey, last thing before we go tonight. Now it`s getting serious, and here we are talking about the arriving cloud of dust from the Sahara Desert, which has already just completed the 5,000-mile journey west across the Atlantic and is now arriving on our shores.

And fair warning, it`s the largest dust cloud to come across the Atlantic in half a century or more. Pictures out of Cuba today show the dust at its thickest. It has the ability to turn day into dusk. Similar pictures show the big impact across Puerto Rico and Panama City. While it will be more diffuse the more it moves up inland and gets caught up in our weather systems, it`s still going to trigger a whole lot of effects here. In fact, a doctor appearing on our New Orleans affiliate warned people about respiratory problems.

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DR. COREY HEBERT, WDSU MEDICAL EDITOR: If you have allergies and if you`ve had them for a long period of time, be wary that it could also trigger an asthma attack. So you need to be very careful, and you need to make sure you have all your medicines.

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WILLIAMS: So don`t fool around with this. The advice for folks with respiratory problems is the same as it`s been really during the pandemic. Stay home and indoors if you can and wear a mask if you have to go out. The dusk can just zone out tropical storms even before they form. It`s that big and that dry. The dust will fall to earth as a kind of dirty rain in places like Florida. And, yes, an Instagram alert is in effect. The dust cloud will bring beautiful sunrises and sunsets really from Texas north and east, as far north as the Midwest and to the east on up the Atlantic seaboard for days to come.

That is our broadcast for this Thursday evening. Thank you so very much for being here with us. On behalf of all of my colleagues here at the networks of NBC news, good night.

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