COVID-19 TRANSCRIPT: 6/29/20, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams

Guests: Jeremy Bash, Nahid Bhadelia, Michael McFaul Brett McGurk, Francis Suarez, Melissa Murray

  STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening once again. I`m Steve Kornacki in for Brian Williams. Day 1,257 of the Trump administration and 127 days to go until the Presidential Election.

And there are several crises right now clouding Donald Trump`s bid for a second term. There are the questions about the still breaking story about what the President knew about intelligence reports suggesting that Russia may have been paying bounties to kill U.S. soldiers, much more on that just ahead.

There are also the new concerns among Trump`s own allies about the state of his re-election campaign. And also a rapid climb in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in some parts of the country.

Today marks exactly six months since the World Health Organization received the first initial reports of a respiratory illness outbreak in China. And worldwide now, there are more than 10 million cases confirmed of the coronavirus and over half a million deaths.

Tonight here in the United States, at least 32 states are seeing a rise in cases with increases reported in the Midwest, the south, and the west. Here`s how the White House assessed the situation today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The people who are being infected tend to be those, as Vice President Pence has noted, half of those testing positive are under the age of 35. This means we`re catching people in their communities. We`re aware that there are embers that need to be put out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Over the past several days, multiple cities and counties have set single-day records for new cases. According to the Los Angeles Times, L.A. County confirmed, "2,903 new COVID cases on Monday, the largest single-day number of new infections the county has reported since the pandemic hit the U.S. Infections have increased by 45% over the past 14 days, and hospitalizations have grown by 43%."

California`s Governor Gavin Newsom ordered bars closed in seven counties including Los Angeles County. And the L.A. County Department of Public Health is closing area beaches from July 3rd to July 6th for the holiday period.

Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona signed an order to pause the operation of bars, gyms, movie theaters, and water parks for the next month. In New York City, Broadway theaters remain closed for the rest of the year. The state has yet to see any spike in cases after that first wave.

In all, more than a dozen states are now pausing or rolling back the re- openings they had begun. There are also new efforts to force people to wear masks in public.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly is making face masks mandatory in public spaces beginning this Friday. And Jacksonville, Florida, that is the new site for the Republican National Convention, that city is requiring people to wear masks when indoors. The President`s recent indoor events did not require masks. Here`s what he had to say about the subject back in April.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Some has sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful resolute desk, the great resolute desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don`t know, somehow I don`t see it for myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: But there are now a number of high-ranking Republicans encouraging the wearing of masks, including Trump`s own Vice President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, (R) UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT: For anyone, if you can`t maintain social distancing, which is that if you`re going to be within six feet of people for more than 15 minutes, it`s just a good idea to wear a mask. It`s an important message. We`re here to convey it on behalf of the administration, the White House coronavirus task force, and the President.

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY MAJORITY LEADER: We must have no stigma, none, about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people.

KORNACKI: And there is the other big issue now hanging over the Trump White House, that breaking news we`ve been talking about. Reports about Russian intelligence officers possibly offering to pay bounties to Taliban- affiliated fighters who kill Americans in Afghanistan, this according to U.S. intelligence sources. One official told NBC that, "American service members died as a result of Russian payments to the Taliban, but other officials said the intelligence has not been corroborated.

The New York Times, which broke the story late Friday, also reported that, "The intelligence finding was briefed to President Trump." And tonight the times is out with new reporting just in the last few minutes that, "American officials provided a written briefing in late February to President Trump, laying out their conclusion that a Russian military intelligence unit offered and paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill u.s. and coalition troops in Afghanistan. The investigation into the suspected Russian covert operation to incentivize such killings has focused in part on an April 2019 car bombing that killed three marines as one such potential attack."

A few minutes ago, one of the reporters on that New York Times story told Lawrence O`Donnell this detailed information went beyond the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was disseminated more broadly within the intelligence community in a publication called the wire that the CIA puts out for people with security clearances to read about the areas in their specialty on May 4. And so this is significant because it undercuts the White House`s narrative the last sort of 36 hours.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Now, NBC News has not confirmed whether the President was briefed on this subject. Sunday night Trump tweeted that after news leaked over the weekend, he was told by intelligence officials that they did not find the information credible and that therefore they had not briefed him on the matter.

Today the White House was asked about the President`s claim that he had not previously been told about the intelligence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You say that he wasn`t briefed. Does that mean it wasn`t in the PDB either?

MCENANY: He was not personally briefed on the matter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has the national security adviser or anyone explained why they didn`t think it rose to the level that the commander in chief should find out about it?

MCENANY: So intelligence is verified before it reaches the President of the United States. And in this case it was not verified.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has he been since briefed, since all these reports came out?

MCENANY: There is no consensus within the intelligence community on these allegations, and in effect there are dissenting opinions from some in the intelligence community.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: This afternoon, eight House Republicans did get a briefing on this matter at the White House, and several House Democrats are expected to get their own briefing early tomorrow morning.

Here for our leadoff discussion on a Monday night, Robert Costa, National Political Reporter for the Washington Post and Moderator of Washington Week on PBS. Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an Infectious Diseases Physician and the Medical Director of Special Pathogens Unit at Boston University School of Medicine, she work as long with the World Health Organization during the West African Ebola epidemic and is one of our medical contributors. And Jeremy Bash, Former Chief of Staff at the CIA and Pentagon and the Former Chief Counsel to the House Intelligence Committee.

Thank you all for joining us. Jeremy, let me start with you because we were looking for some responses from the White House today to this reporting, and there seemed to be in the language there, if you were listening carefully to Kayleigh McEnany saying the President was not personally briefed, leaving open potentially the possibility this had appeared in print in one of his briefings. It appears from this reporting at least according to the Times that this material was available to the President through the presidential daily briefing. For folks who are not familiar with how this works, this is a daily top-secret document that lands on the President`s desk. Who prepares this, and does anybody else besides the President look at it in the White House?

JEREMY BASH, FORMER, CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: Yeah, Steve. First, the Presidents` daily brief is prepared a cell of analysts working under the auspices of the director of national intelligence. It`s, in effect, run by the CIA, but it actually pulls from people across the 17 intelligence components, and it is a daily digest or write-up of all of the relevant intelligence for that day. And it`s not just that it`s available to the President. This is the Presidents` daily brief. It is for him. If it was given to him for him to read, he was briefed on this.

Now, he may have not read it. He may have forgotten about it. He may have ignored it or chose to ignore it, or he`s just competent, read it and didn`t understand what he was doing. But you can`t say he wasn`t briefed. You can`t say he wasn`t personally briefed. If it was in the PDB, he was briefed.

Now, by the way, the PDB also goes to other cabinet secretaries, secretaries of state, defense, chairman of the joint chiefs, attorney general, other senior officials including the national security adviser. And a version of this according to Associated Press and New York Times reporting tonight was also disseminated more broadly across the national security apparatus.

In fact, Gina Haspel, the CIA director, said in her statement tonight that it was briefed to allies and other national security officials. So definitively the President was briefed and the question tonight is what did he do about it? If it was nothing, he has a lot of answers to provide the American people and the families of those who lost their lives in the Taliban attacks.

KORNACKI: That is the other question here, then, because I was talking earlier on the air with our Pentagon Correspondent, Courtney Kube, who was saying from the folks she was talking to, she was getting mixed signals on what exactly the intelligence committee -- the intelligence community was looking at here. There are some felt pretty confident that Russia had done exactly what`s described. Others felt this wasn`t as solid. In terms of what lands on the President`s desk, do you have any sense what the confidence level was that was conveyed to him?

BASH: Don`t know, but all I would say is that it doesn`t have to be 100% confidence or even high confidence for it to be included in the Presidents` daily brief. The Presidents` daily brief is kind of an amalgam of written analytic products that might be over the medium and long term analyzing a trend or development. But it also sometimes is very tactical or raw intelligence. So if the u.s. Picks up an important piece of intelligence from a human source or takes a photograph from space via satellite imagery of an important location, say, in North Korea, that raw intelligence is going to go to the President. And particularly in this case, because it dealt with the lives of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, undoubtedly this would be included in material given to the President and his senior advisers at the White House.

KORNACKI: We`re just getting this statement in, in the last few minutes in terms of reaction from Capitol Hill to this new reporting we detailed from the New York Times. This is from Texas Republican Congressman Michael McCaul. He was in that briefing. He was among those eight Republicans who were at the White House earlier today. He says of this new reporting from the New York Times that intelligence about potential Russian bounties may have been included at some point in the Presidents` daily brief but not conveyed to President Trump in a formal threat briefing because it was not yet actionable. Jeremy, I do want to bring our other guests in but Jeremy - -

BASH: I`m sorry. Steve, I just -- I got to respond to that.

KORNACKI: Yeah. And let me just --

BASH: That is --

KORNACKI: I want to be clear on.

BASH: Yeah.

KORNACKI: Because I`m confused here and maybe you can explain this. It seems that Congressman McCaul is making a distinction between this appearing in the printed daily brief versus officials sitting down with the President one-on-one, two on one, whatever it may be. Is that a valid distinction here?

BASH: No, it`s not. It`s a distinction without a difference. When a document is given to the President for him to read, he is receiving that briefing. The fact that they didn`t sit around and talk about it and by the way, I`m not sure why they didn`t but that`s another issue, but the fact that they didn`t set around and talk about it doesn`t absolve the President of understanding what`s being provided to him.

Now if he, the President said, look, I don`t want to take the briefings written, I want them all oral, we would have done that from the beginning, well maybe you can argue that`s a better way to do business. But he can`t claim he wasn`t briefed on this if a document was handed to him to read.

KORNACKI: Robert Costa, let me bring you in. Again, these are the words from Michael McCaul looking to see -- and we`ll provide it to viewers if there is more reaction here from Republicans. But I`m curious, what is your sense of the temperature among Republicans on Capitol Hill as it relates to this story? And frankly everything that`s going on right now when it comes to the President?

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: They`re uneasy, but typically pretty quiet at this point as they evaluate the information. It`s notable that those two lawmakers, Representative Kinzinger and Representative McCaul are speaking out with the statement tonight. But it`s also notable that Senator Romney of Utah and Democrats like Chris Coons of Delaware are working together today on legislation to counter the President`s removal of U.S. troops from Germany.

And there`s a rising chorus among hawks in both the Republican and Democratic parties this week about this President and his entire approach to NATO, to Russia, questions about whether Russia is driving the policy not just in terms of how this bounty issue has been handled and responded to by the President, but the broader scope of U.S. policy.

And as election season approaches and many Republicans see the President`s sinking poll numbers, you`re starting to hear more noise from the hawks, whether it becomes an outcry and something that actually pushes the White House back on its heels, hard to say at this point. But there is some discussion about whether the President`s whole approach needs to be countered in some way.

KORNACKI: You note that his weakened political standing, the poll numbers, his head to head numbers with Joe Biden have declined in the last couple weeks. We looked at the average today. He`s about nine points behind Joe Biden. I guess it`s a two-part question. The dynamic you`re describing of this growing unease, this growing frustration among Republicans, is it connected to that, and if it continues, if this remains a story for the next month, two months, of President being 9, 10, 11 points behind Joe Biden, would it then manifest itself, do you think possibly in a more public way?

COSTA: You would hope lawmakers would evaluate national security and foreign policy matters independent of political calculations. But you`re right, Steve, to point out the political cloud. The President`s poll numbers do hover over all Republican discussions. Because at this point it`s not just the low 40s, he`s looking at numbers nationally in some battleground states that are low 40s, high 30s. And there`s growing alarm that this could not just be a defeat for President Trump. This could be a landslide defeat for the Republican Party, losing control of the Senate, already don`t have control of the House of the Representatives, and they`re trying to figure out what to do because for 3 1/2 years, they`ve bought in on the Trump project. Haven`t really pushed back against his nationalism, his embrace with Russia, here and there they`ll make some comments, but he has the political capital. As that starts to erode, I`m not seeing so much a rebellion against President Trump but confusion about where Republicans go from here.

KORNACKI: Dr. Bhadelia, let me bring you in, and I thank you for your patience. It`s just one of those nights the way the breaking news went. The big story of course we mentioned, too, the one of them the rising number of coronavirus cases here, particularly in the south, even on the pacific coast in California, you`re seeing Los Angeles County. My question to you is, we all think back to March and to April when the coronavirus was just pounding New York and a couple of other areas in this country. What is your sense of what you`re seeing in the south and in the west right now? How does it compare to what we saw in New York, the New York area, back in March and April?

DR. NAHID BHADELIA, INFECTIOUS DISEASES PHYSICIAN: Well, Steve, as you heard WHO say today, they think the worst globally is yet to come. And not only that, but they called for the idea that we need national unity and global solidarity to sort of, you know, attack this pandemic. And the trouble is and what we`re seeing right now is it`s the same type of rise, right? From the very beginning, the administration has sort of looked at this pandemic as a political failure that requires containment rather than a public health crisis and tried to create this alternative reality where when you start seeing this increase in cases again in the west and in the south, that somehow it`s not going to follow the same trajectory. But this is a biological reality. Cases, hospitalizations, deaths are a biological reality, and there are no two sides to the virus.

The other problem we`ve seen, of course, is a lot of the states -- some of the states in specific took the strategy that was unsustainable which is they created a narrative that this is public health pitted against economy, rather than the fact to sustainably reopen the economy, you need the strong scaffolding of public health preparedness.

So for me it`s heartening to see that you know, we have the VP now talk about the masks and physical distancing. We have governors rolling back reopening. And -- but it`s sad to see that that`s happening in the setting of the fact that we`re already seeing health care facility crises in many of these states, in Arizona, in Florida, in Texas. So when we look back at this, you know, and we assess the American response and the failures that we had in response to COVID-19, of course the testing capacity building and delay of that will be a big thing that we look at. But the other failure will be our inability to come together as a nation, our inability to get this national unity. And the sad part of this is that this is a self- inflicted wound, you know, and we needed somebody to bring us together. And instead, we -- I think we got a narrative of divisiveness.

KORNACKI: There`s also this issue, and we had the governor -- we were playing some clips earlier of the governor of Florida. I was doing a show, and he was talking about the median age of new infections in his state sits at about 36 right now. It`s come down dramatically from numbers we were seeing. Again, I mentioned New York in March, some of the earlier waves in this. Having it in a younger population right now, do you see a plausible way where you could, for instance, lock down nursing homes, keep it -- try to control the spread but have it spreading in a younger population that maybe isn`t at risk as a younger people. Is that something from a public policy standpoint, something that`s feasible?

BHADELIA: Well, no. I think it is important to protect our vulnerable, you know, whether they`re in nursing homes or congregate settings. But the thing is, the young don`t exist in a vacuum. They live with the vulnerable. They live with people who are essential workers, right? They work with them. And so you can`t create that kind of division between your population, and not only that, but there are young who are high risk.

The CDC categories for those at high risk who might get hospitalized include many people who would fall into those categories. People who are obese, people who are diabetics, many of them are young. My own personal experience is we`ve admitted enough young people to realize that the young are not immune to this.

What you might see is you might get hospitalizations still among the young and hopefully mortality is low. But even getting to a point where there`s so many hospitalizations, you know, basically disables a state`s health care system. You are locking down care for other patients. So I don`t think it`s a sustainable strategy to just say, we`re going to let the young get sick because the young will then continue propagating that to everybody else in the community.

KORNACKI: All right. Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, Robert Costa, Jeremy Bash, thank you all for joining us.

And coming up, two former diplomats are sounding an alarm about the President and national security.

And later, those soaring coronavirus numbers in the Sunbelt have local lawmakers scrambling. We`re going to talk to the Mayor of Miami about his city`s latest response, THE 11TH HOUR just getting started on a Monday night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: The Kremlin issued a strong denial today of reporting that Russia offered bounties to Taliban-affiliated forces to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Here`s what Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told our own Keir Simmons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESPERSON: This is really ridiculous to spread this kind of information.

KEIR SIMMONS, NBC NEWS SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You don`t think that -- well, if it did happen, do you believe it would --

PESKOV: You know, maybe I can sound a little bit crude, but this is 100 bull (bleep), it`s a non-diplomatic thing, but it`s bull (bleep).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: The New York Times reports that U.S. intelligence officers and commandos warned their superiors as early as January over the suspected plot to pay the Taliban bounties on U.S. troops. The Times reports according to two U.S. officials, "They believed at least one U.S. troop death was the result of the bounties."

With us for more, Brett McGurk, the Former Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, he`s also a distinguished lecturer at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. And Michael McFaul, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia. His book is titled, From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin`s Russia. Both are analysts for us.

Thank you both for joining us. Michael McFaul, let me start with you and pick up this discussion we were having a few minutes ago on this topic of the new reporting from the New York Times that apparently this was in, this information, this intelligence was in the Presidents` daily briefing. I guess there are two questions here. We were litigating the first in the last block over whether the President should have been aware of that if it was in there.

The second question and the one I want to ask you about is, if it was in the daily briefing but it was not offered to him one-on-one, it was not offered to him in person by officials, does that say anything about the confidence of the intelligence community and how solid the information was?

AMBASSADOR MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Well, not in my opinion, and I want to underscore I worked three years at the White House at the national security council before going to Moscow. And for something to get into the PDB, the Presidential daily briefing, that is not just, well, some think this, some think that. That is a very precious piece of property that the entire intelligence community fights over to get their reporting in there.

So if this reporting is true and the New York Times, I have no reason to believe that it`s not -- that means that there was enough confidence that it made it into the PDB, that in and of itself is a major statement.

On the second piece about whether he was briefed or not about it, in the Obama administration, the intelligence community came to the White House, to the Oval Office every single day and briefed the President directly.

By the way, they didn`t want political appointees like me filtering that information. They wanted a direct shot at the President, and then we added detail to that, right? Now, it sounds like the President -- President Trump does not do that on a daily basis. But remember the PDB goes to the national security adviser. It goes to other top senior administration officials.

So I would hope that the national security advisers seeing this shocking intelligence along way -- we`re talking about weeks and months of time with the President -- would have at least told him about it, especially before he was making several phone calls to Vladimir Putin, especially before he was inviting Putin to join the G7. Those are policy decisions, and the national security adviser and his team is supposed to advise the President. So I don`t -- you know, I don`t think this alibi stands up if you think about how it`s supposed to work, but maybe it doesn`t work at the Trump administration and the White House today. I don`t know.

KORNACKI: Brett, I was talking to our Pentagon Correspondent, Courtney Kube, earlier and she was talking about some of the folks she was talking to were saying that pinning down this information definitively might be difficult, that there might be suspicions here. It might be difficult to pin down definitively whether this happened. What is your sense of, you know, we have statements here from Michael McCaul, the congressman who was briefed today, saying he believes this, they`re still looking an assessment here, still trying to put information together. The prospects of getting definitive information on this, what do you think they are?

BRETT MCGURK, FORMER SPECIAL PRESIDENT ENVOY GLOBAL COALITION TO DEFEAT ISIS: Intelligence is rarely definitive, so welcome to the big leagues of the world of national security and deciphering intelligence. Look, this is a major crisis. The President of the United States is the commander in chief. Those who take the oath and to fall overseas, I spent a lot of time in war zones with the guys overseas. They are doing their duty, and they have an assumption that the commander in chief is looking out for them, is caring for them. And we now have a story that the President was briefed in his daily brief, a written product, that the President should be reading, that the Russians, a great power, is organizing to target our troops.

And not only did the President do nothing, the timeline`s really important here. For the New York Times, it`s in the PDB in February. President Trump spoke with President Putin on April 9 -- sorry, on March 30th, on April 9th, on April 10th, on April 12th, on June 1st.  On June 3rd, the President said, you know, it would make common sense to invite Putin back into the G7 all while this was in his intelligence briefing and the national security community was following up on. This is totally unacceptable at any level. And just broaden the lens a little further.

According to the Washington Post in his PDB in January and February, COVID was briefed to him about a crisis coming out of China, a pandemic coming our way while the President was saying he just spoke with Xi Jinping and everything`s fine. The President is not keeping us safe. He is not reading intelligence. He`s not doing his job. And this is just another confirmation of everything we know. But this is very serious. It`s in the PDB. Did he not read it? Why not? Jared gets the PDB. Did he read it? Did he say, hey, Mr. President, we`ve got an issue here? What are these people doing? So this just raises a host of questions, and I really hope Congress and somebody gets to the bottom of it.

KORNACKI: Well, Ambassador, if it could be established, if it were to be established that this is true, what kind of response would be warranted?

AMB. MICHAEL MCFAUL, MSNBC INTEL. AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I think of many abstractly for any other president except for President Trump because there`s a context here. Let`s remember this is not the first time that President Trump has denied intelligence from his own intelligence community and sided with Trump. He did that in front of the entire world in Helsinki in 2018 when he said I don`t think they interfered in our election.

And by the way, when I hear my friend`s colleague, I better be careful about the words I choose here, Dmitry Peskov saying we had nothing to do with this. Remember that`s what the Russians said about their actions in our elections in 2016.

But constantly, consistently for four years now, President Trump has denied any wrongdoing from President Putin and has never criticized him. So the real audacious act would be a very simple one. He could literally get on television tonight or tomorrow and say, we have this intelligence. This is outrageous. Vladimir Putin is not our friend, and there will be consequences. That would be the first baby step, but I don`t even expect that.

KORNACKI: Brett, again, if this is true, if what Russia has alleged in this reporting about the intelligence community and their suspicions did is true, what is their tactical goal in Afghanistan in doing this? Just to get the U.S. out? Are they achieving something right now on the ground that you could say is a result of this in some way?

BRETT MCGURK, FMR. SPECIAL PRES. ENVOY GLOBAL COALITION TO DEFEAT ISIS: You know, our adversaries, people like Putin, Xi Jinping, you know, they don`t -- they`re not trolling through Twitter all day. They don`t play golf. They`re thinking how to press advantage for their national interest as they see it. And they want to push us out what they see as their zone of influence. They don`t want to give us -- Putin does not want to give us an easy way out of Afghanistan. So if he sees an opportunity to seize it, he might try to seize it.

I think if you look at what they`re doing in Syria, they`re petition up against our limited presence now. I think President Trump give him an opportunity there. They look to push advantage.

This is a question I think -- if I was getting briefed on the intelligence, I would ask my briefer, what is the strategic (inaudible) here in Moscow. You know, I`m a consumer of intelligence for most of my professional life. I`ve actually squared off against the Russians across the table a number of times.

If I saw a piece of intelligence like this, this is such a massive shift in a red flag. I would say what is going on in Moscow? Or what is the shift?  And I think the Russians believe that with President Trump at the top, that they can get away with pushing us across all spheres of influence, and that`s what they`re doing.

And if you`re an American diplomat or you`re an American soldier, trying to face off or square off against the Russians, it`s very difficult. And I`m speaking as a former diplomat in the Trump administration sitting across the table from the Russians. It`s very difficult because they know that one phone call to your boss, who is President Trump, changes everything.

This is a very -- this timeline that comes out tonight, the February PDB, and then President Trump talking to Putin in March, three times in April, in June, and then inviting Putin back into the EU, this is very damaging. It is very alarming, and it speaks to a broader picture of a president that is not doing his primary job to keep us safe.

KORNACKI: All right. Brett McGurk and Ambassador Michael McFaul, thank you both for being with us. Appreciate that.

MCFAUL: Thank you.

KORNACKI: And coming up, as cases continue to skyrocket, the mayor of Miami, who also happens to be a COVID survivor, tells us about his latest attempt to stop the spread when THE 11TH HOUR continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Florida`s daily new case count increased fivefold in the last two weeks. Saturday shattered the record with over 9,500 new cases in a single day. South Florida`s beaches will be closed over the July 4th weekend. And in the city of Miami, the mayor is requiring a 10-day shutdown for any business violating COVID-19 regulations. Second-time offenders will be forced to shut down for 15 days. And third time offenders will be shut down for 30.

And for more, we welcome back Miami`s Republican Mayor, Francis Suarez, who is also a coronavirus survivor. Your honor, thank you for joining us. The penalties here, the risk of being shut down, first, second, thirst time offense for increasing amounts of time, what are you expecting? What are you seeing in terms of compliance?

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI, FLORIDA: What we`re expecting is businesses to now have a major disincentive not to comply with the rules. We did that on top of last Thursday implementing a mask in public rule, which had, you know, a warning and then also an escalating fine system for those who are not wearing their masks.

We`re just doing everything that we can without actually having to roll things back to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community, which has hit record levels this week. We had two days -- one day which we had 1,500 new cases in a day. That`s three times greater than our highest point in April. And at other day where we had 2,000 cases, 2,100 to be exact. And, you know, that`s obviously four times greater than our high watermark in March, April.

KORNACKI: You mentioned you have that mandate now for mask-wearing in public with the prospect of fines. Have you had many fines leveled? Have you had many citations issued since that went into effect?

SUAREZ: We just started it, and there`s an initial warning. So we haven`t had many fines. Listen, frankly, we don`t want there to be many fines. When we implemented our stay-at-home order, we didn`t actually go door to door and make sure that everyone was at home. We do these things just like asking people to wear their seat belt. We do it because it`s the best way for people to protect themselves and to protect their family members.

So the first thing that we expect is people to comply. Obviously, we`re going to do everything we can to enforce it, not only that but also enforce the rules with regards to businesses because before -- if a business got shut down, they were down for 24 hours. They sent us a plan to comply with the regulations, and they were back up and running the next day. Now they have to actually face some stiff penalties, which could, you know, impact their bottom line. So we`re hopeful that that will incentivize them to comply.

KORNACKI: I`m wondering if you could talk a little about the decision to close down beaches for the July 4th week. I ask because we keep seeing these reports about indoor transmission, indoor bars, indoor restaurants, crowded spaces, people bunched together, being just a particularly high sort of risk quotient for this. And outdoor spaces, you know, sunlight, open air, wind, all these things being much safer.

I just wonder what the decision is there, what goes into that thinking given that the beach relative to an indoor space seems like it might be a safer place to be.

SUAREZ: Yes, without a doubt outdoors is safer than indoors. The problem is congregation of people. Irrespective of whether you`re indoors or outdoors, if people are congregating, what we`ve seen with this virus is that it`s incredibly efficient in its transmission.

To give you an example, back in April we were seeing an increasing rate of 35 new cases a day. Today I was talking to the Department of Health, and they explained to me with our biostatistician, that the rate of increase is 61 cases a day. So it`s almost double the rate of increase that it was in April and in early March and late march.

So, you know, the issue that we have is people congregating together, whether it`s indoors or outdoors, it`s demonstrated to be an efficient way of transferring the virus from person to person.

KORNACKI: All right, Francis Suarez, the mayor of Miami. Thank you for joining us. Good luck to you in your city. Appreciate the time as always.

And coming up, the last remaining symbol of the confederacy on an official state flag soon to be no more when THE 11TH HOUR continues.

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STATE REP. PHILIP GUNN (R), MISSISSIPPI HOUSE SPEAKER: This is a new day for Mississippi, and we`re excited about that. The heritage of our state is very important to many people in this state. We are not disregarding our heritage. We`re not ignoring the past. But we are embracing the future here.

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KORNACKI: Mississippi is on the verge of removing the confederate symbol from its state flag. Over the weekend, the Republican-led House and Senate approved a resolution to replace the existing flag with one free of the symbol. It is a shift in sentiment for the state. The flag has been a source of contention for decades and a referendum to change it failed back in 2001.

Here with us again tonight, Melissa Murray. She`s an NYU law professor, and she clerked for Sonia Sotomayor when the now Supreme Court Justice was on the U.S. Court of Appeals. Melissa, thank you for joining us.

We mentioned that 2001 referendum in Mississippi. I went back and looked at it today. The referendum to change the flag didn`t just fail back then. It was almost 2-1. It was a 64-36 percent margin. Here we are 19 years later and in the span of a week, a bipartisan consensus emerged in the legislature of Mississippi and the governor is going to sign off on it to do away with that confederate symbol. What do you make of that seemingly very rapid change?

MELISSA MURRAY, NYU LAW PROFESSOR: I think it reflects the changing dynamics on the ground not just in Mississippi but throughout the country. I think as these protests have spread throughout the United States, more and more people are taking an honest appraisal about what our past means, what these symbols mean.

And in Mississippi particularly, where 38 percent of Mississippians are African-American, the symbol of the confederate flag was one that exploited many members of that particular community for a very long time. So this is a long time coming, but it shows how quickly the pace of change can actually happen.

KORNACKI: I also was struck, I mentioned this too, the bipartisan nature of this. We talk about, you know, Mississippi obviously is a very red state in presidential politics, Republican governor, Republican control of the legislature. But, again, I did think it`s notable we have this atmosphere of intense partisan polarization in the country, but you had both parties in Mississippi getting together very quickly on this.

MURRAY: No, I think that`s also part of the remarkable part of it. And we`re seeing that again throughout the country. In all of the pollings, we`re seeing even Republicans saying that we need to have some kind of reckoning on our racial past, think about seriously what it means to be a nation of many different kinds of people. So this is no longer a left or a right issue, a Republican or a Democrat issue. It`s really a question of how to come together as a country and move forward together.

KORNACKI: This movement is also manifesting itself in other ways. There was news over the weekend that Princeton University was going to remove the name of Woodrow Wilson from the Woodrow Wilson School. Woodrow Wilson, a former president of the Princeton University, became president of the United States a few years later back in the early 20th century.

Obviously Wilson`s record as president when it comes to matters of race has come under scrutiny in recent years. The president himself went on Twitter -- President Trump went on Twitter expressing disbelief. He says can anybody believe Princeton just dropped the name of Woodrow Wilson. Now the Do Nothing Democrats want to take off the name John Wayne from an airport. Incredible stupidity. The president weighing in there.

I`m curious what you make of this because Wilson`s record on race, as I say, has come under the microscope in recent years. It doesn`t hold up well with the passage of time. But for better or worse, he is a part of Princeton`s history, of New Jersey`s history, and of America`s history. How do you weigh those two things?

MURRAY: Well, again, to be clear, Princeton isn`t the only public institution to be having these conversations. We`ve seen similar conversations at Yale University over Calhoun College. Even out in California, in the city of Berkeley, you have the University of California Berkeley thinking about their law school, Boalt Hall, which was named for someone it was later learned was an unrepentant racist.

So these are conversations we`re having all over the place. But to name a school after a particular person regardless of his later history in United States is to imbue it with meaning. And I think Princeton at this point in time has decided that that`s an overwhelming symbol that it has to reckon with and Woodrow Wilson`s history in resegregating the civil service is certainly a part of the past that they would not want to be associated with.

And to be clear, this is a species of what we`ve seen in Mississippi. Just four years ago, Princeton took up this very same question and decided that they would keep the Wilson name but be more candid about Wilson`s shortcomings. Now they`ve decided that there`s no way to reconcile these two things and we have to go forward with perhaps a clean slate.

KORNACKI: All right. Melissa Murray from NYU, thank you for the time. I appreciate that.

And coming up, 127 days to go until election day. You`ve seen the headlines about concern and worry and fear among Donald Trump`s close allies. What do the numbers say? What numbers have them so nervous right now? We`re going to show you when THE 11TH HOUR continues.

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CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: He is losing, and if he doesn`t change course both in terms of the substance of what he`s discussing and the way that he approaches the American people, then he will lose. There`s no question that while these national polls are less significant in terms of the raw numbers, the trend is obvious. The trend is moving towards Joe Biden when Joe Biden hasn`t said a word.

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KORNACKI: That`s what Chris Christie is saying on national television. There`s all sorts of reporting out there that that`s what folks are telling Donald Trump, are saying around Donald Trump in his orbit, his allies, folks inside his campaign. The numbers right now, they say not looking good for the president. Let`s take a look at what those numbers say.

First of all, there is this. This is the average of all the national polls that are out there right now. There have been a bunch in the last couple weeks. If you average them all together, that is a lead for Joe Biden of more than nine points. That`s a 9.2-point lead on average for Joe Biden.

Look, he`s getting up near 50 percent. Donald trump is barely, and I mean barely breaking 40 at this point. That`s the national horse race.

Of course if you`re a remember the 2016 election, and who doesn`t remember the 2015 election, you know it`s about the swing states, the battleground states, the Electoral College. The national numbers look like this.

Let me show you some of the key states here. These are the 2016 results. Donald Trump won each one of these states in 2016, some of them the margin was very small. Remember Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Trump won each the first time a Republican had done it in 30-plus years. But he did it by less than a point in each state. That was 2016. There`s been a bunch of polling in all of these states recently.

Take a look at the average of the polls from each one of these states right now and compare it to 2016. It`s night and day. Look at this. Joe Biden leads in all but Ohio, and Ohio is tied. A state Donald Trump won by eight points in 2016 is tied right now. Biden leads in every other one.

Look, these are healthy leads in some of these states. Again, when you get up by close to ten points nationally, you`re going to get good news in swing states. That`s the case for Joe Biden right now. The flip side for Trump, you`re going to get bad news. What does that mean in the Electoral College? Well let`s fire up. The old -- road to 270 calculator.

This is what 2016 looked like. Now here`s the interesting thing. If Biden wins just Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, where you just saw in those polls he has significant leads right now, that`s all he needs if nothing else changes. If he just flips those three states, lost each one by less than a point -- Clinton did in 2016. If Biden flips those and nothing else changes, he wins.

If you took the states right now where the lead for Biden is at least five, the states where we just showed you where Biden is ahead by at least five right now, it would be those three, plus this is one of the surprises right now. Florida, significant lead right now for Biden in Florida. Why? We`ve been talking about this. Senior citizen voters. Big part of Trump`s base in 2016. They`ve moved. They`ve moved away from Trump and toward Biden. Let`s see if that stays.

But if Biden were to get those three and Florida, I mean look at that. He`s over 300 electoral votes. What about Arizona, if were to add that? You can see those numbers start to climb. Trump`s down close to 10 points nationally. It puts the prospect of a lot of electoral votes for Joe Biden on the table.

This is the question. Does the race stay in the high single digits? Does it stay around ten? If it does we`re going to be doing a lot of does this state turn blue, does that state turn blue or does Trump pull back, bring it to five, four, three points, cut the gap. That`s what he has to do nationally. Otherwise we`re going to be having a lot of conversations about can this state flip blue.

All right. More THE 11TH HOUR after a quick break.

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KORNACKI: And that does it for us tonight on THE 11TH HOUR. You can always keep up with us on the MSNBC app or listen on Sirius XM or our free podcast. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, have a good night.

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