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Trump grants 11 pardons TRANSCRIPTS: 2/18/20, All in w/ Chirs Hayes

Guests: Walter Dellinger, Maxine Waters, Brian Schatz, Karine Jean-Pierre, Philippe Reines

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The debate is at 9:00. And I`ll be back in the spin room with the candidates post-debate. That`s always the best night for me. You won`t want to miss it. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This whole thing is about corruption.

REID: A president impeached for corrupt abuse of power pardons a coterie of corrupt politicians.

TRUMP: I`m only interested in corruption.

REID: Tonight, as the President continues to attack Roger Stone`s judge, are more pardons on the way?


TRUMP: Thank you.

BLAGOJEVICH: Yes. Thank you.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

REID: Plus, Congresswoman Maxine Waters on what Democrats can do about an out of control president. Then, how a Bloomberg surge just creates a genuine debate showdown.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t think anyone ought to be able to buy their way into a nomination.

REID: And Senator Brian Schatz on why he says the Trump administration is woefully unprepared to deal with coronavirus.

TRUMP: We`re in great shape in our country.

REID: ALL IN starts now.


REID: Good evening from Washington D.C. I`m Joy Reid in for Chris Hayes. Well, today, Donald Trump continued his full-on assault on the rule of law, pardoning and committing the sentences of several high profiled criminals. He notably included former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich who was convicted of trying to sell Barack Obama`s Senate seat when he vacated because he was elected president in exchange for campaign contributions.

Blagojevich had served eight years of a 14-year prison sentence. And we also remember the governor from the apprentice where he messed up the Harry Potter challenge and got fired by Donald Trump. Well, technically by the Apprentice producers. Today the president commuted his sentence.

In response, members of the Illinois House Republican delegation released a statement saying, "We are disappointed by the President`s commutation of Rod Blagojevich`s federal sentence. Blagojevich is the face of public corruption in Illinois, and not once has he shown any remorse for his clear and documented record of egregious crimes that undermine the trust placed in him by the voters.

NBC News correspondent Tom Winter reminds us of Blagojevich that "A jury found him guilty of trying to extort the CEO of Children`s Memorial Hospital for a donation in exchange for increasing the payments to doctors who took care of specialty care kids." Oh, but Donald Trump was not down there. He also pardoned former New York Police Department Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who pleaded guilty to eight felony charges including tax fraud and lying to White House officials.

Kerik was nominated by George W. Bush to be the Secretary of Homeland Security before withdrawing that nomination just a week later. The judge gave Kerik a longer sentence than agreed to in the plea deal saying, "I think the damage caused by Mr. Kerik is in some ways immeasurable.

Trump also pardoned bond trader Michael Milken, the guy considered to be the face of insider trading in the 1980s. Milken was originally charged with 98 federal counts, including racketeering. He pleaded guilty to six felony charges of securities fraud, and conspiracy. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He also paid $600 million in fines and restitution.

At his sentencing, the judge said, "When a man of your power in the financial world repeatedly conspires to violate and violate securities and tax laws in order to achieve more power and wealth for himself and his wealthy clients, a significant prison term is required in order to deter others."

Others who received clemency from Trump today include former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. who pleaded guilty In 1998 to concealing an extortion attempt involving the governor of Louisiana. David Safavian, the former Bush administration official who was sentenced to a year in prison for lying about his association with Jack Abramoff. And Judith Negron, the owner of a mental health care company, who was serving a 35- year prison sentence for running a $205 million Medicare fraud scheme.

Let`s be clear, this is the president who spent the last six months arguing he`s so opposed to corruption. He had to make sure the Ukrainian president wants too, by withholding Congressionally approved military aid unless Ukraine launched a fake investigation into the Biden`s and route around in a Kremlin source conspiracy theory to reverse similar findings.

But somehow this group of liars and extortionists and swindlers is the group of people Trump felt deserved clemency. And maybe it`s just a coincidence that Trump is pardoning these felons. As the sentencing of yet another one of his criminal pals looms.

Earlier today, Trump tweeted about the judge in the trial of his longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone, suggesting Stone deserves a new trial. Not long after, the judge ruled Stone sentencing hearing will go on as planned on Thursday. Although she did say Roger Stone`s sentence will not begin until after she rules on his request for a new trial.

Trump`s interference with the Stone case has troubled the Federal Judges Association so much that they called an emergency meeting tomorrow to address it. And joining me now for more on the President`s pardoning spree today is Walter Dellinger. He was formerly the Acting Solicitor General, and also the head of the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice under President Bill Clinton.

Mr. Derringer, what do these partners say to you as somebody who, you know, sort of worked in the high -- at high levels in Justice in the United States?

WALTER DELLINGER, FORMER ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL: Well, I think they show that we`re really at the -- at the end of being a country that believes in equal justice under law. There was no process to see how these crimes and sentences compared with others who remain in prison. It`s the President`s own whim. When a president acts by whim and says he did of Blagojevich, I watched his wife on television.

That that is an assault on the rule of law. But it goes much deeper than that. This is part of a three-pronged assault on law as we know it. It involves threats of criminal prosecution of political opponents and those who investigate you. It involves promises that the President will intervene on behalf of those who commit crimes on his behalf. And it -- the third leg of this assault is his attack on judges and jurors in the cases in which he`s involved.

REID: You know, there is a sort of -- there`s a banana republic aspect to it as he said that if you`re friends with the president or on his T.V. show, you get apart no matter what you`ve done. And if you cross him in any way you might end up being prosecuted. And we know that William Barr doesn`t seem to be opposed to doing that.

But there also does seem to be kind of a sort of raw statement of power that Donald Trump is saying that if you commit these particular kinds of crimes that are against the public trust, that are financial in nature, that are about corruption, when he himself was just impeached for corruption, it almost is sort of -- I don`t know, it almost feels like a message about that too, about the fact that he`s saying no, no, I`m going to sort of dive into corruption and revel in it.

DELLINGER: Well, you know, that`s a good point, Joy. And he treats -- he treats very high-status people as if their high status is a mitigation of their crimes, when in fact it is an exacerbation that makes them so much worse when you`re a privileged person. Take for example, the fact that he has intervened on behalf of someone who was this -- got to be the National Security Advisor and lied about an investigation. Not just any investigation, an investigation into a foreign military power`s intervention in our election.

He intervened on behalf of someone who has been a prominent associate of presidents that is Roger Stone, who committed five categories of lies and engaged in what the first department memo said was a relentless, multi-year attempt to, again, obstruct justice in terms of an investigation into the corruption and the election.

And then finally, the sympathy for someone who had the honor of being governor of one of our largest states and who was thoroughly corrupt and who sold a position in the United States Senate. Now, that -- he treats those as because they`re high-status people is that that`s a mitigation of their crimes.

REID: Yes. And would it surprise you if -- you know, there`s a certain theatricality to the things that Donald Trump does as well. Would it surprise you if he`s setting up -- there`s been a lot of questions about whether or not he might try to pardon himself, like if he`s ever found to have committed some crime and that he would certainly make himself the biggest pardon of them all.

DELLINGER: I think he would undoubtedly attempt to pardon himself. He would certainly pardon everyone around him. He certainly let it be known that if he`s reelected or even in the period after he was defeated, he is going to take care of everyone he knows including himself. I think the courts would reject his self-pardon. But you know, no presidents ever tried that before so we can`t be sure.

And the way in which he seems to revel in the fact that he can take someone like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a law enforcement officer who was targeting Latinos for harassment and using the power of the police deliberately against the minority group, and he pardoned him of the criminal contempt of court, that -- the way in which he plays with this, it`s I think, Dalia Lithwick has sometimes been on the show referred to the constitutionalization of narcissism is what we faced in this country.

REID: Yes, and Donald Trump wants credit also for doing you know, for step back kinds of criminal justice reform. He wants credit for that. But do you sense in the pardons that he`s doing especially today, the real message here is his own power, right, that he`s essentially saying, if you`re powerful, and you`re my friend, that is actually how you get justice, not by being somebody who was falsely accused of a crime or got too long of a sentence for, you know, having marijuana or something like that?

DELLINGER: I think that`s right. There`s absolutely -- the absolute absence of any sense that the people pardoned of how they compared with a culpability and the sentences of the tens and tens of thousands who remain in federal prison, the idea that he can act on mere whim I think it`s something we`ve never seen on a president before, you know.

Some people are going to raise Bill Clinton`s pardon of financier and fugitive Marc Rich, and they`re right. That was the worst thing Bill Clinton did in eight years in office is that unjustified pardon. But Donald Trump has taken it to a very different level where he`s using the levers of the -- of the power of his office in order to corrupt law, threatening opponents, rewarding those who would commit crimes on his behalf, going after judges and jurors.

You know, I don`t know where we go from here. I think we need 2,000 former prosecutors not just to sign a letter, but perhaps to think about blocking the -- or willing to be arrested blocking the entrances to the Justice Department.

REID: Yes, but I mean, you have to sort of use your imagination to think where we can go from here. Walter Dellinger, thank you very much. I really appreciate your time. Thank you.

DELLINGER: Thank you. Thank you, Joy.

REID: Thank you. And joining me now for more on the President`s pardoning spree, Matthew Miller, former Chief Spokesperson for the Department of Justice who`s now an MSNBC Justice Analyst and Betsy Woodruff Swan, Politics Reporter at The Daily Beast and she`s also an MSNBC Contributor.

So let`s talk about sort of where he could go from here and where -- and what it means. And I`ll start with where you could go from here, Betsy, because is there any reporting on how much more of this because it does appear that there`s a pattern. Somebody is either you know, his friend or was on the apprentice, goes on Fox News and pleads for his help. He then immediately responds to his friends and gives them a pardon. Who might be next on the list?

BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I spent the afternoon talking to people who identify or describe themselves as allies of Roger Stone, and they said that they saw the spate of clemencies that came down today as very comforting to them because they believe it`s a signal the president is sending that Roger Stone may be next in line for this type of executive action.

I thought your use of the phrase banana republic was really interesting because a federal judge used that exact same phrase in a transcript that was recently released from a closed-door hearing regarding the investigation that`s now closed into Andrew McCabe. And the judge literally said that the fact that Trump was tweeting about McCabe so often, the fact that he appeared to be interfering in that process created the appearance of a banana republic.

So the thing to keep an eye on is both the president of course granting clemency to people who he views us as political allies in part because he sees them on Fox News. And the inverse of that, which is the president encouraging DOJ to weaponize itself against people who he sees as his foes.

REID: Yes. And I`m glad also that Mr. Dellinger you know, talk about Joe Arpaio because they`re also sort of symbolic pardons of people who are hurting the people who Donald Trump`s base wants to see hurt. And so somebody like Arpaio is good for them. But there is -- there is a sort of, you know, (INAUDIBLE) or baby duck-ism or papa-duck-ism about what he`s doing as well, because it is sort of creating a special class of Americans who are elite, who are Donald Trump`s friends, and even if they are blatantly criminals who`ve been sentenced to long criminal terms, they get off simply because they are in the Trump class.

MATT MILLER, MSNBC JUSTICE ANALYST: I think the pardon is a great prism into the way Donald Trump feels the entire criminal justice system because it is the one part of the criminal justice system where he basically acts unfettered. He doesn`t have to count on the Attorney General to do what he wants to do. He doesn`t have to count on meddlesome career prosecutors who might decline to carry out the inappropriate orders they get. He can act completely unfettered.

And so you see him using this power the way he would like the entire criminal justice system to work. So he uses it to reward white-collar criminals, people who look like him, people who look like -- who commit the kind of crimes that he`s been accused of committing. People who have committed fraud, people who committed obstruction of justice.

And you know, look, I think there`s a good argument to make that sentences oftentimes are too long. Rob Blagojevich got a 14-year sentence. You can make a legitimate argument that that sentence is too long. But Donald Trump only sees that argument as valid when it`s applied to wealthy or connected individuals.

There are over 13,000 pardon and commutation applications pending at the Justice Department right now. Many of them will never even get an answer on whether their pardon has been granted, let alone relief from their sentences. The President has shown no interest in those at all. Every once in a while he gives a pardon to a nonviolent drug offender but the numbers that are just sitting in jail right now deserving clemency versus the number of people he rewards who are wealthy connected defenders, it shows you exactly who he thinks deserves justice and who doesn`t.

REID: Well, and even in the case of, you know, of an unknown person, a person of color, Kim Kardashian has to ask.

MILLER: Right, exactly. You have to have a celebrity -- you have to have a celebrity to come and sit on your behalf.

REID: That`s right. Exactly. This feels like a preview to a pardon for everyone. Donald Trump is obsessed with undoing what Robert Mueller found and undoing the fact of Russia helping him get elected, the shame of that, and the shame of impeachment apparently are so painful that he must undo it. It feels like we could be then seeing Giuliani and maybe -- you know, pardon in advance. He knows that he can`t be charged.

You have Manafort out there. Is there any word, any sort of reporting that he might be looking to try to erase the record on the people who have been -- who have been sent to prison in crimes related to the Mueller report.

SWAN: It is speculation that I`ve heard from people close to the president is that if Trump were to pardon or commute Manafort`s sentence, that it`s likely it would come after the 2020 elections. I think it`s unlikely to see him make any movement particularly on that guy who formerly was a lobbyist for --

REID: Why would he though? It`s not like Republicans would do anything about it if he did.

SWAN: Republican certainly wouldn`t, but I think Manafort is -- first, the President wasn`t as close to him as he was to Roger Stone. And second, he is really politically electric and the President has had advisors very close to him for quite some time now telling him that if we`re to grant that clemency, it would be a mistake.

One thing I think is important to note to Matt`s point, is that the President did commute the sentences of two nonviolent drug offenders today. But when he went out and talk to reporters, that`s not what he was talking about. That`s not what was front in mind.

REID: Did Kim Kardashian asked for those?

SWAN: I don`t have knowledge of that. I`m not sure.

REID: Yes. The other question, though, of course, is William Barr, who in a lot of ways is the most dangerous man sort of in Washington right now because he doesn`t -- he doesn`t seem to have any sense of resistance to the idea of having the Department of Justice act as the sword of the President of the United States to go after his enemies. Is there any reporting about the idea that maybe people inside DOJ might start to rebel?

MILLER: There have been a lot of rumors. There are a lot of rumors last week after those four federal prosecutors removed themselves from the case, that there were other people in the Justice Department who are deeply troubled about what William Barr has -- had done and were willing to take action. In fact, I think that`s actually why Barr did the interview we did where he tried to distance himself from the president.

It wasn`t because he was actually concerned about what the President was doing. It was because he was trying to quell a rebellion inside the department. I think the reason you see those prosecutors -- you see that internal concern at DOJ, and you see these federal judges who are going to hold a meeting tomorrow, the reason you see this judge that Betsy referred to who referred to the action -- the Department`s actions is something that of a banana republic, you see him speaking out because they realize that the rule of law is fragile,

This norm where the Department of Justice is independent from the White House, it`s not something that`s in law or statute or in the Constitution. It only exists because presidents and attorneys general have respected it. And if you have an attorney general who doesn`t respect it, the only check on him are people inside the department being willing to stand up and ignore or disobey inappropriate orders, being willing to take themselves off of cases or resided necessary, and judges who will step in. And you`ve seen both of those checks pop up in the last few weeks. And the question is, is Barr going to try to keep steamrolling them? And if so, is he going to be able to?

REID: Yes, and is there a single Republican in Washington who will say one word about it? We haven`t seen that yet. Matthew Miller, Betsy Woodruff Swan, thank you guys both for being here. And up next, Congresswoman Maxine Waters says the President is out of control after his acquittal in the Senate. I`ll ask her what Democrats tend to do about it in two minutes.


REID: It has been almost two full weeks since the senate acquitted Donald Trump on to impeachment charges, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. And since then he has been on a revenge tour going after all the people that he blames for the humiliation of impeachment. So instead of learning his lesson, Susan Collins, he`s redoubling his efforts to abuse his power out in the open. He`s testing the limits just to see how much he can get away with.

And right now, with Republicans taking the knee, and Attorney General William Barr behaving as the hand of the king, the House which voted to impeach Donald Trump last year appears to be the only check on his presidential wrongdoing. So what do they plan to do about it and what can they do to make sure that he does not continue abusing his power?

To help answer that, I`m joined by someone who has been calling for Trump`s impeachment since 2017, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Democrat of California who chairs the Financial Services Committee. Always great to talk with you, Congresswoman.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): Thank you. Delighted to be with you this evening, Joy.

REID: Thank you. So let`s talk about Donald Trump post impeachment. Impeachment is you know, as we`ve talked about a lot, it is not just -- it`s not a punishment, it`s a sanction, right? Even if a president is not removed, it`s meant to be a sanction and send a message that this is the limit beyond which you cannot go. Donald Trump seems to be blowing directly through that limit, ignoring that sanction and behaving even worse than he did before. Is there anything that Congress can do about that having already pulled the lever of impeachment?

WATERS: No. You know, Joy, you`re absolutely correct. We have gone through the trial, the House voted to impeach him, but the Senate did not act responsibly and they basically exonerated him. And so we have a president that`s out of control. Remember, the President said he could stand on Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and nothing would happen to him. He`s always believed that.

And so now that he has gone through the impeachment which he never thought that he was going to go through, he is going to get revenge. He is going to show you that there are no limits to the presidential power. And, you know, while everybody is talking about the commutations, and the pardons, and the clemency, and all of that, he`s got to be even worse.

He is going to wreak revenge on some people, I don`t know in all the ways that he`s going to do it. And then he`s going to put Putin right in our face. He`s going to bring him to the White House. And he`s going to say, be damned the Congress of the United States, I`m going to do whatever I want to do. So we`ve got to turn out those people who understand that he`s dangerous, that he doesn`t care about the Constitution. We`ve got to organize, and we`ve got to turn out the vote. We`ve got to vote him out of office.

REID: So do you believe that if Donald Trump is reelected, that he will drop all sanctions on Russia and as you said, bring Vladimir Putin to the White House?

WATERS: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. He will pardon Manafort. He will lift all the sanctions from Russia. He`ll be even more involved with the oligarchs of Russia, and he`s going to bring Putin to the White House. I believe that if he`s reelected. But we`ve got to make sure those of us who really respect and care about the constitution and know that Russia has hacked into our Democratic National Committee and to our state election systems, and we are knowing very well that they`re going to do it again and this election.

We`ve got to work hard to make sure that they don`t get away with it, that we don`t have this president who will carry out that kind of agenda if he`s reelected. We`ve got to make sure that this man is not elected again.

REID: And you know, part of the risk of Donald Trump is not just that his own sort of sense of, you know, monarchical nature and his sort of, you know, want desire to be an autocrat, it`s he`s surrounded by sycophants and people who agree that he should be able to behave almost as a king. Here is Donald Trump saying that he -- talking about his own power and his power as the chief law enforcement officer. Here he is.


TRUMP: Just so you understand, I chose not to be involved. I`m allowed to be totally involved. I`m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country, but I`ve chosen not to be involved.


REID: And he`s talking about the Roger Stone case.


REID: But he`s being enabled by that by the Attorney General. Here is William Barr, he`s insinuated before, that presidents are the chief law enforcement officer, that they essentially have absolute power. This is a quote from a speech he gave way back in 2001 talking about what he said to George HW Bush while serving as his attorney general.

He wrote, "I remember right before we indicted the Pan Am 103 people, the investigation was going on, and the President George HW Bush said to me, Would it be okay for you to brief us on the National Security Council on where things stand? Would it be OK? Well, I work for you. You`re the top law enforcement officer as long as it`s OK."

The fact that Donald Trump has this man as attorney general who is a monarchist, who does believe he should be king, in a sense, is that even more dangerous than Donald Trump`s own proclivities?

REID: Well, the American people he should be focused on Barr and we should all be joining with all of those federal prosecuting attorneys who have decided that he should step down, that he should resign. We should be supporting them. We should be backing them up. And I`m anxious to see when all of these federal judges who have decided they can`t wait until their yearly association meeting, that they should pay attention to what`s going on now, and review what has happened. I`m anxious to see what they`re going to come out with.

But the American public should get behind this, if they care anything about our democracy. You know, for all of those people who say that they, you know, honor the flag, and that they are in support of, you know, our democracy being strengthened, for all of those people who say that, where are you? Can`t they see what is happening? We`re in a constitutional crisis in this country, with the president who is running amuck, he`s out of control.

And we`ve got to make sure that he`s not reelected. We`ve got to speak up. We`ve got to resist. I don`t hear enough voices. It is not only the sycophants around him, it`s the average American who gets up every day who`s going to work, who`s taking care of their families, who`s thinking somebody else is going to see to it, that this President is not reelected. But no, it`s got to be all of us out there working and working very hard. We have a constitutional crisis. And we`ve got to deal with it.

And this is what democracy is all about when you see a president out of control. When you see those who have been elected to office who are not acting responsibly, and they`re endangering our democracy, you`ve got to speak out against them. You`ve got to work against them. And you`ve got to make sure that they`re not reelected ever again.

REID: Well said, Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Thank you so much for being here tonight. I really appreciate you.

WATERS: You`re so welcome. Thank you.

REID: Thank you. And ahead, lots of new movement in the latest NBC News polling. Michael Bloomberg makes the debate stage which is going to have big implications for the big debate. We`ll talk about it next.


REID:  In 24 hours, Democrats will hold their next presidential primary debate in Las Vegas, Nevada. The debate will air here on MSNBC. Coverage begins at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, anchored by my pal and colleague Rachel Maddow. And tomorrow night there will be a new candidate on the stage. As of this morning, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg qualified for the debate by getting 10 or more percent in at least four national polls.

Just today two new national polls show Bloomberg jumping up into the teens. Our own NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll out just this evening has Bernie Sanders with a double digit lead with 27 percent, Biden is next at 15 percent, down 11 points from last month, followed closely by Bloomberg and Warren, both at 14 percent, Buttigieg is at 13 percent and Klobuchar at 7.

That tracks with an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll also released today shows Bernie Sanders at 31 percent, followed by Bloomberg at 19, Biden at 15, Warren at 12, Klobuchar at 9, and Buttigieg at 8.

So, there`s a lot at stake in tomorrow`s debate as the candidates get their first shot at taking on Bloomberg face-to-face, and we`ll talk about that next.


REID:  There will be six Democratic candidates on the stage tomorrow night, and just like last debate there will be one billionaire among them -- not Tom Steyer this time, though -- Michael Bloomberg, who is finally facing his fellow candidates for the Democratic nomination for the first time. And Elizabeth Warren, for one, is up for a fight, tweeting out, "it is a shame Mike Bloomberg can buy his way into the debate, but at least now primary voters curious how each candidate will take on Donald Trump can get a live demonstration on how we each take on the ego maniac billionaire." Ouch.

To talk about where this race stands and what we can expect tomorrow night, I`m joined by Karine Jean-Pierre, the chief public affairs officer for, and Philippe Reines, the former spokesperson for Hillary Clinton who helped her prepare for debates when she was a presidential candidate. Thank you both for being here.

I`m going ladies first, because I like the fact that -- I tweeted out about that comment by Elizabeth Warren as well because I do feel like the zeitgeist, including in our business here in the media, is to try to make Las Vegas a Bernie/Bloomberg face-off. And I worry that that is short sighted in the sense that we know what Bernie Sanders is going to say. We know what -- he`s been saying the same thing very consistently since he ran the first time, and really for 30 years, according to his supporters.

We don`t really know what Warren is going to say, but we know she has been a student of bankruptcy. This is her thing. This is like her vibe.

I actually expect that to be the hottest match-up on the stage.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, CHIEF PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER, MOVEON.ORG:  I agree. Can I add one more thing about what we are going to see on the debate stage tomorrow? Not one person of color.

REID:  None.

JEAN-PIERRE:  Not one person of color on that stage after starting as the most...

REID:  Happy black history month.

JEAN-PIERRE:  Happy black history month, yes.

Yeah, so, you know, it is the media we are talking about, how the media is trying to make this into -- and the two candidates as well, Bernie versus Bloomberg.

And here is the thing, we`ve only had two other contests.

REID:  Right.

JEAN-PIERRE:  That`s it, two small contests, one was 90 percent white, you know, New Hampshire was 93 percent white, and now we`re finally getting into a more diverse state. We have South Carolina, and then we have Super Tuesday states. Those first four states, only 4 percent of the delegate number.

REID:  That`s right.

JEAN-PIERRE:  That`s it. We still have a long way to go.

REID:  Yes.

JEAN-PIERRE:  But here is the problem, because of that messaging and because of what`s out there, there are people who have been voting already.

REID:  Yes.

JEAN-PIERRE:  California, North Carolina, other states are voting already, and they`re watching this narrative that`s coming out. They`re watching what is in the media. And so that is the unfortunate thing for someone like Warren, for someone even like Biden, because people are voting in there and the narrative has not been on their side.

REID:  Yes.

JEAN-PIERRE:  And so that is what makes it dangerous when you control the narrative in that way.

REID:  Yeah, and so you do have these two halves of the Democratic Party. You have the part that says, you know, after Obama, that proves that, you know, big change is possible in terms of a black president, for god`s sake, in a country that had enslavement. And so now we are going to push it further.

And then you have got voters who go, we are not doing that. Look at Trump, Trump came along, we need safety. Those two parts are intergenerationally is a -- even within the black community, between, you know, those two sides. Is there a candidate that you have seen that is able to bring them together, because a lot of people are saying it is Bloomberg, but it is not clear why it is Bloomberg. It is just because he has a lot of money.

PHILIPPE REINES, FORMER SPOKESPERSON FOR HILLARY CLINTON:  I think the short answer is no, I don`t see that. For a simple reason, and to some extent it is a little bit Bernie. The reason I say that is because as much as I wish things were slow and steady and these first four states were put into context over many months, historically we run up against a problem at these first four, particularly these two, you know, white as white bread states, Iowa and New Hampshire, coming first, really do impact the race.

REID:  But what about when they`re -- because I feel like there was a null result out of the two of them. They sort of -- Buttigieg and Bernie sort of split the two states.

REINES:  They did, but no one...

REID:  But neither had a strong victory, and Buttigieg has not gotten much of a bounce in the polls.

REINES:  They did, but no one in either party has become their nominee without winning Iowa or New Hampshire since 1992. Now the good news is for those who didn`t win Iowa or New Hampshire is that it was Bill Clinton and he went the whole way, he even lost the first four.

REID:  Right.

REINES:  But there is history against people, and, you know, Bloomberg, it might be -- people might look back and say he shouldn`t have waited to jump in, that skipping the first four -- skipping the first two, maybe, but South Carolina and Nevada -- because there is a supply and demand problem. For people are excited about him, even if it`s just because they`re getting so nervous and anxious about beating Donald Trump and they`re not seeing who that is, so they`re projecting onto him, they can`t do anything about it.

They can`t vote for him.

REID:  They can`t vote for him.

But the thing that it does put pressure on is Biden, right, that Biden must do well, even though as you said this is a tiny, tiny slice of the delegate, I think 14 is the most delegates the winner of Iowa got. But if Biden doesn`t do well, is there going to be a rush to Bloomberg among his supporters?

JEAN-PIERRE:  Absolutely, because like we said, the supporters are watching this. Voters -- I said this the other day on your show, they`re playing pundit right now. They`re very, very nervous and they`re thinking, who can beat Donald Trump. And that is -- and we have to remember Biden`s whole theory of the case for him was he was electable, he was electable. He needs to come in second in Nevada and he needs to win South Carolina.

Without that, what`s his theory of the case?

REID:  Yes.

JEAN-PIERRE:  What is he going to offer voters? And so it is -- he is in a tight, tight space right now, and he has to perform.

REID:  Let`s talk about Bernie for a second. And god bless my mentions, I`m just going to pray for this as I bring this up.

REINES:  Oh, please, just don`t look at Twitter for two days after.

REID:  I`m going to stop looking after I say this. But the challenge for Sanders, I think, would be that he does a small majority, but he has a solid 25, 26, 27 percent that he takes with him to every poll, so his people aren`t going anywhere.

But if he is the nominee, he going to need the Clinton people. He is going to need Obama people. Has his campaign become so, sort of feisty in its -- you know, sort of to hell with everybody kind of attitude that it is going to be difficult for him if he is the nominee to bring everyone around?

REINES:  It is the latter. They`ve become obstinate. To some extent, you know, if Bernie becomes the nominee, he can win. He will not win by saying to hell with all of you. To all of you being the Democratic Party, to the bad guys, the establishment.

REID:  We`re not so much him -- because he is saying he wants everyone, but a lot of...

REINES:  But it emanates from the top.

REID:  Around him there`s that feel.

REINES:  The fish, you know, puts people off from the top. And he needs to say, look, what  happened happened, for my own benefit -- I mean, the man wants to be president. He needs to do what it takes to become president, which is just suck it up and say, Hillary, I need your people. I need everybody. Because otherwise it is whack-a-mole.

Yes, Bernie might appeal to some voters who went for Trump or who didn`t vote at all, because they like the outsider/insider dynamic. But if you get those and you lose huge swaths of the Democratic Party you have got a problem.

And remember, right now -- and this goes for all of them -- for Pete, Bernie, Warren -- the most popular person in the Democratic field is not the favor of 75 percent of the rest of the party. Someone`s got a lot of work of unifying to do, and that is not Bernie Sanders and team Sanders and Sanders` base strong suit.

REID:  Yeah, it is going to be very understanding.

Karine Jean-Pierre -- we`re all going to be watching -- Philippe Reines -- whoo, Vegas -- you can also gamble there, so there are also fun things that can happen. You might lose all your money.

Ahead -- do we all feel good about Donald Trump managing the response to the coronavirus? Do you feel good about that? That`s a gamble. Senator Brian Schatz is raising flags about what the administration is and isn`t doing.

Scary and scary (ph). Coming up.


REID:  Donald Trump was still a private citizen the last time the world faced a global health crisis. The Ebola outbreak that began in 2014, which would lead to the deaths of more than 11,000 people in West Africa. People in this country were far more focused on the fear that Ebola would come to America, which led some -- led to some overzealous responses, including then New Jersey Governor Chris Christie`s decision to quarantine nurse Kaci Hickox after she returned from treating patients in Sierra Leone, even though she had tested negative for Ebola.

But perhaps no one was more panicky and nervous than citizen Trump who did not want heroic figures like Kaci Hickox to return home at all.


TRUMP:  Well, Lana (ph), they are great people, they`re tremendous people, but they have to suffer the consequences. They go and they try and help other people. But, you know, things like this happen.

Our country has enough problems. Send the doctors to Liberia. Send the doctors to West Africa to take care of our people, that`s one thing, but don`t let them in.

We should end flights coming in from West Africa and Liberia. We should certainly do that.


REID:  Trump insisted he understood Ebola better than the experts. Tweeting, "it is much easier to transmit than the CDC and government representatives are admitting."

And not content to simply show off his medical degree from -- checks notes -- nowhere. He went full conspiracy theorist, encouraging people not to trust their government to deal with the outbreak.


TRUMP:  I think very few people trust our government as being competent, let`s not kid ourselves. I mean, we have virtually incompetent leadership, so why would anybody trust our government to handle this crisis?


REID:  Well, now Trump is the head of our government. He`s the one we`re supposed to trust to deal with the outbreak of coronavirus. And yet here is what he had to say last month at Davos.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Have you been briefed by the CDC?

TRUMP:  I have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are there worries about a pandemic at this point?

TRUMP:  No, we`re not at all. And we have it totally under control. It is one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It is going to be just fine.


REID:  Now the situation in the United States is still relatively good, but since Trump said things were totally under control, the death toll in China has risen from 17 people to 1,900, and infections have risen from 540 to over 72,000, and at least 15 cases have now been reported here in the United States.

Speaking of Trump`s claim, Harvard School of Public Health Professor Michael Mena (ph) said even a middle schooler wouldn`t have said that. Everyone is using caution is how we`re framing what the risk is, primarily because we don`t understand what the risk is at the moment. The last thing anyone would say is we are not concerned. Everyone is concerned.

There are other reasons to be concerned here, too, like the fact that Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii is describing the administration`s handling of the virus as, quote, keystone cops. And he`ll join me live right after this.


REID:  Today when Donald Trump took to the airport tarmac to tout his latest batch of pardons, he was asked about the coronavirus and how China is handling it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Some people don`t seem to trust the data coming out of China. Are you worried about that?

TRUMP:  Look, I know this, President Xi loves the people of China, he loves his country and he`s doing a very good job with a very, very tough situation.


REID:  If the president seems muted in his response, it may be because of his relationship with China and their President Xi Jinping.

The Washington Post reports that, quote, "worries about rattled financial markets and their effect on the economy as well as delicate negotiations with China over a trade deal have played a large role in influencing the president`s friendly posture towards China."

We also know that Trump`s new budget calls for cutting U.S. funding to the World Health Organization in half. And the top global health position on the National Security Council has been vacant for almost two years.

And with cases of the coronavirus in China topping 72,000, and confirmed cases popping up in more than two dozen countries, including 15 cases right here in the United States, and nearly 2,000 people dead, well that response from the president is just not enough, is it, especially for people on the front lines.

Hawaii is one of the states with ports of entry that are screening for the coronavirus trying to coordinate with the Trump administration. And Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii joins me now.

And Senator, I wonder how that is it going, the coordination with this anti-science administration with no director in the NSC health division?

SEN. BRIAN SCHATZ, (D) HAWAII:  Well, I think you have got it exactly right, that you have got an administration that doesn`t much care about science, but also they don`t care about governing, so all of this stuff is kind of boring to them, which is why they`ve de-funded the programs that are designed to help prevent a global pandemic. That`s why they left the position open at the National Security Council and there is no one, literally, no one in charge of this from the National Security Council side.

And not only did they leave it vacant, but they eventually decided that they were going to eliminate the position altogether. They cut the CDC by 9 percent.

So, you`re kind of dealing with a government that doesn`t care about government, and then overlay your sort of normal bumbling incompetence onto the possibility of a global pandemic. And you`ve got exactly what you`ve got a couple of weeks ago.

The good news is that on the ground things are safe in Hawaii and elsewhere across the country, but it`s not because of anything that the Trump administration has done it`s been in spite of it.

Let me just give you one example of the kind of how nuts it was at the very beginning. There was an order to quarantine individuals, and the president I think issued an executive order on a Friday. It was in effect on -- it was Super Bowl Sunday for about half an hour. And our state officials were on a conference call with officials from the federal government. They didn`t know when planes were going to be landing, how many people were coming from the relevant province, and whether or not they had the capability to assess them, in-take them, and quarantine them, and then if so where they were going to be quarantined.

So, this conference call that we had, while planes were in the air, was sorting all of this out.

Now, we`ve got robust capabilities in the state of Hawaii, so we sort of fixed this, but again not thanks to the White House.

REID:  And who do you talk to? I mean, who do Hawaii officials talk to in the White House? Who is there that has any competency at all? Are there career people left to speak to? Like who do you call?

SCHATZ:  There are a few career people who are really trying to get this right. And, listen, I have tremendous respect for the heads of both National Institutes of Health and The Centers for Disease Control.

But what lacks here is coordination and effort because CDC does what it does, NIH does what it does, but you really need someone to make sure the agencies work together. So there was a good example of the lack of agencies working together. They literally didn`t know where people were going to be quarantined. And we were being told two different things while planes were in the air. Some people said within the civilian population, our attorney general said, no way. And then we were told it was going to be fine if the individuals who needed quarantine were going to be at the Joint Bases Pearl Harbor Hickam in a secure facility. But then DOD told us, no, that`s a no- go.

So, we were left sending texts and sorting out where these individuals were going to go and how they were going to be safely transported while planes were wheels up on their way to Honolulu. It was pretty bananas.

We have settled it -- I just want to reassure everybody, we have settled it.

But to the extent we`ve been fortunate with this disease it`s because of the epidemiology of the disease, not was of some sort of coordinated response from the federal government.

REID:  Are you concerned, you know, having seen a lot of the interesting stuff go through the senate, the Trump administration might try to use this coronavirus outbreak as just a way to do more ethnonationalist immigration policy?

SCHATZ:  Oh, I think you can always assume there is going to be an angle to this that includes scaring people in the United States about people from other countries. And one of the things that worries me about preventing global pandemics and having a robust response from the United States` standpoint, which we`ve been good at, is that the funding depends whether or not the particular disease captures the public imagination.

So, because there was a movie about Ebola and it was terrifying, they got $6 billion. Zika was a little harder to explain and less terrifying, they got $500 million and much later.

And so there is a better way to do this, where just like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, they get a tranche of money and then they determine how the money ought to be spent based on the severity of the disaster, and that`s what I think needs to happen with CDC and NIH, so they don`t have to come to the congress and have, you know, have it depend on whether or not we`re getting along with ourselves or whether we want a demagogue something. We should be funding a global health response. And in this day and age, it`s important to separate this all out from politics.

REID:  Yep.

Very quickly, we don`t have a lot of time, any of your colleagues have second thoughts about letting this guy off the hook dealing with him privately?

SCHATZ:  Oh, you mean my Republican colleagues?

REID:  Senate? Yeah, Republican.

SCHATZ:  Yeah. I mean, but, you know, look, I think it`s not so much if they had to do it over again they would have voted to convict, I just don`t think that would be factually correct. I do think they`re struggling with what their role is any more, and I think that they are sort of walking around hang dog, ashamed of their vote because they know -- everybody talks about us being the article 1 branch.

REID:  But not now. I`m sorry, I`m out of time.

SCHATZ:  But they gave up their authority.

REID:  They did.

Senator Brian Schatz, thank you so much for your time.

That is it for me this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now.

Good evening, Rachel.