ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I appreciate it. Strong final words from our experts. Thanks to each of you. That does it for me. Thanks for staying with our special coverage. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes is up next.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Tonight, the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi will join me here to discuss how does a nation come back from the coronavirus as the president tries to steer the country towards a premature reopening and repeat mistakes the administration`s failed to response to the crisis.
We also had happened in the last few months, right, three absolutely deadly errors made from the beginning of the pandemic by the president and his administration. One, just not taking the virus seriously enough. Not appreciating what a dangerous novel virus it is from the beginning. Two, not having adequate testing capacity. And three, thinking that the problem to be managed is the economy as if that is somehow separate from the public health emergency of fighting the virus.
Those mistakes, those mistakes gave us the whole disastrous response from the White House. The failed test kits, the utter inability for weeks to ramp up testing, to know where the virus was and how prevalent it was. The fact that they took way too long to begin to recommend social distancing. The fact the president during this entire period, as the virus was spreading, would come out and do a series of song and dance routines to pump up the stock market as if that was the goal instead of taking action on the virus, right? All those errors are what got us to this point.
Right now, there are almost 30,000 Americans who`ve lost their lives. It`s an incomprehensible toll. The New York City death toll alone shot past 10,000 today, just in New York City, after a revised count added 3,700 additional people who had not been counted. And today, the daily toll of fatalities is the highest daily number that we`ve had so far. All of that is crushing.
We know though if there`s some bright silver lining to find here, that death and fatality is a lagging indicator in battling this pandemic, and there definitely is some seriously good news in the data elsewhere. Hospitalizations, for instance, have fallen in New York. Other places like Maryland appear to have reached their peak.
But as we are trying to get through the worst of it, right now, it appears the Trump administration is literally remaking all the same mistakes, the same three mistakes they made at the beginning. Nearly three months after we got our first play case, still to this date, the president still fails to truly appreciate just how transmissible and dangerous the virus is.
He said on opening up the country as soon as possible. He floated Easter a few weeks ago. And all the experts say, if you just open up -- back up without a plan, the virus is going to come back and then we will be right back where we started. And what do you think the stock market is going to do with that?
Every expert from Trump`s former FDA chief, to the Yale professors who wrote this in USA Today laying out how they would open up the country, to basically every doctor, epidemiologist, and public experts who has been on this show for weeks insisting we need to massively scale up widespread available testing if we want to open the country back up. In fact, here`s what Dr. Anthony Fauci told The Associated Press just today.
ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I think if we are assuming that two weeks from now that all the curves are going to be down, I think that`s, you know, a bit overly optimistic. I think how you reopen, if you want to use that word, the economy in those communities is going to depend a lot on the ability to contain what we know will happen. I`ll guarantee you. Once you start pulling back, there will be infections. It`s how you deal with the infection that`s going to count.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: There will be infections. That`s Dr. Fauci talking about just how transmissible and dangers the virus is. Not thinking best-case scenario, thinking worst-case scenario, and yet here we are three months into this, Trump is still trying to think best-case scenario.
Number two, once again, testing remains the major problem. Now, we ramped up testing quite a bit, but we have now plateaued in the level that we are testing out. And the New York Times has this devastating report about all the bottlenecks and the inefficiencies that are slowing down testing all over the country. But get this, while everyone is saying we need to test, and when you test widely, and it`s an Apollo moon mission to get to the amount of testing we need, the President himself just said, there`s no need for testing in areas of the country where there`s only a small number of cases.
That is the opposite of the truth. That`s the whole thing, the whole thing about the virus, right? Everyplace starts with a small number of cases, then it grows. That`s why you need testing. And then the third and final error, it`s been clear from the very beginning, very clear, painfully clear that the president has focused on what this pandemic means for him personally in his political fortunes, his reelection.
And he views his political fortunes as tied to the state of the economy. So when the stock market started to crater because of fears about the pandemic, Trump was mad. He wanted to bring the markets back up instead of fighting the virus and letting the markets take care of themselves after the virus was vanquished.
And now, he is watching an unprecedented economic contraction which is genuinely awful, brutal, miserable, great depression level during this pandemic. And he now wants to just bring the economy back as if that`s some separate thing other than the virus, just like he did back in late February when the expert consensus back then was we needed to move to mitigation and social distancing and lockdowns.
New York Times reports on the evidence of the failed response documented in the so-called Red Dawn e-mails. The top Disaster Response official at Health and Human Services decided on February 24th to recommend to Mr. Trump, he publicly support the start of those mitigation efforts such as school closings. But before they could discuss it with the president who was returning from India, another official went public of the warning sending the stock market down sharply and angering Mr. Trump.
The meeting to brief him on the recognition was canceled and it was three weeks before Mr. Trump would reluctantly come around to the need for mitigation. The administration did nothing. And so now, the president has appointed a task force of unqualified lackeys who want to reopen the economy without even one like health voice. That`s the problem, right? The public health part of it is the problem.
Politico reports for now the council is expected to include White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Vice President Mike Pence who is not expected to play a leading role. But it`s just the same mistake, literally the same mistake all over again.
He was late to act. Thousands of people have died. Now he wants to be too early and risked the same disaster. We all want the nation to reopen. We need a national strategy to do that. Thanks to this president, that is completely absent once again. I mean there`s a lot we do not know about this virus. We just don`t know everything about it, and it`s frustrating. A lot we do not know about -- and there`s internal debate amongst very smart people about a lot of things. But there are some crystal clear ears of consensus just as there were back in February. And once again the president is ignoring them.
It`s very clear we`re in the midst of an entirely unprecedented economic contraction. One that could even surpass the Great Depression in some ways. And the federal government is going to have to do much more to cushion the blow. And there`s already intense jockeying over what the next piece of legislation will be.
Republicans led by Donald Trump and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell just want to add extra money to the small business fund which is quickly running out without working with Democrats. They want to jam Democrats essentially and not allow them to add anything else to it. But Democrats have a whole host of priorities they want to make sure are included.
The person who will most determine what happens next more than any other single person really is the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Democratic of California, I`m happy to say joins me now. Speaker, it`s great to have you from what looks like or your house. I want to start with a Dear Colleague letter that you wrote today. You just sent it to your colleagues.
It`s a kind of setting the record straight letter. I`ll quote part of you - - a part of it from you. "The truth is a weak person, a poor leader takes no responsibility, a weak person blames others." You also record many of the missteps of the Trump administration. Why do you -- why do you feel it`s important to send this letter?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): During the Easter weekend, I had more time for prayer and reflection. And it just bothered me so that so many lives were at stake, so much livelihood on the table, and just that I had to say something. Now, for a long time, we tried to be as apolitical as possible, working together. The American people want that. But the fact is that if you ignore the facts and you ignore the truth, you cannot possibly solve the problem.
We need -- our first bill that we passed -- we had passed three bills in a bipartisan way in the month of March. The first one, we prepared in February and brought to the floor at the beginning of March, testing, testing, testing. It passed the House on March 4th, but we`re still not where we need to be on testing more than a month later. Testing and trying to identify what the problem is, and what it means into our communities of color and the rest having that documented.
Other issue -- other initiatives that the president failed to take but saying that he did. Telling his supporters it was a hoax and it would magically go away. Lives are at stake, people are dying. And so we were at risk of it looking -- people said it look political if you say this, and I said well, if lives are at stake, and looks political to insist on the truth, so be it.
HAYES: Is it true -- you just refer to these three bipartisan bills, and I want to get into some of those negotiations. On the last one, that $2.2 trillion package, my understanding from the reporting was that you were speaking -- negotiating directly with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Is it true that you and the president have not spoken personally in months, I think? Is that correct?
PELOSI: Probably since the State of the Union Address, you remember that. But I only speak to the President --
HAYES: I do.
PELOSI: It`s a historic event when the Speaker of the House and the President have a conversation, has to have preparation, has to have a goal, and again it makes history. I didn`t see any opportunity for any of that. However, we do need to work together for the lot -- to save the lives of American people, the livelihood of the American people, and quite frankly, the life of our democracy itself. All of that is at stake what is happening now.
HAYES: There seems to me -- I mean, obviously, I think there`s consensus that there is going to be more legislation needed from Congress even after that large -- very large bill. Mitch McConnell says the payroll protection program which is for small businesses which they said was going to be first come first serve and has had huge administrative headaches and lots of people have had a hard time, but that it`s going to run out of money. Let`s just pass $250 billion clean, just that. Why do you not want to just do that? What is -- what are your priorities for this next piece of legislation?
PELOSI: Well, let me say that CARES One -- we`re getting ready for CARES Two, but cares one was a bill that had many good features. We were successful working together House and Senate Democrats in changing it from the corporate triple down bill to a worker`s first pull up bill. Part of it is a paycheck protection program which is very important.
However, I will not allow anything to perpetuate the disparity and access to capital that exists in our country. And so what they said, first come first so over just serving the customers that we know at the bank. Well, what happens to our underbanked folks? So last week, when they came, they asked for a quarter of a trillion dollars in 48 hours. I said, well, I don`t think so. Let`s see how we can open this up to many more people.
So Chuck Schumer and I, and this all happen on the Senate side, and I congratulate the Senate Democrats, they went to the floor when Mitch McConnell went in for his 250, and they said they objected. And then they said, we have another proposal which opens the door to the underbanked. There`s $60 billion, 10 percent of what they were asking for to be used for community development, financial institutions who knows the neighborhood, know the language, know the culture, know that people, know that the businesses to enable them to participate in the paycheck protection program.
In addition to that, we still gave them half the money, $125 billion, but we use some other for this initiative, and also for the grant and other loan programs that benefited everyone. OK, so then we also said, while we`re at it what we desperately need is support for state and local government as well as for hospital. This is urgent. And they just said no. They only were going for the 250. We said, let`s negotiate. Let`s see how we can come to some conclusion that will benefit all of the needs, the underbanked, the hospitals, the state and local governments who are carrying enormous burdens.
And also the hospitals still talking about testing with the imperative for us to have the data, the racial data that is in there so that we see how this is affecting everyone in our community. So we were not going to let all this money that is spent because of the Coronavirus crisis which is heartbreaking, the number of people who have died or others have lost their loved ones and the rest. But we could not allow the big money that was put to fight it to perpetuate disparity and access to capital and access to care.
HAYES: So what I`ve heard from your priorities in terms of access to capital, and I know that that this has really been a concern for lots of small businesses in in lots of communities particularly immigrant communities, African-American communities --
PELOSI: For a long time.
HAYES: Yes. So that -- the state -- money for the states and hospitals, all that I get. I wanted to talk about two other things that people have been talking about which are sort of adjacent to the virus itself as priorities. One of them is, it seems possible that the Post Office which has been around since the country`s founding just goes under? Like it`s just a victim of the coronavirus and we don`t have one anymore. Is that a realistic possibility and what needs to be done to stop that?
PELOSI: Well, in the negotiations on CARE One, we put forth an initiative of $20 billion for the post office in recognition of their ongoing needs, but also that they were delivering so much to people`s homes now, that we were advocating vote by mail, and that requires more -- and that may be why the Republicans are against them.
But the fact is that we offer 2o, they came down to three. We worked it up to $6 billion. It`s not enough but something, but that went just like a piece of mail, right to the president`s doorstep, and he said no. This was personal in my view when that was reported back to me from those renegotiating it that the president said no to the Postal Service. What could he be thanking? So many that will have to --
HAYES: Wait a second. Wait a second. Can I just -- can I ask you to spell out your -- sorry, Speaker. Can I ask you to spell out the implication there? What is your -- what are you saying there? That he bears a grudge against the Post Office because of his fixation with Jeff Bezos and then delivering for Amazon and the Washington Post which some people have speculated? What are you saying?
PELOSI: Don`t ever ask me to psych out the president -- this President of the United States. That`s for others for to do.
HAYES: OK, fair enough.
PELOSI: I have to cope with the consequences, but I cannot (INAUDIBLE) but it is something that has to be stopped. This is -- Postmaster General was one of the first cabinet officers in our -- in our country, in the beginning of our country. Mail is so important to America`s families. So we really are going to have to have another discussion about that.
There has been bipartisan support in this regard. And that`s why we thought could negotiate a number until the president himself said no. But again, this is just one of many consequences that we have of the shall we say truth matters. What is the truth here? What is it that is the problem the president had? Perhaps we can make some adjustments and fix it.
But again, the public has to know for a long time now, mistakes have been made. OK, that was then, let`s go into the future. But if you don`t learn from your mistakes, you have to insist upon the truth in order to go forward. And you cannot go forward unless we have testing, testing, testing. Unless you have a documentation of how that is affecting communities, unless you like the data from how this money is spent in terms of the paycheck protection program which we fully support, but let`s make it be fair, and also inclusive so that everyone can participate in it.
Those are small businesses. We shall loot solve business entrepreneurship. And many of them are newer, younger, or newer in terms of being minority- owned, Native American, in rural America, veterans. So many elements of our economy who are brave, courageous, and optimistic to start a business just don`t have a banking relationship sufficient enough to be in first come first serve.
HAYES: Two more topics I just want to get to and I -- and then I will let you go. But first on oversight, because it obviously is extremely important. $2.2 trillion pushed out the door, $500 billion Steve Mnuchin has tremendous discretion. The president immediately signing the legislation with a signing statement essentially X-ing out many of the oversight provisions you put in.
There`s one person appointed to that sort of oversight panel right now who was just profiled and doesn`t verified Twitter account. Do you and Congress have the capacity to actually make sure this is not incompetently or corruptly distributed?
PELOSI: Well, we have to. In addition to the panel that you reference, and that would be in place, I have named a select committee on the corona -- the challenge of the coronavirus. And my colleague, the Democratic whip Mr. Cochran is the chair of that. That is predicated on a committee called the Truman Committee that the then-Senator Truman instituted during World War II, at the start -- at the very beginning of World War II.
He said at the time 116 investigative committees performed to investigate the defense spending on World War I. So he said, how much better it would be in World War II to have an investigative committee at the time.
PELOSI: And so it would be to fight waste, fraud, abuse, price gouging, profiteering, and the rest. And that is what this committee is modeled off of that, and it will have investigative authority, subpoena power. And that -- I don`t know why Republicans take offense at it. Why wouldn`t they want to fight waste, fraud, abuse, price gouging, and profiteering off of the taxpayer dollar which is destined to fight the coronavirus as it attacks the lives, the livelihood of the American people?
HAYES: Final question for you is just about the urgency and timeline here. I mean, someone raised the idea of remote voting, right? I mean, you`ve got -- you`ve got Congress, got 435 people, they come into a room. There`s all kinds of staffing around each other. Everybody right now is physically distancing. It`s very hard to make Congress work.
People raise the idea of virtual voting with you. You said, that that was not going to happen. And then Steny Hoyer said this. Members are advised that absent in an emergency, the House is not expected to meet prior to Monday, May 4th, 2020 which is a long time away. And also, I think a lot of people read that and said, what do you call this now if not an emergency?
PELOSI: Well, it is an emergency, but the distinguished leader was referencing in terms of urgency of passing a bill. We do think there is that urgency, but we have to get some agreement on part of the Republicans that something the president will sign. We need that signature after all.
But here`s the thing, because you raised it and then you poke one thing that I said. What I said is we`re giving a task the chairman of the Rules Committee and the chairwoman, that would be Jim McGovern and Zoe Lofgren, the chair of the House Administration Committee. The two Committees have jurisdiction to present options to us, what is allowed under the Constitution, under the rules of the House, what is possible technologically. But we haven`t gotten to that.
But on this Thursday, Jim McGovern will be making a report on what he sees as some of the options. People think we can do Congress by Zoom. Zoom is a Chinese entity that we`ve been told not to even trust the security of. So there are challenges. It`s not as easy as you would think. Are there other options of proxy voting and the rest which other people tell me have constitutional problems?
So is not as easy as you might think. And when we do it, we`re going to do it right. But in the meantime, we hope that we will have testing, end this, and then be able to come at least in the numbers necessary of a quorum in order to do the work, the people`s work.
In the meantime, I`m so proud of our members. They`re all working very hard 24/7, telemeetings, meetings with community folks, smaller telemeetings and the rest so that every single day we have hours of feedback from them as to what is happening out there, how are the initiatives that are out there so far are working or not working. But all of them committed to saving lives, insisting on the truth to do so, and again, opening up to our economy when health folks tell us the time is right.
HAYES: All right --
PELOSI: Congratulations on your new show.
HAYES: Thank you. My new show from the remote location. Thank you very much. It`s great to have you, Speaker.
PELOSI: Thank you. My pleasure.
HAYES: The Speaker`s home state of California was one of the earliest hit by the coronavirus including the emergence of community spread in the early days, some of the earliest days in the U.S. outbreak. But San Francisco, a city that could have seen the kind of numbers New York is grappling with now, the outbreak has been much less severe.
Instead, that city has had just under 1,000 confirmed cases with about 15 deaths. And there is probably a lot of reasons for that, but one big reason for that is the mayor. I`m joined now by someone who took some of the earliest actions in the country to fight the virus, San Francisco Mayor London Breed. She declared a state of emergency in February and ordered residents to shelter in place on March 16th.
Mayor, tell me about how San Francisco`s doing and what your understanding is for why the trajectory of this -- of this virus in your city has been so much less severe and less deadly than it has been in others?
LONDON BREED (D), MAYOR, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: I think part of it is we focused on this issue early on, even as early as conversations about what was happening in Wuhan, China in November of last year. And we operated our emergency operation center in January of this year. We kept a sharp eye on what was going on.
We knew that the possibility of a pandemic could exist in our city, and so we wanted to be prepared. And this is not unfamiliar territory for San Francisco where we have had to lead the charge on our own in the absence of support from the federal government.
In fact, the AIDS crisis is a clear example in the 1980s when San Francisco was ignored by the federal government and wasn`t provided with the support that we needed to lead our city out of at that time something that no one else wanted to touch.
And in fact the public health experts in our Department of Public Health, they stayed on it, they kept at it, and now we are known as a place that people look to as it relates to research and science and facts and data for all sorts of public health challenges that exist. So we were paying very close attention to this and using facts and data to guide our decisions.
HAYES: Because you have had success policy-wise in your city, and it seems to me that San Francisco is one of those places, California perhaps more broadly, where there is going to be pressure to open back up. And that pressure I think is felt by everyone all the time. People want to get back to their lives. How are you thinking through that decision and those calculations and those balancing the various imperatives?
BREED: Well, I do think it`s important that we also remind people of history. The Spanish flu in San Francisco in 1918 when the city had a big party and threw away their masks and celebrated, and then a few days later, 2,000 people died. We can`t let up. We have to stay focused on doing what`s necessary to get through this.
And just because San Francisco is being praised for flattening the curve, we`re not there yet. We still have people who are being diagnosed every single day, and they have the ability to transition that to other people. So we want to be very careful about you know what we see as a success, because as we can see at any given moment, an outbreak can occur in one of our shelters like it just did. It could happen in one of our congregate living settings.
And so we cannot let up just because for some reason we believe that we`re in a better place. We need to get through this and we need to be even more diligent than ever.
HAYES: But what is through this mean? I mean, you say, we cannot let up. You know there`s some public -- something published today I think by some researchers at Harvard who talked about social distancing intermittently through 2021, 2022. I mean, there is a breaking point, right? Like the city of San Francisco can`t be indoors for the next nine months, right?
BREED: Let`s hope not.
HAYES: There`s some point at which -- right. I mean, I guess the question is like, how are you thinking that through? I get -- I get that you`re saying look, let`s not take our foot off the gas right now. It`s really important we vanquish this thing. But there is something after that right?
BREED: Of course, there`s something after that. I started a task force to talk specifically about the recovery from our economic health here in San Francisco. We`re estimated to have a budget deficit of anywhere between $1.1 and $1.7 billion. Instantly, when we open the city back up, people aren`t just going to start visiting. So we know financially we need to start recovery now.
But we`re also working with UCSF on contract -- contact tracing so that we can start to figure out the people who are been infected, who`ve they been in contact with, getting more people tested, and trying to defuse this sooner rather than later, looking at various approaches because we know that we want to open up as soon as we possibly can. But we need to do it responsibly. We need to prepare.
We need to look at -- as our governor talked about, Gavin Newsom, today, the regulations around restaurants and what that might mean in terms of changing the configuration, changing the capacity at different places. We definitely simultaneously to managing this public health crisis, we need to here for what will happen after this is over as we gradually reopen and as we gradually try to get back to some level of normal as we knew it before it.
HAYES: How much are you in contact with other mayors, with other leaders on this? How much sort of collaborative -- I know that when you had that shelter in place order it was larger than San Francisco. It was a number of surrounding counties -- how much of those conversations are happening?
BREED: Well, I talk to, on a regular basis, a couple of days per week, to the big city mayors here in California, the largest populations. We are on our phone calls regularly where we are discussing these challenges, where we`re helping one another. Mayor Sam Liccardo was one of the first to institute a moratorium in San Jose against evictions -- for residential evictions. And we did that here in San Francisco and it`s spread all over the state of California.
There are other mayors that are doing incredible work. And we are continuing to work with one another. Mayors from all over the countries, they`ve reached out to me, I`ve reached out to them. There are regular conversations. We`re sharing our ordinances on the cap that we put on delivery services for food. We`ve shared that ordinance with other mayors in the country.
We have been working really together, because in the absence of what we feel is a more\ coordinated federal response, we are on the front lines every single day doing what we can to protect the public, and I think that`s really where the fight is happening.
But we definitely need more resources, we definitely need more support and we shouldn`t be fighting with other cities who should be our partners in our effort to get things like testing and PPE. And we all need all of those things. And the federal government should be working collaboratively to make sure that everyone is getting what they need when they need it, because people are in different stages of this situation, of this pandemic at different times.
That`s why, again, you know, sending ventilators to New York or receiving N95 masks from other places, this is so critical to the success of making sure that we combat this pandemic together. Mayors and governors are on the front lines of protecting the people of this country. And it is very challenging because of the issues that continue to persist.
And the federal government, I know you just talked to our Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is really an incredible leader in fighting the good night, and it is continuing to be a battle, but one we will not back down from.
HAYES: All right, Mayor London Breed of the great city of San Francisco, thank you so much for being with me.
BREED: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, what the expedited time line for a COVID vaccine is looking like. What we know about what`s in the works and why it takes as long as it does, after this.
HAYES: In a weird way, it kind of feels like the 2020 general election started today, and that`s because after Bernie Sanders left the race, and endorsed Joe Biden yesterday, the most popular Democratic politician in the country came out with his endorsement today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If there`s one thing we`ve learned as a country from moments of great crisis, it`s that the spirit of looking out for one another can`t be restricted to our homes or our workplaces or our neighborhoods or our houses of worship, it also has to be reflected in our national government. The kind of leadership that`s guided by knowledge and experience, honesty and humility, empathy and grace. That kind of leadership doesn`t just belong in our state capitals and mayor`s offices, it belongs in the White House.
And that`s why I`m so proud to endorse Joe Biden for president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: In a 12-minute message, it was really striking to hear from the president, President Barack Obama, this morning. One of the most gifted political communicators of our time, maybe of all time just cogently making the case for his vice president Joe Biden, and to praise Bernie Sanders and embrace his supporters as well, and to really condemn the modern Republican Party`s nihilism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Bernie`s an American original, a man who has devoted his life to giving voice to working people`s hopes, dreams, and frustrations. And the ideas he`s championed, the energy and enthusiasm he inspired, especially in young people, will be critical in moving America in a direction of progress and hope, because one thing everybody has learned by now is that the Republicans occupying the White House and running the U.S. Senate are not interested in progress, they`re interested in power.
So our country`s future hangs on this election. And it won`t be easy. The other side has a massive war chest. The other side has a propaganda network with little regard for the truth.
On the other hand, pandemics have a way of cutting through a lot of noise and spin to remind us of what is real and what is important. This crisis has reminded us that government matters, that having leaders who are informed and honest and seek to bring people together rather than drive them apart, those kind of leaders matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Yesterday, we got results from our first mid-pandemic election in Wisconsin. It was a public health disaster, but it also delivered an absolutely terrifying political message to the Republican Party, to Donald Trump and the White House. We`re going to talk about that and how it happened next.
HAYES: So one week ago, as we reported here, the Republican-controlled legislature in Wisconsin, backed up by both the state and the federal Supreme Courts, insisted on holding their statewide election in the middle of the pandemic with really no special or extraordinary dispensation for folks. And predictably, it was a crazy scene.
In Milwaukee, only five polling places were open out of the usual 180, because there weren`t enough available poll workers. So we saw huge lines of people waiting to vote in masks, some expressing their frustration with signs like this one that went viral saying, appropriately, "this is ridiculous." The Republican state assembly speaker wore a mask, gloves and a protective gown to tell everyone it was, quote, incredibly safe to go out.
Basically the whole thing was a travesty for public health, and also a shockingly cynical move by state Republicans. They clearly thought that holding this race amidst a pandemic would suppress turnout and then help their chances in the hotly contested battle for a state Supreme Court seat, with a conservative incumbent endorsed by the president.
I mean, they basically tried to say to the voters of Milwaukee and Wisconsin, your vote or your life. And it backfired, astonishingly, the liberal challenger for that Supreme Court seat, Jill Karofsky, won by 10 percentage points. She ousted the conservative incumbent, overall turnout was down from 2016. And around 80 percent of all votes were cast were absentee, thankfully.
But Democrats won the seat, a genuinely shocking result in a state that is as tightly contested as any in the nation. I mean, Wisconsin is widely viewed by election watchers as what they call the tipping point state, the one state whose outcome will most reflect and determine who wins the national presidential election in November.
Donald Trump won that state by just under 23,000 votes in 2016. Jill Karofsky, the Supreme Court candidate, she just won her seat by over 160,000 votes. So, this has to be a very, very scary result for Donald Trump and the Republican Party.
Joining me now is Ben Wikler. He`s the chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, which put a lot of work into this.
How did this result happen, Ben?
BEN WIKLER, CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF WISCONSIN: So, I should be clear, I have no excuse absentee voting, but you have to upload a photo of your voter ID and then get a witness to sign your ballot envelope to cast your ballot. And we sued in court, Democrats sued in court, to change those rules, and ultimately to try to postpone the election and switch to a vote by mail election where everyone receives a ballot in the mail, and Republicans said no. And they sued to our state Supreme Court and the national Supreme Court to stop people from getting a little extra time and a little extra relief to vote safely. And they`re doing it again right now.
It is hard to believe.
HAYES: So, let me -- let me ask you this as a final question, I mean, you know, in taking the political temperature of the country. You know, we have polling. We`ve got approval ratings and things like that, then you`ve got these special elections. And I remember, I think it was last year or two years ago, when there was a seat open, Brian Haggard (ph) was the conservative won that, and he won by 3 points. And it was a bummer for Democrats there and for progressive activists that fought against him.
What does this say to you about the sort of political temperature of your hotly contested state, this result?
WIKLER: What I see across the state, we`ll be here in the gigantic number of calls that we make, in the calls that flow into our voter protection hot-line, is a level of intensity of feeling, of conviction, that we have got to change that we`ve never seen at this point in an election year.
Last year, Democrats actually bumped up their turnout, and Republicans jumped theirs by 30 percent and won by 5,981 votes, a tiny, tiny margin out of more than a million votes cast. This year, Republicans jumped their turnout again to get out their vote for Trump, but we over-topped them with a massive, massive surge.
This is going to be the most hard fought election you can imagine. We`re organizing around the clock. If you want to support it, you can go to WisDems.org/donate. I should add and WisDems.org/volunteer.
We`re going to be trying to get the absentee ballot into the hands of every single person who is eligible and ready to vote against Donald Trump in the fall, because this battle is going to go to the very last second.
HAYES: All right, Ben Wikler, chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, thank you so much.
WIKLER: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, the only way to really get back to normal -- normal, normal -- normal, normal, normal -- is a vaccine. When will it be ready? We`ll talk to a researcher working on one potential vaccine next.
HAYES: Today, two of the biggest vaccine producers in the world, Sanfi and GlaxoSmithKline, announced that they are collaborating to produce a vaccine for Coronavirus. Bloomberg reports that drug makers plan to start human trials in the second half of this year with a goal of having a vaccine available the second half of 2021 if the studies are successful.
Based on that time line, it will take just over a year. And that can sound very frustrating, because all of the experts seem to agree that life cannot go back to the pre-Coronavirus normal as we know it until we have a vaccine.
What do we make of this race to find a vaccine? And why do vaccines take so long?
Joining me now to get some clarity on this subject is Dr. Mark Poznansky. He directs the vaccine and immunotherapy center at Massachusetts General Hospital, is leading a team that is also working on developing a Coronavirus vaccine, and they hope to begin animal testing some time next month.
I understand, doctor, of course this is difficult stuff, but why does it -- why are we talking 18 months here when we`re talking about the time line for this vaccine, given how urgently it`s needed?
DR. MARK POZNANSKY, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: Well, it`s a great question, and obviously on the -- you know, a lot of people want to know the answer to that who aren`t in vaccine development. But the truth is one of the key aspects of vaccines are that they`ve got to be safe. These are agents that you are giving to potentially millions of people and therefore any signal that indicates that there`s a safety issue is going to be, you know, it`s going to be a problem.
So part of the time that it takes to develop vaccines is because you have to make sure that they`re safe first, that they`re effective, and that you can administer them safely to millions of people and that takes time.
HAYES: Right. That is such -- that`s such an obvious point, I suppose, that I hadn`t quite clicked into my head, right, because of course like what a vaccine is, is you`re introducing this foreign agent into someone so that they produce antibodies. And if you screw that up, like you do not want to be infecting millions of people. So the sort of safety parameter is very high for this undertaking is what you are saying.
And the, you know, history has shown that vaccines can go all the way to safety testing and then fail at that point. So, given the most important hurdle we`ve got to get these properly scientifically data-driven over that hurdle and then introduce for efficacy studies in humans.
HAYES: So when someone -- I saw this in Bloomberg, too, Sarah Gilbert (ph) who is a professor of vaccinology at Oxford told The Times on Saturday that she`s 80 percent confident the vaccine would work and could be ready by September. You`re saying that`s just not -- you don`t -- that`s just not a realistic time line given the safety issues involved.
POZNANSKY: Well, I don`t -- that`s not true, because if she thinks that, from a safety point of view, it could be ready, and she may know stuff about the safety profile of that vaccine or the vaccines of that type of design, then, you know, we could be hopeful and optimistic about that.
I mean, one of the great points of optimism in COVID-19 vaccines is the fact that lots of people are going after this particular target in multiple different ways. That`s a good thing. That`s one of the strengths that we have against this virus, which is the diversity of the way that we think about combating it and beating it.
HAYES: So final thing is -- so what I`m hearing from you is the time-line here is getting something that you could start testing isn`t the long part of this, it`s the making sure the thing actually works over iterations of clinical trials that`s the really tough part.
POZNANSKY: That`s the really tough part. And that`s also why we have to partner early with industry. And in our case, we partnered with a couple of companies, Voltron (ph) and Hoth (ph), they do it because when you start thinking about a vaccine and scaling it up to millions and scaling it up to do safety and efficacy, you`ve got to have industry along the way with you in order to achieve that.
HAYES: All right, Dr. Mark Poznansky, who took some time away from working on the vaccine, which we will let him get back to you right now, thank you very much.
POZNANSKY: Thank you very much, indeed. Thank you.
HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END