Trump taxes cases TRANSCRIPT: 5/12/20, All in w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: Kamala Harris, Melissa Murray, David Plouffe, Eric Holder

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: So we will see if they`re also playing that in New York at a baseball game this summer. We`ll find out. Thanks for being with us. Don`t go anywhere. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes is up next.

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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN. This is America 2020. Video conference hearings in the United States Senate, teleconference hearing in the Supreme Court, Trump`s taxes, his job performance the subjects at hand. Senator Kamala Harris is here.

Plus, former Attorney General Eric Holder will join me as Bill Barr and Donald Trump work to corrupt the Department of Justice. And the new Biden ad that hits Trump with his own words, a new polling that says Trump is on the wrong side of most Americans, when ALL IN starts right now.

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HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Even as Donald Trump in the White House continue to try to essentially consign the coronavirus at the past, we`re over that. We`re on other things. As they push states to open up and as they tell people to go out, get back to work, and throw their bodies on live grenade that is the coronavirus, Donald Trump`s own government knows that`s not the case. The virus is very much not over.

A buried report obtained exclusively by NBC News and compiled by the White House`s pandemic Task Force shows this. Coronavirus rates are spiking in heartland communities. The report details how 10 top areas recorded surges of 72.4 percent or greater. Those surges include places like Nashville, Tennessee, Des Moines, Iowa, Amarillo, Texas, and on top of the list, Central City, Kentucky.

This unreleased report is of course at odds to the president and what he is telling Americans. Just yesterday, he said that all throughout the country, the numbers are coming down rapidly. The data, this data shows it`s not the case. Well, it`s true, in the aggregate, the national numbers are trending down. There are places throughout the country that are likely about to see a huge spike.

And that`s the thing with the virus we keep coming back to. It is intensely local. Right now, there are huge regional variations throughout the country. Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control released a report finding the death toll in New York which is trending down now, thankfully, maybe much worse than the official count, more than 5,000 deaths that may have been caused by the coronavirus. These are not accounted for as of now in the official death toll.

The Associated Press released data showing that the 15 U.S. counties with the highest per capita infection rates are all homes to meatpacking and poultry processing plants or state prisons. Not to mention within the close quarters of the White House itself or at least two White House staffers that we know of have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Keep in mind, that is a place that is testing more than anywhere else in the country. And yet here we are, with the White House still fighting the huge outbreak. Different places are going have different trajectories for this pandemic. And we`ll have to make different local policy decisions about what to do. And if only there were some guidelines to help out with that complicated decision. Well, there are.

You might remember just about a month ago, on April 16, the President himself held a press conference where he rolled out his guidelines for opening up America again. They published a guideline from the White House website in conjunction with the CDC. It`s not some huge booklet, it`s 18 pages. You can read it. It`s -- they`re good. It`s specific recommendations. It outlines three phases of reopening, guidelines states should meet before proceeding to the next phase, right. You walk through the phases.

For example, before proceeding with the first phase, it calls for a 14-day downward trajectory of reported symptoms in cases and a "robust testing program in place for at-risk health workers." Also, that different places at different points in the trajectory can make decisions that make sense for where they are.

The President put out these detailed guidelines in mid-April, and then basically got impatient almost immediately and just started pushing everyone to just reopen quickly. The Trump administration then went on to bury additional CDC guidance about reopening, a step by step advice to local authorities on how and when to reopen restaurants and other public places.

They were supposed to put that 17-page report out last week, but agency scientists were told the guidance would never see the light of day according to a CDC official. The Trump administration right now is producing guidelines and documents to reopen the country, written by experts by scientists and public health officials. And they are then essentially asking people to totally disregard them, or they`re burying them so you can never read them. Instead, the President is out telling everyone -- telling to ignore what his own experts are saying.

And all of that set the scene for today`s remarkable Senate hearing which took place under some very strange conditions. Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, a Republican of Tennessee led the hearing remotely from his home. He`s got a nice camera there. That`s a good camera. He is self- isolating after one of his staffers tested positive for the coronavirus. Several other senators including Patty Murray and Mitt Romney also participated from home, while the few attending in person maintained significant physical distance.

Tim Kaine was there in the hearing room. He appeared with the bold handkerchief covering his nose and mouth. Rand Paul appeared to not wear a mask, although he`s the only member of the Senate as far as we know, to have had the virus and gotten over it. All four top health officials, the witnesses in this testimony, they did -- they testified remotely. Three of them are currently in some form of quarantine after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

And while the president often uses the podium to tell people to ignore his experts, today, Dr. Anthony Fauci was able to clearly talk about the virus, and in many instances contradict the President`s favorite talking points.

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ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The idea of having treatments available or a vaccine to facilitate the reentry of students into the fall term would be something that would be a bit of a bridge too far. When you talk about will this virus just disappear, and as I`ve said publicly many times, that is just not going to happen because it`s such a highly transmissible virus.

What we have worked out is a guideline framework of how to safely open America again. And there are several checkpoints in that with a gateway first of showing depending on the dynamics of an outbreak in a particular region, state, city, or area that would really determine the speed and the pace with which one does reenter or reopen.

I have been being very clear in my message to try to the best extent possible to go by the guidelines which had been very well thought out and very well delineated.

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HAYES: The guidelines have been very well thought out. He`s right. They have. The experts like Dr. Fauci and others have done the work. And they`ve put it in writing in these guidelines that have been publicized to everyone.

But the president, the person who runs the administration that`s issuing these guidelines, the president who sits and watches Trump T.V. all day and just raised tweets about the most insanely baroque issues. He`s decided to just run right over his own experts to steamroll his own government so he could listen to some tiny little very loud vanguard of activists and people wearing long guns in the Michigan Capitol and members of the donor class who want to get their factories humming again to open up the country. And it`s going to end poorly, most likely, because the virus just doesn`t care.

Joining me now for more on what Congress is doing to help America get through the pandemic, Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California. Senator, you come from a state that has managed its outbreak fairly well. There was an announcement today That L.A. County is going to keep its Shelter in Place Order for the duration of the summer. It looks like three months. How do you think the CDC guidelines and the President`s messaging are interacting in terms of what message is getting sent out to the country about how we go forward?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): Well, Chris, frankly, nothing has really changed about the President`s disposition and failure to embrace truth and speak truth to the American people. The CDC, obviously, did the work they had at the -- it`s about at least a dozen pages, this document, of recommendations that they`ve made, and yet again, Donald Trump is attempting to suppress the work and the word of public health professionals.

And this is after a long line of activities by him that have been about a failure of leadership, from rejecting the seriousness of it, calling it a hoax, to train the muscle the voices of public health professionals. So this is just more of the same. Thank god For Dr. Fauci. Thank God for him to having the courage to speak truth. God only knows what kind of repercussion he`s going to face for speaking the truth. But obviously he has the well-being of the American people as his priority as opposed to the political patronage that this President thinks he`s doing.

HAYES: There was a really interesting tweet thread today from a staff member of one of your colleagues who was a Democratic staffer talking about where we are in terms of the economic consequences, and worrying that the scale of the bills and the legislation is not equal to the depth and breadth of the pain. Are you -- are you worried about that mismatch? Do you -- do you think there`s more to be done?

HARRIS: Absolutely, very much. In fact, look, we have 33.5 million people who lost their jobs in just the last seven weeks. One in five working adults in America is now unemployed, not to mention the fact that one in five mothers has described her children as being hungry in America today.

So our country has been devastated. Working families are suffering. We have a hunger crisis in America. And this is why among the number of initiatives that I`m leading are part of, one of them along with Bernie Sanders and in Senator Markey is that we`re saying that instead of a one-time payment of $1,200 that was in one of the previous bills, American families are making less than $100,000 a year or those who are unemployed should be able to receive $2,000 a month through the course of this pandemic and for three months after that. Because families are suffering. They`re not able to buy food, they`re not able to pay rent, much less other bills, and we have to lift them up and not let people drop through the cracks. Until we can get through this process, we need to give them assistance.

And what we`ve done has been inadequate. We have failed to require paid sick leave. We have failed to provide family leave. We have failed to provide affordable childcare and free childcare, especially for those first responders and frontline workers who sadly we keep referring to them, of course, as essential workers, and yes, they are. But let`s not allow them to be sacrificial workers.

So there`s a lot of work yet to be done and mostly to focus on working people and poor people in America and make sure that they`re not going hungry, and make sure that we lift everyone up through this crisis so that we can survive, and then ultimately recover.

HAYES: I want to ask you a question about the Attorney General, because I`m going to be speaking to the former Attorney General Eric Holder a little later. So, William Barr has made a lot of news. I want to play -- it was a remarkable moment in a hearing back in May of 2019, where you asked him a question that he could not seem to answer that has haunted me ever since. And it looks like we may have our answer now. So I want to play that clip to you and ask you a question. Take a listen.

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HARRIS: Has the President or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? Yes or no, please, sir.

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: The president or anybody else.

HARRIS: It seems you to remember something like that and be able to tell us.

BARR: Yes. But I`m trying to grapple with the word suggest. I mean, there have been discussions of matters out there that they have not asked me to open investigation, but --

HARRIS: Perhaps they`ve suggested.

BARR: I don`t know. I wouldn`t say suggest.

HARRIS: Hinted.

BARR: I don`t know.

HARRIS: Inferred. You don`t know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: There are now -- the president and some people in his circle are making noises about essentially the Department of Justice going after Obama administration officials. Where do you think we are right now in terms of this attorney general and the rule of law?

HARRIS: This attorney general should resign. He has not been an attorney general representing the people of America. He has not been the people`s attorney. He has been the hand of Donald Trump. And let`s look at it. When we talk about the work of the United States Department of Justice, it is supposed to do justice.

Well, when you have an attorney general in Barr, who allows Michael Flynn to withdraw his plea when he pled guilty to two counts that were violations of federal law, that`s not justice. When you look at Bill Barr allowing Roger Stone and reducing the recommended sentence from I believe it was seven to nine years to something like three years, that`s not justice.

When you look then at Ahmaud Arbery, and the fact that he was a young man, 25 years old taking a jog, and was cut down in life. And I`ve asked the Department of Justice and Bill Barr to investigate that and open an investigation into the police department there, the DA`s office there, and the civil rights violation and investigate whether there was one.

When you look at Brianna Taylor, a woman who`s 26 years old Chris, an EMT. Today is International Nurse`s Day. This young woman had a dream of becoming a nurse. And she`s sitting in her apartment when she is killed by the police who were at the wrong place trying to serve a warrant. There should be an investigation. That`s not justice what has happened for those two young people.

There is not justice coming out of Bill Barr`s Department of Justice. He should resign. He should let the career people who are there who thankfully are still sticking in with it. Let them do the work of justice. This man doesn`t understand what it means to do justice. He does whatever it is at the pleasure of Donald Trump and he should resign.

HAYES: Senator Kamala Harris of California there in Washington while the Senate is in session, thank you so much for making some time tonight, Senator. I really appreciate it.

HARRIS: You`re welcome. You`re welcome.

HAYES: Still ahead, the fight for the President`s taxes went before the Supreme Court today. How the massively consequential, historic cases played out? Right after this.

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HAYES: Today, the Supreme Court heard probably the most consequential set of cases on checking presidential authority and executive transparency since the infamous Richard Nixon tapes case back in 1974, one Supreme Court unanimously decided against Nixon. And because this is happening in the middle of the pandemic, they`re not having arguments in the actual physical Supreme Court. The cases are being argued by conference call and the public can listen in real-time.

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ELENA KAGAN, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: What it seems to me you`re asking us to do is to put the kind of 10-ton weight on the scales between the President and Congress, and essentially to make it impossible for Congress to perform oversight and to carry out its functions where the President is concerned.

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HAYES: That was Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan on conference call, arguing the Congress needs the ability to perform oversight of the President. Here`s the thing about this case though. The actual substance the documents being sought, Donald Trump`s financial records, his tax returns, I think they`re probably not that big of a mystery in the grand scheme of things.

I mean, remember, in 2018, the New York Times published a Pulitzer Prize- winning article exposing the fact that in their words, President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes including instances of outright fraud. And every bit of reporting throughout the decades, has showed that Trump is extremely dodgy about his finances.

There is, of course, a lot more that will be useful to know about the finances of the man who serves as our president in terms of who he owes money to and for what. The stakes today were crucially about, basically, the President and his relationship to Congress and to the law. Is he above it? Can the president tell Congress to basically take a long walk off a short pier when they request documents and subpoena them from third parties? Can you basically keep everything hidden from any outside legal authority?

Joining me now to break down what happened today, Melissa Murray, she`s professor of constitutional law at NYU, and co-host of the podcast Strict Scrutiny. So, Melissa, there`s two cases here. One of them are congressional subpoenas against to financial firms Mazars and Deutsche Bank requesting it. And so that was the first case that was heard.

And I want to just play a little bit of Justice Kagan on that question, right? Can Congress compel third party entities that have the President`s financial records to turn them over? This was a point that Justice Kagan made. Take a listen.

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KAGAN: This isn`t the first conflict between Congress and the President, as many of my colleagues have pointed out. We`ve never had to address this issue. And the reason is because Congress and the President have reached accommodations with each other. And sometimes one has gotten more and sometimes the other has gotten more. But there`s always been this accommodation seeking.

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HAYES: The Justice there is putting the context that is weird that this has gotten to the court, right? That`s sort of the fundamental question before the court is, it hasn`t gotten this far before because usually it gets worked out.

MELISSA MURRAY, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Usually it does get worked out. Typically, this is subject to your kind of interbranch negotiation where Congress asks for something, and the President says no, they go back and forth, and eventually they come out with some mutually amenable result.

But here, that kind of negotiation process has really been stymied, because the President has essentially stonewalled and refused to give anything to Congress really preventing it from doing any kind of oversight and requiring the courts intervention.

HAYES: So what were the arguments being made by the council for the House today about why they should be able to get these documents on the council for the President and Department of Justice saying why they shouldn`t?

MURRAY: Well, the President has basically argued that congressional oversight essentially amounts to harassment of this particular president. And the House, of course, is simply saying that this is part of our constitutional duties to conduct oversight, and we need to be able to exercise these powers.

And the court is sort of caught in the middle trying to balance these two interests, responsible oversight on the one hand and this fear that the President, and not just this president, but any occupant of this office might be in a position in the future to be harassed or harangue by Congress by these ongoing floods of requests for different documents.

HAYES: Yes. There was a sort of this question of -- that came up was like, what is the limiting condition here? Like, could Congress ask for anything? And I wonder if that -- was that resolved in the arguments as far as you could tell?

MURRAY: Well, this is a place where the House General Counsel Doug Letter had a little bit of a difficulty getting to a clear answer. He got there eventually, but the question was like, what is that limiting principle and he had a hard time articulating that. And they went back and forth. Could it be medical records? Could it be personal records of that nature?

And it seemed like Justice Sotomayor and some of the other justices were a little bit skeptical that it could go so far to include personal records about the President`s health, but they were interested in finding someplace where they could balance a legitimate need for oversight with the President`s need to withhold certain things.

HAYES: So it seemed to me that the justices were a little were more skeptical of the House`s case and perhaps a little less skeptical of Cy Vance`s case. Cy Vance is the District Attorney in Manhattan. He has issued subpoenas again to third party entities basically in pursuit of possible criminal investigation following on Michael -- the things were revealed in the federal case against Michael Cohen.

What was the argument there? How different was the argument about Congress about power to do this versus a local district attorney who says, look, I`m following the facts where they go. We`re trying to do a criminal investigation. We`ll see what happens.

MURRAY: So the New York District Attorney`s Office seem to have an easier time of it with the court today. And again, as you say, they are very different cases. In the congressional case, the question is really, how far can Congress go and what is the scope of legitimate legislative authority.

For the New York district attorney`s office, the real question is, we have this ongoing criminal investigation for which we need documents to inform that investigation. Can the president really be immune from participation in what is essentially a part of the criminal justice system.

And it would seem that the court was more skeptical today that the President could basically take himself out of the possibility of participating or aiding in a criminal investigation or even being subject to a criminal investigation.

HAYES: Quickly, final question. The last two cases are sort of along this line, right, which is there`s not a whole ton of them, but there`s -- the Nixon tapes case unanimously found that Nixon had to turn the tapes over. Clinton v. Jones unanimously found the President had to sit for that deposition for Paula Jones. Is there any chance of unanimity here in the same kind of way from this court do you think?

MURRAY: I don`t think we saw a chance for unanimity today. I mean, it did seem that the court was sort of fractured. We had the conservative wing of the court, including Justice Thomas and Alito, and Kavanaugh seeming to be very skeptical of the idea of Congressional oversight here.

We had the liberal wing of the court, Justice Ginsburg, Justice Sotomayor, Justice Kagan, really believing that -- or at least seeming to believe that congressional oversight was important. And so again, I think we have this really odd situation where Chief Justice John Roberts, who is the most stalwart observer of the court`s legitimacy and institutional legacies really going to be in the hot seat here trying to find a third way, carving out here some kind of balance between the two.

HAYES: Melissa Murray, it`s great to hear from you. Thank you so much for making time tonight.

MURRAY: Thanks for having me.

HAYES: Next, my exclusive interview with former United States Attorney General Eric Holder about the crisis of leadership in the White House and the DOJ. He joins me next.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What crime exactly are you accusing President Obama of committing and do you believe the Justice Department should prosecute him?

TRUMP: Obamagate. It`s been going on for a long time. It`s been going on from before I even got elected. And it`s a disgrace that it happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is is the crime exactly that you`re accusing him of?

TRUMP: You know what the crime is, the crime is very obvious to everybody, all you have to do is just read the newspapers except yours.

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HAYES: Donald Trump obviously does not even know what he is accusing Barack Obama of, but he`s prepared to use his very loyal attorney general to go after him. We`ve already seen William Barr use the Department of Justice as a shield for the president. He`s taken dramatic and unprecedented measures to get the president`s associates off the hook, even after they plead guilty to crimes. Now it`s very clear that there are people around the attorney general, Donald Trump, who want to use the department as a sword against Donald Trump`s political enemies.

And even President Barack Obama himself understands the stakes right now. Here he is on a call with his supporters on Friday.

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BARACK OBAMA, 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The news over the last 24 hours, I think, has been somewhat downplayed -- about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michale Flynn. And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off Scot-free. That`s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic -- not just institutional norms but our basic understand of rule of law is at risk.

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HAYES: Joining me now to talk about the rule of law, Department of Justice, and our country, Eric Holder, who is the former attorney general of the United States under President Barack Obama.

In terms of what the president said, in terms of what we watched come out of this Justice Department under William Barr, I guess my question is, on a sort of scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being an absolute rule of law emergency, 1 being the kind of normal back and forth of democratic politics, where do you place the moment we`re in right now?

ERIC HOLDER, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Oh, I think we`re at a pretty consistent 9.

What we have is a president who is bound and determined to delegitimize those parts of the government he thinks pose the greatest threat to him, that is the Justice Department, the FBI, the intelligence community, as well. He says those kinds of things that you just showed from the Rose Garden.

It`s all part of a plan to somehow make those institutions weaker, so that he can do the kinds of illicit things that he has been doing. And he`s facilitated by this attorney general.

This attorney general is actually complicit in this by weakening these institutions. This is an attorney general who is supposed to stand up for the people who work for him. And in fact, he`s doing all that he can do weaken the very institutions that he leads.

HAYES: You once said, you once somewhat tongue-in-cheek referred to yourself as a wing man for the president. obviously, you guys have a close personal relationship, and I`ve seen over the years conservatives try to take that quote to essentially say, that look, Eric Holder was just the same when he was the attorney general of the United States. He was looking out for the interests of the president. I wonder how you can explain to people like what is Barr -- what sit about Barr is doing that to you is aberrant or different than what you or other attorney generals of both parties have done.

HOLDER: Well, he is injecting himself into cases. We certainly saw that in Flynn and in Stone. He mis-characterized the Mueller report. Still don`t quite understand he did that, knowing full well we were going to have a chance to actually read the Mueller report and compare what was in the report to the way he characterized it. He has supported the effort to keep documents away from congress.

I think that what we have here, at least to date, has been a really good effort on the part of -- by the attorney general to defend, to shield, as you said, various interests, chief interest for him being the president.

My concern is that we move from the defensive to the offensive, that they will use the power of the Justice Department, the power of the criminal justice system to go after people who are perceived as enemies of this president. That is something that I say reluctantly, but I think based on th record that we have seen, they are up to doing that, to use the system in that way, which would be unprecedented.

HAYES: Yeah, the using the tools of the sort of states prosecutorial function as a means of going after political enemies is the most obvious and tried and true mechanism of strongmen, authoritarian rulers, and there is a clamoring for this kind of thing.

I want to play you -- this is just a clip last week from Fox News, so that people don`t think that that`s a crazy outlandish idea. If you spend a lot of time among certain circles of the right the president spends a lot of time consuming, this is a growing chorus. They clearly have this in their sights. I want to play you just a representative clip, but get your response to it. Take a listen.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How high up did all of this go in the Obama administration? Rick Grenell, I want to show the video. I was tipped off yesterday that he was headed to the Justice Department late yesterday afternoon. He`s got a satchel in his hand. I`m told there are documents in there he was bringing to the Attorney General William Barr. We don`t know exactly what`s in there, but are people around this case suggesting that maybe as the acting DNI Rick Grenell has seen some documents that suggest Sally Yates and others were saying privately that Barack Obama knew about a lot of this with Michael Flynn a lot earlier than we know.

What do you know. What do you think is in there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, I don`t know either. Let`s hope they all get to the bottom of this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: This idea of what -- you know, John Bolton said what did the president know and when did he know it? Barack Obama, Barack Obama knew, Barack Obama led some illegal conspiracy.

What do you make of that rhetoric?

HOLDER: Well, this is just what I said before, this is a very troubling concern that I have, that they are going to try to use the department, use the power that is in the department, use the tools of the Justice Department to go after people they perceive to be their political enemies.

The notion that Barack Obama, or people surrounding him, did something inappropriate, describing it as Obamagate by the president, is absurd. It doesn`t mean, however -- you will now hear Obamagate repeated, repeated and repeated, whether or not there is any basis to it, and there is not. That is going to be the new way in which it is.

And the thing that, as I said, is extremely troubling, this is something that I would have dismissed out of hand if you had raised it with any other administration, Republican or Democrat. But that is not something that you can dismiss relative to this separation, this attorney general.

HAYES: You served in the Obama administration and have seen, you know, high ranking cabinet officials, the attorney general of the United States -- you`ve seen what the president has to do in terms of decision making under conditions of duress, under conditions of crisis. What is your main takeaway from watching the last two months of governance from this White House amidst this historical cataclysm?

HOLDER: Well, it seems to me that this president is showing that he`s really not up to it. Any other president -- and, again, Republican or Democrat, would have seized the opportunity to mobilize the nation, to galvanize an effort that would more effectively deal with the pandemic that afflicts this nation. I mean, can you imagine Ronald Reagan, can you imagine Bill Clinton, either of the Bushes, Barack Obama saying that this is something for the states to work out as opposed to leading an effort by the federal government to mobilize the people, mobilize the instruments of government to deal with this pandemic?

This president has not -- he`s not up to the job. And his incompetence is going to cost us, not only in terms of lives lost -- people always say that -- but this economy, the problems that we`re having with our economy are directly related to the lack of effort, the lack of decision making, the lack of leadership in the early parts of this pandemic.

So there are two consequences as a result of the incompetence of this president that we have to deal with -- the health crisis, as well as the economic one.

HAYES: There are real concerns and questions about how we undertake the normal functioning of democracy amidst this pandemic. We all saw I think the disaster that was Wisconsin in which the state Republicans there and the state Supreme Court by a Republican appointee vote pushed for there to be this in-person voting amidst the pandemic. It sort of back-fired, the Democratic candidate won that.

But you filed suit in Texas along the lines of making sure there`s access to mail-in voting. How prepared are we, how concerned are you about what the combination of this pandemic and our electoral functioning look like come fall particularly?

HOLDER: Oh, I am very concerned. I think that what we saw in Wisconsin could be a harbinger of the kind of things that we would see in November unless we start to prepare now. There needs to be an infusion of federal money to the states to make sure that they have the necessary funds to make voting at home, voting by mail, possible. We have to make sure that ballots are sent to people in order that they can cast a ballot from home.

We really have to rethink the way in which we cast a vote, given the pandemic. This is something that should not be a partisan issue. And what we saw in Wisconsin, and what we heard from the president, talking about, you know, Republicans can`t win if we cast too wide a net, we let too many people vote, this is going to become something that unfortunately is partisan, and will have a negative impact on the health of people in this country and also on the health of our democracy.

I mean, we are healthiest when the greatest number of people participate in the democratic process. And the most fundamental way to do that is the ability to cast a ballot.

We have a unique situation that we are going to have to deal with in November. And unless we are taking unique and great ways to deal with it, we`re going to have problems. And we`ll have problems along the lines that we saw in Wisconsin, where now we have identified people who had to wait in line or worked at the polls who have been afflicted with the virus. It was unnecessary that gerrymandered Republican legislature put their constituents at risk.

HAYES: Former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder, it`s always great to get a chance to talk to you. Thank you for joining us tonight.

HOLDER: All right. Good to see you, as well.

HAYES: Ahead, what may be the most devastating Biden ad campaign to date. And David Plouffe on remarkable new rolling that shows President Trump clearly on the wrong side of the mass of American people. Coming up.

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HAYES: The pandemic means that Democratic nominee, the likely democratic nominee Joe Biden, can`t run anything like a traditional campaign -- can`t go out and do events and shake hands and speeches and all of that stuff, in lieu of that, his team has been producing some pretty good ads. The most recent one, which uses the president`s own words against him, is a cutting and very accurate take down of the president`s disastrous Coronavirus response.

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ANNOUNCER: Early January, Donald Trump is first warned of the virus. He ignores it.

TRUMP: We have it totally under control. It`s going to be just fine.

ANNOUNCER: Defends the Chinese government instead.

January 30, Trump`s own cabinet secretary warns of a pandemic, raising concerns that the Chinese government isn`t being transparent. Trump calls him an alarmist.

TRUMP: We think we have it very well under control. We`re working very closely with China and other countries, and we think it`s going to have a very good ending for us.

ANNOUNCER: February 25, one of the CDC`s top experts, Nancy Messonnier, speaks out, warning it could soon become a full-scale pandemic.

NANCY MESSONNIER, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: Disruption to everyday life may be severe. And I told my children that while I didn`t think that they were at risk right now, we, as a family, need to be preparing for significant disruption of our lives.

ANNOUNCER: Mr. Trump was, quote, "furious" as he watched the stock market crash after her comments. Trump didn`t want to upset the markets, so for the last five days of February, the Trump administration took to the air waves to deny the truth.

February 27, the markets sees through the denials. The Dow continues to plunge, but Trump keeps up the false message.

TRUMP: It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.

I think we`re going to get through it very well.

ANNOUNCER: April turns into May. The virus doesn`t disappear. There is no miracle. The cases mount. The death toll grows. More than 33 million Americans lose their jobs to the pandemic. Unemployment reaches Great Depression era levels.

Donald Trump doesn`t understand. We have an economic crisis, because we have a public health crisis, and we have a public health crisis because he refused to act.

Donald Trump didn`t build a great economy, his failure to lead destroyed one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Pretty on the money.

The pandemic has amplified, obviously, the stakes of this election. It`s also clarified, I think, the political picture. Right now, Donald Trump is on the wrong side, decidedly, of public opinion on the most important matters for people. We`ll talk about that and what that means with someone who knows campaigns inside and out, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: A very tiny vanguard of extremists have been staging anti-lockdown protests and getting a ton of attention with stunts like this one. This is Clearwater, Florida -- this is one of my favorite bits of tape from the entire quarantine, a couple dozen people who want gyms to reopen, which I get. I like to work out in the gym, too. They did push up on the sidewalk and some body weight squats effectively demonstrating you don`t actually really need a gym to work out.

But for all the attention stuff like this has gotten, it cannot be overstated enough that these protesters are a loud tiny minority. Americans are remarkably, shockingly unified on the need to be cautious and fight the virus.

In late April, 86 percent of Americans said the social distancing and stay- at-home orders are responsible government policies that are saving lives. Ohio`s Republican Governor Mike DeWine was one of the most aggressive governors in moving quickly to shut things down, out ahead of a lot of his peers. And 86 percent of Ohio residents, that`s a state that Donald Trump won, that`s a state with a strong Republican Party, 86 percent of residents approve of his handling of the outbreak.

Meanwhile, Georgia`s Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who has been leading the push to reopen has just a 39 percent approval rating in his state on handling the outbreak.

The right thing to do, morally and policy-wise, is also the right thing to do politically which is to be cautious, science-informed, clear headed about fighting the virus and opening up. And Americans by and large know this.

I`m joined now by David Plouffe who is campaign manager for the 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign.

And D Avid it`s striking to me how much I think the president and Trump TV and the certain small set of kind of right wing activists, sort of Tea Party sort, have tried to kind of create this big American depolarized debate about this that actually is just not working. Like it`s incredible to me to see the kind of polling numbers we do in a country that is on almost every issue as divided as it is.

DAVID PLOUFFE, FORMER 2008 BARACK OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: It`s incredibly rare, Chris, not just in the Trump presidency but in modern times to see this happening.

So, if you look deeper in the polls, there`s only about 15 percent of Americans who want to open up the country kind of regardless of what health officials say. There`s only 15 percent of the country that says they`re not seriously worried about an economic recession or a depression, those are the people Trump is talking to. And usually he`s able to hang on to 40 or 45 percent.

So, that is danger for him, and that`s where the Joe Biden campaign needs to maximize this moment. I`ve worked in campaigns a long time, as you know. You have headwinds and you have tailwinds. And when you have a tailwind, you`ve got to fully maximize this, because I think Trump right now is in deep difficulty, and Biden`s ability to build his campaign, secure some of those voters, even those who might have voted for Trump who just said I can`t do this any more.

So, it is remarkable to see these numbers where, as you said, Trump TV, Breitbart, Sinclair, everything Trump is saying is not reaching anybody other than an extreme core base of his.

HAYES: So, there`s two ways I look at the president`s sort of polling right now, sort of opposite directions. One is that given the magnitude of the failure that has happened, I can`t believe how unchanged his approval numbers are in some ways. They`re right around where they`ve been the whole time. And it`s like we`ve got 80,000 dead Americans, we`ve got 33 million people out of work. This is a horrible catastrophe. How can that be the case?

But the flip side of that is, Republican, Democrat, moderate, conservative, liberal, almost every governor is like at 70 percent plus now. I mean, in Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, the Democrats, is at 72 percent approval rating, the president`s approval rating in terms of the Coronavirus outbreak nationally is 43 percent. So, both those things are true at the same time.

How do you read where the president is right now politically in terms of how people perceive his handling of this?

PLOUFFE: Yeah, well, every other election, even Mayor De Blasio who`s gotten a lot of criticism I think is north of 60. But everybody is in 70s and 80s and he`s stuck in the low 40s. So, the delta between every other official with any responsibility in this is historic.

And, listen, I think his approval rating, he`s always had a low ceiling, but he`s always had a pretty high floor. I don`t know how low it can go. Listen, if we`re mired in this situation where we have resurgences. We know the unemployment rate is not going to drop magically, I can see it dropping into the high 30s. I don`t think it will go much lower than that.

But there`s a bunch of people right now I think who even say they approve of his job who aren`t going to vote for him again, because the risk of eight more years of this -- I`ve talked to people who voted for him who say, you know, I`m so glad I voted for him, we needed to send a shock to the system, but there`s no way we can go through this four more years.

HAYES: Let me ask you this, you wrote that op-ed about sort of how the Biden campaign seems to sort of maximize and be affirmative in running. There`s some of it which like the pandemic to me seems to be so focusing in a way that Trump is so sort of distracting and distractable and our attention is finally flitting all over the place. And now we have this central thing, the central calamity, the central story.

He`s running as an incumbent. Are things better or not? Right. This is a referendum on him. There`s part of me that`s like maybe Joe Biden can just like not really run a campaign and just say vote for the guy who doesn`t want to march your family out as warriors into the pathway of a virus?

PLOUFFE: Right. Well, that`s pretty appealing.

So here I`d say they`re doing some smart things. He`s doing a lot of interviews. The ad you showed before we started talking is a terrific spot. It`s almost like a horror movie except we`re actually living through it in real life. So, they`re doing some really smart things.

But I`ve learned in campaigns you`ve got to fight for every vote, whether you`re facing those headwinds or you`re benefiting from tailwinds. And so, finding every young voter out there, making sure that people who might vote for third party aren`t doing that.

But the environment that this campaign is going to be fought on right now, and I don`t think it`s going to change significantly between now and November, is very favorable to Joe Biden in many respects. There`s long time in the primary where he looked like maybe this isn`t his time. He is the model I think background from a candidate perspective because it`s not like he`s responsible and he`s dealt with crisis, he led the Recovery Act.

The central question of this campaign will be who do you trust to dig us out of this economic hole? Trump`s been a disaster. Biden`s actually done it.

HAYES: Yeah, the sort of experience question here I think is obviously quite amplified under these conditions. The point you said, though, it`s interesting to see that, you know, when we look at the polling, one of the places where to the extent these cross tabs are true is that the president`s really leaking quite a bit among seniors it appears in the polling recently. But Joe Biden is also under-performing a bit right now with younger voters. What do you make of those two age trends?

PLOUFFE: Well, first of all with younger voters, I said this back in 2016 when it looked like Hillary was going to win, that was still what concerned me the most. That`s the Manhattan project in that campaign and this campaign -- how do you get the vote share, the turnout, and the enthusiasm.

But I think that is a more correctable problem -- it`s even an opportunity for Joe Biden -- than the leak seniors which nobody saw coming. And if that were to happen, states like Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina -- I mean, Florida is a back breaker. And it`s one of the things I`m most excited about electorally right now is it looks like Florida is going to be extremely competitive. And I think Joe Biden is a strong Florida candidate.

I personally would like to see Donald Trump lose his newly adopted home state and those 29 electoral votes, because I think that`s almost check mate.

HAYES: You know, it is striking right now there`s a little getting high on your own supply situation happening among Trump on the right, which is that they think there`s more clamoring for the kind of thing they`re calling for in terms of the virus than there actually is. And they`re locked a little in their own echo chamber, which can happen to politicians and political movements sometimes. And I think that`s where they are right now.

David Plouffe, who is a very clear-eyed observer, thank you for being with me tonight.

PLOUFFE: Of course, Chris. Thanks.

HAYES: All right. That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good e evening, Rachel.

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