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DOJ's Decision TRANSCRIPT: 5/13/20, : All In w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: Asawin Suebsaeng, Pramila Jayapal, Richard Besser, Paul Butler,Dave Zirin

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Also tomorrow, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will join Joy Reid right here at 7:00. You are not going to want to miss that either. Thank you for being with us. And don`t go anywhere, "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes is up next.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN. The new Trump world crisis strategy, lie to you about the number of dead and attacked Dr. Fauci. A shocking new report shows the White House`s efforts juke the stats will Trump T.V. does its part for the reelection campaign.

Plus, the Trump gang escapes. How is it that these three men have all been let off the hook as the rest of America`s prisoners face the pandemic behind bars. And the national pastime, inside the labor fight over Major League Baseball`s plan to return the summer when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Having utterly failed at containing the virus and protecting Americans, President Trump is now going to try to lie to you about the death toll. It was only, of course, a matter of time before it reached this point but here`s the headline from the Daily Beast. Team Trump pushes centers for disease control to revise down its COVID death counts. The White House has pressed the CDC, in particular, to work with states to change how they count coronavirus deaths and report them back to the federal government.

And Dr. Debra Birx, the coordinator of the administration`s coronavirus task force has urged CDC officials to exclude from coronavirus death count reporting some of those individuals who either did not have confirmed lab results and are presumed positive or who have the virus and may not have died as a direct result of it. The president`s task force is now pressuring the CDC and state officials to change the metrics they use to count deaths so that they are lower.

Now, this is despite the fact that we know the actual tabulated counted deaths that we have are absolutely under counted. It`s hard to find an expert who has looked at this who does not agree. In fact, just yesterday, Dr. Anthony Fauci was asked by Senator Bernie Sanders if the death toll could be as much as 50 percent higher than the official number. And here`s how Dr. Fauci responded.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Most of us feel that the number of deaths are likely higher than that number because given the situation, particularly in New York City when they were really strapped with a very serious challenge to their health care system, that there may have been people who died at home who did have COVID who are not counted as COVID because they never really got to the hospital.

So in direct answer to your question, I think you are correct, that the number is likely higher. I don`t know exactly what percent higher but almost certainly it`s higher.


HAYES: Almost certainly it is higher, higher than the numbers we have, higher than the merely as of today 85,000 people which is where we are now. New York City took the most scrupulous look at this as Dr. Fauci was talking about. It has, of course, the highest recorded death toll of any city in the world. But it has still missed thousands of deaths.

And when experts go back and they look at excess mortality, which is when you compare the amount of people who died in a given year to the year before and the year before that, that same time of year, there are thousands and thousands and thousands of deaths that are not in the official tallies.

Back in April, the city found 3,700 excess deaths. And then earlier this week, the number was revised up to include 5,000 more deaths that were not counted. That`s nearly 9000 previously uncounted deaths right there, in addition to the tens of thousands that we know about.

The official figure we have does not actually represent the true size of the devastation. And the loss as we as Americans have experience. And thousands of people are still dying every day. There`s the hundreds of people dying in New York, in New Jersey. It`s even getting worse in other states. Illinois just had its one-day def total.

The model the White House has reportedly relied on, the one that predicted 60,000 deaths is now projecting 140,000 by early August. The deaths are real, they`re mounting, and the White House knows it. But the approach all along has been to ignore it. And when that did not work, they tried to bury the inconvenient information that got in the way of their plan to reopen.

Last week, the A.P. report of the Trump ministration buried a CDC report with step by step guidance on how and when to reopen. On Monday, NBC News exclusively obtained a report by the pandemic Task Force showing Coronavirus rates spiking in heartland communities. And then today we learned about yet another shell report, a 63-page CDC report with a far more detailed and restrictive plan for reopening than the White House`s guidance released last month.

Tonight, we learned the President`s nominee to be the nation`s top consumer safety watchdog was involved in sidelining those detailed guidelines. Report after report from the Trump administration`s own experts buried. And so now the president strategy is to lie, to lie about the extent of the losses, try to make them disappear using the same tactics widely believed to be used by foreign authoritarian regimes.

Of course, this is in line with what has been the President`s approach to the virus since the very beginning. He never for a second saw it as a real crisis to be solved not as an actual threat to the American people that must be dealt with, but simply as a challenge to his reelection as a set of numbers, a rating system where he was determined to get good ratings. And so back on March 6th, the President gave the game way.

Remember, thousands of Americans were trapped on a ship where Coronavirus was spreading. A situation where any good leader would want to take them off the ship and test them and treat them. I mean anyone Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, anyone with a brain, anyone with any shred of empathy or decency, anyone with any sense of public duty, anyone. American stranded in a ship with the virus.

The President though did not want to take them off. No, no. Despite the fact that he`s being urged to by the experts around him, he didn`t want to take them off and he explained to us why. And his answer is the skeleton key understanding the entirety of the response thus far.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They would like to have the people come off. I`d rather have the people stay. But I go with them. I told them to make the final decision. I would rather because I like the numbers being where they are. I don`t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn`t our fault.


HAYES: I like the numbers being where they are. I don`t need to have the numbers double because of one ship. It wasn`t our fault. I don`t need the numbers doubling. Me, Donald Trump. In his impulse from the very beginning, ignore the problem, say it will go away like a miracle, burry facts get in the way.

And then when all else fails, because it does fail, because the virus doesn`t care, then you just try to juke the stats. If people won`t actually know that their loved ones are dying. As if you could actually use propaganda to make someone forget that someone they loved in their life, who was here a week ago, is now gone forever.

Here with me now is Asawin Suebsaeng, White House Reporter for The Daily Beast and one of the bylines on the piece about the White House pressuring the CDC to lower its coronavirus death counts, Asawin, what can you tell us about this effort?

ASAWIN SUEBSAENG, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, first of all, to go back to what you were saying about President Trump himself. It`s very nice what he just says the quiet part loud and loud or quiet. There was no mystery to it when the President just comes out and says, oh, these -- the death toll and these numbers are hugely politically inconvenient to me.

But as my colleague Erin Banco and I reported it The Daily Beast this morning, it`s not just President Trump, it`s various officials in the White House and on the Coronavirus Task Force including Dr. Deborah Birx, who have been pressuring the CDC to start doing the numbers and doing the death stats in a different way.

The complaints from Dr. Birx include but aren`t limited to that she thinks it`s perhaps suspect or inaccurate, that the CDC is including numbers of individuals who had the coronavirus but perhaps may not have died directly, whatever that means, because of it in the death count, and she would like to see essentially better categorization.

Now, that argument may seem a little bit in good faith than other Trump partisans or Republican partisans, but this isn`t happening in a vacuum. When it comes to President Trump himself, as we reported in the story for weeks, at least the past few weeks, he`s been telling people close to him in and out of the administration that he would like to see more accurate numbers and that he`s grown to grow suspicious of these numbers.

Those one person I spoke to who the President spoken to very recently was saying that he would like a "review of how the CDC and other government bodies calculate the coronavirus death because he`s concerned that maybe someone who had the coronavirus and tripped and fell down a flight of stairs could be counted among the death toll.

That`s the kind of thing that`s on his mind, which may sound rather outlandish to you or me. But those are the things that his suspicion is rooted in regarding tens of thousands that currently stand.

HAYES: We should just be clear here, right? Again, just to restate what I said the beginning. Like the public health says we are under accounting these deaths. It shows up in excess mortality everywhere. And also, that the origins of this, like so much that that gets into the polluted stream that is the President`s mind is just some, you know, sort of conspiracy theories by people close to him that the death toll is being rigged.

You know, there`s a bunch of like, you know, cranks and psychopaths who want to say that the thing isn`t actually happening that`s happening. But those people have managed to communicate this in a way that is -- it has been funneled into the President`s mind that there`s some big conspiracy to make him look bad by counting the deaths.

SUEBSAENG: Right. And that is something that he privately vents almost constantly to people close to him within and without the administration. And I can`t tell you how many people I`ve spoken to who for weeks, if not months have said that President Trump has specifically told me that oh, people in the media and my enemies in the Democratic establishment would love it if the death toll were higher. They want to paint me as this man with so much blood on my hands, tens of thousands of Americans.

It`s not a mistake that these conversations are happening particularly in the Oval Office when the President of the United States, the leader of the free world sees the American Coronavirus death toll as politically inconvenient to him. And that`s true no matter how many times he tweets or says publicly how sad it is that innocent lives with loss.

HAYES: Do you get the sense that they are trying to move -- that they think they can move past this? It seems to me they`ve been sort of projecting this idea that like, even if you look at what the you know, Trump T.V. is talking about like, OK, well, we`re kind of done with coronavirus, people are going to open up, we`re going to deal with other things. Like, is that the plan here?

SUEBSAENG: Oh, yes, absolutely. I mean, the President of the United States and his team in the White House and on the campaign are already trying to game out other campaign strategies to get him back on the campaign trail. So maybe he can`t do the full-blown 20,000, 30,000 people MAGA rallies that he`s used to doing, but so that he can start doing things that are -- that he feels are politically beneficial to him.

Some of the ideas that have been floated internally or that oh, maybe he starts doing 2020 rallies at drive-in movie theaters where he`s there on a booming megaphone, and everybody is required to space station within their own car. And maybe there`s only a few hundred cars there are not the crowd that he`s used to.

But when it comes to, oh, it`s time to jumpstart the economy, and let`s just try to will this out of existence, that`s sort of a crude way of putting where President Donald Trump`s mind is at, but he has a pretty crude mind and it`s not inaccurate.

But the people around him who might be a little bit more lucid about it will tell you that OK, we`re expecting things to get better during the warmer months of the summer. But at the end of the day, we`re at the mercy of this virus. They have no idea what they`ll be able to do between now and November. And for as much bluster as there is from the Trump White House and Trump himself (AUDIO GAP) happened.

HAYES: Asawin Suebsaeng, thank you so much for sharing that great reporting. I really appreciate it.

SUEBSAENG: Thank you so much for having me.

HAYES: I want to turn now to members of Congress -- member of Congress who has concerns about the upcoming coronavirus rescue bill does not effectively address the crisis people are facing. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington who`s co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

And first, I want to start at sort of the big picture, which is that it does seem to me that they`re -- after the sort of bipartisan pieces of legislation, there is now a very stark partisan divide before we get to your issues with this bill, which is that the White House and Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell say we`re done, get back out there, everybody, we have prevailed in the words of the President and Democrats say, no, we`re not done, we need to do more. Is that a sort of fair assessment of where things stand?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Yes, it`s unconscionable. And just listening to your reporting. Again, you sort of lay out very clearly, you know, as the deaths are piling up, the tolls, we have surpassed the American lives lost during the Vietnam War, two decades of war. We are far past that now, and we are projected to double and perhaps even triple that.

Then on top of that, you look at unemployment, Chris, 33 million people who have lost their unemployment -- who have lost their jobs and have filed unemployment claims just in the last six weeks alone. We are likely at a one in four unemployment rate right now. And that number is only projected to increase.

87 million people before the pandemic who were uninsured or underinsured, and we are projected to lose another 35 million people who will lose their health care when they lose their jobs. So, this is a massive problem. Businesses are shuttering. We are seeing enormous rates of businesses now permanently shuttering because we have not been able to get assistance to them.

So for the White House and Republicans to say we`re done and we`re just going to wait is so absolutely absurd, but it`s also a dramatic failure of leadership.

HAYES: The new bill that was unveiled by the -- by the House, by the House Democrats, it has a lot of money for a state and local governments, which I think is quite key. Percent500 billion for state government and local governments as well as health expenses, there`s housing aid, a rescue for the U.S. Postal Service wishes in trouble, some more money for small businesses as well as for election by mail. What are -- what`s your objection? Why do you think this bill is not enough?

JAYAPAL: Well, here`s the thing. I think we need to be able to go back to our constituents across the country and say we are committing to them that we have their back on two things. One, that we have put forward a solution that meets the scale of this crisis that I`ve just outlined to you what the issues are. And two, that we are providing certainty to them that they are actually going to be able to live their lives. Put food on the table, run their businesses, be able to pay their rent and mortgage.

I do not think that this bill contains that. I think it has amazing excellent things in it. But at the end of the day, can we go back and say that we are protecting paychecks, that we are the party of keeping workers in their jobs, that we are making sure that everyone is covered with health care, and that we are providing businesses with relief so that they can stay open, that economy that is so important to us.

And that`s why I proposed a couple -- a couple of bills, and my colleagues have proposed a couple of bills. My paycheck guarantee would ensure that we get money directly to workers and that it continues not a one-time stimulus payment, not pushing people onto unemployment insurance, but keeping them tied to their jobs and recovering paychecks.

Two, a Medicare crisis bill that would say that we would expand health care to actually include people that are unemployed on Medicare and people that are uninsured on Medicaid, and that we don`t allow anybody to lose their health care in the midst of a healthcare crisis.

And the third bill that I think we should be including, I`m a co-sponsor, but it`s actually Donna Shalala and Jamie Raskin and others who have said we need a real plan to reopen America, tie states to ensuring that they`re following CDC guidelines so that we do not have meatpackers that suddenly are going to work before it`s safe, that we are sure that workers in every industry are not being pushed back to work without following public health guides because we can`t afford to have more people die.

And to me, if we combine those three things with the state and local government money, that would allow us to provide states and businesses and workers with certainty and with scale, because I don`t want to go back and in after passing this bill, go back in May and watch the unemployment numbers go up, watch the number of deaths go up and say that we didn`t do anything to address that.

I`ll tell you if I feel, Chris, like I`m on the Titanic, and it`s sinking, and we`ve got $3.5 trillion bucket, but it`s got lots of holes in it, and we`re trying to stay. That can`t be the answer. And you know, there`s a lot of hard work that`s gone into this bill. I`m not trying to throw shade on it. You know, we are doing so much more than Republicans are.

But we have a chance to show leadership and to actually show that Democrats have an answer. And it relies on those three things, providing health care, you know, making sure workers have paychecks, making sure businesses can stay. That`s the -- that`s the essence of who we are as a Democratic Party, and I unfortunately, I just don`t think that that`s what we`re doing.

HAYES: Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Seattle. Thank you for taking some time with us tonight.

JAYAPAL: Thank you so much, Chris.

HAYES: Next, Dr. Anthony Fauci continues to deliver measured and realistic warnings about the dangers of the pandemic and it is apparently getting on the President`s nerves. The Coronavirus troopers are on the attack and we`ll talk about that next.


HAYES: Donald Trump`s cronies and apologists have found their enemy and it is not the virus, it is Dr. Anthony Fauci. Earlier this week, there have been rumblings that Republicans are planning to turn on the nation`s leading infectious disease expert. Politic0 reporting that Fauci fatigue was sending in among some Republicans.

But even after some pretty even-tempered measured testimony before Congress yesterday where Fauci warned that reopening the country too quickly could lead to "suffering and death that could be avoided." The propagandists at Trump T.V. lashed out last night.


TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: They`re following Fauci`s orders, and of course, he`s pleased by that. He didn`t expect to have this much power at the age of 79.

This guy, Fauci, maybe even more off base than your average epidemiologist. Is this the guy you want to chart the future of the country?


HAYES: He even called Dr. Fauci, "The chief buffoon of the professional class." Yes, I love that populist rhetoric. Now, that comes from the man who just two weeks ago was aggressively hyping claims by two doctors who downplayed the threat of the virus, who`s easily debunked video got them yanked from YouTube.

Today, by the way, the president himself join the anti-Fauci chorus disparaging the testimony of his own health expert. The bigger problem here is the President and the people were tasked with propagandizing on his behalf do not like that the public health experts keep saying inconvenient things like the virus is deadly and we should be careful about how we reopen.

I`m joined now by the former Acting Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Richard Besser, who led the CDC response to the H1N1 influenza pandemic. Dr. Besser, what do you make of the kind of criticism that we`ve seen growing on the right? We`ve heard it echoed then in the President directed towards Fauci which seems like Fauci is sort of a stand in for public health expertise more broadly.

RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACING DIRECTOR, CDC: And you know, Chris, I think we`re in a really delicate and dangerous situation when public health science and evidence are put forward as an enemy of reopening the economy. You know, I worked at CDC for 13 years and worked side by side with Dr. Fauci on a number of responses. And, you know, he`s one of the most respected infectious disease immunologists in the world.

And what you want to see is what he`s laying out there not come true, because we`re taking the actions that are necessary to make it safe for children to return to school in some -- in some fashion. The point he`s making is that we`re not going to have something incredible like a vaccine by this fall.

And if we are serious about trying to get parts of the economy open and running, we need to do a lot more than we`re doing now in terms of building our public health system to be able to respond and contain little sparks of disease so they don`t become wildfires.

HAYES: You were interim head of CDC. It`s a renowned agency, I think it`s fair to say, worldwide. Its performance here, many have viewed as deeply lacking. I mean, it was -- oversaw the testing debacle. Dominic Neill is a reporter science reporter for New York Times said it`s a great agency, but it`s incompetently led, and I think Dr. Redfield, the head of the agency should resign. Do you agree with that?

BESSER: You know, when I was at CDC, for the years I was there, I was in charge of emergency preparedness and response. And I would have to say there was -- there was never a response where we didn`t make mistakes. What`s different here is that CDC is not facing the public through the media every day to explain what they`re doing, what they`re learning, how people can protect their health. When they`re changing guidance, they`re not able to come forward and say, well, here`s what we learned. Here`s why we`re now recommend mending masks when before we didn`t recommend masks.

And so, when you`re seeing these changes in guidance, when you`re -- when you`re seeing things that don`t make a lot of sense, you`re not hearing from the scientist to be able to explain what`s going on. And what you need most during a crisis of public health crisis is trust. You need to know that the things you`re being told to do are based on the best science available, that you understand when something is changing, why that`s taking place, but we`re not seeing that.

And when most of the messaging comes from political leaders, half the country will discount it at face value, because they didn`t support that leader. And then the other half will get upset if you`re challenging it based on science. And so, we`re in a really challenging position here because we`re not hearing from the scientists that we should be hearing from.

HAYES: And so, I mean, this is a big departure, right? So not only do we not hear from CVC directly as would be normally the standard operating procedure, but we`ve gotten story after story about their own recommendations being buried or not let out of the agency. How different is that from how CDC has traditionally operated in the midst of a public health crisis?

BESSER: Yes. I mean, it`s night and day different. You know, what you would expect to see is CDC working with states, working with localities, working with different industries to develop evidence-based guides. And then that goes forward, it gets approved, and states use that as their starting point, and then they will adapt based on local conditions.

The CDC has very little enforcement value, but what they have is the power of being the world`s most respected public health agency. And so, when they put forward evidence-based guidance, you know, it`s based on current data, current evidence, and when they learn more that it will -- that it will change.

I`m on the commission to restart and recover New Jersey as well as the coordinating group for the seven northeastern states. And it would be amazing if we had clear Federal guidance that we could then adapt to our states, but we`re not getting that. So we`re having to do workarounds.

HAYES: What do you mean, you`re not getting on?

BESSER: Well, you know, the fact that CDC put forward guidance -- and I saw the 17-page version that the APE received, and it`s really good. It`s specific. It gets down to details. It talks about what you do, based on how much disease is in your community. It talks about how you ensure that all residents in your community are being addressed.

You know, and that`s a -- that`s a part of the conversation that need -- that we need to be having more of. Why are certain communities, communities of color, black Americans, Latinos, getting hit so hard and what can be done to prevent that? Without CDC being out there front and center answering those questions, their work is not as good as it should be either.

HAYES: Dr. Richard Besser who was at CDC, now at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Thank you so much for being with me tonight.

BESSER: Great to be here, Chris. Thank you.

HAYES: Still ahead, if you want to know how bad the U.S. is in handling this pandemic compared to the rest of the world, you do not want to miss our next segment. It might be worse than you thought. Stick around.


HAYES: We have a tendency here in America to be pretty focused on ourselves and not think that other countries serve as useful comparisons for us, because we`re America, we`re different, we`re exceptional. And it plays out in all kinds of ways from the amount of foreign news we consume to the way we think about how we should design our health care system.

The fact that the entire world is currently battling the same disease at the same time makes international comparisons unavoidable right now. And it is so striking to look at how we have done in relation to the rest of the world to put into stark contrast just what a disaster our response has been.

Now before I show you this data, it`s also worth noting, and this is important to be fair here and accurate, that there are a ton of different factors that lead to whether or not a place has an outbreak -- genetic mutations in the virus that some people believe could lead to increased transmissability (ph), how much seeding an area got can also play a role, so it isn`t totally exact, precise comparison about which country is better than the other.

But in the aggregate, right, take a step back, the United States is the world`s biggest economy, has less than 5 percent of the world`s population and nearly 30 percent of the world`s Coronavirus deaths.

The smart people at have been compiling data from dozens of countries over the past few months and have created graphs showing the daily new cases of COVID-19 with a 10-day average.

This is what the graph looks like for the U.S. You see a sharp rise in cases that hasn`t really tapered off yet, right. It`s trending down. Now some of that might be a result be a result of increased testing. And we`ve seen the rate of positive tests steadily decline, which is good.

But to put that in context, that curve you see there, here is how some other places are doing. divided countries into three categories. The first group is the countries that appear to have successfully suppressed transmission of the disease, that curve has come all the way down so that they are barely registering any new cases. That`s where you want to end up, right? They call these the winners and there are a bunch of them.

We`ve been talking a lot about a small cluster of countries that have gotten this right, like South Korea and Taiwan, but there are wide variety of places in this group with very different levels of development and economic wealth and even governing styles.

So listen to this list of the 32, 32 winning countries. You will notice we are keeping the U.S. graph on the left of your screen so you can see how much better these countries are faring compared to us. We have Andorra, Australia, Austria, Bhutan, Cambodia, China Croatia, Cuba, Djibouti, Estonia, Greece -- look at Greece. Greece is often criticized as a kind of governing basket case in Europe and look at how well they have done -- Iceland -- Iceland is another one -- Jamaica, Jordan, Kosovo, Latvia, Lebanon -- Lebanon -- Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, and finally Vietnam. All of those countries in the green beating the Coronavirus and doing much better than us.

And the next group is countries that are nearly there. They are suppressing the virus, but they are still recording new cases. These are all the yellow graphs, right. You see a bunch of countries, particularly in Europe that are there and then the group still in trouble. These are the countries where recorded cases are going up or they`re going down very slowly.

Despite the fact the last week or two of data from the U.S. overall is somewhat hopeful and things are moving somewhat in the right direction, we are somewhat until the red. In a group that happens coincidentally also happens to include some of Trump`s favorite world leaders like Putin of Russia, Duterte of the Philippines, and Bolsonaro in Brazil.

This crisis is among other things a kind of global test of governance and it is just really hard to look at the data and come to any conclusion other than that our leaders are failing. Our leaders are failing.


HAYES: Let`s take a look at four former associates of President Trump who have all faced criminal prosecution. It`s kind of a theme of people around the president. Three of them refused to, in the president`s own words, rat on the president. And one of them did rat on the president. |And we are seeing the result of that.

In an unprecedented move, the Department of Justice intervened to recommend a shorter sentence for the president`s friend Roger Stone overriding line prosecutors who actually took the extraordinary step of resigning in protest.

And then in another unprecedented move, the DOJ filed a motion to drop the case against the president`s former national security advisor Michael Flynn who had already pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, and some legal experts have said has no obvious precedent.

And then today we learned the president`s 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was convicted by a jury, is going to be released from prison very early because of Coronavirus concerns.

Now let`s be clear here, releasing people, particularly the elderly from prison during this pandemic is a good thing we should be doing en masse. But let`s compare Manafort to another prisoner, the president`s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who did, in the president`s words rat. He was supposed to be released from prison in the beginning of May because of the Coronavirus, but that plan was abruptly canceled with no explanation, huh.

This is an example of what justice looks like under Donald Trump. For my friends, anything, for my enemies the law.

Joining me now is Paul Butler who served as a federal prosecutor in the Department of Justice where his specialty was public corruption.

And Paul let`s start with Paul Manafort who, again, I think it is probably a good idea to get people who are elderly or at risk of the disease out of federal prisons, but there is 76 percent of inmates in Longpoc federal prison in California, and they`re not releasing a ton of them. There are people in Manafort`s own facility that qualify, Manafort does not actually -- he is well under the halfway threshold that is outlined in the Bureau of Prison guidelines and yet he`s out.

PAUL BUTLER, FORMER U.S. PROSECUTOR: Make no mistake, Chris, Paul Manafort is a bad dude. Even before his criminal conviction, he was locked up for violating his bail by intimidating witnesses, and then he gets convicted of numerous federal felonies. But he doesn`t deserve a death penalty. And the reality is that, when you`re in prison, you can`t take the steps that we all need to to stay safe -- you can`t practice social distancing, if you have preexisting conditions you can`t take extra precautions, you can`t even wash your hands like you need to.

So, I`m not mad about Paul Manafort, I`m mad about the hundreds of thousands of other prisoners who don`t get the same break. I`m mad that if you`re not rich and white and connected, you don`t have the same opportunity that Paul Manafort had to come home and stay safe.

HAYES: But it even more specific than that. I mean, it really looks when you go down the line and you look at the fates of the people that specifically kind of like took one for the team for Donald Trump, and that`s Flynn and Stone and Manafort, right, they didn`t like roll over on him, and you look at their fates.

I mean, the Flynn case is really remarkable, right. Here is a guy that pleaded guilty. The DOJ has now undertaken this completely wild move of resending, essentially, withdrawing their prosecution of him. This is not like normal stuff. This is not the normal stuff of like well, people who were connect and wealthy, you know, they do better in the system than people that aren`t. This is the next level.

BUTLER: So this is the Department of Justice under Bill Barr and Donald Trump. So this is the picture of unequal justice under the law.

Remember what Michael Flynn did. He lied under oath and so there was a court proceeding in which Flynn was trying to say I know I plead guilty. I didn`t mean it.

Remember, Chris, Michael Flynn admitted in federal court three times before two different judges that he was guilty. But now we have this extraordinary move by the Department of Justice to dismiss charges.

And, yeah, you`re right, this is about Trump`s cronies. This is about Trump favoritism as much as it`s about being rich and white and having fancy lawyers.

But guess what, Michael Flynn, Donald Trump, they`ve met their match in this judge Emmet Sullivan. I was -- had the privilege of appearing before Judge Sullivan, and I`ve known him for many years, Chris. He`s a judge who prosecutors are as much afraid of as criminal defendants. He holds the government to an extremely high standard.

And now we have this gangster move from him where he`s saying, OK, Mr. Flynn you admitted under oath in federal court that you were guilty and now you`re saying you`re not guilty. Well, guess what, it`s a crime to lie to the FBI, which is what you plead guilty to, but it`s also a crime to lie under oath in federal court.

And so he can`t have it both ways, he`s either committed perjury lying to the FBI or perjury lying to the judge. And the judge, using his contempt power, now has the authority to start a case against Michael Flynn for lying to him.

HAYES: The judge today, a really remarkable order, he appointed a guy named John Gleason who has spent 22 years as a federal judge, who is at a private law firm now, to essentially like play the role of a friend of the court to investigate. He`s been appointed as an amicus curiae to present arguments in opposition to the government`s motion to dismiss. Basically, he`s creating an adversarial process because you have got Flynn`s lawyers who say let`s get rid of this, the DOJ says let`s get rid of this, and the judge saying not so fast. I`d like to hear some arguments for not getting rid of it. And he should address whether the court should issue an order to show cause on why Mr. Flynn should not be held in criminal contempt for perjury like you said.

This strikes me as really unusual for -- I mean, this entire story is unusual, but this move by the judge is quite extraordinary.

BUTLER: Never seen anything like it. Judge Sullivan clearly is perturbed by the conduct of Michael Flynn. There was an extraordinary proceeding earlier where Flynn was also trying to go back on his guilty plea, Judge Sullivan pointed to the flag in the courtroom and said, you desecrated this flag with what you admitted you did. You sold your country out.

And so the question before Sullivan now is whether the Department of Justice is acting in good faith, following its established procedures and trying to dismiss the case, or on the other hand, is it being improperly influenced by Barr, by Trump, by the same unethical conduct that we`ve consistently seen from Barr`s Justice Department.

So is this about good government? Is it about mercy from the Department of Justice? Or is it about politics and cronyism? Judge Sullivan will decide.

HAYES: Paul Butler, that was a great explanation of everything that happened today. Thank you so much.

BUTLER: Good to be here.

HAYES: Ahead, the MLB is trying to figure out a way to salvage a season in the midst of the pandemic. I`ll talk to Dave Zirin about the fascinating struggle between the owners and the player union right after this.


HAYES: Lots of people miss sports right now -- I`m one of them. And various sports leagues are trying to figure out whether there`s a way forward in the era of COVID.

You`ve got NBA practice facilities, which are slowly opening up. The NFL recently announced a schedule with a full slate of games, which I guess we`ll see. Major League Baseball is floating a plan that would see a shortened season starting in July without fans with an extra number of playoff games and a reconfigured schedule and limited travel.

Now, there`s the question of whether the the owners can get the players to go for it. The two sides began negotiations yesterday. For the players` union, money seems to be a big sticking point? And of course there`s the issue of player safety. Washington National star reliever Sean Doolittle had a tweet thread on this tweeting out, quote, bare with me, but it feels like we`ve zoomed passed the most important aspect of any MLB restart plan: health protections for players, families, staff, stadium workers, and the workforce it will require to resume a season."

Joining me to talk about whether baseball, or any other sport, will be back this year, Dave Zirin, host of the Edge of Sports podcast.

Dave, what`s your read on where things are with this plan presented by the owners and the players` union reaction to it?

DAVE ZIRIN, HOST, EDGE OF SPORTS PODCAST: Major sticking points right now. I mean first and foremost, the Major League Baseball is saying that they want baseball with no high-fives and no spitting. And it`s hard to imagine baseball without spitting. I mean, apparently players can still scratch themselves as long as they don`t shake hands afterwards.

But that`s not the real sticking point, of course, the real sticking point is how they`re going to divide the revenue, how they`re going to divide the spoils.

Back in March, Major League Baseball said, OK, we will prorate your contracts. In other words, if you make $10 million a year and we play half the season you`ll get $5 million a year, and that`s the way we`ll do it.

Now Major League Baseball with their new proposal is saying that they want a salary cap and a 50/50 split of all revenue with the players. Now the revenue is not going to be that great. And so it`s a super pay reduction for the players themselves.

And the union is also saying hell no because Major League Baseball is the only sport without a salary cap and without this kind of revenue sharing. So this would be a historic step backwards for the union itself. And the union president Tony Clark said that the league is actually taking advantage of the pandemic as a way to slide in through the back door getting a salary cap where none existed before.

HAYES: We should mention that unlike other sports baseball is really dependent on gate tickets, on fans actually coming to the game for revenue. So a season without fans, which I think everyone agrees like, you`re not going to have people in the seats, that`s just going to be a way, way, way less money for baseball.

ZIRIN: Yes, a ton less money. Baseball estimates they get 40 percent of their income just from gate receipts. And so immediately, that`s going to be off the table.

And in the venue that the situation where in some markets I mean they`re very dependent on cable and broadcasting deals, so Major League Baseball, they need to broadcast something, but it varies from city to city, like the New York Yankees have a multi-billion dollar cable deal, while small market teams have something far less.

So how they figure out how they`re going to get all that cable money together and divide it is another sticking point for the union, if it`s going to be a revenue-sharing situation. I mean they don`t want a situation where players for the Dodgers are making tremendous amounts of money more than players from the Brewers, if they`re tearing up everybody`s contract and starting over from scratch.

HAYES: Right.

We should note that there is a weird situation here, right, which is that people are stuck at home and starved for things to watch and missing sports. And I`ve been watching the Bulls documentary on ESPN, The Last Dance just like everyone else and because -- there is nothing to watch. And so if you can find a way to do this safely, like you would probably get great ratings. In fact, ESPN is so desperate for baseball content, they started broadcasting South Korean baseball games, which have started. This this is what it looks like. And they -- again, they`re playing in front of empty stadiums. I think Taiwan is doing something similar.

The NBA is also thinking if they could come up, that`s -- yeah you see the people in the back, they have cardboard cutouts in the back, and then homers into empty stands.

NBA is trying to figure out if they can do some kind of modified playoffs where they get a bunch of players and basically the same place, to play against each other and not be traveling and no fans is that the basic contours of their plan?

ZIRIN: Yes. And I can report that today, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Steph Curry, Chris Paul, they all got on a conference call together, James Harden conspicuous by his absence, but that is a whole other story. But they got on a conference call together to say that they want to go forward and play no matter what.

The problem is going to be more than other sports I think basketball without fans is going to be an extremely different kind of experience not just for the viewer watching at home, but for the players as well. I`ve been interviewing some NBA players to ask them this question, and one said to me that 25 percent of the juice on that court just comes from either wanting to hear the cheers from the stands or silencing an opposing crowd. And so if you take that out, you`re also going to produce something that is a very different game.

HAYES: Yes. It`s crazy to me like watch those -- you know pickup game footage that you occasionally see.

There is an interesting sort of sticking point here is which is for the safety of the players, right, the safety of the players and the refs and everyone on the team, you are going to want to have a situation where people are being tested a lot. So, you have got to have a very proactive testing regiment. Obviously, people in basketball are in close contact with each other. You can`t physically distance on a basketball court. And a former surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, who has advised the NBA on this, says I do think it would be disturbing to many if there was a massive testing that was available to a sports league at a time when people who are in high risk situations were still having a difficult time getting access to testing

This seems like a difficult needle to thread for the NBA, in terms of their plan.

ZIRIN: Exactly. Especially because the NBA is very conscious of its role as kind of the sport that`s going to send a message to the country that things are getting back to normal, because it was the NBA when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert found that he was COVID-19 positive and then the entire league just shut down overnight, like they went from one day saying we`re not going to high five, we`re just going to bump fists, to the next day saying actually we`re shutting the whole thing down.

And so Adam Silver is very aware, the commissioner of the NBA, that it is his call is going to have a huge cultural effect in a way that perhaps other sports it will not.

HAYES: Yeah, I hope -- I mean I hope they can do both. I hope they can both find a way to safely test the players, give us some NBA playoff basketball that is safe and also not like horde tests that other people need. But I don`t know if there is a solution for that.

Dave Zirin, it`s always great to hear your thoughts on all of this. Thanks for making time tonight.

ZIRIN: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now with Ali Velshi in for Rachel. Good evening, Ali.