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COVID culture war TRANSCRIPT: 5/15/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: Mara Gay, Maxine Watters, Elissa Slotkin, John Barry, John Brennan

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Thanks so much for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes is up next.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, on ALL IN. People put on masks. It`s one of the most obvious steps towards getting back anywhere close to normal, but your president would rather have a culture war. We`ll talk to someone who knows better because she had the virus.

Plus, how the hashtag freedom protesters temporarily shut down democracy in Michigan. Elissa Slotkin is here. Former CIA Director John Brennan on the President`s corruption of the rule of law. And the Spanish Flu curve, a cautionary tale of 1918 and what we all want to avoid for the fall when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York. Happy Friday. I`m Chris Hayes. By now, you have probably seen images of the president pointedly not wearing a mask. Here he is in the Rose Garden today, mask less while Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci wear masks behind him. Here is yesterday without a mask at Pennsylvania Medical Supply Company where just about everyone else had a mask on for obvious reasons.

And you can see, the president just does not think masks are for him. He reportedly dislikes masks and thinks they suggest weakness.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just don`t want to wear in myself. It`s a recommendation. They recommend it. I`m feeling good. I don`t know. Somehow, I don`t see it for myself. I just -- I just -- I won`t be doing it personally. It`s a recommendation, OK.


HAYES: You might have noticed also that not wearing a mask has sort of become a weird kind of cultural or virtue signaling by Trump people like Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas who was seen on the House floor today, sitting in the back of the chamber and chatting with colleagues without wearing a mask. Or the people there right-wing open up America rallies like this one yesterday in Minnesota, or the people who crowded into this Wisconsin bar right after the State Supreme Court struck down their stay at home order to celebrate, or the guy that Trump actually retweeted attacking the quote commies in blue states and saying that people in Florida are all out at bars having a good time without masks on.

Here`s the thing. These people are, as we stress on the show often, very much the minority. Right now, it remains the case, America continues to be sort of amazingly unified in the polling in wanting to go slowly and cautiously to make sure we have the virus under control as we try to reopen.

And as for masks, in a recent poll, 81 percent of Americans say workers at open businesses should be required to wear them. 76 percent say customers should be required to wear masks as well. But for Donald Trump`s own stated aims, for the stated aims of those protesters, and all the right-wingers out there who think they are the ones the vanguard of opening up America and getting American capitalism cracking again, there is nothing stupider nothing more counterproductive you can do then turn not wearing a mask into some right-wing badge of honor. The way that Rush Limbaugh did today when he mocked Dr. Fauci for wearing a mask in a White House event.

Because the mask is your friend Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh, protesters. If the stated goal here is to open up the American economy, get people back to work, achieve some level of normalcy, something that we all desperately want, there is really good evidence that everyone wearing a mask can really help us in that project.

Hong Kong, which is doing incredibly well, is telling the world that masks work. It has had only four known deaths total from the Coronavirus, and people there have been able to continue to live their lives and do things like ride the subway and go to crowded restaurants. You see, they all wear masks there. They started masking immediately when the virus started merging from Wuhan.

Because the main way we know this virus is being transmitted is from droplets that are coming out of people`s mouths when they talk, and when they yell, and when they sing, when they cough, when they breathe. And so, if you wear a mask, you help keep those droplets away from other people. Which is key because a lot of the transmission is asymptomatic. You don`t know if you`re sick.

There`s another way to explaining it actually, which was in a meme that went viral, you might have seen, even tweeted out by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Here it is. "If we all run around naked and someone pees on you, you get wet right away. If you are wearing parents, some of the people get through but not as much so you`re better protected. But if the guy who pees also is wearing pants, the pee stays with him and you do not get wet." It`s pretty good way of putting it.

Now, let me just say I get why people do not want to wear a mask. I personally don`t like wearing one. In case you haven`t noticed, I wear glasses. It fogged up my glasses. I`m walking around in a fog haze. I`m also a little claustrophobic. I kind of a claustrophobic, kind of annoying, but you know what, so what, in the grand scheme of things.

I mean, right now, we are facing a pandemic that has ravaged everyone`s life, the country it`s killed 88,000 of our fellow citizens. It shut down half the world. 35 million people unemployed. We`re all homeschooling our kids and not leaving the house. We`re reckoning with all these terrible policy choices agonizing should we open schools are not.

And all these choices, they have these huge costs and sort of competing interests on either side no matter what we do. The easiest, lowest hanging fruit to make things at least somewhat better, the smallest most trivial thing is, let`s all wear masks, right?

We have seen culture wars waged against simple safety measures before. This is not new. There are people who are against things like seatbelt laws, which we all now take for granted, and we also know saved countless lives. We saw the same thing with protests against laws requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think it`s the government`s responsibility to take care of me. It`s my job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While riding helmetless may be reckless, it`s a symbol of personal freedom which bikers in California say is another freedom lost. What will it be next, no blondes on a convertible?


HAYES: There was a time when people thought helmet laws and seatbelt requirements and laws against smoking in indoor spaces were just insane tyranny.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Smokers are either resigned or resentful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, everybody is worried about you know, a little bit of smoke around the office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve been smoking for 35 years. If it was that bad, I`d be dead already.


HAYES: In fact, there were even protests against masks during the 1918 flu pandemic, an anti-mask league that denounced a mandatory mask ordinance in San Francisco. It`s a real thing. So this is not new. We`ve seen it all before. But a huge part of the answer to the question of how much we can get back to normal and how quickly is going to be our own behavioral changes, not just government policy, not just the trajectory of the virus, it`s what we do. And that means masks.

It`s bad enough the President has failed at solving the problem, that he`s declared bankruptcy not even trying. But I can think of nothing more pernicious, nothing more stupid than actively spreading propaganda to make the problem worse.

Joining me now is someone who has seen firsthand what the virus can do, Mara Gay of the New York Times Editorial Board. She came down with COVID-19 in the middle of April. And even though she has cleared the infection, she still has lingering pneumonia. She wrote a great really moving piece about why it is so urgent we reduce the spread of it.

Mara, it`s great to have you. First, how are you feeling?

MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD, "NEW YORK TIMES": Thanks for having me, Chris. I`m far from 100 percent still, but I just -- I`m very grateful to be on the mend. And many people had had this far worse than I did. So --

HAYES: Can you talk a little bit about -- I mean, you`re someone -- I think I knew this about you because of something maybe you said on the show or social media, that like you`re a runner, you`re a very sort of active person. You had run like 10 miles a day before you came down with this. Like, what your trajectory and experience of the illness has been like?

GAY: Sure. So, I`m 33 years old. I live in a fifth-floor walk-up in Brooklyn. I`ve never had asthma. I`ve never smoked a single cigarette in my life. I`m very healthy. I was averaging walking about 10 miles a day and running about three miles before I got sick. In fact, I went on a three- mile run and walk 10 miles the day before I got sick.

And then I woke up the second day of my illness, and it felt like there was hot tar is the only thing I can describe it as in the bottom of my lungs. I could not get a deep breath unless I was on all force. And I you know, ended up in the emergency room. I was very fortunate my oxygen was good enough that they were able to release me. And I was just, you know, kind of sweated out at home, hoping that I wouldn`t be one of the patients who crashed over the next seven to 10 days.

And since then, I`ve begun to recover. I am on the road to recovery but moderate COVID infections, my understanding is, my doctors have said it can take, you know, six to eight weeks to heal. And I can still really barely walk several blocks without stopping. I`m also using it two --

HAYES: You inferred to it also -- you inferred to it as a moderate case, even though it sent you to the E.R. And I`ve talked to people who were laid up for three weeks who had a mild case. I mean, what do you want to say to people as they sort of think about what this thing is?

GAY: So, my message is really that you don`t Have to live like we do in New York. You don`t have to vote the way we do, but please learn from us. We know so little about COVID. And, quite frankly, you`re rolling the dice if you are cavalier about getting infected. You don`t know.

And there is no guarantee of what kind of case you`re going to have. Just because you`re young and healthy, does not mean you`re going to be fine. And you`re going to have essentially a flu or a cough or a fever for a few days. And I would also say that, you know, part of freedom in the United States and anywhere is responsibility and knowing that even if you don`t get extremely sick, you could pass it on to someone who could.

And that that is -- you know, I understand Americans are very frustrated. I am frustrated. I want to leave my house too and go outside and go see my friends and hug my family. But I think as some places begin to open up, each to his or her own, that`s fine. But it`s very little to ask to wear a mask and take this seriously.

So my message is not everything should be shut down forever, it`s please, take this virus seriously, because even young, healthy people like myself, and frankly, friends of mine who are younger as well, have gotten even sicker than I have. And we were all really surprised. And a lot of us are not even really being counted in the statistics.

So when people say, oh, well, Mara, your case was rare. It was unusual. Actually, it`s not. And that`s what we`re finding in New York. So please learn from us.

HAYES: Mara Gay, she writes on the New York Times Editorial Board, and thank you so much. That piece was really powerful. And thank you so much for sharing your experiences. and I hope you continue to be on the mend. Thank you, Mara.

GAY: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: I want to turn now to another person who`s been personally affected by the virus, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Democratic of California, recently lost her older sister to the virus. And Congresswoman, first, I wanted to just offer my condolences on your loss and asked if you can just tell us a little bit about your sister.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): Well, I want to thank you very much for taking time to you know, give me this condolence. And let me just say she was the firstborn. She was Velma1 Moody, and of course, the maiden name was Carr. We`re all Carr`s.

And, you know, doing her very young life, she was a leader in the community, very active. She was the best dancer in the neighborhood. She was the one that was in charge of our home when my mother had to be in the hospital or up on business, and so she was revered by all of us.

And of course, she was elderly now. And what`s interesting is, you know, she needed a hip operation. And so, they took her into the hospital, they gave her the hip operation, and they didn`t even test her until afterwards. And from that point, she went down, and it would -- it was a matter of a couple of weeks, and she was gone. We buried her yesterday.

HAYES: I`m so sorry about that. Again, I know that so many people have been touched by this closely. I wonder how it`s changed your perspective, if it has at all, about how you`re thinking about this, how you`re communicating to folks in your district or in your caucus or across the aisle about this pandemic?

WATERS: Well, first of all, let me just say that all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have sent their condolences, they sent flowers to the spiritual moment that they had. There are not really funerals anymore. And so, I`ve been on a lot of virtual programs where I`ve been talking to people about this, I was angry and I got very, very tough.

And I said, you know, I want to tell you young people keep your age at home. I was very tough. And I said that, you know, you`re not invincible, and you can go out, you know, partying and thinking that somehow, it`s happening to someone else.

And I think that a lot of families have had a difficult time convincing the young people that they can be infected, and this is deadly. And so, I try and particularly with the young people, let them know that they`ve got to change the thinking if somehow, they`re thinking this is just happening to older people.

Of course, older people are more vulnerable. People with pre-existing conditions are more vulnerable. And we know all of that. And so I think older people are taking more care, and they`re paying attention, and they`re staying in, but it`s the younger ones that I`m worried about.

And so I keep telling the story about what I know has happened as much as I probably possibly can in these last few days where I`ve witnessed what has happened to my sister.

HAYES: You`re standing outside the capital. Of course, Congress is in session today. A historic vote cast for the first time in the history of the House of representatives they will allow proxy voting. There was some controversy about whether it was going to happen. It has happened now.

It will allow members to sort of send votes to other members who are physically there and allow the vast majority of members to not have to come in to the Capitol. You think this is a good thing that`s happened?

WATERS: Yes, I think it is a good thing that`s happened. We`ve been looking at every way that we could possibly do our work. The people of this country need help. And we have to respond in the most responsible way that we can. And so, we want to work. And we know that there are a lot of people who it`s difficult for them, even members of Congress who travel long distances on airplanes etcetera. And so, proxy voting is one way of ensuring that we can continue our work.

We cannot be absent from the fact that we have oversight that we`ve got to do. We`ve got to finish responding. This bill that we have before us today, a $1 trillion bill for our heroes, those nurses, those doctors, those police officers, the fire people who are on the front line, they`re out there every day. We can`t abandon them. And so, we`ve got to find a way to either do proxy voting and our do virtual hearings, on and on and on.

So we are -- we`re rising to the occasions that we have to do an audit to make sure that we`re paying attention, that we`re doing the oversight, that we`re responding, and we`re spending money. This is a time when the United States, you know, people are expecting us to do something in this field.

Also, we have not only the $1 trillion for the states and the municipalities, I have a $100 billion bill in here for renters. We don`t want them evicted. And we know that the landlords, some of them have mortgages, and they`re looking for the rents to be paid. We`re going to help them. We`re going to help people in so many ways.

The PPP was all about helping our small businesses. And so, we`re paying attention not only to that, but the CDFI`s and the MDI`s, the small lenders who are close to the community, who understand these small businesspeople. If we`re going to do this work, it`s going to cost money. Yes, it`s going to cost money. But this is what is expected of the government.

With this pandemic, with this crisis that we have, they must be able to rely on their government to stand with them, and to be leaders in what is going on. And so, we`re fighting every way that we possibly can. We`re planning, we`re organizing, and of course, the proxy voting is but one effort that we`re going to make to make sure we can continue with this work.

HAYES: All right, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, thank you so much for your time. And once again, my condolences on the passing of your sister.

WATERS: Thank you and I appreciate that. Thank you very much.

HAYES: All right. Coming up, facing another potential invasion of armed protests in the state capitol. Michigan took the drastic measure to just shut down the legislative session. Michigan Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin joins us to discuss what`s happening in her district right after this.


HAYES: This was a scene last time there was a protest, if you want to call it that, in the Michigan Capitol. Armed men with long guns menacing legislators trying to get to work, shouting down at lawmakers from the gallery as they were up above them. Multiple people including lawmakers, there you see them, said they felt threatened by the protesters and that led to this headline, Michigan Cancels Legislative Session to Avoid Armed Protesters. It`s quite a headline.

The state canceled, just outright canceled a legislative session on Thursday rather than have to deal with another round of armed protesters taunting lawmakers holding guns. That did not stop the protesters who showed up yesterday in the rain with their guns at a closed State Capitol.

Joining me now, Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, Democrat of Michigan who represents the district that actually includes the state capitol in Lansing. She wrote an article directed at those planning to protest titled, "To protesters threatening violence, be brave, like my friend Jan." And Congresswoman, maybe explained to me what your open letter the point of your open letter to them was?

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): Sure. Well, you know, we were on the eve of the third protests in about three weeks in my district. And obviously no one felt proud of seeing some of the Confederate flags and long guns and swastikas being used in some of these protests.

And, you know, at the same time that that was about to happen again, I was getting phone calls and letters and in particular a letter from a friend from down the street. And she`s a woman named Jan. She was writing me to tell me her story that her 93-year-old mother had been alone, unable to see her husband of 73 years, that she hadn`t been able to see her mom, had broken some bones, gone to surgery. And she wanted me to know that she didn`t agree with our Governor`s policies of keeping people out of nursing home. She felt like she understood the risk but felt like there was risk in leaving her mom and wanted to talk to me about it.

And, you know, it just was such a contrast because here is someone who doesn`t agree but has empathy and understanding for why the governor made - - had to make these tough choices. And her way of being brave was to fight like heck to get in to see her mom. She finally moved her dad into the same room.

And it just felt like such a contrast to the guys who were really conflating a bunch of different issues and coming out and just trying to show a very, very dark side to scare people. And I thought it was a good contrast, and that Jan was the one who was brave, and those guys at the capital were just not.

HAYES: You know, what I took away from that piece that you wrote, is that, you know, the truth here is that we`re all in uncharted territory with a bunch of very complicated and difficult policy decisions that a whole bunch of different people have to make, members of Congress, governors, state legislators, public health officials.

We`re sort of on -- you know, we haven`t had something like this. And there`s a lot of competing interests and a lot of sort of good-faith debate about how to go forward and actually, most people that sort of across the spectrum I feel like are kind of together that. Like, we don`t want the virus to get bad. We don`t want a lot of our fellow Americans to die unnecessarily. We also don`t all want to stay in our houses forever. So how can we figure this out?

SLOTKIN: Yes. And I think what`s lost when you see protests like we`ve had is this big group of people in the middle who, you know, have some questions and have some legitimate concerns, but aren`t out threatening violence. They would never threaten our governor. They know she`s like in a tough spot and then everyone can be a Monday morning quarterback.

We have doctors calling us saying, hey, if people aren`t getting routine exams, that means they`re not getting mammograms. You know, my sister caught her breast cancer through a mammogram or regularly scheduled one. You have to look at this as a situation of manage risk. And we`re never going to get down to zero risk as long as we don`t have a vaccine or real treatment. And so it`s about managing the risk.

And it is -- it`s new -- it`s a new thing for our country. And so, I just - - I wanted to highlight a group of people who are calling my office and writing me all the time who don`t always agree with our governor and with some of the policies, but they`re not threatening violence to make their point.

HAYES: Another thing that`s a little strange to me that`s absent from this discussion as you watch these protesters and they often -- you know, they don`t have the Confederate flags on them, some of them have Confederate flags, a lot of them have, you know, Donald Trump campaign gears, that the Trump administration itself keeps issuing guidelines about reopening better like the official guidelines of the Trump administration, the U.S. government.

The CDC ad guidelines yesterday, they`re actually like, they`re pretty careful and granular and don`t depart that much from what a lot of governors, even Governor Whitmer have been doing. There`s such a weird mismatch between the actual workings of the federal government via the CDC, and what the kind of culture war the president and his allies seem to be waging is.

SLOTKIN: Yes, I mean, I really do think that this has a lot to do with the President and his personal views on this situation. And I think the machine underneath him, you know, the federal government and these -- a lot of professionals, people who have worked in public health their entire lives, of course, they`re trying to do the right thing.

And I was a civil servant for 15 years, so I know what it`s like to be like working in the bowels and trying to do the right thing. And, you know, I`ve been on conference calls with the vice president, with people -- with, obviously, Dr. Fauci, and it feels like a healthy normal organization. And then, the President will come out and contradict some of the very specific things we talked about in that day.

And when it comes to these protesters, you know, he -- you know, he really elevated them and lifted them up, in contrast to the Republicans in my own state. So I think he`s doing his own thing, and I don`t think it does a service to anyone to have him leading with that approach.

HAYES: Final question for you about something quite important to your state and your district, which is automakers. My understanding is that some of the automakers are going to be resuming on the line on Monday, U.S. plants without regular testing of workers. They don`t have access to sufficient testing capacity, executives, and the UAW official said, although it does appear from what I can tell, that management in the UAW have kind of come together to figure out some new processes and precautions. Do you feel this is being done safely?

SLOTKIN: I do. I mean, I think that, like you said, this is new territory. So all you can do is put real rigor into the process, make sure the -- you know, the leaders, the CEOs, the management, and labor are working together at the same table and coming up with a plan that they both agree with. And that needs to be transparent, right?

And you know, today we had our first report of someone who tested positive, who`s been back as we started to sort of prime the pump at some of these plants. And the question is, are the procedures that are in place going to work? Are we going to contact trace and make sure everyone who worked near this guy are identified and told to stay home? That`s what we`re going to have to figure out. But it`s a learning process. It`s about managing the risks.

HAYES: Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin who sounds like 1,000 times more sensible than the person running the country at this moment, I appreciate you taking some time tonight.

SLOTKIN: Thanks for having me.

HAYES: Ahead, the President is using the Department of Justice to carry out his personal vendettas now targeting Obama era officials. Former CIA Director John Brennan, one of those Obama era officials, is here to respond next.


HAYES: The president continues to ramp up the rhetoric for criminal investigations and prosecutions of his political enemies. And something he`s depended on quite a bit since the 2016 lock her up campaign, it`s something he`s hectored others to do throughout his presidency, including Jeff Sessions when he was the AG. It`s something he may now be on the precipice of getting from Attorney General William Barr who is thus far shown himself to be willing and complicit in all of the other things Donald Trump has wanted done to protect his buddies inside the Justice Department, all the things that are undermining the rule of law in this country.

Joining me now is someone who has been a frequent target of the president, John Brennan, the former director of the CIA under President Barack Obama.

Let`s start, Mr. Brennan, with how you understand this moment. I mean, the president has targeted you rhetorically for a very long time. His allies have, as well, but there does seem to be a bit of a shift in the last several months with William Barr at the Department of Justice, with Richard Grenell at DNI, such that the actual machinery and tools of government are being kind of applied along the lines of the rhetoric of the president. How do you see things right now?

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, Chris, that`s exactly why I think the recent developments are so worrisome because Mr. Trump has removed individuals from the head of the intelligence community as well as from the FBI and Justice. And he`s trying to put people in who are going to do his bidding.

So we saw recently with the acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, a hand-picked individual, who I think has demonstrated loyalty to Trump over the years, releasing, de-classifying the names of individuals who had unmasked some names in intelligence reports, and with the implication that that was wrongdoing. No, it wasn`t. We were carrying out our responsibilities, and quickly.

But then when I look at the attorney general, Mr. Barr, and how he has repeatedly demonstrated that his interest is being the president`s lawyer as opposed to being the people`s lawyer, and I am very worried that the instruments of government, the instruments of intelligence and law enforcement and justice are now being exploited and manipulated in Mr. Trump`s hands. And I think that`s something that should worry all Americans.

It`s one thing to have policy differences. And we can have arguments in public about that. But if he`s going to try to bring charges against individuals, trumped up charges because of his political interests, and he`s going to have individuals who are going to help make that happen. That is something that I saw overseas in my career, my national security career.

And I never thought I would see that happening here in the United States. Clearly, back in the last century, the 1970s, we had incidents where President Nixon tried to use the FBI, the CIA and others for political purposes. And we had quite an uproar at that time, and President Nixon was forced out of office.

Sad to say that it sounds like we are now back in the same type of environment where an individual in the White House is now using those organizations and using people in senior positions in intelligence and law enforcement for his own purposes.

HAYES: You mentioned Richard Genell who was an ambassador. He is sort of a lifelong kind of Republican spokesperson kind of person. He is -- he now has a job that I think fair-minded one can say that his resume for that job is fairly thin.

Are you concerned about him right now in that position and what it means for the people under him and for career folks who were viewed as disloyal or part of the quote, unquote "deep state" in the words of the president and others?

BRENNAN: Well, I am very worried. And I don`t know what`s going on inside of the intelligence community right now, but I`d like to think that individuals at the helm of the CIA and NSA, the DIA and other parts of the intelligence community are continuing to carry out their responsibilities professionally and in responsible manner. But Richard Grenell I think has demonstrated that he is willing to do Donald Trump`s bidding.

As you point out, he didn`t have any background or experience in intelligence. And so I`m concerned that we may be seeing some other things that will be happening as Mr. Grenell and other individuals tried to give Donald Trump what he is looking for, which is trying to infer and imply that individuals in the Obama administration who are carrying out their duties professionally, or doing something that was wrong.

And I can tell you my experience in those last months of the Obama administration when we were working on the Russian interference in the election, everybody tried their level best to do what they could to prevent that Russian interference and there was no politicization that was going on at all.

HAYES: There has been noises for a while about the Justice Department investigating this as a I think a heretofore well respected individual by the name of Durham, John Durham, who has been tasked with looking into the origins of it. And I wonder if you feel -- and this is sort of a personal question. I don`t know how much you can answer, you seem to be one of the targets here, honestly. I mean, they seem to be -- John Brennan seems to be on the sort of top of the list for people that they are convinced either engaged in wrongdoing or want to get back at for sort of unsubstantiated reasons.

Do you have personal experience of that? Do you personally worry that that`s the case?

BRENNAN: Well, it`s clear that I am in their cross-hairs, ever since Donald Trump was inaugurated, I have spoken out against what I think has been the corruption, the incompetence, the mischaracterizations that he and individuals around him have made to the American public. And I will continue to speak out.

And, yes, John Durham, who is a well-respected individual from the Department of Justice for many years in the business is conducting this investigation -- I guess this investigation -- looking at what happened during those last months of the Obama administration and the first year or two of the Trump administration.

I`d like to think that John Durham and the other DOJ and FBI investigators will continue to honor their oath of office and to carry out their responsibilities without any consideration of political interests of Donald Trump.

And so I feel very good that my tenure at CIA and my time at the White House during the Obama administration was not -- that was not engage in any type of wrongdoing or activities that caused me to worry about what this investigation may uncover.

So I welcome opportunity to talk with the investigators. I have nothing to hide. I have not yet been interviewed by any of those individuals involved in this matter, but I`m willing to do so because I do believe that for too long, the American public had been misled by Donald Trump, by William Barr and others. And so I look forward to the day when the truth is going to come out and the individuals who have mischaracterized what has happened in the past will be shown to have deceived the American people.

HAYES: John Brennan, who of course has had a long career in American intelligence, including director of the CIA, worked in the White House for President Barack Obama. Thank you for making some time on this Friday night.

BRENNAN: Absolutely, Chris. Take care.

HAYES: You, too.

Coming up, how the lessons of the last great pandemic can help inform our thinking about what the next phase of this all looks like and what our future holds. That`s next.



TRUMP: So, in 1917 we had a horrible, in that case, it was the flu, right, you remember, the Spanish flu. Where it was a terrible period of time. You all know what happened in 1917.

The last one 1917 that the something.

1917, which was the greatest of them all.

You look at 1917, the pandemic. It was something.

You know, the big one was 1917, and that was the worst by far. That was a vicious, that was the Spanish flu, they call it.

We were attacked like nothing that`s happened possibly since 1917 many, many years ago.

You read about 1917 and you read about certain things, but you think in a modern age a thing like that could never happen.


HAYES: Have you noticed the president often refers to the great flu pandemic, but weirdly insists on getting the year wrong like over and over and over? Maybe he`s thinking about the movie. There is a movie called "1917."

But, yes, the 1918 pandemic is probably the closest analogy we have to what we`re going through now. And one deeply worrisome aspect of that is that back then the pandemic came in a series of three waves. The first one was in the spring of 1918 all the way over there to the left, and it was deadly, but then it subsided over the summer, probably due at least in part to some combination of people spending more time outdoors and just seasonality.

So people were, of course, relieved and they thought it was gone, and the fall it came -- that`s the middle peak there -- roaring back. The CDC estimates the flu killed 200,000 Americans in just October of 1918 alone, one month.

There were cities shutdown. Huge disaster. And there are warnings now about this fall, fall of 2020. There is some reason to believe, pretty good reason, I think that warmer temperatures and a lot of sunlight, more time outside are probably going to help us, probably are already helping us, again. But that of course, will not last forever and we need to prepare and so if we`re reopening the country now and planning to send kids back to school in the fall particularly, then how do we avoid a curve like they saw in 1918 with a much more deadly second wave?

The man who literally wrote the book on this topic joins me next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During August 1918, the pandemic finally appears to be receding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There had been this sort of sudden, you know, outbreak of flu at an unusual time of year, in May and early summer, but then, you know, the case numbers dropped right down and people thought they had dodged a bullet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In September, the flu virus returns, and it`s mutated into an even more dangerous form.


HAYES: More than 100 years ago, the last great pandemic appeared in the spring and then seemed to go away in the summer and then came roaring back in the fall with a second, more deadly wave. What lessons can we learn from that now?

Joining me now is author John Barry who wrote a fascinating, fantastic book about the 1918 flu titled "The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History."

And John, let`s talk a little bit about how policy makers and public health officials and others dealt with that interim period, what they thought happened in the spring, what they thought happened in the summer and whether they did or did not prepare for what ended up happening that fall.

JOHN BARRY, AUTHOR: Well, actually, in 1918 they didn`t have much reason to prepare. The spring wave was very spotty. It missed a lot more places than it hit. And where it did hit, it was generally very mild, so mild that medical journal articles said this looks and smells like influenza, but it`s not killing enough people so it probably isn`t influenza.

The virus clearly mutated and came back in a very lethal form, much more lethal than what we`re facing now, thankfully. So the preparations -- actually, the first report of a lethal wave came in July from Switzerland when military, U.S. military intelligence, actually reported that it wasn`t really influenza, it was the black death from the Middle Ages.

So you went from something that`s so mild that it`s not influenza to something so deadly that it`s initially mistaken for the plague of the Middle Ages.

HAYES: There`s a lot of evidence in your book about the sort of conflicting ways that folks responded to this, and there`s some real modern residences. One is public health officials doing things like banning large gatherings, mandating masks, closing bars and restaurants and also, like a lot of people minimizing it. I mean, there is a loud outspoken message from the president, from policy makers, from others this is nothing to worry about.

BARRY; Right. Of course, the motivation was quite different back then. We were at war. And the Wilson administration didn`t want to detract any attention from the war, so they lied.

You know, it was quite apparent very early that the second wave was quite lethal. There was no mistaking, no you know, it was quite apparent very early that the second wave was quite lethal. There was no mistaking it, no confusion about it. They just out right lied because of the war.

Motivation now seems to be quite different. And unfortunately, we`re getting misleading statements, misinformation from the White House, although other parts of the administration are being pretty good.

HAYES: You`ve written about possible sort of trajectories for us about the possible idea of this sort of first big wave and a series of smaller repetitive waves, and then the idea of something -- a scenario, too, which is -- looks more like 1918. And a lot of people have kind of talked about that. They`ve talked about the fact that in the fall there`s both maybe seasonality working against us, people indoors more, but also the fact that it will also be regular cold and flu season that will make things more complicated.

Why is that sort of second scenario -- what sort of scares you, worries you, about that scenario?

BARRY: Well, the premature opening could create, you know, not just a wave, but a hurricane storm surge. So that`s the number one thing that worries me.

The other thing you just mentioned, combination of a bad ordinary influenza season with this could easily overwhelm the health care system. So that is another worry. That would probably come a little bit later, you know, toward winter.

But, you know, the chief problem would be the too early openings leading to, you know, an explosive wave.

You know, the things that matter -- I mean, people are going to open. It`s obviously already happening. There are still ways to control what happens, and that is if you continue social distancing and you continue using masks and hand washing, and, you know, cough etiquette and so forth, those things will have significant impact.

I understand the need to get people back to work. I understand the suffering that has occurred because people haven`t been working, but I think we should also think of what we have accomplished. If you go back to early April when there were about 12,000 deaths, that was at the initial point at which we would have had some impact from the closings that started a little earlier. At that time, the pandemic was doubling every six and a half days.

So if you do some very simple mathematics, you can realize by right now we would probably have had close to roughly half a million deaths with no end in sight if we had not intervened. 88,000 is not a good number, but it`s a lot better than half a million.

If we, again, go back to -- or continue I should say the social distancing, the mask and the hand washing, we can continue to blunt this, not as effectively, obviously, as if we were still on lock-down, but we`re not on a lock-down

HAYES: Final question here. I mean, back in 1918, what`s strange is local health authorities tried to wrestle this, but there is a lot of sort of silence over this and war propaganda from the Wilson administration, really what they just kind of do is it just ravages places, I mean, it just goes through places, particularly Philadelphia. What was the effect of that? What was that like when the flu came through a place that wasn`t taking the steps to minimize it?

BARRY: Oh, it was pretty vicious and violent. I mean, literally, I mean, you ran out of practically every city, whether they prepared or not ran out of coffins. You had real panic and fear a kind of terror that we`re not experiencing now, because of the lies were so in -- so contradicted by the reality. You know, the people were experiencing. You know, the symptoms could be horrific. Probably the most horrific would be people could bleed not their -- not only from their nose, but from their mouth and even eyes and ears.

So, when they are being told this is ordinary influenza and that kind of thing is happening, they don`t know who to trust, what to believe. So, rumors spread wildly and you have society actually beginning to fray. I mean, fortunately, we`re not facing that now. even with misleading information. But that is what got to be like back then.

HAYES: John Barry, thanks so much for making time tonight.

 If you want to hear more about John -- John`s expertise in the 1918 flu, you can listen to our conversation from last month from my podcast "Why is This Happening?" We talk about it for an hour. It`s pretty fascinating wherever you get your podcast. That`s -- that is All In for this evening.

The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.