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DNC chair TRANSCRIPT: 5/20/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: Jocelyn Benson, Tom Perez, Richard Besser, Nayyera Haq, Sherrod Brown

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: I will see you again tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Don`t miss Lawrence O`Donnell tonight at 10:00 p.m. He`ll be joined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Don`t miss it. Thanks for being with us. Don`t go anywhere "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes is up next.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN, the Trump crisis. With an out of control pandemic a collapse economy and poll numbers going against him, the President begins his assault on democracy itself. The Michigan Secretary of State is here to respond to Trump`s wild attack on absentee voting and DNC Chair Tom Perez on how to protect November.

Then, send in the MAGA doctors. The effort to get Trump-friendly medicine men to tell us it`s safe out there while the experts at the CDC get the muzzle. Former Acting Director Richard Besser is here.

Plus, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown on why his Republican governor is getting high marks and the new reporting on just what exactly Mike Pompeo and Donald Trump are trying to cover up. When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. The President is in bad political shape right now. He`s not doing well. It`s a very simple, straightforward reason that isn`t. The country is not doing well. Everything in national politics right now, the top line at least is about as simple and straightforward as you can get in that respect. There are 93,000 people that have died from the virus, thousands more, undoubtedly will follow. 36 million people are unemployed, and the unemployment rate is approaching Great Depression levels.

From the beginning, Donald Trump has floundered and shown zero leadership. Back in January, he said he trusts China on the virus and said the U.S. has it totally under control. In February, he said within a couple of days, case numbers were going to be down close to zero. Later that said month, he said it`s going to disappear one day like a miracle, it will disappear. Well, there have been no miracles, just mass unemployment and mass death on Donald Trump`s watch.

And now, he`s very much on the wrong side of public opinion concerning how we protect ourselves from the virus going forward. A new poll finds that 83 percent of Americans are concerned lifting restrictions in their area will lead to additional coronavirus infections. But the President has decided to throw in totally with a vanguard of right-wing activists and tell the American public including people in nursing homes and immunocompromised and people over 70 that they are warriors, his words, warriors on a battlefield and need to be willing to get back out there and potentially die for the cause.

All of that leads to an incumbent president who if the election were held tomorrow would probably lose very badly. I mean, the polling data here is pretty robust. Now let me be clear, a lot could change. I mean, Lord knows a lot changed in the last four months. It`s only May. The election is not being held tomorrow, and a lot of things can happen between now and November.

But right now, as a just a snapshot of public opinion, Donald Trump`s political fortunes do not look great. Joe Biden leads Donald Trump by 11 points in a new national poll of registered voters 50 to 39. Now that`s a bit of an outlier, but Trump has fallen dramatically among some key groups, both in this poll and others, including Americans 65 and older crucially, a group that Trump won by seven points over -- nine points over Hillary Clinton, but who Joe Biden is now winning by 10 percentage points in that new poll.

Yesterday, data journalist at The Economist, G. Elliott Morris, observed that Trump has the worst national polling margin for an incumbent president at this point in the election cycle going back at least to the 1940s. And it is not just the national numbers, which as we learned from 2016 is not the full picture. It also looks bad for Trump at the battleground states as well.

In just the past eight days, we have seen polls showing Biden ahead in four states that Trump won in 2016, Florida, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Arizona with a big Biden lead. There are down valid implications here as well. Arizona Republican Senator Martha McSally, who already lost her last Senate race only to be appointed and is now running again and who has tied herself to Trump is getting absolutely crushed right now in a reelection polls, as she looks at the specter of losing two Senate races in a row.

Again, things could change. It is possible the polls are wrong. We all know that right? But to the best that we can gleam with the data that we have in front of us, this appears to be where things stand right now. And here`s the other thing. The Trump people know how bad it is. Back in the end of April, Donald Trump erupted at his campaign team over his poll numbers and his advisors were telling him that he needs to stop doing crazy stuff in those long two-hour press conferences like telling people they should look into maybe injecting bleach as a cure for virus because well, it wasn`t helping.

The one central theme that Donald Trump and his campaign was going to run on months ago was the economy is great, so reelect me to keep it. And with that gone, with that completely gone, all that is left is for him to try to disrupt the administration, the free and fair elections in America to subvert the legitimacy of the election. You`ll remember he was doing this back when it looked like he was going to lose in 2016.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I`m afraid the election is going to be rigged. I have to be honest. She can`t beat what`s happening here. The only way they can beat it, in my opinion, and I mean, this 100 percent, if in certain sections of the state they cheat.

They even want to try to rig the election at the polling booths. And believe me, there`s a lot going on. Do you ever hear these people? They say there`s nothing going on. People that have died 10 years ago is still voting. Illegal immigrants are voting.

It`s largely a rigged system. And you see that the polling booth too. There are reports that when people vote for Republicans, the entire ticket switches over to Democrats.


HAYES: Those are all lies. Just to be clear, none of that is true. It`s lies. It`s pernicious, disgusting, authoritarian lies. Rigged is what he called our elections. He was even doing it after he won the election but lost the popular vote to sort of save face. Remember this? There was a period where he was claiming ludicrously that millions of people voted illegally for Hillary Clinton. He even set up -- do you remember this preposterous voter fraud panel that ended up finding no voter fraud when all was said and done?

OK, so that`s all in the past. Now, right now, we are in an incredibly high stakes situation, all right, because a lot of people are going to want to vote by mail in November, because understandably, polling places are sometimes crowded, often with a lot of traffic, do not seem like the best place to be in the midst of a panic. And Lord knows what it`s going to look like in November, right, cold and flu season.

The president wants to stop them from doing that. And he has been honest, incredibly honest about why he is against vote by mail efforts in the coronavirus relief bill.


TRUMP: The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if we ever agreed to it, you`d never have a Republican elected in this country again.


HAYES: Did you hear that? Level -- the levels of voting that if you agreed to it, you`d never have a Republican elected in this country again. Well, that`s a hell of an admission, levels of voting. So, he wants to suppress the vote because he thinks that`s the only way he can win. If too many people vote, then he will lose.

By the way, this is also the guy who just voted by mail himself, of course, in the Republican primary in Florida, despite denouncing mail-in balloting as horrible and corrupt. He wants to win the election by making it so Democrats can`t vote, so people can`t vote, so people are confused about whether they can or can`t vote.

And today, today brought the most dangerous, seriously dangerous escalation of this campaign yet. The Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson had undertaken a completely lawful routine and in fact, laudatory move to send out under Michigan law absentee ballot applications to the voters of her state. The reason being, so that those voters do not have to go to the polls in the fall, possibly miss a pandemic, if they do not want to.

The President then falsely claimed this was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue secretary of state. He then -- listen to this -- threatened to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this voter fraud path. I`m joined now by the person Trump was attacking Jocelyn Benson. She`s Michigan`s Democratic Secretary of State. And she responded to the president today. "Hi. I also have a name. It`s Jocelyn Benson. And we send applications not ballots, just like my Republican colleagues in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska, and West Virginia."

It did not stop there after Trump rewrote his tweet correcting it. Benson wrote back. "Hi, again. Still wrong. Every Michigan registered voter has a right to vote by mail. I have the authority and responsibility to make sure they know how to exercise this right, just like my Republican colleagues are doing."

Secretary, it`s great to have you here. I wondered if you could just literally explain what the law is in your state and what you are overseeing right now with respect to the general election in the fall.

JOCELYN BENSON, SECRETARY OF STATE, MICHIGAN: Yes. Well, in Michigan -- first, thanks for having me and thanks for giving me an opportunity to clarify and really amplify citizens right to vote by mail in Michigan, which they have under our state constitution.

In November of 2018, citizens voted overwhelmingly to give themselves this right to vote by mail. It was supported by citizens on both sides of the political spectrum, and it`s something that citizens on both sides of the political spectrum have done in the several elections we`ve had over the past 18 months or so.

Of course, now with the national spotlight on our state and the pandemic happening, and this uncertain time that we`re living in, we felt and I feel it`s important now more than ever to give our voters the certainty, the clarity in knowing exactly how to vote in this year`s elections without leaving their home safely and securely. And the clarity that comes with getting an application in the mail to request your ballot be sent to you to exercise this right.

HAYES: So, every Michigander who is eligible vote can fill out that application and say I would prefer to vote absentee and that is under state law and that`s OK?

BENSON: Yes, they actually have a right under our state constitution to vote by mail.

HAYES: So one thing that I find really bizarre here, I have to say, and you just stress this is, you know, we`ve seen battles over voting access that very clearly often have a racial valence or partisan violence, particularly battles over Voter I.D. where we see there`s disproportionate effects and how Voter ID affects African Americans over white people, battles over polling places in say, concentrated urban precincts that tend to vote democratic.

This is not like that. I mean, as far as I can tell, there`s no partisan valence to absentee voting. Like understanding of the research is that it`s like there`s just a lot of people who want to do it, particularly senior citizens, particularly in the midst of a pandemic. I don`t even quite get it as a like political play.

BENSON: Yes, I completely agree. I think for me, I`m dumbfounded that this is controversial, especially because there are Democratic and Republican secretaries of state are doing just what we`re doing here in Michigan. But to me, it`s also a reflection of what will be happening in our state in the months ahead, which is an effort to misinform and confuse voters about their rights in the state.

We see it happening nationally, we`ve seen it happening in various different forms, and we anticipate this is going to just escalate in the months ahead. So my responsibility is also to try to cut through that misinformation, that chaos, that confusion, and just clearly say to all of our voters, regardless of who you`re voting for, these are your choices, this is how you can vote this year and give them again that certainty that they`ll have that right to vote. It will be protected. And I`ll fight for everyone regardless of how they`re voting to ensure their voices are heard.

HAYES: You know, I don`t want to give too much credence to insane and unsupported accusations the President makes because they`re insane and non- supported. My read of the data is that there`s not -- there`s no data support that there`s any widespread fraud in absentee balloting or absentee voting. Are you confident that you have the systems in place to administer a free and fair election, no matter how many people choose to vote in person or absentee?

BENSON: Yes, absolutely. I mean, look, people have been voting by mail, including the President for decades in this country in various states. And so, we`ve got the tools in place not just to ensure every citizen can vote by mail, but to ensure that when they do so, it`s secure. Every signature, every citizen, every voter who`s voting by mail is required to sign the envelope in which their ballot is returned. And that signature is then matched with their voter registration signature to confirm that they are exactly who they are on their voter registration form.

So the security measures are in place. It`s quite hard to forge or fake someone`s signature and very easy to confirm or discard a ballot that has a mismatch signature. And we`re also benefiting from the fact that again, this has been going on in decades and states all across the country where infinitesimal fraud has occurred. And when it occurs because of these security checks, it`s found and prosecuted.

HAYES: Yes. I have to point out that the most notable an egregious example of absentee voter fraud that`s happened in this country was a Republican operative essentially cheating on behalf of the Republican candidate in North Carolina, something that we covered but also was sniffed out and obvious. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson who seems like she is quite on top of the situation there, thank you for sharing some time tonight.

BENSON: Thanks for having me.

HAYES: For more on the President`s efforts to subvert the democratic process, I`m joined now by Tom Perez, the chair of the Democratic National Committee. You know, I`ve always conflicted about, you know, stories of the variety the president tweeted X, because he tweets a lot of things and most of it is nonsense or lies or libel or slander or whatever.

But the way he attacked absentee voting today struck me as genuinely dangerous and genuinely sort of threatening to democracy. How high on the priority list is it for you to do what you can to safeguard the administration of free and fair elections this fall?

TOM PEREZ, CHAIRMAN, DNC: It`s the highest priority, Chris, because we know that you`re going to see voter suppression on steroids in the months ahead. We had a conversation I know about the election in Wisconsin recently where they tried to weaponize the pandemic so that they could suppress the vote and steal a state Supreme Court race. It failed miserably. That`s what you`re going to see.

And, Chris, we have to just be clear with everybody. Republicans believe that they do better when the voting populace goes down. And that`s not a belief just of Donald Trump, it`s a belief across the far-right spectrum. Our leverage in the elections, quite frankly, goes up as the voting populace goes down. Those were words uttered 40 years ago by Republican leaders.

And so we have to understand that and that`s why we have built a national voter protection infrastructure. We have we have voter protection teams in 19 states now. We have a voter protection ecosystem with organizations like Eric Holder`s organization and Fair Fight and others. And we have our oars in the water rolling in synchrony because this is the play. You are spot on, Chris.

And by the way, Ronna Romney McDaniel is going to get one of those absentee voter applications because she`s a Michigan resident. And you know what, Chairwoman Romney McDaniel said, I don`t mind people being sent absentee voter request forms. That`s OK. Give them an opportunity to vote by mail. That`s the RNC chair. I`m not making that up.

HAYES: Well, so there`s two -- there`s two avenues to pursue, it strikes me here. And partly because of the voting system in America is so federalized, states have so much control over it partially thanks to Chief Justice Roberts and his buddies gutting a huge part of the Voting Rights Act that we have to sort of -- there`s sort of two ways to think about this.

One is things you can do at the federal level in terms of congressional appropriation support for states that may want to expand vote by mail. What is the sort of status of that? There were some in the last cares bill. They seem to be trying to draw a red line on it now. Where do you see the push for that and how important that is?

PEREZ: Great question. The short answer, it`s very important. $400 million in one of the early stimulus bills -- and by the way, Secretary Benson, one of the best secretaries of state in the country, they used some of that money to send out these absentee voter applications. And so that`s critically important.

The bill that was passed last week in the House contains 3.6 billion more four states, because $400 million is woefully inadequate. And so, we need to make sure that that $3.6 billion is part of the next stimulus package. Because again, we have to give people options. You shouldn`t have to win the geographic lottery to be able to exercise your right to vote in a safe and sound manner.

HAYES: I want to play for you something the President just said about voting, which has struck me as really deeply pernicious, sort of that voting is an honor that -- and going off about how he doesn`t want people to mail-in voting. Take a listen.


TRUMP: Common sense would tell you that it`s massive manipulation can take place, massive. They -- and you do. You have cases of fraudulent ballots where they actually print them and they give them to people to sign. Maybe the same person signs them with different writing, different pens. I don`t know. A lot of things can happen.

Now, if you can, you should go and vote. Voting is an honor. It shouldn`t be something where they send you a pile of stuff and you send it back.


HAYES: It`s an honor. They shouldn`t be sending you a pile of stuff. I should also note as I just did that the closest version to the kind of fraud he`s talking about a Republican operative in North Carolina who worked for the Republican candidate, who was then kicked off the ballot and denied the election because he cheated. But what do you say to a president that`s saying that?

PEREZ: Voting isn`t simply an honor, Chris. Voting is a fundamental right. People pay the ultimate price to exercise the right to vote. And in a pandemic, the notion that you have a president going after Republican and Democratic secretaries of state in the middle of a pandemic -- Secretary Benson`s trying to make it easier for eligible people to exercise their right to vote. She`s trying to allow them to exercise the choice that the Michigan constitution provides them.

This is a fundamental right, and this President understands that. And what we have to do between now and November is make sure that every single voter in every single state has choice. The choice to vote on election day, the choice to early vote. The more days of early voting, the more social distancing you do. And the right to vote absentee with no excuse, the right to vote by mail. Republicans and Democrats agree on that, but this president, in a desperate effort to steal an election, is going to stop at nothing.

HAYES: Tom Perez, thank you, sir, for your time tonight.

PEREZ: Always a pleasure.

HAYES: Next, who needs a CDC when you can use MAGA docs? The President`s latest attempt to undermine his own public health experts with a former acting CDC director next.


HAYES: It`s time to send in the Tea Party doctors. According to multiple reports, Republican operatives are recruiting conservative pro-Trump doctors to prescribe his views on coronavirus and push to return to reopen the country as quickly as possible. Trotting out these doctors is part of the attempt to move public opinion which remains squarely on the side of caution, apprehension about the worst pandemic in 100 years that`s killed almost 100,000 people in about 10 weeks.

A new poll out today shows 83 percent of Americans are at least somewhat concerned that lifting restrictions in their area will lead to additional coronavirus infections, not a crazy concern. I mean, we keep coming back to this, and it sounds insane to keep repeating it, but by and large people don`t want to get sick.

And so, you can listen to Trump doctors, or here`s an idea. Listen to the Trump administration`s own Centers for Disease Control, an agency staffed with literally thousands of professionals dedicated to public health issues. People who are full time every day for the duration of their careers thinking through in granular detail all of these issues, the safe and prudent ways to move towards reopening our society and economy to get back to work in ways that minimize viral transmission.

Those people are producing all kinds of recommendations like the ones in this 60-page document quietly published this week. Recommendations the President himself seems intent on burying and ignoring. I`m joined now by someone who used to run that agency, Dr. Richard Besser, former Acting Director of the CDC under President Obama, where he led the response to the H1N1 flu pandemic.

Your response, Doctor, to the idea of recruiting doctors to tell people that, you know, get back out there, the water is fine.

RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CDC: Well, you know, I`m a general pediatrician, and that gives me skill and training in terms of how to take care of children and their health. But taking care of clinical patients and being a public health professional are different. They are different approaches to thinking about populations and how disease spreads through populations, thinking about who in a population is getting hit hardest and what you might want to do.

I was so thrilled to see the document that CDC put out on what it takes to do this in a careful way based on the best public health science. It`s not a question of do you open up the economy or do you not open up the economy? The question is, how do you do it in a way that is safe? How do you do it in a way that is careful? How do you do it in a way so that public health not only isn`t an enemy of opening the economy, but it`s the -- it`s the path.

It gives you the map on how to do it so that workers are safe, children are safe when they go back to school. We feel comfortable going into businesses and shopping and eating in restaurants. This is what public health is all about. And this is why we need public health to be front and center right now.

HAYES: You know, it continues to astound me that we`re having this national debate about reopening. We`ve got these different states moving at different paces. And we`ve got Trump like full speed ahead, telling people they`re literally warriors, warriors, that have to sacrifice yourself. And there`s this agency that just is literally designed -- it exists for this purpose.

It exists for the purpose of thinking about these, using the science, making recommendations that is giving recommendations not to stay sheltered in place forever, but OK, well you have a restaurant. Well, how should you open your restaurant? You have an office, what`s the best way to run an office? What do you do about bathrooms? And this has been completely discarded entirely in the debate over reopening.

BESSER: Yes, it`s a real shame. I`m on the commission here in New Jersey that`s looking at restart and recovery here. And I`m also on the seven- state coordinating body. And you know, the states are all wrestling with these issues. Every state in the nation is wrestling with these issues. You want to reopen. Everyone wants to get people back into -- back to work. People are suffering staying at home. But you want to do it in a way where our essential workers aren`t are expendable workers.

You know, they -- people need to go back to work and know that they have the protection that they need, that lower-income workers who will be -- who will be the first ones going back to work because they need the paycheck to put food on the table, they need the paycheck to pay rent, a high proportion of black Americans, Latino Americans.

We want to make sure that every hard-working person who`s going back to work feel safe and is protected and has the best advice from public health leading the way. And if they`re going back to work, and those things aren`t in place, that they have something that`s enforceable where they can say I`m sorry. But this is not at the level of what CDC or OSHA recommends. And I`m not going to work in those conditions. Right now, people don`t have those choices.

HAYES: The point that you just made, I was just noodling on it as you -- as you sort of thinking about it, about sort of public health as a kind of enabler, right, of economic activity in society. And what`s been happening is that because of some attacks among, again, a kind of fringe of the right on Fauci and this idea of the like -- the point it headed intellectuals were trying to stop the economy.

I mean, when you think about food safety, right, it is a great example. Like, we -- the reason that we have restaurant inspections is to provide confidence to people that we`re going to go to restaurants, that they`re eating in places that are safe and don`t have like rodents in the kitchen and things like that.

I mean, New York City has this grading system, which is great. You know, you get these grades on the window. Like, it shouldn`t be the case that public health is essentially bolstering people`s confidence to go out and participate which is going to be a big obstacle in all this.

BESSER: Yes. I mean, you could even imagine a system where there were standards for different types of business and they -- people could display clearly that they`re in compliance with the standards that are there. And that would give people comfort and confidence to go back to work.

You know, I worked at CDC for 13 years, incredibly mission-focused place that`s focused on serving the American people, serving people around the world and protecting health. And we did studies, we do studies at CDC all the time looking at the impact of unemployment on health, and it`s not good. Public health is not about keeping people unemployed, you know, it`s not good for mental health, it`s not good for food security, and the impacts are really great, but you need to dial this up slowly and carefully so that we don`t see major outbreaks reoccurring and being back to the same situation of everyone under lock-down

HAYES:  Dr. Richard Besser, as I said, acting director of the CDC during H1N1, also a pediatrician as I just learned. Thank you so much, sir.

BESSER:  Thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  Coming up, Senator Sherrod Brown on what`s looking like a success story in Ohio, his home state. His confrontation with the Treasury Secretary over paying a front line workers what they are worth, next.


HAYES:  There`s been quite a lot of attention paid to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, those are all Republican governors of big states who are being aggressive about reopening those states.

But at the opposite end of the spectrum is Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine. DeWine he is 73 years old, he spent nearly 40 years in public office. He has been perhaps the most aggressive governor in the nation in terms of getting ahead of the virus.

For example, back on March 3 when Ohio had not even a single confirmed case of the virus, he banned fans from attending an Arnold Schwarzenegger multi- sport festival. Nine days later, he shut down public schools, becoming the first governor in the entire nation to do so.

And by acting early, it appears, again cause and effect is difficult to tease out here, but it appears Ohio avoided a worst-case scenario. In a state that Donald Trump won in 2016 by eight points, Governor Mike DeWine right now has an 80 percent approval rating.

There is something to be gleaned here from the Ohio experience. Joining me to talk more about this as well as what is going on in Washington, someone who has worked with and against him for years, Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat from Ohio, who beat DeWine for his senate seat back in 2006.

Senator, it`s great to have you on. I remember when I first profiled you back for that race, I remember you telling me you thought Mike DeWine was a good guy, you didn`t think he was a particularly bad presence in public life. You were running against him. What are the lessons here about how Ohio has gone after this?

SEN. SHERROD BROWN, (D) OHIO:  Well, the lesson first of all is maturity and experience and character matter in an elected official. I mean, you contrast Governor DeWine, this isn`t a partisan statement, you contrast Governor DeWine who acted early and saved lives in my state with the president who had no experience and his character is questionable and who called it a hoax for weeks and blamed Democrats, another impeachment effort, whatever he was saying. While DeWine was acting, President Trump cost American lives, clearly. So that`s the contrast between the two.

Governor DeWine listened to Dr. Amy Acton, public health director, (inaudible) director of public health I think is the term, the cabinet level. And Dr. Acton has been really good and right on what she needed to do and the governor had the good sense as an experienced public official to listen to the experts.

HAYES:  I also think it`s interesting just from a political standpoint of your state, which I th ink a lot of people have viewed as a state that has sort of moved to the right, that is trended red, that, you know, that increasingly is not a swing state, that it is just striking to me that as people talk about this debate as if it`s very polarized, that your state, that DeWine has an 80 percent approval rating for being pretty cautious about this and it doesn`t seem like it`s been a huge sort of like culture war fight in your state despite the fact there have been protests.

BROWN:  I think that`s right. I think there is concern, though, now that Ohio now that the economy, the governor is taking away the stay-at-home order and the economy is moving towards us now opening -- I just have spoken to the governor about this, we talk regularly, I talked to Dr. Acton. I called her today. We talk pretty regularly. I`m just -- my insistence is that workers are protected as we open this economy, the next big outbreaks. We know what happened in South Dakota at the slaughter house and the president says open up. No concern for workers, no concern for public health, and no concern for food safety.

But I just am concerned that we`ve got to protect workers first as we open up this economy. We`ve got to scale up testing. The president has shown no leadership on either, either getting protections for workers, or nor -- and scaling up testing, we likely will pay a price for that through the whole country. We already have, clearly, and more deaths, you know, you hear the numbers, 5 percent of the world`s population or close to 30 percent of the world`s deaths and you contrast it with countries that did it right -- Korea, Taiwan, that their economies are in pretty good shape and the amount of deaths is so, so much smaller.

HAYES:  You had an exchange with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, I believe, in a hearing yesterday on precisely this question about -- two things, I think, you were talking about both worker protection and hazard pay for front line workers, both of which have been things you`ve championed, are present in the Democratic bill that passed the house. I want to play that clip and have you explain a bit about what you were getting at. Take a listen.


BROWN:  So how many workers should give their lives to increase our GPD by half a percent, that you`re pushing people back into the workplace. There`s been no national program to provide worker safety. The president says reopen slaughter houses, nothing about slowing the line down, nothing about getting protective equipment.

How many workers should give their lives to increase the GDP or Dow Joins by 1,000 points?

STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY:  No workers should give their lives to do this, Mr. Senator. And I think your characterization is unfair. We have provided enormous amounts of equipment. We`ve worked with the governors. We`ve done a terrific job of getting...

BROWN:  Mr. Secretary, I`m not going to let you make a political speech about how what a great job. We hear that from the president in his news conferences.


HAYES:  What do you want to see happen concretely for workers as we reopen?

BROWN:  Well, I think about you`re a worker whose been laid off, you`re getting unemployment now so you`re not going to get evicted. Your kids are going to be fairly well provided for, not great. You have taken income that you`re home and drawing unemployment benefits at least for four more months, then you`re called back to work and you`re not sure your employer has made your workplace safe so you give up your unemployment insurance. You`re going to go back to work, you have no choice and you`re just not sure it`s safe.

I was talking to a grocery store worker in Cincinnati that said, you know, they say I`m essential but don`t pay me well. They don`t protect me at work. I feel like I`m expendable. I mean, that`s what workers are facing.

For one time if -- this administration betrayed workers time and time again as you know, Chris, if one time they would put their -- wear the shoes, walk in the shoes of a worker who is facing this terrible problem on sick days or on going back to work not sure the workplace is safe, because they know that we have a president who wants people to go back to work at all cost even in slaughterhouses where hundreds of people get sick, where the line moves too fast, where the employers have shown no history  of worker safety except what the government makes them do and the president wants to weaken those standards and put them back into the maelstrom of dangerous workplace. And that`s just morally reprehensible.

The Treasury Secretary sat in that committee, he`s on the same page as this president. He`s the president`s top economic guy, the secretary of the Treasury, and he has to defend a bankrupt policy and he knows he wasn`t telling the truth.

HAYES:  Senator Brown, senator of the great state of Ohio. Thank you for making some time tonight.

BROWN:  Thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  Still ahead, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had the State Department IG fired while that IG was investigating a Saudi arms deal that Pompeo approved. That story coming up.


HAYES:  Do you remember back in December when a Saudi Air Force cadet, who was training to be a pilot, shot and killed three people at the naval air station in Pensacola, Florida. The FBI said it was being investigated as a terrorist attack just two days later, but President Trump really went out of his way to downplay the Saudi connection for some reason.

Just hours after the attack happened, the U.S. president was tweeting a statement from the Saudi king like he had been retained as a PR flak for the Saudis. I mean, the tweets are just insanely over the top, particularly in the wake of three dead Americans on a base.

They love the American people.

One long-time Middle East negotiator pointed out, quote, "had an attack been carried out by any country on his Muslim ban, his reaction would have been very different." True.

Earlier this week, the FBI confirmed the Saudi cadet was linked to al Qaeda when he attacked a U.S. military base. The president`s only tweet this month about Saudi Arabia was about oil prices.

Now, this is all par for the course for this president and this administration when it comes to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Trump has been slavishly devoted to the Saudi regime, and even before he was elected, he told us why.


TRUMP:  Saudi Arabia and I get along great with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend 40 million, 50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.


HAYES:  If course I like them, they buy my stuff. He broke long-standing tradition, remember that, and made Saudi Arabia his first foreign trip. Remember the orb? Remember the sword dance? Can you picture Donald Trump dancing with any world leader in the G7?

Here is the thing about Donald Trump, interesting factoid, he has vetoed a total of seven bills in office, four of them, the majority, were to protect arms deals to Saudis that allowed them to continue prosecuting a ghastly war in Yemen that has killed 100,000 people and at this point, basically no one in congress supports anymore. And some of Trump`s most disgusting actions had been when he vouchers for the Saudi crown prince even after the CIA said that he had his henchmen murder and then hack to pieces an American newspaper columnist who is a Saudi national.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is part of this whole thing, too. Here is Mike Pompeo grinning, grinning, with the crown prince and Saudi king after Jamal Khashoggi was murdered. Here was Pompeo`s response when asked about U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia following the murder of Khashoggi.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE:  So, it`s a mean, nasty world out there, the Middle East in particular. There are important American interests to keep the American people safe, to protect Americans.


HAYES:  Oh, it`s a mean, nasty world out there. I`m sure you`d say that if someone else did the murdering, someone you knew or close to that had been murdered by this man.

We also know until very recently, there was inspector general probe into the extraordinary steps that Pompeo took to skirt around congress to continue armed sales to the Saudis. Again, this is like their obsession.

You will never guess what happened to the inspector general who is overseeing that report. The latest on that story next.


HAYES:  Back when Mike Pompeo was just a Tea Party back bencher, he made a name for himself as congressman by prosecuting the case against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And he did it with the help of the State Department inspector general.

On May 25, 2016, the inspector general released a report critical of Clinton`s email practices. Remember that story?

And that same day, Congressman Pompeo released a statement touting those report findings, quote, "Hillary Clinton has claimed that her use of a private email server complied with State Department regulations. Today`s State Department Inspector General`s report illustrates that is not the case. In fact, that State Department IG concluded that using her personal account to send emails to State Department accounts was not an appropriate method of preserving any such emails that would constitute a federal record."

Wow, it does seem insane they made a scandal out of that, doesn`t it?

Well, a lot has changed, because now Mike Pompeo is the Secretary of State. Some things have not. The IG`s report he touted, Inspector General Steve Linick, that was the same guy investigating him, the guy that Pompeo just had fired, is just the latest shady move from a guy who has been the center of a host of scandals from the official apologetics for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, to the impeachment of Donald Trump, remember that? Pompeo was sort of at the center of that.

Now, the recent reporting suggests he has his eye on a higher office. Here with me now, someone who knows the State Department from the inside out, Nayyera Haq, former State Department senior adviser.

I guess first, we just start with like the strangeness of this, of a cabinet official telling the president to fire an IG that is investigating.

NAYYERA HAQ, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT ADVISER:  I mean, there`s IGs in every agency and their whole job is to give a layer of transparency to what is happening in government and maintain that tie with congress.

We know that Secretary of State Pompeo refused to sit down with a congressionally requested IG investigation into the arms sales into Saudi Arabia. Why? Because those arms sales were actually unilaterally by Republicans and Democrats, voted down, and they instituted, the Trump administration, instituted some emergency powers of authority in order to be able to get it passed. So, that raised a lot of eye brows. Like why now, particularly when Democrats and Republicans are uniting in making Saudi Arabia a pariah state?

Now this is also, Chris, against the backdrop of the FBI accidentally unredacting the name of a Saudi embassy official who supposedly gave logistical support to the 9/11 hijackers. Like this is all happening within the same week. And you would think that this would be the type of scandal that would ultimately have somebody removed from office.

HAYES:  Yeah, I mean at issue here, it seems to me, is there is a real question about whether basically congress wants to bar these arms sales. There`s huge bipartisan majorities. And they basically tell congress like screw you, it is a little bit like what they did with the border wall, and the IG was investigating that, but it`s not clear, I mean it`s really a question of whether what they did was lawful.

HAQ:  Right. And that`s again, part of the purpose of the IG is to help people figure out, are you abiding by the whole law? There is a lot that happens in an administration. I get that. And I`ve had to deal with IG investigations, we`re like wow, we`re really talking about this nitty gritty.

But this is not just the -- of the three things that the IG was investigating, this is not just fancy dinner parties with CEOs and wasting taxpayer dollars, right, it is not also the, you were using professional staff to run personal errands. Normally that would be bad enough. This is, you are fundamentally undermining foreign policy objectives that have been set for decades, that congress is looking to do, the humanitarian objectives, and just not operating in concert with the way government is supposed to work.

For what reason, right? That`s hard to understand. Other than the fact that the Saudis like to do business in a way that Donald Trump does. They like to buy their way into countries and buy access into things. I think that`s part of the connection that Jared Kushner has had with Muhammad bin Salman, and this is really what Saudi Arabia is relying on now is a relationship with the Trump administration.

Biden has already said that he wants to make Saudi Arabia a pariah state. Congress on both sides of the aisle have spoken out, so the Saudis, ironically, after decades of being entrenched with the United States, are really losing ground here, and Trump is their Holy Grail.

HAYES:  Final question, Pompeo, you mentioned Pompeo has been having these sort of soirees at the State Department, these salons they call them Madison dinners, I guess. His wife is involved. She`s keeping Gmail list. And a lot of people view this as like he is preparing for 2024. He wants to run for president, that`s why he won`t run for senate in Kansas, which he has declined. It does seem to me, though, that there is a lot of skeletons in the closet that like right now he`s sort of in the aura of Donald Trump and things aren`t penetrating, but I`m not sure that`s going to last.

HAQ:  I will say there is a legitimate reason to have CEOs, American manufacturers, or companies, who want to do business overseas, come to the State Department, and do what we call economic diplomacy. That`s fair.

That`s not what we were seeing with the Pompeo meetings. Most of these organizations were not looking to expand overseas or build foreign ties. They seemed to be friends who, on top of -- you know, they were paid for, wined and dined,with harpists. And I cannot imagine if Hillary Clinton had a harpist at a State Department event, how Pompeo would have reacted when he was in congress.

HAYES:  That is a great, great point. And I can sort of imagine.

Nayyera Haq, thank you so much for making the time.

That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now, as it does every night at 9:00.

Good evening, Rachel.