Inside Brazil TRANSCRIPT: 5/22/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: Paul Farmer, Caitlin Rivers, Sam Seder, Zerlina Maxwell, Laura McGann

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Dr. Paul Farmer will join me. Then, what to expect on this first big nationwide test or reopening across the country for the long weekend. Plus, a report from a country running the Trump playbook to fight coronavirus with disastrous results. Dale Neely joins us from Brazil.

And you just hate to see it. The President turning on his house cable channel as a Trump T.V. poll shows him losing at Joe Biden across the board. When "ALL IN" starts right now.

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HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. As we prepare to observe Memorial Day and pay tribute to American servicemen and servicewomen who have died for our country and including recently, the wars that we are still fighting to this day, we`re also likely to cross the threshold of 100,000 documented deaths from coronavirus here in the United States.

We have by far the highest documented death toll in the entire world. U.S. fatalities make up a little under a third of the global fatalities, and we are almost certainly under counting those numbers. The President has decided for the first time as far as we can tell, to show in any small way, some small marking of the morning and the grief of this nation by ordering flags to fly at half-staff starting today, through Sunset on Sunday. Flags will be lowered again on Monday for Memorial Day.

What`s so striking about this gesture to me is how absent it`s been, how utterly absent for the past 12 weeks that have passed, since we first got news of the first U.S. death. In fact, often when the President talks about the people that we`ve lost the coronavirus, he sounds like this.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, we`ve become very good at this. When you look at what`s happening when you look at the numbers coming down, a lot of states are in really great shape.

I think we`ve done a great job. As you know, minimal numbers where -- minimum numbers. We`re going to be 100,000 people, minimal numbers. We`re going to be 100,000 people and we`re going to be hopefully far below that.

Our death totals, our numbers per million people are really very, very strong. We`re very proud of the job we`ve done.

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HAYES: Our numbers from million people are very, very strong. Just to be clear here, when he says numbers, when he says our numbers, what he means is deaths. He`s talking about deaths of our fellow Americans he`s saying he`s very strong on. And I have to admit, I think there`s some part of me that`s gotten a little numb to, actually. Processing it all has started to feel impossible.

In the early days of the pandemic, it feels like a lifetime ago, right, when Shelter in Place Order started, the grief felt palpable and overwhelming. I mean, people I knew were getting sick, very sick. People working in ERs, people I knew were losing loved ones. Early in the locked down, I lost a dear beloved uncle myself not to Coronavirus. But losing someone in this weird section where you cannot get together to mourn collectively or properly memorialize or hug your loved ones was awful and kind of overwhelming.

There`s been this very ghastly, cynical play, sort of bet made by certain elements in our politics that people will just get over it. They`ll get numb to it. So everyday ticks by with just an unfathomable number of deaths, yesterday it was over 1,300. You get lulled into this perverse thinking, well, that`s better than over 1,500 a few days ago, and it`s coming down. The trend is in the right direction. That`s still on 9/11 in this country every two days. It still oceans and oceans of grief, and loss, and memory and ache and pain and trauma. It is still an untellable number of stories.

And we`ve tried to take a little time every week to tell a few of those stories just to remind us all about the real actual flesh and blood human toll of what`s happening? like Dr. James Charlie Mahoney, he`s a pulmonologist at University Hospital Brooklyn, a pillar of that hospital system. And Dr. Mahoney was planning to retire. But when the pandemic hit, he decided to keep working to help treat those in need.

As a fellow doctor described it, he was handling patients and codes every five to 10 minutes. He was doing everything he could. Another colleague called Dr. Mahoney one of our legends, one of our giants. His daughter, Stephanie, described her dad`s friendly, talkative personality, which made him a favorite among colleagues and patients.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They kind of had to put aside I think on one of the doors in his office saying like, don`t ask Dr. Mahoney about the following topics or else you`ll be in there for (INAUDIBLE).

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HAYES: Dr. Mahoney died on April 27 of the Coronavirus at the age of 62. Peggy Ndubisi was a social worker for nearly 30 years. She arrived in New York City in 1980s, an exchange student in Nigeria, devoted her life to helping others. Her family describes her as determined to stand on her own even after she fell into homelessness in recent years after losing her longtime apartment in a fire. She died to the virus late last month. She was 59 years old. Her sister says she is heartbroken that Peggy died a very lonely death and just wants her to be remembered.

Wilson Roosevelt Jerman -- now you may have heard of him. He was one of the longest-serving employees of the White House. He started his career in 1957 if you could believe it, as a cleaner during the Eisenhower administration. He was promoted to Butler during the Kennedy presidency and retired as an elevator operator for President Obama.

His granddaughter said he was so proud to work for them so happy to see a person of color as president. He never ever thought that in his time at the White House, he would see something like that. According to his granddaughter, he had no shoes as a child in North Carolina in the 30s, walk six miles to school, had to drop out of the age of 12 to work on a farm.

What an astonishing, what a remarkable life this man lived. What incredible history he got to see up close and be a part of. And he died last week of the virus at the age of 91. And that`s a ripe old age. I mean, one of the facts about this virus is it really has disproportionately affected the elderly. 80 percent of deaths in the U.S. have been among people 65 and older.

In most states, at least a third of the deaths of people in long term care facilities. And at the edges of our discourse, and sometimes creeping away from the edges and towards the White House is this idea, it`s not often said, but it`s there that yes, it`s bad but, you know, mostly it`s killing the old and the sick and the poor.

Just think about that for a second. What kind of government, what kind of society, what kind of people says, well, it`s mostly killing the old and the immune-compromised and the people have to work next to each other in slaughterhouses or drive buses and subway, so Really, when you think about it, I mean, really, when you really think about it, the risk to everyone else is pretty low? A Georgia man interviewed by the Washington Post said it loud and clear. "When you start seeing where the cases are coming from, the demographics, I`m not worried."

This pandemic is a challenge and a test of our federal government and our local governments. The federal government has thus far failed us. But it`s also a challenge for us, for our society, about what we value and who we value, and how we express that we are looking out for each other. And so, on this Memorial Day, as we pay tribute to those we`ve lost as members of our armed forces through the years, there are also some things we can do, things we could demand of our government so that we honor the lives of those also lost to this pandemic.

The President is going to fly the flags at half-staff for three days, in memory of almost 100,000 Americans we have lost the virus. Three days and then we move on I guess? We`re living through an American catastrophe. More people will die. So let`s continue to remember them. And let`s help those who are trying to mourn their dead in the midst of the historic unemployment, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

The President of the United States can authorize FEMA to release money to pay for funeral costs for those who can`t afford it to help people. We have done it in the past, but the president of the United States has not released those funds. So why not help Americans bury their loved ones with dignity and grace? These are not hard things to do. It is not too much to ask. Just because our president has failed us, does not mean that we have to fail, does not mean that we cannot demand more.

I`m joined now by a world-famous doctor, public health official, Paul Farmer of Harvard Medical School. He`s a MacArthur Fellow and a co-founder of Partners in Health. He`s worked all over the world in dozens of countries fighting all kinds of epidemics. And I`ve been wanting to talk to him for a long time. He`s Someone I`ve admired for a very long time. Doctor, it`s really good to have you here tonight.

Thank you, Chris. It`s an honor to be here.

HAYES: I thought about you as we were working on this opening and composing it because you have seen the way that societies respond to infectious disease and plague and acute illness in all kinds of societies. You`ve worked in all kinds of places. And I`m curious to hear you talk about how people do deal with mourning and do deal with grief and do kind of find ways to collectively say that these lives had value and meaning to us.

PAUL FARMER, PROFESSOR OF GLOBAL HEALTH, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Well, you know, I`ve never had any experience over the last 35 years of not seeing people value not only their kin and neighbors, but you know, to mark their passing. In many ways, taking care of the dead is the last act of caregiving. And you know that can complicate an epidemic. I mean, it certainly did with Ebola beginning in 2014 or maybe 2013 in West Africa.

This was a caregiver`s disease, Ebola. So, people who fell sick tend to be either professional caregivers, doctors, nurses, or family members and traditional healers, but they were the chief victims if you will. And so, of course, it was marking the importance of their loved ones lives that put them at risk. And here with COVID-19, we also see another caregiver`s disease.

HAYES: I wonder how you react to these arguments we hear about these trade- offs constantly. I mean, at the most abstract level, it is true right, that when people say look, we could have -- you know, we could have a speed limit of 30 miles per hour and we would lose less people to auto fatalities. But we don`t do that. There is some -- there are some trade- offs. There are social trade-offs we make about risk and fatality.

But there`s something about the discussion in this context that seems quite perverse to me, even though there are trade-offs in policy. And I wonder how they strike your ears as someone who`s thought through how societies deal with the threat of illness and pandemic.

FARMER: We know the trade-off that we keep hearing about in the news is between the economy and public health, which again, doesn`t make any sense to me. These are two sides of the same coin. All of us want to get back to whatever normal may be, but at the same time, we know that the way that we can limit the damage prior to having effective therapeutics and a vaccine is social distancing and the other measures that are being taken.

And unfortunately, many of them too late, but I think a lot of lives have been saved by not giving into this idea that it`s a trade-off between the economy and a public health approach. These are the same matters, same social matters. And so, we should not pit them one against the other.

HAYES: There has been something remarkable to me in many ways about the American response in this respect, which is, for all the failures, I think, at the federal level and particularly at testing early on, people really did do what they needed to do. I mean, there they were -- if you said to someone in January, you know, three months from now, the entire nation will not be going to work, will be in their homes and homeschooling their kids. And, you know, you would have said, That`s obviously crazy. You know, there is part of this, and I wonder if you could speak to it from your experience, that people do step up and do remarkable things when faced with a threat of this magnitude.

FARMER: Well, I`m one of those people Chris, who you know, hope -- I hope I didn`t say too often, but I had the last place that I went in as the epidemic or pandemic was being born as a pandemic were being recognized as pandemic was Rwanda. And I was there in February. And I was amazed as I often am by their level of organization, and their commitment to stopping this epidemic.

But, you know, a couple people asked me, what do you think, you know, would the -- you know, what about in the United States? Will people like, adhere to social distancing regimes, you know, disappear into their homes? I`m not sure I don`t think I got it right. I`ve been very impressed by the degree to which Americans have been willing to abide by a series of strictures that they`ve never seen before.

I mean, none of us have seen this before. I`ve been doing this work for over 30 years and I`ve never seen anything like this in my life. Whether thinking about Ebola Zika, cholera, AIDS, drug-resistant tuberculosis, I`ve never seen like it. And I`ve been impressed by the extent to which the American people have been willing to make extreme sacrifices in order to protect themselves and their loved ones.

HAYES: Dr. Paul Farmer, cofounder of Partners in Health, one of the great sort of public health voices of our time and a personal hero of mine, it`s really an honor to have you on the program. Thank you.

FARMER: Thank you, Chris. I look forward to joining you again.

HAYES: All right, still ahead, it is the first real big nationwide test, the real big policies across America. Are you ready for Memorial Day weekend? Caitlin Rivers of Johns Hopkins on how she views the risk this weekend next.

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HAYES: All 50 states are in some stage of reopening as we head into this holiday weekend, and people will be outside likely in large numbers. Beaches in Miami will remain closed this weekend though on places like Delray Beach Florida, New York, New Jersey Shore, Los Angeles beaches are cautiously opening along with parks throughout the country.

We`re seeing data from those early opening states that just because the doors get thrown open, does not mean people are going to rush through them. Despite Georgia Governor Brian Kemp reopening his stay at the end of April, data from reservation site OpenTable shows the visits to Georgia restaurants on Thursday were down 83 percent from the same day last year, just barely nudging up since the states reopening. And that makes a lot of sense.

Scenes like this from a socially distance concert in Arkansas show just how different a reopened America will be. Some states and localities are trying to get close to normal as we approach summer, but this weekend will be a big test.

For more on what this weekend`s activities will mean for the spread of COVID, I`m joined by someone who has been studying the implications of reopening policy, Dr. Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, someone that I`ve been really relying on throughout the pandemic.

So, Doctor, let`s start with your assessment of as we sort of enter the kind of unofficial beginning of summer, people are going to be, you know, at the beach or in parks or having barbecues. Like, where things stand, what you`re optimistic about, what you`re cautious about?

CAITLIN RIVERS, EPIDEMIOLOGIST, JOHN HOPKINS CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY: We have made a lot of progress in controlling our epidemic, but we are still registering around 20,000 new cases a day, that`s down from over 30,000 cases a day. So again, we`ve made progress, but the virus is still out there.

And so I do think we all need to continue to be vigilant as we reincorporate more activities in the community. We still need to be careful about keeping our distance, wearing masks, washing hands, and really protecting ourselves and our communities from infection.

HAYES: So here`s my question for you. So I think for a long time, I have -- I`ve heard from people that do your job and others right, that the optimal situation here is a robust testing regimen and a kind of contact trace and quarantine situation. You`re trying to suppress the virus, you`re finding positive cases very quickly, and then you`re dealing with them.

Some places are going to have that other places aren`t. So here`s my question for you. Can the virus stay non-explosive with an R of one say, right, every infected person giving it to one person, if we just do physical distancing, ban large gatherings, we do kind of like the 80 percent solution. Like can we -- basically, can we get something like normal or control under those terms?

RIVERS: I think we can stay more or less where we are. I think what will happen in many communities is that people will keep doing what they should be doing to protect themselves and their communities. Again, they will be doing that physical distancing, and that hand hygiene, and I think all of us taking those measures together will help to control the epidemic spread.

But it`s not the ideal solution of using that diagnostic testing, that contact tracing and that quarantine, which would have allowed us a little more flexibility to relax a little bit. Unfortunately, most communities have not fully transitioned to managing their outbreaks in that way. And so we do still need to be vigilant.

HAYES: Oh, that`s interesting. So you -- there`s sort of a kind of a trade- off there, right? Like if you have the testing and contact tracing in place, and you have a sort of robust suppression effort, you really drive cases down. That matters for how people are assessing the risk and what they have to do in terms of how close they can get to each other and things like that is what you`re saying?

RIVERS: It does. This virus likes to spread and so, I think until we have a vaccine, we will all still need to be thoughtful. But places that have used diagnostic testing, contact tracing, and quarantine to control their outbreak have done that very successfully. This is Singapore, Germany, South Korea. These countries have been very successful. And so I think they are in a better position than we are right now of still having to be very observant of these measures.

HAYES: So when you look at -- I don`t know if you can see a screen there. I don`t know if you have what we call return in the business, but we`re showing images of various beaches, various outdoor places where people are gathered mostly outside, but there`s a lot of people, and like they`re kind of keeping space kind of not.

And as an epidemiologist, like I don`t know what to make of these. There`s some part of me that thinks look, people have been cooped up in their houses and outside is better than the inside. And there is some sense in which people are keeping distance, although a lot of people not wearing masks. What do you -- what`s your assessment, as you see these pictures coming in that will be more and more, you know, common of folks outdoors in fairly large numbers?

RIVERS: I think there are ways to be outside safely. And I think that`s great for our physical health and great for our mental health. The pictures of the beaches I think are stretching it. I think if you have that many people around you, particularly if you`re not wearing masks, that`s not going to be as safe as it could be. But that doesn`t mean that we can`t spend time outside. It just means we need to keep space, we need to avoid shared spaces like the bathrooms and the concession stands and just be thoughtful. Don`t give this virus and opportunity to spread.

HAYES: There was a new study out from Imperial College of London, and they`ve done some disease modeling that has been quite famous or infamous, I guess, right? They produced a model. I think that that convinced the Boris Johnson government, the U.K. that you can`t just like, let her rip and go for herd immunity.

Similarly, I think it helped the White House get its act together because, you know, it projected these insane fatalities, a million Americans dying. This is about this is about this again this R.T., right, this number of what is the -- if one person is giving it to one other person, that`s you know, equilibrium. You stay around the same. If it`s less than that you`re suppressing. If it`s more than that, you`re growing.

This shows a lot of states very -- it`s very unlikely that they`re suppressing the virus. It`s very unlikely that they have R.T. below zero. In states like Texas, particularly, Illinois. Is that a concern for you?

RIVERS: It`s a concern in that again, we have not fully transitioned to tightly managing our outbreak. We still have 20,000 cases a day. And so, what we don`t want to do is recreate the conditions that led to us all staying home. But those R.T. estimates as helpful as they are for understanding how we are progressing through our outbreak can change at any minute.

So just because your state looks like it`s doing well, right now does not mean that things could not change.

HAYES: What are the factors that are going to drive that? I mean, I keep -- I keep wondering how much of this is policy and how much is random?

RIVERS: It`s a little bit of both. I think that at this point, it really needs to be about our collective behaviors. At public health and public health policy is about creating the conditions that allow people to make those choices successfully. To have the conditions right to be able to make those choices.

And so again, I returned to the physical distancing, the masks, the hand hygiene. That is what we will all need to be doing in order to continue to control this virus.

HAYES: All right, Dr. Caitlin Rivers of Johns Hopkins University, thank you so much for making time on this Friday night.

RIVERS: Thanks for having me.

HAYES: Coming up, there is one other country in the world using the Donald Trump playbook to respond to coronavirus. Next, Bill Neely reports live from Sao Paulo, Brazil where the pandemic is getting out of control.

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HAYES: Unfortunately, there is a new worse response to COVID contender on the international scene. You`ve probably seen the charts that track the cumulative growth of Coronavirus cases as a kind of metric how well various countries have been handling the pandemic, how bad their outbreaks have been. And the U.S. there at the top has been bad, right? It`s at the top.

But look what is coming up the hill, Brazil, which right now has one of the worst outbreaks in the world. Here`s NBC News chief global correspondent Bill Neely in Brazil.

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BILL NEELY, NBC NEWS: On Brazil`s front line, the casualties are mounting horrifically. Tens of thousands of new cases every day. This intensive care unit, like most, full.

What is striking is how young people are in here.

DR. ROSANA RICHTMANN, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: Yeah, it`s incredible, because most of people is around 40 years old.

NEELY: 40?

RICHTMANN: 40.

NEELY: And some are in their 30s?

RICHTMANN: Yes, yes.

NEELY: The death toll is doubling so fast they can`t dig the graves quickly enough. These are the most vulnerable living in Latin America`s most densely populated area, their poverty turbo charging Brazil`s death toll.

People live here sometimes six or seven to a room, so social distancing is impossible. And if they don`t go out to work, they don`t eat.

You`re worried, it`s difficult.

And they`re scared. Most people don`t wear masks. They can`t get them. They`ve lost jobs so they are fed by aid groups.

In the center of Brazil`s richest city, the newly jobless line up for food.

Their president announced billions in aid, but he wants lockdowns to end and Brazil to get back to work.

At a soccer stadium, a new field hospital ready for the next wave. Brazil say experts still weeks away from its peak of infections.

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HAYES: And Bill Neely has been doing great reporting on this and joins me live tonight from Sao Paulo.

Bill, there is a bunch of things in your reporting that you show that people`s poverty, the fact that it`s very difficult for them to not work, particularly if they have jobs that require their physical presence, the fact that people are living close together, but I wondered if you can talk a little bit about Bolsonaro`s approach to this, which has been to say the least distinct from other world leaders in terms of how he`s approached it.

NEELY: Absolutely, Chris, completely defiant and unrepentant. You may remember that when Brazil passed 5,000 deaths, he was asked about that and said so what? What do you want me to do? When it passed 10,000 deaths, he took a trip on a jet ski and said to some people at a barbecue look, 70 percent of the population are going to get this. There is nothing we can do. Now it`s past 20,000. You might expect some presidents or heads of state to give a somber speech, no. President Bolsonaro simply doubled down on the call for the lockdowns to end.

And Chris, just within the last few minutes, Johns Hopkins University figures show that Brazil is now the second country in the world for cases. And again, just a few minutes ago, another 1,000 deaths were announced today.

So there is a crisis here, but as far as President Bolsonaro is concerned, he`s simply looking the other way.

HAYES: You just mentioned something I`ve been sort of following in this story that had some echoes here in the U.S., which is obviously there is a sort of federal system there. There are states and there are mayors that there are local elected leaders who have been attempting lockdowns, have been very serious about trying to get people to stay indoors and fight the virus. And Bolsonaro has been at war with them, essentially. I mean, there is sort of this battle happening between local leaders and the federal government, is that right?

NEELY: There is a battle. And probably the two dozen state governors are actually united in opposition to the president. So he is still calling for the lock-downs to end. He doesn`t believe in social distancing.

I spoke to the governor of Sao Paolo just a while ago, and he said there are two viruses in Brazil: one is Coronavirus and the other is Bolsonaro virus. So, yes, I mean, there is a -- and that`s the problem for ordinary people. You know, in this city there are 20 million people. And as a doctor said to me today, 10 million people are in lock-down, but 10 million are out on the streets, so 10 million people potentially are spreading the infection further and people genuinely don`t know who to listen to.

And in a slum like the one you saw me in, I mean, people were saying to me, look, I need to go out to work to feed my family, but if I go out to work, my family might not survive, because I may bring the virus in and infect them. So, people are really caught and there is no leadership from the top or at least no united national strategy whatsoever, Chris.

HAYES: Story out of Brazil, it really is one of the most distressing stories in the world right now what`s happening there. And Bill Neely, you`ve been doing remarkable reporting on it. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

Still ahead, if you are wondering why the president spent another day rage tweeting at Trump TV, the new polling they just dropped may give you a clue. We`ll talk about what is an eventful day for both candidates ahead.

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HAYES: Today we got news that the attorney for Tara Reade, the former senate aide to Joe Biden, who has accused him of sexual assault, has decided to no longer work with her as a client. In a statement that lawyer said that his decision, quote, is by no means a reflection on whether then Senator Biden sexual assaulted Ms. Reade.

Joe Biden has vehemently denied Tara Reade`s allegations, as have others who worked for him during her tenure there. The decision by that attorney to part ways with Reade comes amid a state of news reports that have examined her credibility. As someone who has been reporting the details of the story very closely, as Laura McGann of Vox who has reported on both workplace sexual harassment and who has been talking to and reporting on Tara Reade`s story specifically for more than a year.

Earlier this month, she published a great piece entitled "The Agonizing Story of Tara Reade."

And Laura, maybe I -- I would start with just asking you to sort of take us through your experience in talking to her, because you sort of document how her story has changed quite considerably over the course of time you`ve been in touch with her?

LAURA MCGANN, VOX: Right.

About a year ago, I first spoke with Tara Reade was sort of -- I`m thinking about it, April 2019. And at the time she called me with a really specific story, a story to me that seemed quite credible. She said that she was working in Joe Biden`s senate office in 1993 and when she was in meetings and other situations in the office that Joe Biden would put his hand on her shoulders or her neck or her hair and it wasn`t that these actions felt like sexual misconduct to her, she actually told me that she didn`t think of it as sexual misconduct, but it made her uncomfortable. And so she complained up the chain. And when she did, she started to sense retaliation in the office and sort of being frozen out and she felt she was eventually pushed out from her position in the office.

So that`s the story I started looking into a year ago. And now a year later, she`s back and she has this new allegation that you just eluded to, that in addition to the experience in the office, that she`s now also saying that Joe Biden sexual assaulted her when she was working in the senate.

And the key distinction there is that there`s one version of that story that might sound like she left out a detail and added a new one, a significant as it is to say in addition I was sexually assaulted. The key piece of this story I wanted to tell is the piece that I wrote is that a year ago she was quite adamant that she had not experienced any kind of sexual misconduct, that her story was really about office harassment and retaliation by people who would rather push out a young woman from her position than have to say to a senator, hey, please stop touching her shoulder, it makes her uncomfortable.

HAYES: Yeah. And there`s -- I mean, there is some contemporaneous reporting, or at least there are some facts in the record that there was some means by which she left that office not on the best of terms. This particular allegation, though, is a very, very different thing than what she told you. And right now there has been a lot of reporting on her general credibility, not even pertaining to this, about her past, about her resume.

I wonder how you are interpreting -- I mean, it seems to me there is sort of two issues here, right? One is in any news story, someone`s credibility is relevant and germane particularly if they say something that is incredibly important, right, an allegation. there is also sort of all of this awful history of women who have come forward with allegations being essentially dragged through the mud, and those two things are kind of living side by side right now in the case of Tara Reade, and particularly because I do there is pretty good evidence that she hasn`t been particularly forthcoming or truthful on a number of things other than this as a sort of general matter.

MCGANN: Here is what I would say. If tomorrow a document surfaced that showed Joe Biden paid Tara Reade money to settle a dispute and say you may never speak of this sexual assault, she`s not saying it exists, I`m not saying it exists, but as a hypothetical, if that existed no one would care about her, you know, could she make her rent? Did she bounce a check in the `90s? Does she write weird poetry about Vladimir Putin? It would be irrelevant.

The issue is that the story doesn`t have that kind of corroborating evidence. What we have is her word and the word of some of her friends, or people -- a neighbor and a friend of hers and her brother and over the course of the last year, her story has shifted and their story has shifted.

And what I -- the reason I find this story so agonizing is that`s all we have. And it`s not that -- to me, it`s not that someone isn`t telling the truth if I can`t corroborate their story, but it`s sort of function of being a journalist that we have to get more than one person`s word to be able to tell something so serious.

HAYES: And that point about -- I mean, the brother has sort of said that he had been told about this, and the neighbor who we have talked about in our reporting, and it is important to note, as you do, that those stories have changed around the edges and sometimes substantially, as well, right. It`s not just Tara Reade`s story, but also like to the extent there were sort of something akin to contemporaneous corroboration, that has shifted, as well.

MCGANN: Right. I spoke to kind of her core lady, best friend from the `90s who she said she had spoken to in 1993 about this and I called her and I spoke to her a year ago, and she told me a very similar story to Tara`s story, which was this is not about sexual misconduct. And she actually said to me I went back through my notes from a year ago and I had remembered her saying something to me. And I went back and looked at it and I called her up and I said you said to me Joe Biden never tried to kiss her, that Joe Biden never tried to touch her in that way, in a way that crossed a line, it was always kind of, oh, did you take it that way? A little bit -- a little off.

And she said that specifically what she found creepy was that Joe Biden did that kind of stuff, which we all know he has done on camera and that type of behavior and I personally think that is inappropriate, but that was the variety she was talking about. And I asked her then so why would you say -- why would you exonerate Joe Biden? I understand leaving a detail out, but why did you tell me a story where you really led me to believe that these things never happened to your friend and how is a friend, you know, that`s hard to imagine as a friend to imagine telling a reporter this powerful man did not do these things to my friend. And that to me is very different than saying, you know, I didn`t want to tell a friend`s whole story.

I really pushed her on it. You know, we had a back and forth about it and I think a theme of article I wrote, somebody told me she felt uncomfortable reading the whole thing. And I said yeah, that`s about right. The whole thing is uncomfortable and it`s -- it is.

And I had this uncomfortable conversation with this person. And she said, I don`t know why I said that, it just came out naturally. And there is just no -- there is no resolution to that, you know. She`s saying I`m telling the truth. And I can`t -- I can`t give her truth serum. We can`t find old video of what really happened, we just don`t have that.

HAYES: Lauren McGann who wrote that piece for Vox, which you should definitely check out and read the whole thing, even if it is sort of uncomfortable at points. Thank you, Laura.

MCGANN: You`re welcome, thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Next up, could President Trump cost Republicans the Senate in 2020? The polling out of Arizona and Georgia that should have the GOP worried after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Recent polls show Donald Trump`s plan for re-election not going great. After a Quinnipiac University poll on Wednesday found Biden leading Trump by 11 points, a Fox News poll showed Biden leading Trump by eight points, prompting the president to tweet Fox News should fire their fake pollster.

And Trump`s struggles also seem to be pulling down GOP candidates in traditionally Republican states, including Senator Martha McSally in Arizona and Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Georgia.

Joining me now for more on the state of the 2020 race are Sam Seder, host of the Majority Report with Sam Seder, and Zerlina Maxwell, co-host of the show Signal Boost.

Let`s just start with the sort of general state of things. Zerlina, I`ll start with you, which is I do feel like -- I said this the other day on the show -- that the basics here are as straightforward as can be, which is right now the equilibrium is the country is in terrible shape and the incumbent president is not doing particularly well in polling, that`s basically where things stand.

ZERLINA MAXWEELL, CO-HOST, SIGNAL BOOST: Yes, I mean it`s not a surprise to anybody who`s watching the president`s news conferences every day, that the Republican Party, who continues to defend that conduct, is going to see their poll numbers go down.

What I think, though, the Democrats, and really Americans who want to see a change in November, in the Senate and the White House, what they need to think about, though, is not how much support or what percentage of support Donald Trump has, I don`t think that is going to change, what will change is the amount of people in that portion of the electorate.

So, you know, his base has pretty much remained stagnant, but I think there are fewer and fewer Americans in that percentage of the overall American electorate, and what I think going forward will be interesting to see is the Democratic strategy in these states.

In a state like Georgia, for example, you already saw Stacey Abrams run against Brian Kemp, narrowly defeated, among a lot of controversy, but one of the most important things about that coalition that she was able to build is that it was multi-racial and it was the highest turnout in the history of mid-term elections.

And so we can do that again, you just have to go to the base of the Democratic Party, just like Trump goes to the base of his party all the time, and try to get those people to lead the House, because some people voted for Trump, but more people stayed home.

HAYES: Sam, there`s been this back and forth about sort of Biden and the strategy here. And I have -- I think I have come around to the view that it is inescapably a referendum on the president, it is particularly inescapably a referendum on the president in the midst of a historical cataclysm that has cost 100,000 Americans their lives. And that just lean into that, like I really do think that that is the best political strategy at this moment. What do you think?

SAM SEDER, CO-HOST, MAJORITY REPORT: I think it is the best political strategy for Joe Biden. I`m not sure that would be the case, you know, a myriad of, several of the other candidates but for Joe Biden, I would say yes. And in this context, this context of Coronavirus, I think that -- I think it`s a good fit, for Joe Biden.

I mean I think one of the things that we`ve been seeing is that the Republicans seem to have trouble finding some type of toehold to suppress enthusiasm for Joe Biden. I mean, you know, Obama-gate does not feel like they have figured that out. I mean that is not -- the idea that they`re talking about Barack Obama in May of 2020, in a million years I would have never guessed that that would be the strategy, or at least what they`re putting forward to try and run against the Democratic nominee. That`s -- it`s bizarre. And I think it`s a function of their inability to get a toe- hold against Joe Biden.

HAYES: Yeah, I agree. And today was the sort of perfect example that. So I want to play this interview that he did with Breakfast Club host Charlamagne tha God, which got -- which is of the news cycle campaign stories that we`re used to, I will play you the exchange and then get your thoughts. Zerlina, take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, BREAKFAST CLUB HOST: It`s a long way to November. We got more questions.

JOE BIDEN, 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You got more questions. I tell you, if you have a problem figuring out whether you`re for me or Trump and you ain`t black...

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: It doesn`t have anything to do with Trump, it has to do with the fact that I want something for my community. I would love to see...

BIDEN: Take a look at my record, man. I extended the Voting Rights Act 25 years. I have a record that is second to none. The NAACP has endorsed me every time I`ve run. I mean, come on. Take a look at the record.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: All right, extremely classic 200-proof Biden there, and a bunch of different ways. I found that, you know, that`s a cringe inducing thing to say. Your thoughts on that exchange, Zerlina.

MAXWELL: Look, I feel a lot of empathy for the staffers today that have to work -- to clean that up, because I do think it revealed a weakness in his candidacy, which is that he`s gaffe-prone. And on certain issues you just don`t have any room for that.

On the issue of race, you really can`t make a lot of mistakes. I remember an incident in 2016 where Hillary went on the same show with Charlamagne the God, the Breakfast Club, and talked about...

HAYES: I remember, too.

MAXWELL: ...and talked about (inaudible), which was a line from the Beyonce album Lemonade.

Now, it was a fact that Hillary Clinton loves hot sauce and literally had a bottle in her bag. I saw it there during the interview. And still, it became this thing where, oh, Hillary is pandering to black people by talking about hot sauce and referencing this cultural touchstone of being Beyonce.

And so I think there is this narrow line you have to walk. This is different. This was a gaffe he shouldn`t have said it. I`m glad he apologized. But I do think the Biden campaign has some weakness here. Can i think that`s why in my opinion they should pick a black woman as vice president. I think that would help to have somebody in the tent who can help you with your cultural competency issues when you`re gaffe-prone.

HAYES: Well, but see here`s -- to Zerlina`s point, Sam -- yeah, go ahead.

BIDEN: Well, you know, what I was also struck was by Charlamagne`s follow- up, which is I want something material to bring back to my community. And Joe Biden had no answer for that. I mean, he said, you know, I`ve authorized the Voting Rights Act.

Well, I mean let`s be honest, every single senator in 2006 or `07, I mean, except for maybe four, and so I`m including the vast majority of Republicans also authorized the Voting Rights Act. That`s not a terribly -- that should be a baseline, never mind for a Democratic senator, any senator, for that matter. And so the fact that he couldn`t respond with, well, I`m glad -- you know, I know you want stuff for your community, and here`s some of the ideas that I have to bring you some material benefits.

So I mean i agree with Zerlina, I think we should have a vice president, a woman of color, but I would also like to see that vice president woman of color offer and bring to the ticket some plans and some proactive measures to bring material benefit to people.

And I think that is hugely important. And I think that`s got overshadowed at the end of his question.

HAYES: The one thing about my one take on this in terms of just sort of the surface politics of it, Zerlina, your point there I think it encapsulates to me what is fascinating and in some ways I think maddening in retrospect about the difference in 2016 and 2020. Hot sauce in the bag will become a meme and attached to Hillary Clinton, and that toe-hold you were talking about, Sam, was everything she said got that, and right now the Trump people are looking at Biden being like it doesn`t work, it doesn`t work. This is not going to be a meme -- like it doesn`t work. And there`s a whole book to be written about why that is the case with Joe Biden in 2020, and it was the case with Hillary Clinton 2016.

Sam Seder and Zerlina Maxwell, thank you both.

That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.

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