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COVID TRANSCRIPT: 6/22/20, All in w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: Tammy Duckworth, Syra Madad, Sheldon Whitehouse, Alexi McCammond,Yamiche Alcindor, Marc Elias

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: After today`s show of support from fellow drivers, Wallace tweeted this photo with just one word, "together." That`s it for us. Thank you for being with us. And don`t go anywhere, "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes is up next.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN. American failure, the resurging Coronavirus and the negligent president who told his people to slow down and testing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask to slow it down?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If it did slow down, frankly, I think we`re way ahead of ourselves.

HAYES: Tonight, more Trump staffers test positive in Tulsa. Texas and Florida raise alarms about the spread in their states, and new evidence the President`s pandemic response is costing him with voters.

Then, what we still don`t know about the botched firing of the man investigating Trump`s inner circle. And what we now do know about the made- up milkshake poisoning of NYPD when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good Evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. If there was a single place where you would think that the weird reality distortion field Donald Trump would work, it would be in a rally with his hardest of hardcore supporters. And we all thought that would be the case in his campaign kickoff rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a deep red state over the weekend.

There were people lined up outside the arena days in advance. You probably saw them on our air. The President and his team bragged that a million people, one million people requested tickets. We were all talking about how crushingly depressing it was that tens of thousands of people would be willing to put themselves at risk to attend this rally in the midst of a pandemic. But then, they didn`t.

God bless the sensible decisions made by thousands of Donald Trump followers who apparently said, you know what, I`m going to go ahead and take a rain check on this big potential super spreading event. The arena was not even half full. about 6,200 people attended according to the Tulsa Fire Department in a space that holds over 19,000. It`s like a third. That`s tough.

New York Times reports the President had been warned aboard Air Force One that the crowds at the arena were smaller than expected and was stunned. Once he arrived, the President reportedly yelled at aides backstage while looking at the endless rows of empty blue seats in the upper bowl of the stadium.

The campaign was anticipating such a big crowd, they had built an overflow section outside and bragged about there was -- there was going to be a stage where the president and vice president were scheduled to speak and then they tore the stage down before the president even arrived because there was no one there.

And this rally, that sea of empty blue seats is the visual representation of the fact that the President of the United States cannot B.S. the Coronavirus away. He can`t use a sales pattern, and his propaganda, and his cutesy repetition, or his Twitter handle to spin it, not even with his own most devoted supporters.

For all his propaganda, most people remain worried about the pandemic. And among the people who are most vulnerable, seniors, the President is currently in polling 10 points underwater unapproved. He cannot just flap his lips and pretend that we are not in the midst of a global pandemic and a once in a lifetime calamity.

In fact, on Saturday, just hours before the rally, we`ve learned, guess what, six members of Donald Trump`s own advanced team on the ground in Tulsa, including Secret Service personnel, tested positive for the virus. Oh, and then get this, today, his own campaign announced that oh, by the way, two additional staffers who attended the rally who were there in Tulsa also tested positive for the virus.

From the beginning, from the very beginning, the President`s approach has been that the Coronavirus outbreak is not a problem to be solved, but rather a perception to be managed. The disease to his mind does not even really exist. The only thing that are real are the numbers it produces and the political ramifications of those numbers.

Which is why back in March, as we started to see cases in the U.S., the President did not want to let passengers stuck on a cruise ship off dealing with the outbreak. They didn`t want to let them off the ship. He said that he liked the numbers being where there are. You know, keep them on the ship because then they`re not my numbers.

Then we were laggards in testing internationally. And people thought, maybe that isn`t an accident. Maybe it is because the President does not want the numbers to go up like he said in front of the cameras. And then on Saturday night in Tulsa, in front of 6,000 people in a mostly empty stadium, he admitted as much.


TRUMP: You know, testing is a double-edged sword. We`ve tested now 25 million people. When you do testing to that extent, you`re going to find more people, you`re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, slow the testing down please.


HAYES: Slow the testing down, please. Testing is a double-edged sword. No, it`s got just one edge. It`s the edge to fight the virus. It`s not two edges. And then he had a change chance to clean that admission up today and basically, admitted it all over again.


TRUMP: We`re doing so much testing, 25 million tests. Nobody thought --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But did you ask to slow it down?

TRUMP: If it did slow down, frankly, I think we`re way ahead of ourselves, if you want to know the truth. We`ve done too good job.


HAYES: We`re way ahead of ourselves. He thinks testing is the problem, that if you don`t test, there`s no virus. It`s past incompetence. It`s malfeasance and negligence on an almost incomprehensible scale. There are 120,000 dead Americans. And this attitude has led to the U.S. looking like this, like this compared to the E.U. We are going back up while everybody else has basically suppressed the virus.

Everyone the world except for one other country, Brazil, where their president, Donald Trump`s buddy, goes around saying make Brazil great again and telling people the virus itself is nonsense, and everyone`s going to get it and basically overseeing a Trump-like disaster there as well.

So thanks to the U.S. and Brazil, the world just saw its worst day ever for new Coronavirus infections as recorded by the World Health Organization. In this country right now, we have 23 states going in the wrong direction where cases are increasing.

And one of the key measurements, and we talked about this before on the show as it relates to Coronavirus infection, is R, right? That`s the average number of people who become infected by one infectious person. And if R is under one, right, every infected person infects less than one person, you`re in good shape. If R is above one, you`re in bad shape. And right now, R is about one in 31 states, meaning the virus will spread quickly, meaning we are in trouble.

The numbers are looking especially troubling in Texas where 72 percent of intensive care units in Dallas are currently occupied. This is what the seven-day rolling average of new cases looks like in Harris County or Houston. That big spike on the right taking place over in just the last few days. Where do you think that`s going to go? Where do you think that curve is going to go?

In Florida, new cases hit yet another one-day record high on Saturday. Today, the Surgeon General there quietly issued an advisory recommending everyone wear masks in public. Arizona`s governor also finally reversed his position on masks last week, and they hit another record high date in hospitalizations today along with a big increase in cases.

That`s the state, by the way, where Donald Trump is headed tomorrow. He`s going to Phoenix where among other things, he is slated to speak to people at a megachurch that claims they have newly installed technology in the church that kills 99.9 percent of the Coronavirus within 10 minutes. I mean, no wonder no one wanted to come to this guy`s Tulsa rally.

For more on the President`s negligence on the Coronavirus, I`m joined by Senator Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois. And Senator, it`s been fairly clear in the beginning, the President has said many times things that effectively were I don`t want to test because if we test we`ll find cases, If we find cases I`ll look bad and I don`t want to look bad, ergo, let`s not test. But it`s striking that he has now essentially admitted that.

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): Well, of course. I mean -- and you know, this is a problem with Donald Trump for himself, right? He says without thinking. He speaks without thinking and in this case, we see into the real Donald Trump. And, frankly, he cares more about what testing numbers are than 120,000 dead Americans. That`s the president of United States.

He`s supposed to care about Americans who are sick and who are in danger of losing their lives as well as those who we`ve lost, and he`s worried about how testing numbers make his politics look. It`s shameful.

HAYES: They`re -- Democrats have pointed out the fact that there`s already about $14 billion for Coronavirus testing and contact tracing that was appropriated by the Senate and the House that the admin has access to, it is not using currently, as we`re watching this spike happen. It just seems like there has been total abandonment at the federal level, really total. Like it`s just the governors issue and let`s cross our fingers and hope it doesn`t get too bad.

DUCKWORTH: Well, Chris, I mean, this is from the very beginning. Remember that at the very beginning back in December-January timeframe, the World Health Organization offered test kits to the United States and we would be -- we turn them down. We turn them down. They offered test kits to us, at the time when our CDC was having problems with producing the correct test kits, we turned down test kits. And we -- so we`ve been behind this virus from the very beginning because this Trump administration has failed to mobilize.

Really, you know, we have some pretty significant resources in this country, and they just refused to mobilize it. And in fact, the president even early on, said to our governors, you`re on your own. Go get your own stuff. Go get your own PPE, go get your own testing kits, go do it yourself. He didn`t want have anything to do with it. He refused to use the Defense Production Act and to call that into use until very late. He told the governor to go out on their own.

My own governor, Governor Pritzker had to negotiate for PPE and fly in an aircraft and not tell the -- not to the federal government so that we could actually get PPE into our state and into all of our hospitals. This President has been -- I mean, not just behind the virus but willfully behind the virus, and we have 120,000 dead Americans to show for it.

And what does he do? Does he take leadership? No, what does he do? He stopped testing? That`s negligent. And that`s putting it kindly, Chris.

HAYES: I wonder how you think about Illinois right now, because there are states that went through the -- got hit pretty hard in the beginning of this. New York and the New York metro area chief among them, but also Illinois, also Michigan, also to a certain extent Louisiana. And in those states, we`ve seen fairly rapid declines.

And the question I think on everyone`s mind is, is Arizona, or Texas, Florida, everyone`s future, is that where we`re all heading towards? And if so, that seems untenable. I mean, at some point, it`s -- people are going to have to hit emergency brake or there`s going to have to be some kind of natural response that doesn`t just say, you know, (INAUDIBLE).

DUCKWORTH: I think the key thing in Illinois was that we were able to ramp up production of test kits, and we were able to get to the goal and then surpass the goal of 10,000 tests per day, and we`re well above that. And that was the turning point for Illinois.

The Shelter in Place Order that Governor Pritzker called for very early on and the people in Illinois actually headed the shelter and place orders and stayed home. Much to a lot of economic pain, but people stayed home and did the sensible thing and believed in the science. And then we ramped up our testing.

And so now, Illinois has been able to very slowly reopen our economy. And just this week, we entered the phase five, the final phase of our reopening. I think other states can be there too, but they have to be realistic about it. And if we open too soon, I`d like a Florida or Arizona, you face the potential of having to shut your economy back down. That is even worse. That`s even worse for the economy if you have to shut everything back down, and that`s going to hurt people even more than a much more methodical opening.

HAYES: Yes. The two doomsday scenarios right now in front of us are death starting to spike again and or a state having a shutdown. I think both of those would just be -- would knock the wind collectively out of -- out of just sort of the American people given everything that we`ve gone through so far. Senator Tammy Duckworth represents the great state of Illinois, which is in phase five, and our fingers are crossed for you. Go get them. Thank you very much.

DUCKWORTH: Thank you.

HAYES: I want to -- I want to now bring in Dr. Syra Madad, the Senior Director of the System Special Pathogens Program at the New York City Health and Hospital System. Over the weekend, she tweeted, "I`ve responded to multiple epidemics and pandemics over the years from Ebola. to Zika, to Measles, each facing its own set of obstacles. I`m used to outbreaks being politicized, but I`ve never witnessed this amount of stupidity that has plagued this pandemic from the get-go by elected."

Doctor, I saw that and it stuck with me. And I wanted to have you and I want to ask, what do you mean by that?

SYRA MADAD, SENIOR DIRECTOR, SYSTEM SPECIAL PATHOGENS PROGRAM, NEW YORK CITY HEALTH AND HOSPITAL SYSTEM: Well, from the get go, we`ve been 10 steps back when we should have been two steps ahead. And what`s happening is completely undermining our entire response as a nation. So let alone the response that each state is seeing. You`re seeing, you know, at least 10 states have a record number of high cases along with hospitalizations. You`re seeing that it`s undermining public trust. You know, everything is being politicized. Everything from wearing a mask to going to the barber shop, and it`s very, very important.

And I responded to multiple epidemics over the years, and this is the first, you know, pandemic that I`ve faced where the federal government in and of itself is essentially sabotaging the entire, you know, response.

HAYES: You know, I thought of this as my colleague, Vaughn Hillyard, talking about trying to get tested in Arizona, because we`re seeing the testing numbers, right. The testing numbers are going up and U.S. testing capacity is increased massively. But it`s still clumpy, right? There`s still places where testing is very easy like in New York and places where it`s not so easy.

So, this is his experience in Arizona, talking about the NextCare Urgent Care on Thomas and 17th Street in Phoenix on Friday had a five and a half hour wait. Folks were sitting outside with masks; it was 140 degrees out. One issue at play, I`m told, Banner Health does not have a sufficient number of machines to process the actual test. The state says it`s working with them on federal money to increase number of machines as demand for tests has risen, more questions to be addressed."

So what we`re seeing here is in the state that arguably has the worst outbreak right now at this late date. Even there, it looks like we have a testing bottleneck, which is, you know, catastrophic.

MADAD: Absolutely. I mean, we are obviously, you know, six months into this pandemic, and we still can`t get the most basic infrastructure in place. When a number of us that are in this field, when we talk about preparedness and responding to epidemics and pandemics, we have an underlying assumption that we`re going to have, you know, testing in place, we`re going to have a coherent and reasonable federal response. And unfortunately, none of that actually existed in this pandemic.

And now, what is causing is very poor communication to the American public. And right now, our biggest weapon is our behavior. And so, if you can`t educate the public, if you`re not going to, you know, show them and model good behavior, why are they going to trust public health officials. And that`s exactly what`s happening. It`s undermining everything that we`re doing.

HAYES: One interesting piece of data that I`ve seen is that the median age of folks in these states, Florida, Texas, Arizona, is coming down. It`s actually much lower than it had -- than it had been in places like New York in the beginning this pandemic. And there is some hope that what we`re seeing is a kind of bifurcation of behavior of different populations, that people who are most at risk and older are really sort of hunkered down still, and people that are younger are doing things like going out to bars and things like that they`re getting infected.

Now, I guess the best-case scenario is that if you can keep it out of the - - traveling among populations that are at risk, maybe we don`t see an uptick in deaths. That`s maybe the case fatality rate doesn`t go as high. How hopeful are you that we can kind of keep that sequestration in these states?

MADAD: Well, you know, this is a game that we`re all predicting of how worse this outbreak is going to get. You know, you`re seeing all the models come out, you`re seeing them factoring in the mobility of the population, and the various risk stratification is that, you know, are embedded within it. But, you know, as we know, no one is invincible.

You`re seeing -- we`re learning more about this virus. So we`ve -- we know a lot more than we did in January. And what we`ve seen is that while those that are in the high-risk group, those that have underlying health conditions, they are obviously more risk of having an adverse effect, adverse case. That still doesn`t prove the fact that you know, anyone can get infected, anyone can have a worse outcome.

We`re seeing that -- we saw that play out in New York, we`ve seen, you know, a number of individuals, obviously, in various age groups have really worse outcomes, and it`s a very unfortunate.

HAYES: Dr. Syra Madad who has worked on these issues for a long time, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

MADAD: Thank you for having me, Chris.

HAYES: Next, the latest on the Justice Department`s sloppy attempt to install a Trumper at SDNY while no one was looking. How Bill Barr`s very public debacle all went down and what they`re up to after this.


HAYES: Quite late on Friday night, when the show is over and people were sliding into the weekend and no one`s really paying attention to the news, Attorney General William Barr just issued a surprising statement out of nowhere seemingly, announcing the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, a guy named Geoffrey Berman was resigning. That`s a weird thing to announce on Friday at like 10:00.

The Southern District of New York is arguably one of the most powerful and active districts in the country, probably the most powerful. And as you might remember, it`s that district that put the President`s former lawyer Michael Cohen in prison. It is also that district that is reportedly currently investigating the President`s personal lawyer and bagman Rudy Giuliani. It`s already indicted two of his associates. It`s also investigating the President`s Inaugural Committee, the President`s personal bank, Deutsche Bank.

One of the most surprising things about the Attorney General`s sudden Friday night summer announcement is that it was also apparently a surprise to the man at issue, the top prosecutor that William Barr claimed had resigned because that guy Geoffrey Berman quickly issued a statement saying in effect a hell no.

"I learned in a press release from the Attorney General tonight that I was stepping down as United States Attorney. I have not resigned. I have no intention of resigning my position. Our investigations will move without delay or interruption." Boy, that last part certainly seemed like a shot across the bow, at the very least imply that his removal or attempted removal was due to William Barr wanting him to stop doing some of those investigations.

Then on Saturday afternoon, Barr then upped the ante releasing a public letter to Berman saying "because you have declared you have no intention of resigning I have asked the president to remove you as of today and he has done so."

The top prosecutor for the Southern District agreed to step down shortly after that. So Geoffrey Berman says OK, I`ll go. But only after Barr agreed to let his deputy, right, his number two, a respected career prosecutor take over that office as opposed to having it taken over by the New Jersey U.S. Attorney which was weird, or the person they`d nominated.

But in all the back and forth, it`s important not to lose sight of the fact that the attorney general the United States just flat out lied to the American people on Friday. That`s what happened. He lied when he said that federal prosecutor agreed resign. That was a lie. He lied to all of us with a black and white lie, something easily provable and he has lied before.

And now that U.S. attorney who has -- that department -- that attorney general who was fired, Geoffrey Berman, Geoffrey Berman is now available to testify before Congress if anyone wants to hear from him, because we still not really know what the heck happened here.

Joining me now for more on the removal of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman is Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island. He`s a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the committee that confirmed Attorney General Barr. He previously served as a U.S. Attorney himself, the U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island.

And in that capacity as a senator on the Judiciary Committee, as a man who held a job similar to Geoffrey Berman`s, what did you make of this when you heard this Friday night? What is this?

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): I don`t know. It`s somewhere between the Gong Show and that black comedy The Death of Stalin. It`s just such an array of misfires. First of all, there`s the lie about the U.S. Attorney resigning. Then it turns out that nobody bothered to tell Barr or they`d forgotten that this was a judicially appointed U.S. Attorney, a rare thing.

So it`s actually not clear that bar can fire him, which gave him the leverage to hold out and demand that instead of the New Jersey U.S. Attorney coming in, that his own Southern District of New York deputy to take over again in the ordinary course. And then they also forgot that there`s a blue slip in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

So actually, the new appointee who they supposedly wanted to be Jay Clayton would have to go through Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand before they could get there. So, the amateurishness and the obvious oversights, I mean, it`s kind of fire the associate quality work here. So, all of that suggests because Barr is not an idiot that there are some very powerful forces working just beneath the surface to explain all this peculiarity.

HAYES: Well, I mean, that`s -- there`s a mystery here that to me is unsolved, right? I mean, clearly something happened. There was some predicate for this. There was some precipitating incident. There`s some reporting today about it being an open letter, but, you know, statement of interest and Department of Justice on Bill de Blasio`s opening. I don`t quite buy that.

But it just seems to me that it`s someone`s job, I don`t know, Senate Judiciary Committee, the House Judiciary Committee, to actually get to the bottom. Like, we should know what happened here, right?

WHITEHOUSE: Yes, we should know what happened here. And if we had gavels in the Senate, we would find out. Chairman Nadler does have the gavel in the House and I hope and expect he will continue to look into this because it all just smells really rancid.

I think part of it might be that they want to humble the famous sovereign district of New York, which is why you bring a New Jersey U.S. attorney to oversee it as a part-time job. There`s always been a rivalry between main justice and the so-called sovereign district.

But just the bad lawyering here and the slipshod facts and being caught lying twice, first by Berman, and second by the president saying, hey, I had nothing to do with this when Barr said this was the President`s call, it all just smacks of amateurism and bizarre, bizarre motivations.

HAYES: Yes, we had the president saying, "We have a very capable attorney general so that`s really up to him. I`m not involved." Which again, do you believe the President on this, who knows. We`re dealing with a bunch of people who don`t have a lot of credibility. But we do know that there`s precedent here.

I mean, in the -- in the D.C. District, right, you`ve got a situation where they didn`t move out the U.S. Attorney. They sort of fake promoted her, then they rescinded the nomination, and they have loyalists there, and they`ve kind of got to town with -- I mean, that is where they have undermined career prosecutors to get to suggest a lighter sentence for Roger Stone, leading to resignations.

 That`s where they have attempted to drop charges against Michael Flynn that was so irregular and bizarre that a federal district judge has basically said like hold up and appointed a retired judge to take the other side of the case. So, they have run this play in D.C. before. There is some precedent for what it looks like they`re trying to do.

WHITEHOUSE: Not only have they run this play, but they really got their fingers burned trying to run it, as the professional prosecutors left the case. And when Judge Gleeson, the specially appointed retired judge came in, he wrote a blistering condemnation of what was going on. I mean, stunning by a former judge.

So all of that really looked horrible for the Department of Justice. And the fact that they would try to replay it while their fingers are still scorched from the last maneuver is again, it`s just really, really peculiar.

HAYES: Well, I hope that we get some clarity from Mr. Berman himself in the near future on what exactly went down there. I know the people in that who work in that office are pretty flummoxed and unnerved by the sequence of events. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

WHITEHOUSE: My pleasure.

HAYES: Still to come, as the President continues his fearmongering against vote by mail, Kentucky braces for primary day after polling places were cut by nearly 95 percent. Why there`s just one polling place to serve over 600,000 registered voters in one county after this.


HAYES: Tomorrow`s another election day and that gives us anther chance to conduct our ongoing real-time experiment of what voting looks like in a pandemic.

Six states are holding primaries or runoffs and a lot of eyes are on Kentucky where earlier this year lawmakers worked out a deal to push back the primary until tomorrow and allow mail-in ballots for every registered voter if they so choose.

That deal also allowed counties to reduce in-person polling on election day to just one site. And the top election official in highly populated Jefferson County, a Republican, decided to do just that, as voting rights expert and journalist Ari Berman noted, there will be one polling place for 616,000 registered voters in Louisville`s Jefferson County where half the state`s black voters live, adding, this is going to be a disaster.

As we have covered extensively in this show, Republicans have used various strategies to suppress the vote and one has been to limit polling locations in African-American areas that are more likely to vote for Democrats.

It`s also the case that state and county boards of elections are often just not equipped to run the elections they want to run in these circumstances. I mean, here in New York, right, which is run by Democrats, there is also a primary tomorrow. Elections in this state are not run particularly well, I have to say. I mean, anecdotally I know numerous people who did not get the absentee ballots they requested for tomorrow`s primary.

And I mentioned this because sometimes the failures that we see in election are not the result of partisanship or racial prejudice, but simply because the people in charge are overwhelmed or incompetent or in uncertain circumstances or a combination of all three, so the the best chance that we have to mitigate these failures is through a comprehensive well run vote by mail vote program, something that`s particularly important during the pandemic.

And then we have an impeached president of the United States attempting outright to subvert and sabotage the franchise tweeting, because of mail-in ballots, 2020 will be the most rigged election in our nation`s history.

In fact, of course, both Donald Trump and Mike Pence themselves recently voted by mail. That has not stopped Attorney General William Barr from making claims like this.


WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Right now a foreign country could print up tens of thousands of counterfeit ballots and it would be very hard for us to detect, which was the right and which was wrong ballot.


HAYES: That`s not true, we would be able to detect them. In fact, election experts deem that claim, which was also pushed by the president on Twitter, to be ridiculous.

And I cannot stress enough how much we need mail-in ballots, because right now it may be the best things are going to be for the rest of the year in terms of this pandemic. Think of that, things might be much worse in November. We might be all sheltering in place again or cold and flu season and the Coronavirus.

And having the president and the attorney general now attacking the legitimacy of mail-in voting, which could well save lives, is just so bad and so dangerous.

Why is Trump doing it? Well, right now the polls suggest he`s going to lose badly, so he may want to undermine the results. Failing that, it seems like maybe he thinks the chaos is his friend.

Joining me now is Democratic election lawyer Marc Elias, whose currently involved in 30 lawsuits protecting voting rights around the country.

Marc, as we come up on this election day tomorrow, are there areas of particular concern for you?

MARC ELIAS, ELECTION LAWYER: Yeah. I mean, I think we have had this conversation before, and I have a feeling we`re going to have it again. We continue to see debilitating long lines in primary after primary after primary, whether it was Texas before COVID where voters waited in seven- and-a-half hour long lines, whether it was in Milwaukee whether there is only five polling places open in a city that usually has 180, whether it was in Georgia, or whether it was in Nevada where the Republican secretary of state also closed all the in-person polling locations except for one or a couple per county.

HAYES: The argument that I have heard from folks defending the situation in Kentucky and other places is that this is a -- look, we`re trying to sort of -- we`re operating under difficult conditions and we`re trying to offer a choice, and we can`t basically run both at full tilt, right? We don`t have a capacity to run essentially huge mail-in ballot program in a state that`s not used to it and also a huge election day program. We don`t have the funding. We don`t have the training. We don`t have the capacity, so we`re trying to kind of mix and match the two. What is your response to that? That this is essentially a good faith effort that`s just a tough thing to pull off?

ELIAS: So good faith effort doesn`t work when it comes to the fundamental right of voting. I`m sorry. We don`t give you a trophy for trying when it comes to protecting people`s constitutional right to vote. And that`s what a lot of rhetoric I hear is, well, we`re doing the best we can. Well, do better. You know.

Somehow we managed to do better when we`re talking about largely white affluent areas. We don`t see long lines there, but when it comes to places where African-Americans vote or young people vote, we see long lines. We saw them in 2004, we saw them in 2008, we saw them in 2012, President Obama spoke about it in the State of the Union in January of 2013 saying this was a crisis, that we needed to solve. He appointed a bipartisan commission. Guess what happened in 2016? Long lines again. And here again we see them in 2020.

So, I think it`s about time that we stop making excuses and saying we tried and start coming to solutions.

HAYES: The president, you know, the president says a lot of things and sometimes I think it`s probably useful not to, you know, take too seriously a lot of the things he says, because he just spouts a lot of nonsense. We all know that.

This stuff, the nonsense that he`s spouting about absentee ballots and now being aped by the attorney general, I have to say I found that interview somewhat shocking, does strike me as on a different plane of dangerousness just in terms of the collective legitimacy of our free and fair elections.

ELIAS: Yeah. Chris, I think you`re right to point out the addition of the attorney general, because that is really troubling. We are all used to Donald Trump saying preposterous things that are not true. It`s kind of become sport to see him say ridiculous lies. But it is another thing for the attorney general of the United States to sit down in an interview setting and tell not one, not two, but several lies about -- about the safety of vote by mail. And that is an escalation of the propaganda and voter suppression that we`re seeing out of the administration.

HAYES: Well, particularly because in any situation in which we may have any sort of litigation, the idea the Department of Justice putting its finger on -- its thumb on the scale in this, you know, that is really terrifying, I mean, shocking and terrifying to consider.

ELIAS: And it`s inconceivable to have imagined even, you know, a few years ago. I mean, whatever you might have thought about the Bush Department of Justice in 2008 election or 2004 election, whatever Republicans may have harbored about their concerns about Attorney General Holder and the Obama administration, the notion that the attorney general of the United States went on TV and said that foreign governments can print ballots and states can`t figure it out, that people sign the outside of ballot envelopes as part of some effort to deny the secrecy of a ballot when in fact they sign those on the outer envelope ballot precisely to meet the Republicans concern about fraud, that`s why they sign the outer envelope. It`s just -- it`s unbelievable. Even for this administration, it`s unbelievable.

HAYES: Mark Elias, who is one of the sort of top election lawyers in the country who thinks about this, works on it full-time and will have more than enough work unfortunately in the months to come. Thank you very much.

ELIAS: Thank you.

HAYES: Still to come, why Donald Trump`s Tulsa disaster is a really bad sign for his campaign. What we know about the fall-out behind closed doors and why voters are not sold on his COVID response just ahead.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is Tuesday, June 16, and this is a Fox News alert. Three NYPD officers poisoned at a Manhattan Shake Shack, that`s according to law enforcement officials. Bleach reportedly dumped in their drinks as anti-police sentiment hits a boiling point. The restaurant`s response to the horrendous attack.


HAYES: We now that not only did the great Shake Shack poisoning incident not happen, which became clear hours later, the entire thing was an elaborate and preposterous fraud.

Today, we are learning what actually happened. According to reporting from The New York Post, three New York police officers ordered milkshakes on a mobile app, so there is no way for workers at the Shake Shack in question to have known that were police officers ordering. And the shakes could not have been tampered with after the officers showed up to pick them up, because they were already packaged and ready for pickup.

The shakes did taste a little funny to officers who threw them out, talked to the manager and got apologies and vouchers for free feed or drink. A supervisor for the offices, quote, called in the emergency service unit to set up a crime scene at the fast food joint for an evidence search around 9:20 p.m., nearly two hours after they first got the sour shakes.

Again, the NYPD set up an entire crime scene outside this burger place as police officers were investigating inside and outside the restaurant. The original three officers were taken to the hospital for an exam without having shown any symptoms, according to the Post.

Meanwhile, a lieutenant sent an e-mail to the police union saying six cops have thrown up and gotten sick after drinking the shakes, again not true. That resulted in the police union tweeting out their officers were under attack and intentionally poisoned.

The entire premise was false from the start, quote, "it was unclear why the sergeant and lieutenant escalated the situation." Again, these are people tasked with the job of finding things out and establishing the facts in criminal situations.

It turns out it was just some cleaning solution that got left in the milk shake machine, quote, "detectives easily closed the case after interviewing five employees and reviewing surveillance footage showing the shakes were made normally.

So, the next time that you have a police union official giving you a statement about something that supposedly just happened, please, I beg of you, remember the Shake Shack.


HAYES: This was the president returning home to the White House on Saturday night looking disheveled and defeated with his red tie undone, dangling around his neck, a walk of shame back home, literally hat in hand.

Just hours earlier, he had wrapped up his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a rally that was going to reboot his whole reelection effort. His campaign said they had over 1 million ticket requests for the rally. There were meant to be so many people they even built a whole extra stage outside the arena for Trump and Pence to address the overflow crowd.

But there was no overflow crowd. There weren`t even enough people to fill the actual arena itself. According to the Tulsa Fire Department, they were just over 6,000 people in an arena that can seat three times that many.

The New York Times reports the president was stunned and he yelled at aides backstage while looking at the endless rows of empty blue seats. And he gave a rambling speech, spending more than 15 minutes explaining what he has walked slowly down a ramp at West Point before successfully drinking a glass of water with just one hand, leading to applause.

And then he came home and we got the now iconic image of a man looking desultory and defeated, because like among many other things this was a moment that exposed the sheer obvious political weakness of this man at this point.

To talk about it, I`m joined lie Alexi McCammond, political reporter for Axios, who covers the 2020 presidential election; and Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour.

Alexi, let me start with you. I mean, just at the most basic level like campaign advance, this is as big a disaster as I have seen, particularly with the stakes as high as they were here.

ALEXI MCCAMMOND, AXIOS: I mean it certainly suggests that people were focused on other things, to your point, Chris, that they couldn`t even pick up on this that it was happening until it was far too late. And you know, one thing we know to be true about President Trump is that he loves these rallies, it`s where he gets his energy, it`s where he feels most himself, and it`s where his base group of voters love him the most. They love Trump at a rally. They don`t necessarily love Trump behind the podium giving a Coronavirus briefing, but his voters love him at a rally and he loves doing those things.

And the fact that he couldn`t get that is something that will grind his gears throughout this week, and something that, you know, could lead to campaign staff shakeups. They`re going to have to think about the fact that this was their rally to kick off their great American comeback tour. Now how are they going to kick off that tour in earnest?

HAYES: Yamiche, it strikes me if you look at the polling average right now that has 538 at Biden at a nine-point advantage. We have seen in the last few months how quickly life can change, how quickly politics can change, so this is just a snapshot in a moment in time.

But I wonder how much the White House understands that the problem is reality, it`s not like the message, it`s just the fact that things are -- there`s a pandemic and things are not great in the country. And ultimately like they have to solve that or do a good job or they will not win, and that`s the basic equation. I wonder, do you think they understand that?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR: I think there are people around the president who have been urging him to really proceed cautiously when it comes to the Coronavirus, when it comes to proclaiming victory over it.

And to Alexi`s point, you have this president who is really desperate and really excited about being in front of a big crowd of people. He wants to do that. But then you have his health officials saying actually we`re probably going to have a second wave of the Coronavirus, more people are going to die Hundreds -- or I should say thousands of Americans have already died of the virus, but still president Trump is leaning on these instincts to just do what he wants to do.

So even though there might be people around the White House to take it more seriously than President Trump, ultimately it`s still the president`s decision to go forth because he has posited himself as this kind of I`m not going to wear a mask, I`m not going to really buy into the pandemic too much.

HAYES: This is what I found so fascinating in many ways about this moment politically and also about what happened in Tulsa. And Alexi, you guys at Axios had an interesting write-up today of just a focus group, swing voters in Eerie, Pennsylvania which, again, this is qualitative, this is not quantitative, but you know we`ve read so much about the ways in which this has been polarized, and these were swing voters saying that they were feeling annoyed, irritated and frustrated to see the president out and about and not wearing a mask amid the Coronavirus. Participants describe Biden as a role model for wearing a mask, calling him informed, educated and responsible.

And I think, you know, when you look at the polling, when you look at what happened in Tulsa, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that there is a fair degree of consensus in unanimity in American life that like the virus is serious, and we should try to not get it and we should do what we can to fight it.

MCCAMMOND: You know, Chris, that is a fact that we all know to be true. And we also have other polling with Ipsos and Axios that eight in 10 Americans are worried about a second wave coming. That obviously matters because businesses and schools are looking to polling and public opinion about whether and how they should reopen, and it obviously matters for how we can go about living our lives.

The president, you know, we thought he was seeing those numbers when his campaign said that they were making the move to pass out masks to rally goers, you know, but what I`m curious about too is how many people are actually interested in signing a waiver to attend a rally like this? We saw how low the attendance numbers were already, which suggests that even Trump`s most ardent supporters aren`t really interested in going out to see the president right now because of this pandemic.

But on top of that, how many people are interested in signing away their rights to the president when there`s still so much we don`t know about this virus and there`s a really high concern that it`s coming back imminently.

HAYES: And in terms of the White House`s political standing or Trump`s, one thing that has been striking throughout this, right, is they have always operated, Yamiche, it`s better to be feared than liked. It`s like we hold this base, this base will come for you if you cross us, that`s it.

And I thought it was notable that you have Senator Lindsey Graham who`s been loathe to cross the president, speaking up to talk about the firing of Berman this weekend saying that he was going to allow Democrats essentially to scotch this if the president was going to try to install his personal person.

And I know that like weakness has a way of sort of, you know, growing on itself a bit, like the perception of weakness becomes weakness. And I know that`s something that this president and this White House is extremely obsessed with.

ALCINDOR: Well, the idea is that President Trump has been able to keep Republicans in the Senate and in the House on his side, because they are fearful of the base and they think that the base is with President Trump.

I want to say that the minute that the base seems as though they`re separating from President Trump, you`re going to see a lot more Republicans trying to create distance between themselves and the president. And what you have right now is a president who has said, look, I want to be the person who is anti-mask, I want to be the person who is saying the pandemic is over, I want to be the person that says we should all stand up and go vote in these big long lines because it`s easier and that`s the way I want things to do.

So what you have is the American people saying, well, actually I don`t feel like being sick, even if I`m a Republican. And I think that that`s going to continue to happen as we get closer and closer to November.

HAYES: This is -- Alexi, this is the basic point here. I mean, this is just such an obvious point, but it`s like they have managed, and I think partly it`s because of the media the president consumes, I think it`s because he thinks that he can kind of talk his way out of things, to kind of detach themselves from the basic shared reality that people across the political and ideologically spectrum continue to have, which is like we`ve still got a global pandemic, it`s still once a century thing, it`s still screwing up our lives in all kinds of ways and it doesn`t go away because Donald Trump says like come on down to my rally, let`s all pack together in a stadium.

MCCAMMOND: Well, we`ve only got so many months until the election, Chris, and we know that that is the only thing that is on President Trump`s mind right now, and that doesn`t excuse his behavior or his focus, but you know, it is interesting to your point, because we`ve seen how focused the president has been on elections, but now this is all that he cares about.

I mean, he`s not talking about the Coronavirus in the way that is addressing Americans` concerns about whether or not they will be able to send their kids back to school in the fall, whether they`ll even have a business to go back to in the fall. He`s also not talking about -- when he`s talking about voting and encouraging the people who are out protesting to go stand in long lines to vote, he`s not talking about safety precautions in place to do that because of the COVID, he`s not talking about how we`re going to stop these long lines from happening, he`s not talking about the fact that all these polling locations are closing, therefore making it harder for communities of color, in particular, to even access a ballot box.

I mean, there`s a lot of things that the president could be talking about, but there`s an election happening so that`s where his focus is.

HAYES: Yeah. And I think you`ve continued to see from the very beginning him viewing this as essentially either a hoax or essentially just a deeply unfair and rude interruption of his presidency and economy and re-election campaign, and he has refused to move off of that, because that`s just the way he is. Alexi MCCAMMOND, Yamiche Alcindor thank you both for joining us tonight.

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