JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: So I will see you this weekend for "A.M. JOY," Monday, July 20th for the readout. And please tune in tomorrow and all of next week as the great Steve Kornacki will be here. And do not go anywhere because "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes is up next.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, on ALL IN. No one is above the law, especially this impeach President of the United States. The big takeaways from today`s Supreme Court rulings.
Then, Trump wants slower Coronavirus testing and now Coronavirus testing has slowed down. Houston mayor Sylvester Turner on the nightmare unfolding in his city.
Plus, Joe Biden has a plan to put Americans back to work, a plan Elizabeth Warren helped put together. The senator joins me for an exclusive interview.
And the untold cruelty of the Trump administration`s family separation policy. Jacob Soboroff on his new reporting and new book when ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Today the Supreme Court told President Donald Trump in no uncertain terms that he is not above the law, that his claims of absolute immunity which he made before that court are absolutely preposterous. They said the President can no longer block the release of his financial records from prosecutors in New York.
I want to read you some of the opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts. "200 years ago, a great jurist of our court established that no citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon a criminal proceeding. We reaffirm that principle today and hold that the President is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need."
It was a victory for the rule of law. It was not a close one. It was a seven to two ruling that included not only the chief justice, but interestingly also the two Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who voted with the majority. It was not a good day for the President.
And even as the President`s own press secretary tried to spin it in the wind, Donald Trump himself was whining and throwing himself a pity party. "Courts in the past have given broad deference, all caps, but not me. Then complaining to reporters that the Supreme Court ruling was a witch hunt and a hoax. Just like everything is a hoax, like the virus was a hoax.
Today`s ruling has now cleared the path for the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance who`s the one seeking the records to get eight years of the President`s tax returns. Now, that was not the only case decided today.
There was another case, and that related to the President`s financial records that had been subpoenaed by Congress. Could Congress get them from these financial entities, get them turned over? The court was a little more nebulous on that, but they were firm and clear that Congress does have the power to investigate the president, even if they outline some more hoops for the Congress to jump through.
All in all, a victory for the rule of law, a lost for Donald Trump. We`re going to talk more about it. But for all the President`s whining about today`s ruling and the court, it`s important to keep in mind this is a guy who loves nothing more than long complex litigation because it is one of the many ways, he has successfully bullied his way through life for 40 years.
I mean, this has been Donald Trump`s whole M.O., threatening to sue people, making them sign NDA`s to keep all their -- his various secrets, and then using the threat of lawsuits to keep those secrets, not paying people and then just saying, oh, you want your money, go ahead and sue me. Try to get it out of me.
The guy who sold Trump $100,000 for the piano to the Taj Mahal in 1989 but got stiffed at a 30 grand by the future president. In 2016, his story got turned into a campaign ad.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Taj Mahal didn`t have the money to pay their bills. And the letter said you`re going to save 70 percent on the dollar or you can wait to the Taj Mahal makes enough money to pay the bill on full, which might take a long time. There was no question in my mind that it was a bullying deal. I had to accept the 70 percent. I can`t sue for $30,000 because we close more than that in legal fees.
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HAYES: See, see how that works? It`s the exact same way that he approaches Congress. Trump also bilk dozens of contractors out of millions of dollars on Taj Mahal. He refused to pay $1.2 million for the paving stones. The contractor provided the onion domes atop the Taj Mahal. How did he -- $2 million in losses.
The contractor who supplied the Carrara marble from Italy ended up filing for personal bankruptcy. The contractor putting the bathroom partitions had to lay off his brother. As the president`s niece`s chronicles in her upcoming book, Donald Trump has no shame. He operates as a sociopath. He views dominance as the only thing that matters.
And here`s the thing. I thought about it. I watched the Supreme Court ruling today. It is remarkable how successful Donald Trump has been at bullying his way to this point. I mean, he`s successfully bullied the leftist Mexican president into enforcing Trump`s own inhumane draconian border measures.
He`s bullied the Republican Party into submission including senators whose wives and fathers he personally attacked. He bullied the Democratic opposition in Congress who let`s be clear ultimately did not present as strong a case in getting his tax records as they could have.
He believes special counsel Robert Mueller, during the Russia investigation, refusing to give an in-person interview drawing the process out until Mueller gave up. I mean, here`s how Muller himself explained it before Congress.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question, sir, is did you have sufficient evidence of the President`s intent to obstruct justice, and is that why you didn`t do the interview?
ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL, RUSSIA PROBE: There`s a balance. In other words, how much evidence you have that satisfy that last element against how much time are you willing to spend in the courts litigating the interview of the president.
The expectation was, if we did subpoena as the president, he would fight the subpoena and we would be in the midst of the investigation for a substantial period of time.
HAYES: This is it. This is -- this is how he has operated, right? Draw it out. I`ll see you in court in a year, two years, three years. By then, Robert Mueller, who knows where you`ll be. Who knows what will happen? You`re not going to get paid for your pianos.
I mean, there was an entire magazine piece in New York last month titled why the Mueller investigation failed where New Yorker`s Jeffrey Toobin basically chronicled all the ways Trump bullied the investigation. Mueller himself was responsible for much of the delay. In this critical moment, he showed weakness and Trump pounced.
Today, Congress heard from another person that Trump and his Attorney General William Barr bullied the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, right. Remember him? Fired on a Friday night for whatever reason. The guy who was overseeing active investigations into Rudy Giuliani and the Trump Organization and Trump`s Inaugural Committee.
Remember, he was abruptly asked to resign, when he would not resign. he was fired, and they lied about it. William Barr lied about it. Today, in his opening testimony before Congress, Berman said the Attorney General repeatedly pressured him to step down and Barr`s claims at a press release announcing his resignation were false. But you know what? At the end of the day, Donald Trump still president and Berman is a guy without a job.
For the president, the law has been a tool of his own power. It has been a weapon to be wielded. That is how he and William Barr see it. That`s how Roy Cohn who used to work for Donald Trump saw it. This is how they have been trying to use it. Now, luckily, the courts have stepped in to restrain Donald Trump in key ways, as the Supreme Court did today with their ruling.
But there is one foe Donald Trump has run into in the last five months that cannot be bullied, it cannot be plowed over, drawn out, spun, any of that, the Coronavirus that has devastated communities across the country.
Just a little while ago, Arizona`s governor ordered indoor dining establishments to have less than 50 percent occupancy, which seems truly like a drop in the bucket for the state leading the U.S. in positive case percentage. Florida deaths hit a new record today as hospitalizations continue to rise.
In Texas, the Nueces County Medical Examiner`s Office said that they are not receiving the bodies of people who die from Coronavirus and need a FEMA morgue trailer. President Trump cannot bully the Coronavirus and he cannot drag his feet. He cannot hope it goes away like a lawsuit or an investigation. He can`t tie it up and litigation. He can`t threaten it with NDAs and lawyers. He does not have any other tools at his disposal. This is how he`s fixed everything in his life.
And that`s his desperation grows amidst his own failures which are more obvious and his political future is more imperiled. It is likely that the courts, the lower courts, and the Supreme Court will be called upon again to constrain this man and refused to be bullied. And today, today`s ruling, the Supreme Court was promising in that regard.
Joining me now for more on today`s Supreme Court decisions is Melissa Murray, Professor of Constitutional Law in New York University, co-host of the podcast Strict Scrutiny. Melissa, let me ask you -- let`s start with the Vance case because I think that`s a little clearer, right? So Cy Vance subpoenas these records for terminal investigation, what`s your sort of gloss on the courts holding here?
MELISSA MURRAY, PROFESSOR OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: The court was very clear here. This is an ordinary criminal investigation and it has said in past decisions that the ordinary working of the justice system is not something the President can claim absolute immunity from. He has to be able to participate.
They said this in the United States versus Nixon in 1974. They said it again and Clinton versus Jones in 1996. And they said it again emphatically here today. Now, this, of course, doesn`t mean that we will see the records that Cy Vance wanted disclosed. In fact, the President can go back to the lower courts and attempt to get the subpoena quash using the same methods that any private citizen would, but he doesn`t have absolute immunity from it.
And so, if these are actually made to be disclosed to a grand jury, they will remain under wraps. Typically, grand jury documents are kept under seal and they are used in order to determine whether indictments or further charges will go forward. So this won`t make these documents public but it does mean that the President is not above the law. And so that was a stunning defeat for President Trump this morning.
HAYES: What do you make of the fact that Kavanaugh and Gorsuch were part of the seven-two majority?
MURRAY: Well, I`m not sure how they joined this. They both seemed relatively skeptical during oral arguments. But I will say that it is a testament to Chief Justice Roberts` ability to organize and steer this court. Because the thing that I think Chief Justice Roberts wanted most of all was to keep the court out of the political fray, and to be able to say that the two Trump appointees on this court also joined in this decision to thwart the President`s efforts to claim absolute immunity, gave the court the veneer of non-partisanship which is exactly what John Roberts wants as we go into the November 2020. election.
HAYES: Yes, that`s such a great point. I mean, it would have been so reputationally damaging I think for a given -- at this moment for the two Trump justices, right, to sort of be appointed by Trump, show up on the court and be like, no, you can`t, no, no, he is above the law. And obviously Roberts was sort of worried about that.
In terms of the other case, that congressional case, basically, you have you have the court laying out like a four-part test, basically, Congress has to go and show a lot more work to the lower courts here. What do you think it means for the sort of balance of powers between the two branches?
MURRAY: Well, it seems clear that the court was trying to articulate a set of guidelines that the lower courts could use to balance the separation of powers issues here, the fact that Congress does have an oversight function that is constitutionally demanded, and the President does have these other executive privileges that have to be respected as well.
But to be clear, I`m not sure that this four-part test at the Chief Justice articulated actually does that much work. I imagine that many of the lower court judges when they heard these cases thought about all of these concerns, but came to the conclusion that the public interest in congressional oversight outweighs the President`s interest in having absolute immunity from any kind of oversight from Congress.
HAYES: Well, just to be like a crushingly cynical and legal realist about it, it does a very important work --
MURRAY: Let`s do it.
HAYES: -- which is it delays all this past the election, right. I mean, the work the four-part test does, the work of the of the Roberts` decision is nothing is happening until after the election. So we`re essentially removing this as an issue. That`s kind of useful work for -- I mean, if you`re going to read this cynically, useful work for the court.
And in some ways, in the same way, as you know, Robert Mueller, the guy that sold Trump a bunch of pianos for Taj Mahal, a victory for Trump in that sense.
MURRAY: Well, the victory -- the victory here is John Roberts, who wanted the court out of the political fray, and in doing so actually allows President Trump to win by losing. None of this information is going to be made public before the 2020 election, or if it is, I will be surprised to see it.
But the court gets to say that there are no Trump judges, there are no Obama judges, there are just federal judges doing their level best, and the President is above the law. And after -- when all is said and done, it`s John Roberts, he gets to sit back in his chair stroking a hairless cat and congratulating himself on being a genius.
HAYES: Am I right? I saw a stat today that Roberts is only a minority in like two of 60 cases or something in this term. Is that right?
MURRAY: It`s not an unusual term for him. He`s joined the liberals of the court more often than he has in the past. And again, this decision today was actually quite telling. In the last -- in last week`s DACA decision, he noted that he was not making a full-throated defense of DACA. He was not saying he favored a particular immigration policy. He was simply saying that the Trump White House had not dismantled DACA the right way.
And in today`s decision, he had this very long discussion of all of the ways in which typically presidents and Congress negotiate about the kinds of disclosures. They go back and forth, there`s fairly burly of negotiation compromise, and the Trump White House was uninterested in doing that.
It was a kind of subtle swipe, and it reminded me of the DACA decision because, again, he`s saying they`re not doing government right.
HAYES: Melissa Murray who is always such a great, great, great voice and the insight on this, thank you very much.
MURRAY: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: Joining me now for more of the President`s assault on the rule of law, Congressman Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, who`s a member of the judiciary committee that has oversight over William Barr`s Department of Justice, has been a chief adviser to the Democratic caucus throughout impeachment and on oversight.
Let`s talk about your -- from where you sit as somewhat of a principal, it wasn`t your personal subpoenas. You don`t chair a committee that subpoenaed these financial records. But as a member of Congress, as part of the team that sort of thinks about where Congress stands with relation to the President, your reaction to today`s rulings?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, the Vance decision, the prosecutor`s decision was great, and it was an emphatic endorsement of the rule of law as we`ve always understood it which is that everybody owes the government his or her honest testimony and his or her documents when there`s a trial going on, and nobody`s above the law including the President of the United States.
And so, I thought Chief Justice Roberts wrote a really authoritative and magisterial opinion. And they preempted a lot of the self-pitying, whining diatribes that come from Donald Trump complaining about it going through every president that has accepted this principle going back to 1807 in the Aaron Burr treason trial when Burr moved for a subpoena of Thomas Jefferson`s records and got them.
And Chief Justice Marshall said that the President does not stand exempt from the constitution and from the due process commands of the bill of rights for other people. So, we all owe dishonor on his testimony. It was a relatively simple case only they knew about it was that it was a state government that was issuing the subpoena of state prosecutors, and we know how much Donald Trump has contempt for the states. And they thought that that was ridiculous that he could be subjected to the burdens of doing this. But the court said it was exactly like the burdens that were allowed against Bill Clinton and Clinton versus Jones.
Now, as for our case, the Mazars case, we feel pretty vindicated. With this, it`s pretty much the best we could have gotten out of a court which still leans heavily to the right through all the gerrymandering and the refusal to even have a hearing for my constituent Merrick Garland, when he was nominated by President Obama.
It`s the best we could have gotten because it was another obvious case. Of course, Congress should be able to subpoena what it wants from the president. We are the lawmaking branch of government, what James Madison called the predominant branch of government. And we need to obtain the knowledge and information that we seek in order to govern, in order to legislate.
But as you are suggesting, I agree with your analysis, they wanted to slow the whole train down so that perhaps, you know, what the Conservatives bought out of the situation in the 7-2 ruling was this nebulous, non- exhaustive four part, four factor test about the necessity of Congress getting the information, the narrowness of the subpoena, how substantial our evidence is, or needing to get it, which makes it sound like we`re an administrative agency. And I consider that a real affront and insult to legislative power.
And then you balance all of that against the burden on the president, which they did quickly dismiss saying we fail numerous times before, that the time of the President and the burden on the President`s attention is not justification for him not turning over documents that are subpoenaed despite our justice.
HAYES: I just want to note this. You don`t have to respond to this. But there`s something truly darkly comedic about the President`s lawyers being before the Supreme Court saying it is too burdensome on the man`s time and his attention for his financial -- you know, his accounting firm to turn over its records while the president is like live-tweeting 3:00 a.m. Fox programming as if this is a man who`s just so consumed by his work, that like, how dare you. And he made this argument the straight face. Like, I mean, obviously, the presidency is an institution and not this president, but it`s a little hard to take with this guy.
RASKIN: I think that Chief Justice Roberts himself took a glancing oculi shot at precisely that humorous point when he said as Chief Justice Marshall observed in the Aaron Burr case the duties of the President might be intense, but they`re not unremitting. And that would be the mildest thing you could say about Donald Trump who does no work at all and spends the whole day sitting on his bed, tweeting out in response to things he watches on Fox News. Forgive me for mentioning your competition. So anyway, I think --
HAYES: Yes. (INAUDIBLE) probably find a few minutes.
RASKIN: It was -- it was a good day for the rule of law, Chris. But, you know, we`re in the end days here of a nightmarish authoritarian, right-wing predatory presidency. He`s going -- getting increasingly desperate. When you were saying there was one phenomenon, like he can`t bully, and it`s COVID-19, that assumes that he considers COVID-19 an enemy.
And I`m not sure he does anymore. I think he believes that COVID-19 and the rampant spread the disease around the country is his best bet for voter suppression and being able to manipulate the electoral process. And so, I don`t think he considers it an enemy anymore. And he certainly not doing anything to try to stem the tide of diplomacy.
HAYES: I don`t make a lot of predictions, but I will make this one, that this is not the last time we will hear from the Supreme Court on important balance of power, constitutional issues in the year 2020. Congressman Jamie Raskin, who is one of the sharpest constitutional thinkers in all of Congress, thank you so much for your time tonight.
RASKIN: My pleasure, Chris.
HAYES: Next, today Joe Biden released a massive jobs plan to respond to our current economic crisis. He took inspiration from Elizabeth Warren`s platform. And Senator Warren joins me exclusively next.
HAYES: It was a rare moment on the campaign today where Joe Biden gave an economic policy speech on jobs. And all three cable news networks, this one included, took the speech live in the midst of the pandemic. Despite the President`s unmoored, happy talk about the economy and some deceptively upbeat numbers in the surface, if you look a little deeper, it really does look like we`re in for a long period of intense economic pain.
And that will find Joe Biden should he be elected digging the country out of the recession for the second time in 12 years. The Biden campaign has enlisted in all hands-on deck approach to craft a vision for that effort. One of the people they have counted on the most is Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts. And Senator Elizabeth Warren joins me now.
It is great to have you, Senator. Let me -- let me start with a question of diagnosis. You know, I have found it bizarre, frankly, the disconnect between what you`ve seen from some Wall Street analysts, even the way this sort of equities markets have acted, and what seems to be the very obvious cataclysmic economic situation beneath the surface.
And so, when you`re thinking about this, when you were advising Vice President Biden about how big, what do we need here, how big a hole are we headed towards? How big a problem is the American economy right now in the midst of this pandemic?
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): So here`s what I like about how Vice President Biden has approached this. He understands we have two kinds of problems. We have the immediate problem that has been brought on us by COVID-19. The fact that we have the highest unemployment since the Great Depression, that businesses have been shut down, that many small businesses are going to struggle to come back, many are not going to be able to come back. That state and local governments are suffering and starting in with layoffs now.
So we`ve got -- we`ve got a big hole from the pandemic. But we were already having problems in this economy. We already had an economy working great for billionaires, but not working for a lot of hard-working American families, an economy that was leaving a lot of people behind, and people who have jobs who were struggling and trying to hold it together.
So the Vice President took the approach saying we`re not just going to try to plaster over the cracks and put some props in where it`s falling apart. His approach was to say, we`re going to build it back better. We`re going to take an economy that had a lot of problems, and we`re going to make this economy work better going forward. That`s the right approach.
HAYES: You know, there`s a lot of space right now, it seems to me, because of the crisis for real out of the box thinking. You know, Congress passed a huge bipartisan majority, like trillions of dollars in the midst of this because no one -- no one has ever encountered anything like this, big public investments on the order of $400 billion, $300 billion. Like big public investments, something that you call for your own campaign, Senator Sanders did, other folks who were running called for. Those are now central to part of what the Vice President`s calling for.
WARREN: That`s right, because the Vice President`s approach is, we`re going to build it back better. So he`s done a couple of things here that I just really love. So one of them is, he said, we`re going to make a big investment for example, in research. We`re going to make a big investment in innovation. We`re going to be the America not only of the jobs today, but the jobs for 10 years from now, and 20 years from now, and 30 years from now. And he`s got a real plan to do that in a real, real money investment in that.
But he`s doing another thing. He seized one of the powerful tools of government. The fact that it`s called procurement, the fact that the government buys a lot of stuff. Think about it. Our federal government buys steel to build battleships and it buys toilet paper to, you know, put in federal office buildings. It is a huge buyer, one of the biggest in the world. And he`s using that leverage in his plan to say, we`re going to buy green. Think what that will mean to create more market for green manufacturing, green jobs through the economy.
And he says we`re going to buy American in this time we`re really going to mean it. We`re going to stop this business of all these waivers, that these companies say, oh, yes, we`re supposedly buying American, but they`re not doing it. And we`re going to buy union. We`re going to encourage union jobs. So he`s going to use this powerful tool and make it work for America.
The second thing that he`s doing in this that`s really terrific, he`s being very intentional about who`s been left out of this economy. So a big part of this plan is about making sure that communities of color get a real chance to participate in a growing economy, that African Americans and Latinos and Native Americans that women, when they own businesses, that they`ll get a chance to grow those small businesses and turn them into something, that when we`re thinking about investment in America, that it doesn`t just go to the two coasts, that goes all across America and that we are really encouraging everybody giving them opportunities to participate in this economy. It will be transformative.
HAYES: So there -- I want to lay out a sort of worst-case scenario and hear how you`re thinking about it going forward. There were two things the last time that -- the last time a Democratic president was elected after a Republican president left the country and ruins, which was just 12 years ago, there were sort of two constraints on being able to get out of that.
One was, I think, a little bit of intellectual mistakes by people who were advising the Obama administration about how big the hole was, and how much had to be filled, how big you should go. Two which was bigger, was that the Republicans turned around and suddenly got religion on the deficit, disingenuously and said, no, we can`t spend. They, you know, they tried to block everything, right.
I mean, obviously, that they`re going to try to do that again should Joe Biden be elected. How are you thinking through avoiding that mistake, avoiding allowing Republicans to essentially stand in the way of what will almost certainly be necessary should Democrats take power?
WARREN: Look, Donald Trump is going to spend this election trying to fool people into thinking the economy isn`t collapsing around us because of his failure to lead during this health crisis. But it is.
And Joe Biden wants to build this economy back better than before. He`s going to have a mandate from the American people, and he`s going to use two kinds of tools, one of them is just like you said. There is nobody better than Joe Biden at talking to folks in the Senate, talking to folks in the House.
We got a majority in the House, we got a majority in the Senate, we`re ready to run. We`re going to make this happen. And by the way, that`s why it is important not only to win in the White House but up and down the ticket. I`m going to be out there fighting for that, a lot of people are.
But the second thing is he`s going to use all of the tools of government. Joe Biden understands this. He`s been in government for a long time. He`s got a lot of experience and he`s got a lot of good people who want to help him.
What I was just talking about on procurement, that`s for the president to do. That`s his administration.
WARREN: To say, here are going to be the parameters of being able to get a government contract. You want to sell toilet paper to the government? That`s a big contract. You want to do that, then you got to be green. You`ve got to be giving your employees a chance to unionize. You`ve got to be paying a living wage. You want to compete for those contracts? Then you have to up your game and you`ve got to make an investment in America and in American workers.
So he`s got a lot to work with here, and he`s smart enough and experienced enough to do it.
HAYES: Yeah. I mean, it`s almost impossible to conceive where things will be four or six months from now, but it is hard to think of them being great. So everyone is going to have their work cut out for them if -- should Joe Biden be elected. Senator Elizabeth Warren, thank you so much for making some time for us tonight.
WARREN: You bet.
HAYES: Next, the president`s dangerous obsession with slowing down testing and how the center of a fast-growing coronavirus outbreak is struggling to keep up. Houston`s mayor says the outbreak in his city is out of control, and he joins me after this.
HAYES: Have you noticed the president keep confessing to his crime, his attempt to keep coronavirus testing in this country low so that we do not know the true scope of the problem and so he cannot be blamed?
He`s been confessing from the beginning. It started way back in March when he did not want to bring Americans off a cruise ship where they were trapped with an outbreak because the numbers would go up and he, quote, "liked the numbers being where they are." He didn`t want the numbers to go up.
A few weeks ago, the president got in front of a crowd at his Tulsa, Oklahoma rally and the cameras and announced that he said to my people slow the testing down.
Just this morning, again, he`s obsessive about this, he tweeted for the 1/100th time, whatever that means, if we just tested less people, we would have less cases. And I have to say, for the hundredth time that`s not true, the cases are an independent reality that are independent of being found. They exist and make people sick whether you measure them or not.
But here`s the thing, testing in the U.S. has been slowing down a bit over the recent days. Look at the blue graph on the left side of your screen, that is testing. Look at the red graph of cases, which continue to crime rapidly.
We are seeing enormous catastrophic testing gluts in some of the hardest hit areas, like Phoenix, Arizona and Houston, Texas, with people lining up in the wee hours of the morning and waiting if their cars for hours, then people waiting a week or more for results.
In the Houston area, they`re dealing with an explosion of cases with hospitalizations increasing today. The number of patients in intensive care crossing a thousand for the first time.
And joining me now is the Democratic mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner. Mayor, it is a great pleasure to have on the show. Everyone is watching this, and particularly I think people in New York that went through this thinking of you and the folks in your city. What is your assessment of where things are in Houston right now?
MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D-TX), HOUSTON: Well, we are at a critical point, Chris. I mean, in April and May, our numbers were quite good. And then we started opening up and we opened up too quickly, too soon. And then through the month of May, the numbers started to increase. But in June, they increased at a very past race. And so whereas in April -- and March April and May we were talking about, for example, 150 positive cases a day, now we`ve been talking about 600, 700, 800. On Tuesday we reported 1,060 for the first time during this pandemic.
We are now in phase two in terms of our ICU bed space, so in phase two they can still go to phase three, but we`re in phase two. And I will say in about two weeks if we don`t change the trajectory, then we could be pretty in a serious state when it comes to bad capacity -- availability -- but it`s also making sure we have the nurses and the support staff to go along with the increase.
HAYES: When you say you are in phase two and you can go to phase three, is phase three -- that`s the maximum capacity that you can initiate in terms of hospitals and medical care in your city?
TURNER: Well, that`s pretty much -- at phase one was about 1,200 beds, ICU beds, and we went to phase two. There are about 373 beds in phase two. We`re at about 17 percent at phase two. In phase three, there are another let`s say over 500 beds that are available.
We can always work to expand bed availability, but that`s only one part of the equation, it`s having the support staff, the nurses and all of the other elements that are needed to attend to the patients that are there. And, so, what I have been telling, and I look at the numbers every morning from our Texas Medical Center, in about two weeks, if we don`t change the trajectory, then we could end up in phase three, and then, you know, you have some elasticity there, but you really don`t want to get there if you can avoid it.
So, that`s why we have been very intentional now to try to clamp down, encourage people to wear the masks. Wearing is required now. But all of the other things that are needed in order to take the -- pull the energy away from this virus.
HAYES: You know, when I talked earlier in the week to Judge Hidalgo, who is the judge for Harris County, of course, and she was explicitly urging some kind of stay-at-home order, because she felt that the measures that were available to her and to you as both sort of governing entities were insufficient to change the trajectory, what does that mean concretely, what are your public health advisors tell you is necessary to change that trajectory?
TURNER: Well, you know, in March and April and May, we did have the stay home orders in place. Restaurants, for example, were closed, bars were closed. We were asking our faith-based institutions to have worship service online, virtually, all of those things were in place then.
Now, we are at a different place. Bars are closed, and that`s a good thing. The governor has pulled back on the occupancy to restaurants from 75 percent to 50. Quite frankly, last week, I asked -- I don`t have the authority, but I asked the restaurants to reduce their occupancy even more. That`s important.
I`ve asked people where they can work remotely, businesses, to do so, to return back to where things were in March and April.
It will take all of those things. We have suspended all city permitted events for the months of July and August, so we are doing that. But it`s going to take a very collective, strong, unified effort in order to take the energy out of this virus and to slow it -- slow the progression down.
So, just wearing masks, that`s a good thing, but that -- I don`t think that`s going to be enough to put out this forest fire.
HAYES: Final question for you, there was a plan for the Texas Republican Party to have an in-person convention in your city. It was quite controversial for obvious reasons. You ultimately stepped in an canceled it. Why did you feel it was necessary to do that?
TURNER: Well, number one, it was possible to bring 6,000 people an indoor event right in the middle of a pandemic when there are more positive cases, more people going to the hospitals, more people in ICU, and we are trying to prevent our health care delivery system from being overwhelmed. To bring 6,000 people together in downtown Houston at this particular point in time is simply irresponsible.
And so health needs to come first. That`s what`s critically important. And then the medical adviser for the city of Houston wrote a letter the other day saying to hold such an event of this kind would present a clear and present danger to those who are working at this convention, to those, for example, who are attending to people in the city of Houston and to the places, cities, and towns in which these people would be coming from.
You know, I asked repeatedly for the state Republican Convention Party to change and to go virtual. The business community did the same thing, the Texas Medical Association, 52,000 doctors, and Texas asked the same thing. They still refused. I`m the mayor of the city of Houston. Public safety comes first. If they didn`t want to pull the plug, I had no choice but to do it.
HAYES: Mayor Sylvester Turner of the city of Houston, and we are all obviously holding Houston in our thoughts as you go through this. Thank you very much for some time tonight.
TURNER: Thanks, Chris. Thanks for having me. Be safe.
HAYES: The pandemic is just the latest example of the Trump administration`s utter disregard for human life. Two crucial moments that foreshadowed this one, next.
HAYES: Even before the pandemic, there are moments in the presidency of Donald Trump where all of it -- the self-serving incompetence, the utter lack of empathy, the disregard for human life, all of it was laid bare.
One of the first was Trump`s response to Hurricane Maria, which decimated Puerto Rico in September 2017, killing at least 3,000 Americans. By any objective measure, the administration`s response was an utter disaster -- it was plagued by mismanagement and greed and indifference. And Trump seemed furiously angry not with his officials, but with the Puerto Rican people because the disaster had made him look bad, and he did everything in his power to keep Puerto Rico from getting badly needed aid as a kind of punishment.
He also has this obsession with denying the scope of the tragedy itself, insisting his government was doing a great job despite all evidence to the contrary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overbearing, nobody has ever seen anything like this. Now what is your death count as of this moment, 17?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 16, 17.
TRUMP: 16 people certified. 16 people versus in the thousands. You could be very proud of all of your people, all of our people working together. 16 versus literally thousands of people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Actually, it was literally thousands.
That was the canary in the coal mine, a wakeup call that showed the true nature of this man, this administration, and what would happen if another massive disaster were to strike. Indeed, listen to how similar Trump sounded just a few days ago playing down Coronavirus deaths.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think it`s very important to note what we`ve done. We have saved literally hundreds of thousands of lives. I was going over numbers before with the vice president, and if you looked at a million, two million, two- and-a-half million, those are all reasonable numbers to what we could have had right now. We`re at a number, as you know, far lower than that.
Where would you say we today, Mike?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 130,000.
TRUMP: About 130.
So, we are at 130. We could be at, we could be at way over a million right now, and I think it could have been 2.5 or 3 million people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The president`s callous, incompetent response to the Coronavirus crisis was foreshadowed by his callous, incompetent response to Hurricane Maria. It was a hint of what was to come. And there have been others.
Trump`s cruelty should be no surprise to anyone at this point, but my next guest has seen it up close and we`re going to talk to him about it right after this.
HAYES: Hurricane Maria hit in the fall of 2017, exposing the Trump administration`s callousness and incompetence and indifference. And then in the spring of 2018, we started to get word the administration was systematically essentially kidnapping children seeking asylum in the U.S.
NBC`s Jacob Soboroff was one of the most dogged reporters working to shine a light on the scale of that humanitarian disaster. He was also one of the first to go inside one of the child detention facilities in Brownsville, Texas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACOB SOBOROFF, NBC NEWS: The Trump administration is taking children from their parents and effectively making them unaccompanied minors. This place used to be just for kids that would walk across the border for the most part virtually 100 percent on their own. And now, you are getting more and more kids, up to 30 percent as of right now, according to one official inside, that have been separated from their parents over the last couple of months.
They have recreation, but they`re allowed outside, Chris, where we are, in the fresh air, for hour two hours a day, and the rest -- 22 hours a day, they are inside a former Walmart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Two years after that report, Jacob Soboroff is now out with a fantastic new book "Separated: Inside an American Tragedy." It serves as a blueprint, honestly, for everything that we are seeing now in the pandemic, everything wrong with this administration, it`s all right there in black and white. Jacob joins me now.
Jacob, the book is fantastic, the reporting is fantastic. I learned from the book things that I didn`t know, even though I was reporting on this and corresponding with you during it.
I want to start at the kind of highest level, this -- how this administration operates, like, what did you learn, reporting this book, about how it operates?
SOBOROFF: Well, first of all, thank you, Chris. And I should just say watching that back, it gives me the chills, because as I was learning all that in real time and watching you take notes. I mean, I feel like you and I spent that night, June 13th, 2018, seven or eight minutes live on the air just trying to digest what we had seen. And that really is why I wanted to do the book as well, because I saw this stuff in real time, whether it was in that 250,000 square foot former Walmart where the kids were allowed outside two hours a day, or in the border patrol processing station in McAllen where the kids were in cages on the floor under the Mylar blankets and supervised by the contractor in a watchtower, and that`s all I saw and I know.
And frankly I missed the lead up to family separations much more than you did. You were talking about it certainly before it was on my radar.
And the deeper I looked in to this and the more that I started talking to people that I met on the ground, I realized that I made somewhat of a mistake, honestly, when I reported this in real time. And that was I kept saying over and over again, there is no plan to reunite these children. This was haphazard. It wasn`t well thought through. And the truth of the matter is, that`s not true, it was.
And there are people who I consider heroes now digging in to the story who tried to stop this at almost every turn. And beginning with Valentine`s Day, 2017, just weeks after the president was inaugurated and officials met in the conference room with Kevin McAleenan at the headquarters of Custom and Border Protection.
And time and time again, whether it was career officials in DHS or people like Commander Jonathan White with an ORR, who were telling McAleenan, this is going to damage children for a lifetime. Those warnings were ignored.
And when you talk about how the administration operates in the context of family separations or the coronavirus, you can almost apply the story directly to the coronavirus that we learned in separations. There were red flags. There were warnings. And the administration ignored them for political reasons, and in the case of the separations, you have 5,400 plus kids who were permanently traumatized, tortured systemically by the U.S. government in the words of Physicians for Human Rights.
HAYES: Yeah, this comes through, right, that it`s -- there is there`s some incompetence, right. There actually -- they do this incompetently, but the through line in the book is that there`s a plan and pressure put ideologically and from the president and sort of the people that want to make good on this really awful xenophobic promise, and it`s pushed down onto the government as person after person who works in that bureaucracy says no, no, no, you can`t do this, you can`t do this. This is horrible. You`ll ruin these kids` lives. This is the United States. And that is sort of the story, the heroes and the villains, right.
If the villains are executing this, the heroes are trying to make it not happen.
SOBOROFF: You mentioned in the introduction, you showed on the screen, the article from Kaitlyn Dickerson (ph) in April of 2018 when she had announced that there were 700 kids, for the first time they put a number on it, who were separated from their parents in the custody of the Trump administration. They wouldn`t admit that it was happening. And the source for that article was a leaked list. It came from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
And there were career officials who were essentially -- not secretly, but informally, keeping this list of separated kids, because they knew that if they didn`t have it they wouldn`t be able to put the children back together. And when that list leaks, and I write about it in the book, Scott Lloyd, who at the time was the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his first instinct was to not take the list and go find where the parents and children were, document it, and make sure they were able to be put back together.
His first instinct was to think let`s get rid of the list. He was embarrassed that his Trump -- that that Trump administration, which appointed him to the position -- and Katie Waltman (ph), who is now Katie Miller, was angry with him because this list had leaked, and he basically went around the office and saying why do we have this? Do we have to keep it? And then that went further into another meeting. It was trickled down to the staff at ORR, who interpreted this as an order to get rid of the list.
And because these career staffers, who had the best interests of the children in mind, did not get rid of the list, you avoid a potentially catastrophic situation of destroying what I call in the book a critical linkage between the parents and children.
HAYES: When all of this is over, there are going to be 100, and a thousand, and 10,000 stories like this that are going to come out. It`s just, we already know a lot of them. But what has gone on, the cruelty and the efforts of people to stand up to it, is going to be the story of this administration.
Jacob Soboroff, whose fantastic new book "Separated: Inside The American Tragedy" And I really hope you pick it up. Thank you for all this, Jacob. I really appreciate it.
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow S how 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