Housing Crisis TRANSCRIPT: 7/10/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: Charles Ornstein, Julian Castro, Ben Wittes

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: OK, and just to get this across to folks too, we now have received word from the White House. The White House has put out a statement confirming that the sentence has been commuted. So, the President, according to our reporting, has personally informed Roger Stone of that. And now, the White House has put out a statement saying it has been done.

I want to thank Betsy Woodruff Swan, Cynthia Alksne, Phillip Rucker, Heather McGhee, Rich Lowry. I appreciate you all being with us. That is going to do it for us. But don`t go anywhere, "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes is up next.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Some breaking news just now, just a few moments ago in a very anticipated Friday news dump. A source familiar with the matter tells NBC News the president just called former confidant Roger Stone to tell him his sentence will be commuted, sparing him jail time.

Earlier today, a federal appeals court denied Stone`s emergency requests to delay the start of his 40-month sentence for lying to Congress, obstruction, and witness tampering. In an interview Thursday, he said he preferred a commutation to a pardon to give "an opportunity to clear my name."

You might remember that at Stone`s trial last year, former Trump`s chief strategist Steve Bannon called him an access point to WikiLeaks before the site`s publication of Hillary Clinton`s hacked e-mails. Stone, at one point, a close advisor to businessmen Donald Trump was set to surrender beginning -- and begin his prison sentence on Tuesday.

Now, Roger Stone, if he`s anything, he`s a convicted felon, he`s also a life-long Republican henchmen. I mean, this is a guy who is in many ways, the face the Republican Party. He`s got a tattoo a Richard Nixon on his back. Roger Stone isn`t some average Trump-era figure. He has been entwined in the Republican Party for decades. And that shows you what the Republican Party that we currently have is all about. It is the party of Roger Stone and Donald Trump.

You know, the United States has the worst Coronavirus response in the world. Right now, we have the most cases, over $3 million, and most deaths more than 130,000. And that`s not just because we currently have one of the worst presidents in our country`s history who doesn`t seem to care about containing the virus, but also because we have one of the worst political parties in power in the entire democratic world.

The Republican Party, the party of Roger Stone and Donald Trump, by bunch of metrics, is off on an island on its own. It is further right than the vast majority of conservative parties in Western Europe and Canada. It is further right than parties considered to be extreme in Europe.

For example, for years, it has been the lone major Conservative Party across the democratic world to deny the science of climate change. But now, on this evening in which the President has parted his criminal associate, now all of the Republican Party`s most dangerous pathologies have come fruition, with Donald Trump amidst this pandemic. Because it`s not just Donald Trump, It is a mistake to put it solely on Donald Trump. Look at what the entire party from top to bottom is doing during this crisis.

Now to be clear, it is a very difficult problem. We said it every night. It`s a difficult governing problem for everyone. And there have been many Democratic officials who have made truly massive mistakes. Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, waited too long to close down New York City and it cost lives. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made a faithfully terrible decision to send Coronavirus patients to nursing homes.

And there have been Republicans who`ve done a pretty good job. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. But on the whole, as an entity, the Republican Party, the party of Roger Stone and Donald Trump is an irredeemable disaster.

Look at their governors. In Arizona Governor Doug Ducey originally blocked local officials from mandating masks. He was accused of manipulating the data in his state to reopen the state too quickly. And now Arizona has one of the worst outbreaks in the country. The governor is getting called out in the front page of the local newspaper for his lack of action.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott did much of the same thing. He said local officials could not punish people for not wearing masks, and he rushed to reopen. And now Texas is dealing with a massive outbreak and Governor Abbott is taking the heat.

In Mississippi, Governor Tate Reeves has been reluctant to put a statewide mask ordinance in place. And now his state is dealing with a mess. Their health system is overburdened. And Governor Rees finally just ordered a masked mandate after about a sixth of the state`s legislators contracted the virus. Because the heavily Republican body insisted on working in person at the Capitol without masks in that kind of proximity.

That`s just a small portion of what`s going on in states run by Republicans. And while the country is in the midst of a once in a century calamity, affecting everything from public health, to the economy, to the social fabric of the nation, the Republican senators representing their constituents in Washington are pretending like they`re full-time tweeters, or right-wing talk radio hosts, or some dudes somewhere with a cool new podcast, or just actively working to make life harder for people and make things easier for the virus.

In the state of Missouri where they set a record for new cases just now and just had a huge Coronavirus outbreak at a summer camp, you may wonder what the new young senator from that state was a rising star in the party is up to amidst this once in a century calamity. I`ll tell you.

He`s fighting with the NBA, sending a strongly worded letter to Commissioner Adam Silver about how their kowtowing to China with new rules about player jerseys. Senator Josh Hawley also took the time today to blow up an ESPN reporter who sent him a rude e-mail in response to that letter.

In Texas, a state that has hit a record with Coronavirus deaths topping 3,000, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, the darling of the conservative movement who wants to be president someday, he`s busy hosting his own podcast, tweeting about Goya Foods and fighting with a Harvard law professor on Twitter because he didn`t like the way he talked about White House press Secretary Kaylee McEnany. All the while his constituents right now are dying in their homes in record numbers because the ambulances can`t get to them fast enough.

And then there`s his fellow Texan Congressman Dan Crenshaw, also a new young rising star on the right. A month ago, he was tone policing people who were warning about the virus, complaining about fearmongering from a local county official who was warning about the coming disaster as the virus spread. The congressman said, we have enormous hospital capacity. We can do this. That`s what`s happening in their state. That`s how Republicans in that state are reacting.

And then their Senator Chuck Grassley, widely seen as a kind of Republican elder statesman. The octogenarian is wisely planning to skip the in-person COVID party Donald Trump is still planning to throw in Jacksonville, Florida next month. But yesterday, he was whining about the Big Ten`s decision to move to a conference only model for all fall sports to limit traveling and packing thousands of people into stadiums.

And as all this is happening, the President and this party continue their insane fight against masks the grassroots and cultural level. It sees the whole party and political movements, it`s maybe the biggest impediment right now to American public health, and also to Donald Trump`s re-election fortunes.

Like last week when Texas Governor Greg Abbott finally didn`t about-face because it got so bad in Texas, it is so bad in Texas, he told Texans they have to put a piece of cloth over their face. They have to wear masks in the last desperate attempt to save the state`s economy and hospital system and most importantly, save Texan lives. Well, now Greg Abbott is dealing with a full-fledged revolt from the grassroots the Texas Republican Party, as county after county parties passed formal central resolutions condemning the governor`s response to the pandemic.

That`s the same Texas Republican Party you may remember that until the mayor canceled it early this week was insisting on holding their own in- person convention with 6,000 people in Houston later this summer. They wanted to throw a COVID party in Houston in the midst of the worst outbreak the city has seen.

This is the Republican Party, the party of Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley, and Roger Stone. This party is intellectually bankrupt, it is entirely unable to meet the moment. It has now given us, let`s be clear, two successive presidencies that have brought the country to its knees. It is so corroded, so desiccated, so dangerous, it will revolt against one of its own members when they do something right to fight the plague to save lives.

It is becoming a pro-COVID party before our eyes. And remember, it is more than Donald Trump. It`s the entire party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someday soon, the time of Trump will pass. This circus of incompetence, corruption, and cruelty will end. When it does, the men and women and Trump`s Republican Party will come to you telling you they can repair the damage he`s done. They`ll beg you to forget their votes to exonerate Trump from his crimes, asked you to forgive their silence, their cowardice, and their betrayals as Trump wrecked this nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Then almost on cue, Lindsey Graham, Lindsey Graham who said that Donald Trump is a kook, he was a racist, and now he`s Donald Trump`s golfing buddy, today he tweeted, "Donald Trump should pardon Roger Stone." That would be OK with him as chair of the Judiciary Committee, because he`s a man in his 70s a non-violent first-time offense.

Of course, that doesn`t apply to the thousands of others of federal prisoners who fit in that category. Because there`s no difference between Lindsey Graham, and Donald Trump, and Roger Stone. It`s all the same.

And for more on the broken, irredeemable Republican Party, I`m joined now by former Republican Strategist Steve Schmidt. Steve, this news Roger Stone`s commutations strikes me as the most perfect embodiment of the thesis here that the rot here is total and complete.

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Chris, you used the word irredeemable and that`s the correct word. The party is irredeemable. It`s become a threat to America`s institutions, to small-L liberalism, it is an authoritarian-ish party, not so different than the parties that we see in Hungary or Poland. It`s no longer fidelitist to the American system, to the American Constitution. Really, what it is, is an organized conspiracy to maintain power.

Now, the good news is tonight when you look out across the Senate races, Joni Ernst in Iowa has fallen behind. The Cory Gardner race in Colorado is effectively over. Martha McSally is almost certain to lose. And when you talk about the aforementioned Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, he`s running against a Democratic challenger, a Black American Jaime Harrison.

And Jaime Harrison has a real chance to win in South Carolina because voters understand what a fraud Lindsey Graham is that he`s played them for fools for many, many years, and that people generally speaking this country don`t like it when their politicians take them for fools, look them in the eye and lie to them the way that Lindsey Graham has. They don`t appreciate his betrayal of his former best friend, his embrace of his new best friend.

And so wherever we look, we see a party that has been an agent, that has been collaboration as to one with Donald Trump and wreaking the damage that we`ve seen in this country. And again, we are the epicenter of Coronavirus, death and suffering. We have 200,000 dead Americans.

By the time we make it to the election, we have a shattered economy with 40 million Americans out of work. We see the wholesale corruption of the loan process where so many small businesses couldn`t access the money but so many cronies of President Trump could. And again, we`ve seen just for years now this assault on our institutions on government employees like Fiona Hill, on our service members.

And lastly, Chris, if I could just say, how dare Josh Hawley put his letter out there talking about the United States military when he`s yet to say a word about a president of the United States who`s left the military defenseless, as the Russian President puts bounties on their head. It`s truly a despicable moment.

These parties are two of the great institutions in the history of the country and in the world for the advancement of human freedom and dignity and the collapse of the Republican Party, its purification, its descent into the cesspool. It`s a real tragedy for the country and we see it playing out now every day.

HAYES: You know, this -- you mentioned the politics at the beginning of this, and I`m so struck by this moment, you know. So Roger Stone has been pardoned. No one in their right mind, who`s a political adviser to the president of any ideological stripe, I think, would advise him to do this right now. I mean, it just -- it just -- the politics of it are terrible.

But the logic here, I mean, the President`s going to do whatever he wants, and he doesn`t like people to snitch, and the guy kept quiet for him, which is what Stone articulated. But there`s also this logic like jumping everyone into the gang. Like, everybody increasingly has to say absurd things, and they have to countenance increasingly terrible and sort of anti-social behavior from the president, because then they`re stuck to him.

So now they`re all going to go out and say, oh, it`s fine that Roger stone was pardoned for what he did. And it`ll be another sort of like tightening of the loyalty oath that has bound everyone to the President.

SCHMIDT: This is a cult of personality, and we should treat it as such. And I`m reminded of the great phrase by the late great Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan who talked about defining deviancy down. And we`ve seen years now when the Republican Party of defining deviancy down, is that dissenters will explicate Donald Trump on any issue.

We saw at Joni Ernst last week being asked a question about how Donald Trump is doing on the Coronavirus response and her absurd answer was, I think the President is stepping forward intimating that he`s somehow doing a good job. And of course, it`s all theater of the absurd. None of this stuff is possibly justified. His conduct is abhorrent, he`s desecrated his office. But more than that he`s literally, without exception, he`s the worst leader in the history of the United States in a moment of crisis, who has ever charged with any responsibility.

And for all of these years, there`s no action by Trump to any of these senators can find it in their hearts to condemn. What they`re outraged about is that they`ve all bought their ticket and they`re about to take the ride from groups like the Lincoln Project who has spent a lot of money telling the truth on them in their records to their voters. And they`re outraged about that. They finally summoned their outrage.

HAYES: It`s also just striking to me, I mean, just to watch Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz in particular. I mean, look at these two people. They have -- you know, they have sterling resumes. They are both supreme court clerks, right, one of the sort of most sought after brass rings that you can grab as sort of a young and promising legal thinker. They`re relatively young as senators.

There`s a once in a century challenge. There are morgues that are filling up in Texas. They`re going to hit hospital capacity. There`s record cases in Missouri. These guys are out there talking about the Goya boycott and the NBA in China, and Laurence Tribe`s tone. I mean, it`s like it`s go be a blogger, go start a podcast, get out of the U.S. Senate if that`s what you want to talk about. There are serious things to be done.

SCHMIDT: I think there is no premise more offensive than that these Republican senators are somehow hostages to the Trump regime and to Donald Trump. They`re vested with significant constitutional power, significant institutional power. And in the case of Hawley and Cruz, not only are they demagogues and silly people, they`re just empty vessels.

Again, they`re the type of soulless men and women we see in this terrible age that care nothing for the ideas and ideals of the country. What they care about is their privilege, their power, their position. They would be comfortable as apparatchiks in any authoritarian regime from time immemorial to forward.

They`re not in it to defend any high principle. They`re not in it to advance any great cause. They`re not in it to make the country better. They`re small and silly man at a serious hour. And that`s the crisis we have in the country. It`s a crisis of unseriousness, the crisis of cowardice. We`re a long way from the Dean Acheson`s, and the Ross`, and the Margaret Chase Smith`s, men and women of conviction and character.

Think of the guts and the courage of a Rosa Parks compared to these people who were actually vested with political leadership and responsibility in this country. It`s just an appalling, appalling moment. And hopefully, as the tide rises up, because we have about 33 percent of the country that approves of the President`s conduct, roughly 65, 70 percent of us are "get him out of there" because the country has no chance of recovering from any of this until he`s removed from power.

But the overwhelming majority of Americans, their rage and their anger is rising like a righteous tide. It`s going to sweep all these people out of office. And when we`re sitting in November, the Republican Party is going to be more resembling a smoldering ash sheet than a political party, and everyone will sit around scratching their heads and how did this happen?

It happened because it became a principalist, authoritarian-ish party, headed by a con man from New York City who has debased, desecrated, and defaced our institutions now for years, and the American people are going to fire him because of it.

HAYES: Let`s hope we make it to November. Steve Schmidt, always great to talk to you. Thank you so much for your time.

For more on the President`s decision to commute Roger Stone sentence, joining me now former federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne. Cynthia, first -- I mean, this was not unexpected. The President has been teasing it like it`s the season finale of a reality show for a while, but your reaction to him actually doing it.

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think it`s one more piece of the obstruction of justice puzzle. I mean, this is a guy who is bragging basically, that he didn`t -- he didn`t tell the truth about the president. And what he wanted in return was not to go to jail, and he`s not going to have to.

And at some point, we`re going to have to make a decision. The future President Biden is going to have to make a decision about what he`s going to do about it. Are they going to prosecute Trump for obstruction of justice, beginning sort of with Comey and forcing McGahn to lie, and paying off porn stars, and tax fraud? They`re going to have to make some kind of decision. Are they going to prosecute Trump on the obstruction of justice or are they`re going to deal with the other huge problems that you`ve catalogued tonight, when we have hundreds of thousands of people dying?

We have the ACA, which is under assault, we have a justice department that is participating in destroying health care for Americans in the middle of a pandemic. We have the civil rights division that is no longer basically functioning because they have been just squashed.

And all of these things are going to have to happen at once in January. And President Biden is just going to have to make a decision where are they going to put their political will behind them.

HAYES: Yes. I mean, one step at a time. We are in July and things can change fast. I just have to say. But it strikes me too when you look --

ALKSNE: No, no, no. I worked for the caucus, so I know. I know.

HAYES: Well, here -- take a step back for a second. I mean, look at the picture now that`s completed with Roger Stone. Paul Manafort refused to roll on the president. He was convicted by a jury of his peers, and he has been granted released by the Bureau of Prisons under the Department of Justice because of Coronavirus. He is out of prison.

Michael Flynn pleaded guilty and in an essentially unprecedented move, the Department of Justice withdrew the conviction. They`re now tied up in appeals over whether they can even do that, whether it`s proper what they did. But Michael Flynn is not going to prison. Roger Stone was supposed to report next week. He has been beaten by the president. And Michael Cohen, the one who did roll on the president, he was released from prison and is now back in there.

And the guy that oversaw the Southern District of New York, Jeffrey Berman, and oversaw the investigation into Trump Inc and the Inaugural Committee and Michael Cohen, that guy got fired by the President. Like, you know, there`s not -- it`s not too hard to connect the dots here.

ALKSNE: No, it`s not very hard to connect the dots. And you could assume that at some point in November that Manafort is pardoned as well, and you can assume that Flynn will be on the campaign trail. I mean, there`s nothing but outrage and corruption going on at the Department of Justice, and it`s so enraging and depressing. And at the same time, I feel like you know, we`ll have -- if you and Steve Schmidt are right and the Republican Party is reduced to an ash heap in November, we can start fresh, and that`s what we`re going to have to do.

HAYES: Yes, but there`s no -- right, I mean, the politics of this are utterly insane, right? The thing you said about close November, Manafort. I mean, you only do this now because you think you can get away with it. And you`re not thinking about, you know, what the medium voter want.

ALKSNE: Well, I mean, that`s the lesson. Isn`t that the lesson -- isn`t that the lesson of impeachment, I can do whatever I want? I get away with anything. That`s what he learned. You know, even though Susan Collins thought maybe he learned something else, she was dreadfully wrong. He`s learned he can get away with anything. And he thinks he`s going to get away with this.

And by the way, Roger Stone is not going to go to jail. Michael Flynn is going to -- the case is going to be dismissed ultimately. Manafort is out of jail and Michael Cohen is in jail. So, on some level, Trump is getting away with it right now. And the question is come November, are the voters going to show up, and are we going to really have this landslide that many people expect, and then how are we going to come together as a country and rebuild the Department of Justice? Because right now, it`s a disaster.

And I would expect in the next couple of days when this Stone computation comes, we`re going to be getting -- we`re going to begin to start to see people quitting.

HAYES: Yes, that was going to be my next question. This does seem -- I mean, there have been so many -- so many moments of too much to broke. And we saw that with the -- with the Stone case itself. I mean, the stone case when they withdrew the sentencing recommendation, they overrode it, and you had career prosecutors taking their names off the brief and in one case actually leaving the Department of Justice. One of them actually testifying before Congress about the political pressure put on them.

I mean, you know, this is yet another moment that we`re -- that we`re the lines crossed and some people are going to leave. Yes.

ALKSNE: Right. Some people are going to leave. But they recognize that that the Trump people go after people who don`t play ball and who quit. I mean, look at Vindman. This is a guy who served his country so well, beautifully, and has done so many brave things for the country, and he`s run out of the Defense Department.

So I mean, I think people are afraid and it`s a reasonable back and forth to think. If you`re a career prosecutor in the Civil Rights Division, and you`re committed to trying to make some forward change, and you see that even though Trump is completely corrupt, and Barr is assisting in his corruption, do you hold your nose for the last five months or six months and hope for the best and that we get a really Rockstar Attorney General in the next, or do you say you know what, I`ve got to make a stand and I need to quit and make a big statement?

I mean, I think you can go either way, and either way is honorable. But I`m sure these are the thoughts that are going through the people in the justice department. Because there are a lot of really good decent people who want to do the right thing and they are not able to because of this corrupt Attorney General and president.

HAYES: Cynthia Alksne, thank you so much for helping us sort through this news. More on this coming up. Meanwhile, the disaster unfolding across the nation. Because of the President`s negligence continues, more and more people are dying. We`re going to cover that story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Over the last several weeks, as new Coronavirus cases have skyrocket around the country, there`s been this question about why deaths are still declining. And when you look at this chart, new cases are very clearly rising and they have been for about a month. But at the same time, fatalities in this country from the virus have been declining at a sort of steady rate coasting down.

And it seemed like there were two possible explanations for this. One could be that something changed. Treatment or younger, healthier people are getting the virus, so we`re not going to see the same number of fatalities. Or two, deaths are just a lagging indicator that take a few weeks to catch up to the cases. But based on the last few days, it is probably more of a latter because deaths are increasing.

Texas, Florida, and California all saw a record number of fatalities yesterday. Arizona hit a record on Tuesday. Most worrisome are these frontline stories which sound eerily like the frontline stories from the heart of the pandemic in New York City, most notably multiple localities running out of places for their dead.

Last night we mentioned that in Texas, the Nueces County Medical Examiner`s Office said they are not receiving the bodies of people who died from Coronavirus and need a FEMA morgue trailer. This was the mayor of Phoenix, Arizona on this channel earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATE GALLEGO, MAYOR, PHOENIX, ARIZONA: Maricopa County which is our county public health agency just announced that they are going to be getting refrigerated trucks because the Abrazo healthcare system has run out of morgue beds. It is very scary out here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: We saw this in New York, morgue filling up, refrigerated trucks, the dead put in trailers. And there seems to be an iron law with this pandemic. Fatalities go up when hospitals get squeezed. We saw that in New York, we saw it in Wuhan, we saw it in Lombardi.

In New York, a bunch of people died waiting in the E.R. rooms because they couldn`t get care in time. When the hospitals are melting down and overwhelmed, the death rate rises. People die who otherwise would not because doctors just can`t get to them. And right now, the hospital capacity in a state like Texas and looking very, very tight.

Joining Now for more on the state of those hospitals, Charles Ornstein, deputy managing editor of ProPublica. He co-authored a piece today titled all the hospitals are full and Houston, overwhelmed ICUs leave COVID patients waiting in ERs.

Charlie, tell us about what your reporting says about the hospital capacity in Houston right now.

CHARLES ORNSTEIN, PROPUBLICA: Yes, Chris. I think any way you look at it the hospital capacity in Houston and the surrounding area is incredibly strapped. You see the number of hospitals and the amount of time they were telling ambulances that are telling EMS agencies that they can`t accept ambulances is going up over the first week in July. They said they were saturated three times more often than they did so over the same period last year.

You see hundreds of patients that are being kept in emergency rooms unable to be transferred to an inpatient unit for the ICU, because they are strapped. They have no beds to transfer them to.

You see a number of patients in the hospital in ICU beds from COVID increasing. On June 9th, there were 373 patients in the Houston region who had COVID in an ICU bed, today that number is 1,044.

Overall, Houston -- the Houston region has about 2,200 ICU beds. As of today, 2,165 are full. This is an ICU system, this is a hospital system that is stretched to capacity.

HAYES: Jeremy Wallace at the Houston Chronicle said this: not to scare everyone, but we have doubled hospitalizations every two weeks since mid- June. We are at 10,000 today with only 10,000 available beds, that`s statewide. We literally can`t have this double again without doing something to create more beds.

I mean, the current trajectory is going to overtop the health care system if it continues. I don`t think there is a question about that, right?

ORNSTEIN: But the hospital system say that they are adding beds. They say that they`re adding capacity, but the problem is that they are struggling to get the staff and the resources and the equipment to staff those beds. So if they have those beds, you wouldn`t be boarding these patients in the emergency room, and that`s exactly what`s happening. They can`t get the patients to a bed, so they`re having to keep them in the emergency room. Some hospitals have dozens of patients in the emergency room.

The other thing that`s happening, Chris, is that there is an increase in the response times by units, by fire units, because when they come to the hospital they`re unable to unload their patient, so they have to wait there with the patients and can`t get back out in the field.

The other thing we`re seeing is a steep increase in the number of patients who are dying at home from cardiac arrest.

HAYES: You reported on this. I want to zoom in on that for a second, because it is really important, and very worrisome for what it means. You had this piece I think on Wednesday as coronavirus surges,Houston confronts its hidden toll, people dying at home. And you used publicly available data that you got your hands on to show this spike in people dying at home.

And we think a lot of it attributable to COVID. But one of the things that struck me about that is it is not just spiking now, it has been elevated for months. And if you look at the CDC excess death data in Houston, there seem to be a lot of excess deaths in the Houston area in May and June that suggests, actually, there has been actually a high level of the virus and it`s been wrecking some havoc undetected, or not counted properly, for a while.

ORNSTEIN: Well, here is what we know, we know that deaths at home from cardiac arrest are up 45 percent from February to June. They increased from about 200 to about 300. 300, the amount of deaths at home from cardiac arrest in June was the highest number of any month in more than three years, and that includes a really bad flu season a couple of years ago.

So this is not by chance, this is not the type of seasonal variation that you would expect. We`re seeing something happen that hasn`t happened in recent memory.

And you`re right, the number was high in May, it is higher in June, and there is indications they`re seeing even more people in the month of July. July 3 was the highest day this year as far as responses.

This is when a crew comes to the house in response to a 911 call of a suspected cardiac arrest, and by the time they arrive, the person is dead. So that is really concerning.

And in some of these cases, the medical examiner is examining the body or running tests and determining that it is COVID. The numbers for that are up as well. But there could be a number of other factors at play, it could be people who are nervous about accessing the health care system so they`re not going into the hospital, there could be a variety of explanations, but what we do know is this is very unusual. All of these factors point to something in play in Houston related to the COVID epidemic that very closely and very disturbingly mirrors what we saw in New York.

HAYES: Yes, we -- and one of the things that I find so -- that makes my blood run cold as I`m listening to you and I`m reading the reporting and talking to people out of Houston is -- just the eerie resonance with what we saw in New York, which of course the hardest hit place, one out of every every 400 New Yorkers in the city died. I mean, everything from the crush to the EMT calls, I mean this all sounds extremely familiar, it`s extremely worrying.

Charles Ornstein has been doing reporting on this. Thank you for your time tonight.

ORNSTEIN: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: We`ve got much more about the unfolding coronavirus crisis and the president`s commutation of his criminal associate`s sentence, Roger Stone. Don`t go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: The U.S. is currently staring down the biggest mass foreclosure and eviction event since the Great Depression. It could literally that bad, it could be worse. It`s already looking so much worse than the last big recession. One housing expert told CNBC quote about 10 million people over a period of years were displaced from their homes following the foreclosure crisis in 2008. We`re looking at 20 million to 28 million people in this moment between now and September facing eviction, two to three times as many people who lost their homes during the entire 2008 financial crisis could lose their homes over just the next two months.

And, again, it sounds partisan to say it, but here`s the fact, there is just one party calling for extended relief to try and fix this right now: the Democratic Party, which has an agenda around this and increasingly a unified agenda around another rescue package. One of the loudest voices on this particular issue is former Obama Housing and Urban Development secretary and former candidate for president, Julian Castro.

It`s great to have you here tonight, there`s a lot to get to. I want to start first just by saying that your brother tweeted about your stepmother`s passing away due to COVID, and I just wanted to offer my condolences on that. It must be very difficult and ask if you wanted to offer a remembrance of who she was.

JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY: Thank you very much, Chris, for that. Yes, we lost our stepmother, Alice. My father and my stepmother Alice were married for 31 years. She was a wonderful woman, always very warm and loving, wonderful mother, a wonderful wife. You know, words can`t express the sorrow that you feel, especially under the circumstances because she passed away from COVID-19 by herself, alone, without my father, without her family. Right now, you know, my father himself has COVID-19, and so he`s not able to be around other people as he grieves the loss of his wife, and as we grieve for him.

So you just basically, you know, we got a very personal look at the tragedy of this disease. And my heart goes out to her children and the rest of her family, and also to all of those families who have lost loved ones by this illness.

Take it seriously. This is something that people should take very, very seriously.

HAYES: I didn`t know about your father. And of course I really hope he gets better.

You have been very focused on the peril that so many are facing on the housing front. You, of course, were secretary of HUD, and we look like we`re heading towards what could be a cataclysm for housing in America between the data we have on missed mortgage payments and missed rental payments. We have just never seen anything like it.

What has to be done, in your mind, to avoid that cataclysm?

CASTRO: Look, there is a lot. Just very quickly taking a step back, we knew that before this pandemic we were facing an affordability crisis out there, by some estimates up to 40 percent of the 44 million renters in America were already cost burdened. In other words, they were spending more than a third of their income every month on rent, sometimes 50, 60, 70 percent. That`s before all of this. Now, by one estimate, as you mentioned, more than 20 million people in the next eight weeks could face eviction, so this is a full blown crisis.

What has to happen is immediately Mitch McConnell and his Republican buddies need to at least pass the Heroes Act which has $100 billion of direct rental assistance, and also expand eviction some moratoriums and mortgage protections so that people don`t get thrown out on the street.

In the longer term, though, you know, Vice President Biden has come up with a great plan of how we could address this affordability issue, making sure that we address supply. He`s called for spending $640 billion over the next 10 years in creating more housing supply out there.

Also demand, one of the great things he`s called for is make the Housing Choice Voucher program universal so that you would be able, if you make less than a certain percentage of the area median income where you live, you would be able to go out with a Housing Choice Voucher and get a place to live.

And here is the state, Chris, just in case people are wondering, OK, you know, we hear a lot about we got to spend money on this, we got to do this -- look, study after study tells us that having a safe, decent place to live is the most stabilizing force in somebody`s life. Your prospects for a good education, your prospects for a good job, for your health, all of those things are influenced by whether you have a stable place to live. So, you know, there is concrete things that we can do right now to avert a disaster like we have never seen in this country that is going to make this pandemic even worse for so many families.

HAYES: You know, you were just referencing Vice President Biden`s housing agenda, which is quite ambitious, and was quite ambitious even during the primary, particularly making Section Eight sort of a universal and not capped program, right, if people qualify.

It is interesting, you and Senator Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have all been on the show this week. You were all participants in that rigorous, long and crowded Democratic primary field. And, you know, I have to say, obviously, I think it is not surprising for Democrats to rally around the nominee. But it does strike me that the stakes in this moment -- I mean, as I talk to you tonight with Texas breaking records, the president pardoning his long-time associate, that there is just a palpable sense from the Democrats I talk to of just how important this is, how important this is, how life or death it seems to them. Do you feel that way?

CASTRO: Oh, absolutely. And because they`re hearing it from their constituents. And to those Republicans that, you know, are sitting on their hands not doing anything, I tell you, look, when I was HUD secretary, I traveled to a hundred different communities in 39 states, big cities, small towns. It doesn`t matter whether somebody is Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, this affordable housing crisis, and the evictions crisis that`s looming, affects everybody, of every different stripe, you know, in small towns, in big cities, in congressional districts across the country.

So, every single representative and every single senator, if they start talking to people out there, you know, they will get a fire lit under them, I think, to do something about this, or at least they should. But the Republican Party has gotten so far divorced from, you know, the concerns of every day people in this country that, you know, I don`t have much confidence in that these days.

HAYES: Well, I have been talking about your home state senators about one of them, Ted Cruz, and also John Cornyn to a certain extent, where it just seems so striking to me. I mean, when the pandemic was hitting the New York metro area, it was just -- Republican, Democrat, wherever people were ideologically, it was obviously the central point of focus. It was an all hands on deck emergency, encountered as such.

And to watch Ted Cruz tweeting about the Goya guy and whether people are boycotting Goya, I`m just struck by the disconnect. I mean, you just lost your stepmother today. Your father has it. Like Texas is setting records. It seems like the political leadership of this state should be a little more urgent and on the ball about this right now.

CASTRO: I mean, yes. They have taken this embrace of right wing ideology over science and the public health, and they have this see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil approach to everything these days.

And that`s why I think in places like Texas, look, I mean, you know, this is a public health emergency that needs to be dealt with. And whoever is willing to deal with it, you know, we need to be willing to work with them, right?

At the same time, I think the political repercussions for this party, for the Republican Party, especially in places like Texas, Florida, Arizona where Abbott, DeSantis and Ducey have all done the same thing with this Trump playbook of pretend it`s not really happening when we know, people know in their own family that it is, I can`t tell you except to say that I think that they are going to pay a real price for this in November and for very good reason, because they have failed to serve the constituents that they are supposed to serve.

HAYES: Julian Castro, thank you so much for your time tonight. Again, my condolences for your stepmother, and best wishes for your father, and hopefully we can come back soon and tell us about his recovery. Please do come back, OK?

CASTRO: Thanks, Chris. Thank you.

HAYES: When we come back, more on the breaking news tonight. The president commuting the sentence for his confidante and bag man Roger Stone. Ben Wittes joins me to talk about it right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Late tonight, just over an hour ago, in a Friday night news dump, President Donald Trump commuted the prison sentence of his longtime friend, associate, political ally, Roger Stone.

Stone was more than just the president`s confidante, he was essentially the bag man. At his trial, Steven Bannon called him an access point to Wikileaks. And in the newly unredacted sections of the Mueller report, which you have gotten in the last few weeks, we got a glimpse into Roger Stone`s role, from him telling Donald Trump and his advisors about communications with WikiLeaks Julian Assange, to Stone and Trump potentially discussing the president`s written answers to the special counsel before they were submitted.

Here with me now is someone who understands the legal system, who has been following this case very closely, as well as the Mueller investigation, from the very beginning. Benjamin Wittes, the editor-in-chief of Lawfare and a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution.

Ben, first, just your -- your reaction to this not unexpected news but, still, quite remarkable all the same.

BEN WITTES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, LAWFARE: You know, as you say, it is not unexpected. It is disgusting. But it is disgusting in exactly the way one would have expected it to go down. And so, I have to say I -- I think it is interesting that he chose to commute the sentence, rather than to pardon Roger Stone, which leaves the conviction on the books. That is some kind of, I suppose, a recognition that, you know, what he is accused of doing is not laudable but it is, you know, a windfall for the guilty.

HAYES: One thing that I think it`s worth going through, if you don`t mind, are the things that we`ve learned over the last several weeks on this story, and particularly, about Roger Stone`s role, because parts of the Mueller report that had been redacted because they pertained to an ongoing matter, Roger Stone`s prosecution, were unredacted, were unreleased. And, you know, my top line of it is like Roger Stone was what he looked like, a go-between, between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, and then he lied about it, which is what he was convicted for.

In the end, it was -- right, I mean, is that a fair, like -- he did what we thought he did.

WITTES: Yes.

So, number one, it is important to -- so the material that was unredacted from the Mueller report is new in the Mueller report, but it isn`t new, because in the period in which from the time the redacted Mueller report was released until now, the Stone trial happened. And all of this evidence -- or not quite all, but most of it -- was presented in the trial against Roger Stone.

What was not presented was a few coherent paragraphs that lay it all out and tell the story, which is what Mueller did. And so, it still reads a little bit shocking, you know, that the president is in his limousine, and he takes a call from Roger Stone, and then, he tells his deputy campaign manager, there`s going to be more WikiLeaks stuff coming.

You know, and so, look, there has always been a question about to what extent Roger Stone was really in touch with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, and to what extent he was kind of running people to be his go-betweens, and to what extent he was kind of full of bluster.

But, yes, the full story, when you actually see it written down, remains a pretty shocking one. And for the president to say, nah, not worth any jail time. I don`t care what a jury, I don`t care what a judge, I don`t care what the Justice Department, even under Bill Barr, by the way, is -- you know, is a remarkable statement for a guy who is 10 points down to his competitor in the polls.

HAYES: There -- there`s also the -- sort of corruptness of the act, itself. And it`s sort of worth, I think, there`s two sort of pieces of evidence here. And I don`t know if we have this ready, because we`re in a breaking- news situation, but Howard Fineman did an interview with Roger Stone today. And I am paraphrasing it here, but here it is. He says I just had a long talk with Roger Stone. He says he doesn`t want a pardon, which implies guilt, but a commutation, and says he thinks Trump will give it to him. And then quoting, he knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably, but I didn`t.

I mean, he is saying I deserve the pardon, because I didn`t rat. Like, right there, he`s coming out and saying it.

WITTES: Yes. And -- and the corruption of the way the president has used pardons and commutations, in the context of the Mueller investigation, is very on the surface. I mean, you know, when -- when Michael Cohen was still on board, the president dangled pardons in front of him, and kind of both publicly and privately. And when he turned, the president called him a rat and said he deserved a long prison sentence.

Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, the president praised them both. And, you know, specifically, led them to publicly-made statements that implied that a -- that a pardon or, in Roger Stone`s case, a commutation, was -- was a possibility if they stayed loyal.

And so, for Roger Stone to take that message away and tell it to Howard Fineman, as you say he did, is actually a perfectly reasonable reading of what the president communicated to him.

And yes, I do think that is a highly corrupt use of the clemency power.

HAYES: We should also note that William Barr, who sort of famously wrote a memo unsolicited that he sent to the president basically saying that Mueller`s entire theory of obstruction was ridiculous, even he admitted in that memo, and then again in testimony I think before the Senate, that it would be criminal and obstruction of justice to trade a pardon for non- cooperation with a witness. I mean, so even -- even by William Barr`s own (inaudible), like an explicit quid pro quo of that nature, he thought was obstruction and criminal.

WITTES: Although, this one is presumably an implicit quid pro quo, because there presumably is no conversation in which the president says to Roger Stone if you stay loyal I will commute your sentence. Instead, there`s just a kind of nudge, nudge, wink, wink, in that direction in public. And, you know, who knows what happened in private.

And then, Roger Stone says, you know, I stayed loyal. So, here I am, commute me. And he gets it.

HAYES: Yes. Ben Wittes, who has been following this so closely for so long, thank you for joining us on short notice. And I really, really appreciate it.

That is All In on this Friday night. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. And I`m going to go watch the Rachel Maddow Show on a night like tonight. Good evening.

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