Obama Ebola Czar TRANSCRIPT: 5/27/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: Michael Steele, Richard Besser, Michelle Goldberg, Ron Klain

  CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now.

Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you very much.

And welcome to THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER. Thanks for joining me right now.

I want to tell you first we have something very special that we as a team have been working very hard on. If you happen to watch this show, you may know that sometimes we try to dig in deeper and give you something beyond the daily headlines or the daily Donald Trump.

And we have that tonight. It is a special report on the science and the medical history of how we got here, where we`re going, what we can learn from it, and how Donald Trump repeatedly ignored or even retaliated against the very people who got the coronavirus pandemic right.

We think it`s important, and that`s coming up very shortly in this hour.

Later tonight, new video in the death of a Minnesota man who already -- was arrested by police. The family calling for the officers to face murder charges, an important story that we will be staying on.

Also, why two Trump allies went to the White House with an alarming warning about 2020. Yes, amidst all this, there is still an election in full gear.

But we begin with Dr. Fauci openly clashing with the Trump administration on how to protect yourself and others from the virus, clashing all the way to the top with the president.

All of this comes, of course, as the United States crosses this terrible grim milestone that we have all been bracing for. "The New York Times" is covering it. We have covered it on air. We now cross this 100,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States, 100,000 American lives.

It`s the most of any nation. And for all of us touched around this country, it is hard to even get your full head around what that number means.

Now, Dr. Fauci, who has been out of view compared to his earlier frequent appearances, is, of course, dealing with the task force, but it hasn`t been meeting as often. It`s obviously not doing the daily briefings, and now the contradiction to Donald Trump on this big issue of wearing a mask.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: We`re very aware of and sensitive to the need to try and make those steps towards reopening, but there are certain things that you can do and still do as you`re reopening. One of them is wearing a mask.

I wear it for the reason that I believe it is effective. I want to make it be a symbol for people to see that that`s the kind of thing you should be doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That`s simple enough. That`s the kind of thing you should be doing.

Now, Donald Trump is not every other American and he has more access to testing and he is in the White House a lot. But let`s be very clear. Today, you see right here, he is in Florida with other individuals wearing a mask, and he is not.

Fauci also says crowds gathering together, the way we have been seeing, they`re asking for trouble.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: We all want to reopen. Everyone understands that.

But when you have situations in which you see that type of crowding with no masks and people interacting, that`s not prudent, and that`s inviting a situation that could get out of control.

So, I keep, when I get an opportunity, to plead with people, understanding you do want to gradually do this, but don`t start leapfrogging over some of the recommendations and the guidelines, because that`s really tempting fate and asking for trouble.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Reports show eight states documenting a surge in new virus cases. That includes Alabama, 3,200 new cases in the past week.

Let`s get right to our experts.

I`m joined by "New York Times" columnist Michelle Goldberg, who has been documenting much of this debate, and the kind of person that you want in charge, who used to be in charge, the former acting director of the CDC, Dr. Richard Besser. He is now the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Thanks to both of you. I know you both put a lot of time and energy into tracking this in your respective roles, as a journalist and a policy-maker.

Doctor, when you see Dr. Fauci ringing that alarm, what is important to you?

DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Yes, you know, Ari, this is a solemn moment, passing 100,000 deaths for coronavirus.

And what we want to do is ensure that we don`t hit that again, we don`t hit 200,000, we don`t hit 150,000. And so what he is saying is that we need to recommit. We need to commit to all of the public health measures that we know will reduce the chances that this will spread and will save lives.

When you wear a mask, you`re saying, I care about you, and I want to protect you from coronavirus if I have it. You wearing a mask is showing respect for me.

So it`s symbolic, as well as effective, in reducing this. And when we see our leaders, whether they be political leaders, cultural leaders, those we look up to, not doing this, it sends a very different signal. It says, this doesn`t matter, we don`t need to do this.

But it`s so incredibly important that we all get on board.

MELBER: Michelle?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I think it`s more than just that the president is setting a bad example, because it`s not just that he`s not wearing a mask.

He has, for example, retweeted mockery of Joe Biden for wearing a mask. He said that he doesn`t wear a mask because he doesn`t want the media to, I think, have the satisfaction, implying that to be seen wearing a mask is a humiliation.

And it`s not surprising that people are following suit. I mean, for better or worse, or I would say certainly for worse, people follow this president`s example, not most Americans, but a minority of Americans, and certainly the Republican Party.

If he early on had started going around in a red MAGA mask, you would, I bet, see a lot more compliance with public health directives in red states. Instead, it`s not just that you see people not wearing masks. You see a kind of demonization of mask wearing.

MELBER: Yes.

GOLDBERG: The other day the governor of North Dakota was saying to people, you know, please try to understand, if you see someone wearing a mask, they might have a good reason for it.

MELBER: Right.

And you`re speaking, Michelle, to all of the energy around this. You just conjured the image of a red MAGA-type mask, make America healthy again, if you want. And they could sell it. They could even make money off it, as he is so fond of branding. But many doctors say, I don`t care what you write on it, just wear it, instead of, as you just explained, basically daring people out of the proper, safe conduct.

The energy around this, Michelle, is getting tense, as we head this 100,000 mark especially. I want to play just a moment that occurred between two people who literally work together on CNBC and debate the issues.

But it got heated precisely because of these high stakes. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE KERNEN, CNBC: You panicked about the market, panicked about COVID, panicked about the ventilators, panicked about the PPE, panicked about ever going out again, panicked that we would ever get back to normal. What good is that? What good is it? Why not help people keep their head?

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREW ROSS SORKIN, CNBC anchor: Joseph, you didn`t panic about anything; 100,000 people died.

KERNEN: I understand that.

SORKIN: A hundred thousand people died, Joe, and all you did was try to help your friend the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Michelle?

GOLDBERG: I think that -- well, for one thing, if you are a New Yorker, if you`re in New York City, if you know a loft people in New York, you know, this isn`t abstract to you.

People have lost people all over the country, but New York has really been decimated, which is one reason why, if you know people who have died from this virus, if you know people who have been hospitalized from this virus, to see this kind of glib minimization, the insistence that the real problem lies in panicking the market, this pretending that people who are concerned about coronavirus aren`t desperate to reopen the economy, don`t want to kind of get out of their houses as badly as everyone else does, it is so much bad faith.

And I think, like Andrew Ross Sorkin said, it comes from the top. It comes from this fanatical need to defend the indefensible conduct of this president.

MELBER: Well stated, clearly. And, as you said, the -- all of the passion and grief is real for anyone who can process it. There are too many examples to draw on.

Doctor, given your expertise, I wanted you would to give us some news we can use, which we try to do around here as well.

Pathogen testing is something we hear a lot about. CDC saying in the antibody dimension -- quote -- "Antibody tests not to be used for decisions on returning to work. Less than half of those testing positive will truly have antibodies."

Can you walk us through this? Some information can be better than none. But the CDC, which you used to run, cautioning us on how much stock to put in it if you get that kind of test.

BESSER: Yes, I think that what they`re saying is really, really important.

Antibody tests should not be used to indicate that someone is safe to go back to work. We don`t know a number of things. We don`t know if the antibodies mean that you`re protected from getting this again. We don`t know if the antibodies mean you cannot pass on COVID to somebody else.

The tricky thing about why the percentage is so low for an individual test has to do with how little COVID has actually gone through communities so far. So, these antibody tests work really well if 60, 70 percent of the people in your community have actually had COVID.

But when the numbers are low, if it`s down about 5 percent, then the test half the time is going to be false. It`s going to be what`s called a false positive. It has to do with the statistics of testing probability, given how rare it actually is in communities.

It can be fine for doing public health surveillance and saying, how much disease has come through this community? Let`s test 10,000 people and see. There, each individual result is isn`t being used for decision-making about, wow, should this person change their behavior?

MELBER: Right.

BESSER: And it can be useful information.

But hearing a lot of companies using this as, well, this person can come back from work, big mistake.

MELBER: Well, it`s really crucial to get you on that, and it helps people understand. It`s not black and white like social media. You see a post that says, hey, I`m clear, I`m good, or someone else says, ignore it, you don`t need the test.

If you`re in a position where you can get the test, it`s giving you a portrait, a snapshot, but, as you say, it`s not something to build policy on.

Before I let you go, Dr. Besser, I`m just curious. Do you think this the CDC seems like it`s fully empowered right now, or are you concerned that it`s been sidelined under Trump?

BESSER: We need to be hearing from the CDC every single day. They`re posting incredibly useful information on their Web site.

They need to explain it. They need the walk people through it, talk about how to use it.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: And we`re not.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: And we`re not hearing them, by any stretch, daily, right.

BESSER: We`re not getting that.

MELBER: So, you think that`s because they`re being muzzled?

BESSER: Well, you know, you see, at the state level, governors, Republican and Democrat, standing next to their public health leaders...

MELBER: Yes.

BESSER: ... and listening and nodding along. That`s what we need to be seeing.

MELBER: Dr. Richard Besser, who ran the CDC, doing something Michelle and I kind of recognize as journalists, which is being as diplomatic as possible, while making it very clear, I think, what you think would be a better approach.

My thanks to Michelle and Dr. Besser. Thanks to both of you for kicking us off.

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

MELBER: We`re going fit in a short break, and when we come back, it`s the special report I was mentioning at the top of the broadcast, something we have been working hard on.

America passing 100,000 deaths. The Trump administration, in a documented, both ignored warnings, fell down on the job, but also has made mistakes that we need to learn from now to get this better.

We have key moments on tape, and we`re going to dig into the lessons learned.

So, I hope you stay with us. That is literally next after the break.

Later in the hour, what officers did not include in the police report in the controversial death of Mr. George Floyd.

And why Trump`s own allies now warning, darkly, that he has problems with reelection in swing states.

I`m Ari Melber. And you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Could anyone have seen this coming, as the coronavirus death toll hits a new milestone today, 100,000? There is a question that should haunt anyone in charge, especially in the U.S., because we have the most deaths from this now.

And that brings us to our special report, digging into the answer and what science and recent history can teach all of us going forward.

Now, how do we define seeing this coming? Well, this can mean this particular coronavirus and the danger of an infectious pandemic in general.

And the answer is yes. Experts did see the risk and rising odds of exactly this kind of pandemic.

Take Dr. Dennis Carroll. He ran emerging threats at USAID for over a decade. He has been dubbed the man who saw the pandemic coming. He literally helped create a program tracking viruses that spread from animals to humans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. DENNIS CARROLL, FORMER USAID OFFICIAL: A pandemic influenza will likely come from an animal. And it will be a new and novel, never-seen-before virus.

There are certain places that you want to pay particular attention to, and China is one of those. It`s the place where we have seen the emergence of virtually all of the deadly influenza viruses over the last half-century.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: A virus from an animal, likely from China.

That doesn`t sound eerily right by coincidence. It sounds right because that doctor`s job was spotting pandemic threats and pushing policy to get ahead of them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: We are acting after the fact. We are responding to something that emerges.

With the proper risk mitigation measures, there is no excuse for any outbreak from becoming more than an outbreak. But it all begins with timely and effective surveillance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Effective surveillance means listening to science and funding the science.

This is an area where many governments can fall short. The Trump administration fell down completely.

So, what happened when Dr. Carroll and other experts issued those warnings that now look so prescient?

Let me tell you something. The answer runs deeper than our current political moment. It goes all the way back to human patterns so ancient, they`re literally part of mythology.

These recent medical experts, they weren`t only ignored. They were sometimes even punished, like the story of Cassandra. The ancient Greeks believe she was blessed with the gift of seeing the future, but cursed, because her true predictions were never believed. She would call things right, but no one listened to her.

And I`m sorry to say that is how some of these pandemic experts were treated, especially by people with the power to act on their warnings, some examples well-documented, the Trump administration ending that same Dr. Carroll`s PREDICT program months before this outbreak, and disbanding the National Security Council`s pandemic unit in 2018, a move that is so obviously backwards, Donald Trump himself didn`t even try to defend the move, instead blaming others. .

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn`t do it. We have a group of people. You say we did that. I don`t know anything about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The problem, though, runs far deeper.

For years, experts have pleaded to get ahead of this, stressing pandemics pose far more risks than other well-funded governments concerns. That`s a point that`s been raised by the very famous, like Bill Gates, as well as by lesser-known pathogen experts toiling away, like Dr. Syra Madad, who warned that big cities like New York are more vulnerable because of biology and transportation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL GATES, CO-CHAIR, BILL AND MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: You can have a virus where people feel well enough while they`re infectious that they get on a plane or they go to a market.

DR. SYRA MADAD, PATHOGEN PREPAREDNESS EXPERT: It just takes one person, one host and, then you can start a whole outbreak that can lead to a pandemic.

If a passenger arrives in New York City with a novel disease like H7N9 flu, it could very well begin to spread undetected. In a matter of weeks, a novel virulent influenza strain will incapacitate our city.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Madad warning how this would play in her own city of New York, which is now the epicenter of the outbreak around the world.

The state alone has more cases than any other country across the globe.

Now, Dr. Madad led workshops, like this one, a scenario two years ago to health care staff -- quote -- "China notifies WHO of an influenza virus. No cases outside of China. What would New York City do?"

This was what she was modeling. And it brings us back to a point about funding science. Madad was not just issuing a general warning. She pressed lawmakers to fund reparation for hospitals for viral outbreaks, noting: "We do not know when the next dangerous pathogen will arrive in our country, but we do know it will happen sooner or later."

That was December, days before Chinese officials first alerted the WHO.

Now, Madad also laying out the grim prospect of the overwhelming number of deaths if the U.S. and other countries were not proactive, warning, more bodies than morgues could handle, a tragic detail that`s also, sadly, proved true.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADAD: The demand for burials will become overwhelming, and morgues will begin to overflow, just like we saw in 1918.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And in anticipation of a surge of coronavirus victims in the next few weeks, the city is now building a makeshift morgue comprised of rows of white tents outside of Bellevue Hospital.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: At the worst point, bodies were stored in refrigerated trucks because the morgues hit capacity.

Now, in this same category of experts advocating solutions and funding to get ahead of a pandemic, there were policy gurus like Obama Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco.

Now, do you remember, say, September 2018? Washington was busy with the Kavanaugh hearings. But that same month, Monaco was warning Trump that cutting federal funding for pandemics by 50 percent was going to cost way more than it saved, noting those cuts broad funding to its lowest levels since the 2014 Ebola response, and warning, Trump`s poor pandemic prep was creating new vulnerabilities in health infrastructure for when the next global outbreak of infectious disease hits.

Now, that was Monaco sounding a public plea for anyone who would listen, including the president.

We also now know she personally led Trump`s national security staff in a pandemic scenario training right before the inauguration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LISA MONACO, FORMER CHIEF WHITE HOUSE COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: We put together an exercise for the incoming national security team.

I said that we needed to add a pandemic scenario to this exercise, because I was so concerned that and thought that it would be a certainty that the next administration would deal with some type of public health crisis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: A certainty.

Now, that`s the homeland security chief, who deals with all the threats from all the countries that attack the homeland and all the other threats, like lone wolf terrorism. And there she is discussing public health pandemics had to be on that priority list.

Now, Trump was not only downgrading those efforts, but putting resources into a wall. Remember the wall? Remember all that? Monaco also warning the U.S. could not make itself safer by walling ourselves off, noting, the greater risk was the Trump administration will be challenged by -- quote -- "some new pathogen, one that no wall will keep out."

This is right-on-the-money-type stuff.

Now, up to this point, with the examples I have given you, some could say, well, that still fits within a debate between administrations from opposing parties, who fight over everything.

But I want to be clear. Monaco was reflecting top medical experts.

Take Dr. Jonna Mazet, also a part of running that PREDICT program I mentioned for a decade, and charting how this outbreak was going to involve -- quote -- "coronaviruses jumping easily across species lines, and those are the ones to watch for, pandemics."

And she warned the threat was growing and U.S. preparation was not.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. JONNA MAZET, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: We aren`t much more better prepared for the next pandemic than we were 100 years ago. We remain completely blind to the next one, where it will emerge and when.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Clearly, that didn`t shape federal policy or, frankly, much media or public opinion. Many didn`t listen to these warnings, and they offered, of course, early context for how everyone might try to scientifically interpret when one of these pops up, like the first signs out of Wuhan.

Now, for all the incredible and brave journalism during this time, this tough time, which includes reporters who literally risked their health around the world, there were also, to be clear, headlines like this, a "Washington Post" health reporter and columnist downplaying the virus early on, telling people to get a grip and it was like the flu, crucial early time squandered, even though Mazet has been emphasizing that the medicine and science shows how these outbreaks work, and that it shouldn`t take waiting until one hits a wealthy country for action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAZET: Does it take until it gets to the wealthy? Right now, it is. But what we`re trying to do is catalyze a change.

When we know about viruses, we aren`t necessarily doing the right thing. We have the responsibility now that, when we know, we do something about it. We characterize them more fully, we take steps towards understanding them better, so that we don`t wait until they hit our shores.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Don`t wait until it hits your shores. `

This was available expertise in public, but that same Cassandra effect I mentioned, here it is in action, some of those most prescient warnings and those early solutions specifically disbelieved.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAZET: We can now test for it in the locations where we know it exists. We can also look for it in other locations, so we can predict where it might occur.

TRUMP: We don`t have to test the entire state in the Middle West or wherever they may be. We don`t have to test the entire state. I think it`s ridiculous.

MAZET: So that means we can put in place educational campaigns about how to prevent infection and spillover.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Oh, let`s bludgeon Trump with this new hoax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Bludgeon with this new hoax.

Hannity got that exactly backwards. It`s the virus that is real, and the people being bludgeoned are its 100,000 victims in America now, not the president, who defied the science. He is not the victim in the story.

Now, we can note, Hannity has later toned down his rhetoric. He also claims that he didn`t mean it was actually a coronavirus hoax. You can hear him and judge for yourself.

Now, these lost lives are the most serious consequence here. But even after grieving them, when we go forward and we try to debate the future and reopening the economy and where do we go from here, it`s these same experts who were ignored that offer another lesson.

Investing in this science up front, this low cost of prevention, is not only safer. It`s also better economics than the high cost of another uncontrolled outbreak, be it this one or the next one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAZET: We know that that amount of money pales in comparison.

At a cost of just less than 10 percent of a single large epidemic response, we could discover the majority of the planet`s yet-to-be-known viral threats.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: So, let`s just take that all in. It`s a lot, but I`m walking through all of it because it`s so important to you, to your life, to your family, to your community.

What do we have here? Independent experts ignored. Government veterans who sat in the same seats, making the same sometimes very tough calls ignored.

But then, for Trump it actually gets even worse, which brings me to the final part of this special report that I want you to see, that I`m sharing with you because it matters so much.

These were the calls coming from inside the Trump White House. Trump not only ignoring the doctors and the Obama officials. He went full Cassandra on the experts and aides in his own administration.

Now, this, this is the most damning part of the history for Trump. Some of these lessons have nothing to do with him, as I mentioned. But, on this, he actually had some of the right plans available in his hands, inside his administration, had he only listened.

Take Dr. Nancy Messonnier, nonpartisan expert who literally ran the CDC Immunization Center. Whether you have heard of her or not, if you`re the president, you`re supposed to know who these top people are, so you can listen to them and appraise their science.

She knows this stuff. This is her thing.

Back in February, before this was all front-page news, before any governors were talking quarantines, when the presidential primaries were still in full bloom, she did the thing that many people avoid in government. She took a stand, risked her career to deliver the bad news that so many people didn`t want to hear, including her bosses.

She told reporters on record, in public, the science was showing this virus was going to arrive, and that meant disrupting life, planning for closed schools, working from home, lost income.

She said, that may sound overwhelming at a time when no one was really talking like that in public. She said, it may sound severe, but she said something you always want the hear from the scientific experts who are basically helping you make life-and-death decisions in government. She said, let`s get on this now.

Listen to this closely, as we hit 100,000 deaths tonight, because she hit the nail on the head in February in public.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DR. NANCY MESSONNIER, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: And I told my children that, while I didn`t think that they were at risk right now, we as a family need to be preparing for significant disruption of our lives.

You should think about what you would do for child care if schools or day cares close. Is teleworking an option for you? Secondary consequences of some of these measures might include missed work and loss of income.

This whole situation may seem overwhelming, and that disruption to everyday life may be severe, but these are things that people need to start thinking about now.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MELBER: Thinking about now. That`s it. She called it.

Listening and acting on a top CDC expert`s warning would have helped immensely.

But that`s not what the president did. Remember, the Cassandras of the world are often ignored or even sidelined. And Trump fits right into that playbook. Ignore, threaten to get a different answer, punish if you don`t get it.

Instead of heeding those warnings of those CDC doctors and experts in his own administration, we now know Trump was angry. He threatened to fire her, shouting that the doctor`s call scared people, and he was alarmed of her talk of school closings, which, of course, is one of many things that would actually prove to be necessary.

A furious Mr. Trump threatened to oust Dr. Messonnier, reported "The Wall Street Journal." And even as Trump tried to disappear the facts and the science there in his face, to punish its source, to cover it all up, it`s worth recalling, many other people, regardless of their partisan politics, were actually immediately able to do on that day what Trump could not.

They could hear a CDC expert presenting the facts. They could see the scientific significance of that, and they could respond to the implications immediately.

On Wall Street, where, of course, Republicans trade, just like Democrats, the markets heard that doctor. They began pricing in the risks she explained, the Dow crashing over 1,000 points. That was the Dow`s largest single one-day drop to date at the time.

Some of Trump`s own political appointees were also writing out early warnings. China hawk and White House adviser Peter Navarro issued warnings in January, saying the lack of immunity could lead to a -- quote -- "full- blown pandemic."

Now, he was on the right track. "The New York Times" reporting Trump was concerned, though, not about the health warning, but that Navarro wrote it down.

A president who won`t use e-mail, a president who fought the Mueller probe by avoiding any paper evidence was already thinking about the pandemic paper trail that could hurt him, instead of what to do about the facts being presented.

Now, again, the Cassandra playbook, ignore, threaten, retaliate if needed. Well, Navarro, he came back in the fold. That`s important, as we try to understand what`s been happening.

He avoided that retaliation because he went out helping defend Trump on "60 Minutes," eating some of his words and attacking the press, saying, "Show me the `60 Minutes` episode that said, hey, the global pandemic is coming."

That`s quite a dodge, since you could show the Navarro memo that said it.

Now, others inside the administration didn`t back down like him, and they say they also faced this retaliation for it. Dr. Bright says he was fired partly for sharing warnings about equipment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. RICK BRIGHT, FORMER DIRECTOR, BIOMEDICAL ADVANCED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: We knew going into this pandemic that critical medical equipment would be in short supply. I pushed those warnings to our critical infrastructure protection team.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Predicting the U.S. would need more medical equipment was right.

The doctor says he was ignored and then punished, like our friend the unheard prophet Cassandra, the myth stressing how stubborn and powerful people would rather treat someone as literally insane than hear their bad news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HELEN OF TROY")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Give me your blessing for a happy voyage.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I cannot bless what I see in your future, Paris.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Cassandra! Cassandra, stop this.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: But father, it`s true.

Her name is death.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Cassandra!

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Forgive my sister. She suffers from an illness.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: She will bring the disaster I have prophesied. Her name will be written in letters of fire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Forgive her?

But, of course, it isn`t the people who didn`t listen. They`re the ones who need forgiveness, the people who heard the warnings, especially people in power, and rejected them. They need forgiveness.

This is a point made by another type of prophet, in my opinion, Lauryn Hill, whose poetry echoes today in this political crusade where we have people who are literally at war with truth, science and accountability.

She famously said consequence is no coincidence. Hypocrites always want to play innocent, never want to face it when it`s time for punishment.

Hypocrites don`t like consequences. But, as another old saying goes, those who fail to learn history, of course, are deemed to repeat it.

And I think that applies to ancient mythology, as well as this recent pandemic history, because we`re not out of the woods tonight, not by a long shot.

So, it is worth asking, should these Cassandras of this pandemic continue to be ignored, sidelined and punished, or are these the experts we should listen to now more than ever?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: We are playing a game of Russian roulette.

MAZET: We are one globe. What happens in every other place happens to us.

CARROLL: Right now, we are pretty stupid about what`s out there waiting for us.

MESSONNIER: You should think about what you would do for child care if schools or day cares close. Is teleworking an option for you?

MAZET: We could discover the majority of the planet`s yet-to-be-known viral threats.

CARROLL: Turn the culture we have of reactivity to a culture of proactivity.

MESSONNIER: This whole situation may seem overwhelming, and that disruption to everyday life may be severe, but these are things that people need to start thinking about now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: What can we learn from this now?

Obama`s Ebola response chief, Ron Klain, responds, when we`re back in 30 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: We`re back with former Ebola response coordinator Ron Klain, looking at lessons from the experts.

Your views, sir?

RON KLAIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE EBOLA RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Well, look, I mean, Donald Trump liked to say in February and March and even April that no one saw it coming, Ari.

And, as your special report indicates, many people saw it coming. People saw it coming for years, some of the experts you quoted, and then, most troublingly, people in Donald Trump`s own administration told him that this was happening.

Secretary Azar himself warned in January about a possible pandemic, as well as the other people you talked about. And Dr. Messonnier is a great example of someone who issued a warning and was silenced.

And it points to one other thing, Ari, the crazy conspiracy theories that govern this administration. When Dr. Messonnier made this warning, not only was she silenced as a Cassandra. The right-wing media said she was a liar because she is Rod Rosenstein`s sister, and because she is Rod Rosenstein`s sister, she shouldn`t be believed, even though she had a 30-year career as a senior career official and head of respiratory diseases at the CDC.

So, these warnings are here. The Trump administration took apart the structure we put in place to prepare for this. They took apart the structure we in the Obama administration put in place to find this. And then they didn`t listen to the experts inside or outside their administration that told them to act.

MELBER: When you view this, given your expertise, how much of this is about the unique issues of Trump, of which everyone is fairly familiar, an unusual president, by his own admission, and how much of this also does reflect, as mentioned, problems throughout history when people do present really bad news predictions?

KLAIN: Well, look, I think it`s fair, Ari, to say that this was a hard prediction to accept, hard news to accept, there is no question.

But it`s hard not to say this -- a lot of this turns on Trump, when you look at how this was handled in other countries. I mean, the Cassandra effect is a global effect. It`s a historical effect, as you say. And yet they are measuring deaths in the hundreds, not 100,000, in Korea. They have zero people in the hospital in New Zealand.

So, why were the warnings taken more seriously there? They`re human beings too. The Cassandra affects all of us. It affects all of us. And so other countries did the right thing. They acted on testing quickly. They acted on other kinds of measures, contact tracing, quickly. They all had different strategies, but they had strategies.

MELBER: Right.

KLAIN: What we had here was President Trump trying to deny it, trying to delay it, trying to ignore it.

MELBER: And the particular frustration of the reason the way the government is organized and staffed under our Constitution is that most people do not turn over just because a different party is in charge.

You don`t want FBI agents changing because of red or blue jerseys or scientists.

So, what does it tell you that the silver lining is, there were those individuals that still worked in the CDC -- Dr. Messonnier in that early warning was literally ahead of the curve of what needed to be done -- and yet what good is that?

For viewers who are watching saying, well, how do we learn, how do we make sure we listen better to these people going forward, what good is that in this climate if they are hit the way they were?

KLAIN: Yes, you know, Ari, I think that`s such an important point.

I wrote a piece in June -- in January, in January, in "The Atlantic," where I said the coronavirus crisis was coming, and Donald Trump would need the deep state to fight it.

What I meant by that was is, we have great career officials inside the National Security Council, inside the CDC, inside NIH, and that, if the president had listened to them, if he had empowered them, we would be in a very different place.

That piece I wrote ends with this point. I said that at the top of that food chain was Dr. Tony Fauci, who has served six presidents. And the question was, would Donald Trump become the first president ever to sideline him, to ignore him, to belittle him, to not take his advice?

And, sadly, we have seen that play out over the ensuing four months since then. The experts are in the government. Great experts are in the government. They are career officials. And the president has had this attitude towards them that they`re conspirators against him, that he`s -- that they`re the so-called deep state.

And, as a result, that attitude is unwillingness to listen to these experts when they spoke up.

MELBER: Yes.

Well, you have been there, and some of these calls are tough, but some of these lessons, we need to learn in overdrive.

Ron Klain, thank you so much, sir.

KLAIN: Thank you so much, Ari.

MELBER: I`m going to fit in a break and turn to a whole different story, this new video emerging from the death of a Minnesota man during a police arrest, his family calling for new charges.

But, before that, we have a warning on Trump`s reelection from his own supporters. We will explain coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Let`s get into it right now with Michael Steele, the former RNC chairman and former Maryland lieutenant governor, and someone who knows his way around a little bit of government, a little bit of politics.

Nice to see you, sir.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, a little bit.

(LAUGHTER)

STEELE: Good to see you, man. How you doing?

MELBER: I`m OK. I`m all right.

It`s -- like everybody, it can be sad and dispiriting, and we try to really focus on what we can do.

STEELE: Yes.

MELBER: So thank you for asking.

I will tell you this. Let`s get into the big, bad headline for the president. It`s one thing when your critics say, hey, we want to beat you. In fairness to President Trump, a lot of people said that, and he had the last laugh in `16, when polls and everything said he was in trouble.

STEELE: Right.

MELBER: But here it is, with Politico reporting that some of the die-hards, including people who have been on this show, Corey Lewandowski, Trump campaign manager, goes to the White House and says: "You are slipping badly in swing states, and you need to do something to fix it if you want to win."

Michael?

STEELE: True. I think Corey and those who have been around Trump and were on the campaign in `16 know what that dynamic is like.

They also recognize something that I don`t think Trump fully appreciates, and that this is not 2016. This is 2020, four years later, a lot of policy, a lot of politics under the bridge, as they say.

But the big matter in front of him that still stares this president in the face is named corona, COVID-19. And that`s what`s eating away, how he`s handled this, how he`s talked about it, how he`s -- as you just so well laid out in the last segment, I mean, that is a story, a lesson for people to sort of follow.

If you want to understand exactly how this has played out narratively, you spelled it out very clearly. And that explains why the numbers are what they are right now for the president.

Now, is it an indication that the election in `20 is over for him? No. But it is an indication that he`s losing the ground that he at least had. And so that`s something that Donald Trump can`t afford in this cycle, is to lose the ground that he took in 2016.

And that, right now, is going to be his biggest challenge as the country opens up under his watchful eye and his orders, quite honestly, when it very well may not be ready to do so.

MELBER: Yes, and on the politics of this, because it is an election year, I will say that most non-crisis political debates are about what should matter.

So, Obama is president. You ran the party while he was president, and Republicans talked a lot about deficit, and they didn`t want to pay for everything he was proposing. And that was a debate over what the topic was, right?

And we have had other presidents and candidates in the Republican Party who say, this is all about the Supreme Court. McCain, before he died, we knew he didn`t like Trump. He said well, because of the Supreme Court, you know, that`s a big issue. And then he tried to say, well, maybe he would never support a Hillary nomination if she were president.

But the Supreme Court was the topic for many.

This seems, Michael, like a category -- I`m going to put up on the screen - - where everyone agrees. There is really no debate right now. The issue is the virus and the economic recession coming out of it. And 39 percent of Americans approve of Trump`s virus response.

As you know, another way to say that is, even some people who voted for Trump last time don`t approve of it.

Michael?

STEELE: Yes.

And that`s because they have had a loved one, a friend, a neighbor who`s died from this virus, or was ill from this virus, who, from the very beginning, sort of bought into the narrative, again, going back to the earlier segment, where you talked about how this was put in front of the country, when the experts were saddled, sidestepped, put on the bookshelf and Trump took the center podium to declare not only his view of what medicines they should be taking, but, in fact, everything`s going to be OK.

And then the reality at home in places like Arkansas and Ohio and Michigan and Wisconsin, out West, here on the East Coast was very different. And those voters who actually sort of stripped that voter tag and became concerned citizens about the president`s response have now registered what they think of the last four or five months and the way this administration has handled it.

Now, again, can the president recover from this? Yes. It will be doubly hard, though, because the trail ahead is still fraught with a lot of problems because of the failure to put testing in place, because of the back-and-forth among the states, are you open, are you closed, can we do this, can we do that?

The lack of consistency is something Americans look for, as you know, Ari, in a crisis. And they look to the president to be the person who speaks to that consistency.

MELBER: Sure, 100 percent.

Briefly, as I let you go, do you want to shout out any alma maters there? I see in the background you got some, what I believe to be are diplomas.

STEELE: Well, you know, I have to be proud for my alma mater, JHU. They have brought it and staked it and they have made it very clear.

That`s them right over here, baby. That`s Johns Hopkins.

MELBER: There we go, 100 percent. Well, I wanted to give you that chance. I have got to run out of time.

Michael Steele, thank you.

And we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: New reporting in the death of George Floyd, the Minnesota man who died after telling police during his arrest -- quote -- "I can`t breathe."

But two new pieces of video evidence today. There`s a brief cell phone video where you can see officers pulling Floyd from a car at the beginning of the arrest, and surveillance video -- now, this was taken from across the street -- that appears to show what happened in the moments before the incident.

"The New York Times" also revealing the original police report of the death did not mention the detail of the officer`s knee pinning Floyd by the neck to the ground.

Experts concerned about the incompleteness of that record. The officers have been removed. The investigation continues.

That`s our update. And we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: That does it for THE BEAT.

Keep it right here on MSNBC.

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