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17,000+ cases TRANSCRIPT: 3/20/20, MSNBC Live: Decision 2020

Guests: Gregory Meeks; Laura Kelly, Robert Faturechi, Patrice Harris, Jonathan Lemire, Sean Patrick Maloney

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Now, as we finish the hour, the number has jumped  to 18,000, a grim reminder of what we face.

That does it for me tonight. I want you to stay informed, stay safe and  stay sane. We`ll be back at 6:00 P.M. Eastern Monday night. Keep it right  here on MSNBC.

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. I`m Katy Tur in New York.

States and cities across the country are shutting down as the federal  government grapples with the unfolding coronavirus crisis. Escalating their  response over the last 24 hours, the governors of California, New York and  Illinois are taking drastic action to keep people in their homes, ordering  all residents to effectively stay in place.

Those states include the three largest population centers in the country,  Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago, all of which are grinding to a  halt.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): This is a moment we need to make tough decisions.  This is a moment where we need some straight talk and we need to tell  people the truth. We need to bend the curve in the State of California.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We`re going to close the valve, all right,  because the rate of increase in the number of cases portends a total  overwhelming of our hospital system.

We need everyone to be safe, otherwise, no one can be safe.

GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): The easy thing to say today is that soon  everything will go back to the way it was. But I want to be honest with you  about that too. We don`t know yet all the steps we are going to have to  take to get this virus under control.


TUR: As of tonight, the coronavirus has claimed the lives of 223 Americans,  with the number of confirmed cases in this country reaching nearly 18,000.  That`s more than double the total of just two days ago.

The world also marked a grim new milestone as the mounting death toll from  the virus exceeded 10,000. Yet as millions of Americans put their lives on  hold, Dr. Anthony Fauci today suggested that social distancing could go on  for the foreseeable future.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How long do you think that Americans need to be in  this posture of staying at home and avoiding other people for it to work?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS  DISEASES: Obviously, that`s obviously the question that everyone is asking.  If you look at the trajectory of the curves of outbreaks in other areas,  it`s at least going to be several weeks. I cannot see that all of a sudden  next week or two weeks from now, it`s going to be over.


TUR: In his briefing with the Coronavirus Task Force today, President Trump  made a series of announcements, including agreement to restrict non- essential travel across the Mexican border. He said the Education  Department would suspend testing requirements and stop collecting interest  on federal student loans. And he said the Treasury Department would give  taxpayers three months more to file their returns, moving the April  deadline to July 15.

Late tonight, the White House announced that a person in the vice  president`s office tested positive for coronavirus. We`re also learning  that the confirmed cases in New York City alone exceeded 5,000. That  accounts for one-third of all the cases in the entire country, according to  Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said his city is now the epicenter of the  outbreak.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY): I hate to say this, but it`s true. We are now  the epicenter of this crisis right here in the nation`s largest city.


TUR: I am joined by Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York, and  epidemiologist, Dr. Joseph Fair. So, Dr. Fair, how long is this reasonably  going to last? People are asking questions and Fauci today certainly didn`t  give them a feeling that they`re going to be able to go back to their daily  lives anytime soon.

DR. JOSEPH FAIR, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: That is directly dependent on  when everyone puts the standard, social distancing measures that we Are  seeing for California, Illinois and New York, every state, and, frankly,  with the absence of federal leadership on the issue, I think the  Association of Governors have to make a uniform decision. Because unless we  all do it and we all do it at the same time, and I emphasize at the same  time, it`s just going to go on longer and longer and longer and the  derivative effects on the economy and everything else are going to continue  to get worse.

TUR: So let me ask you this though. I mean, is it necessary for governors  of states that don`t have big population centers like New York or Chicago  or Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, do those places need to go on the same  lockdowns we are experiencing here in New York City even though it`s not  being called a lockdown? Do you need to put those drastic measures in  places where there aren`t as many people?

FAIR: We`ve seen spread in all 50 states. So that indicates that those  states are not immune to this, just like no other place is as well. And as  far as lockdown, I don`t think, is the right term to use for it. We`re  talking about shutdown of all non-essential services. And being a waiter  myself in college, depending on tips every single night, I know what that  means.

And so we`re going to have to have federal help to those people  immediately. But the longer this goes on without uniform social distancing  across the nation and mandated to do so, we`re going to keep seeing scenes  like beaches in Florida packed with people. And we wish everyone would do  the right thing, but that`s just not happening.

TUR: So when do you think we`re going to start to see whether any of this  is working? So if we all get together and we all say, we`re all going to  stay at home, we`re not going to go to the beach or if you see pictures out  of D.C. today, go see the cherry blossoms blooming, or we`re going to stay  away from each other when go to the supermarket, only go to the market when  it`s absolutely necessary. How long before or what is the milestone we need  to see in order to believe that we can come out again?

FAIR: With the absence of testing, it`s hard to say with data-wise. But  just from historical precedent and other outbreaks of both respiratory  disease, Ebola and all other epidemics, just because we tried to do the  same thing, you should start seeing the results within a week and more so  immediately. And definitely, by 14 to 15 days, you should see significant  decrease in the number of reported cases. Now, that`s including -- assuming  rather that we have tests in place.

TUR: Congressman Meeks, New York City now the epicenter, according to Mayor  Bill de Blasio, are we getting what we need?

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D-NY): No. We need substantially more equipment. I  mean, the mayor at the same time said we need over 3 million masks, we need  50 million surgical masks, we need 15,000 ventilators. We need over 25  million face masks and surgical Gowns, and coverall and gloves. There`s a  lot more we need.

I know that the Senate is currently working on the third phase of the  stimulus package, but we really need a lot more so that we can start to  deal with the medical necessities that our hospitals have.

TUR: So on the subject of tests, the president, Dr. Fauci today addressed  the difficulty of meeting demand for those tests. Let`s listen to what they  said.


REPORTER: There are Americans though who say that they have symptoms and  they can`t get tests. What do you say to the Americans who are --


FAUCI: I get the same calls that many of you get that someone goes into a  place who has a symptom and wants to get a test and for one reason or  other, multiple logistic, technical, what have you, they can`t get it. That  is the reality that is happening now. Is it the same as it was a few weeks  ago? absolutely not.


TUR: So he is saying it`s getting better when it comes to tests. And we  just heard from the governor of New Jersey a couple hours ago saying their  drive-thru testing was a success today. I think they got 600 people tested  there and they`re opening more sites. But when it comes to what the  hospitals need right now, be it gowns or masks or ventilators, the personal  protective equipment, is hearing them talk about tests and the tests on  their way only something of a consolation prize right now, Congressman  Meeks?

MEEK: Yes. I mean, I check with my hospitals on a daily basis. I have about  four hospitals that I know my constituents utilize. And when I talk to the  heads of these hospitals, they are crying for the items that they need.  they are short a number of items of which some I`ve just articulated.

They are concerned about the number of beds that they have. They are  concerned about making sure they`re able to take care of the increasing  number of individuals who once tested have been found positive and may need  hospitalization. And so wo we`ve got to be prepared in advance, not wait  until the devastation takes place. But we`ve got to be prepared.

One of the reasons why we are where we are now, we started out too late.  And so we cannot be too late with getting these hospitals with what they  need because if you see the trends, the trends are rising. And so we`ve got  to be prepared for that in advance.

And so I know our governor in the State of New York is trying to do just  the opposite of what the president did in preparing the state for a crisis  that is still escalating and he`s not trying to hide it, say this is  something that`s going to go away, he is saying that this is something  that`s going to be worse before it gets better and we`ve got to be prepared  for it.

TUR: Doctor Fair, is there a way for us to catch up at this point if we all  start practice social distancing, will there be relief for the hospitals if  that happens?

FAIR: If we all start practicing social distancing right now, and I mean  uniformly across the nation, because even if we`re talking about locking,  and again, I won`t use that word, but stopping all commercial and non- essential activities in, say, California and New York, if people are coming  from New Jersey that are not doing the same thing, then it`s not going to  work. So it`s essential we do it all at the same time. We have no choice  but to catch up on this.

We talk about banks being too big to fail, we reacted immediately when that  happened. The American people are too big to fail.

And so, immediately, we have to put all these actions in place. And,  frankly, if China is reaching out, offering help now and their  manufacturing sector is coming back online, we should be placing orders for  them for the 3M mask -- sorry, not the 3M mask but N95 mask and the  personal protective equipment that the frontline healthcare workers need  and desperately need.

TUR: And maybe not antagonizing them by calling it the Chinese virus.

FAIR: That would be a good start.

TUR: Dr. Joseph Fair, thank you very much. And thank you, Congressman  Gregory Meeks as well. We appreciate it. Stay safe.

And despite the actions taken by New York, California and now, Illinois,  the president said today that a national lockdown isn`t necessary.


REPORTER: What Governor Cuomo has done in New York, is there any more  consideration to a national lockdown to keep people in their homes?

TRUMP: I don`t think so. Essentially, you`ve done that in California,  you`ve done that in New York. Those are really two hot beds. Those are  probably the two hottest of them all in terms of hot spots. I don`t think  so. Because you go out to the Midwest, you go out to other locations and  they`re watching it on television, but they don`t have the same problems.  They don`t have by any means the same problem.


TUR: I`m joined now by the governor of Kansas, Governor Laura Kelly.  Governor, thank you very much.

So is it not a problem in the Midwest?

GOV. LAURA KELLY (D-KS): Well, it is a problem of a different scale just  because of our population. But we are seeing an increase in the number of  positive tests on a daily basis. I think we had ten more today. And half of  our positive tests are located in one of our more populous areas, bordering  Kansas City, Missouri.

So we`re seeing some of that. We have taken some actions in anticipation of  making social distancing happen. As you know, we closed down our school  buildings and will reopen the education process in a couple of weeks, but  we won`t be bringing kids necessarily back into the buildings themselves.  We`re going to do it all by distance learning or sort of academics to go.

I did issue an order to make sure that crowds of more than 50 are not  getting together. And we also are sending all of our state employees who  are not absolutely essential will be working from home or at home on  administrative leave for the next two weeks.

So we are taking steps to lockdown the number of folks who are wandering  around, in and out of stores, and making contact with one another.

TUR: You have 45 cases of coronavirus reported in your state. Are you  getting enough testing? Are you fearful that that number is higher or are  you confident that that`s the number of people that have it within the  state?

KELLY: Well, we`re doing the testing that we have the capability of doing.  I fully expect that when we get more test kits and we are doing more  testing, we will see an increase in the number of positives.

We have had a little bit of a difficulty getting the tests in. I think we  just received a shipment. It`s enough to get us through the weekend, but  then we are going to need more, and a lot more.

TUR: I don`t know if you just heard the conversation that I was having with  Dr. Joseph Fair, but he was saying that this is not something that we`re  going to be able to stop unless everybody acts together in a uniform way.  The president is not mandating anything across the board for states but  he`s calling on governors to get together and enact the same measures. Say,  if it`s going to be not a lockdown but social distancing rules, everyone  has got to do it in order to really flatten the curve. Because if one place  gets it, he says, it`s going to spill over to everything else.

Do you agree with that? Are there conversations being had amongst governors  to try and figure out how to do this if it is not on a federal scale with  cooperation amongst all 50 governors?

KELLY: Well, the approach that we have taken here in Kansas is really very  closely following the guidelines that CDC has come out with. That`s how we  established the no more than 50 assembly, why we shut down the school  buildings, because we do want to adhere to those guidelines and we are  looking towards the CDC to give us those.

TUR: So you`re looking to the federal government still, Governor Laura  Kelly?

KELLY: Right. And then if there are some things Kansas-specific, we are  acting on our autonomously. But I think when it comes to issues like  establishing a lockdown, we`re addressing it what we`re seeing here in  Kansas. But if the CDC were to issue guidelines to require it, we would  follow those guidelines.

TUR: Well, let`s hope your cases do not rise that much more. Thank you,  Governor Laura Kelly. We appreciate it.

And coming up, hospitals struggle to get supplies as they need to fight the  coronavirus. American Medical Association is calling on the White House to  do much more. Dr. Patrice Harris, President of the AMA, joins me next.

Plus, the pandemic presidency deflecting blames, delivering misinformation,  attacking the press and presenting half-baked ideas as if they`re concrete  plans.

We`ve got much more, so stay with us.


TUR: Welcome back.

With the surging number of coronavirus cases, healthcare workers across the  country are in desperate need of equipment. A global shortage of surgical  masks and respirators has forced many healthcare professionals to  improvise. A New York City doctor told The Atlantic that it`s like going to  war with a butter knife.

Hospital workers in Washington State have been making protective medical  gear out of office supplies and other materials. The Illinois Health and  Hospital Association made a public plea for donations of masks from  construction companies and others.

Yesterday, President Trump said there was no immediate plan to address  medical equipment shortages by activating the Defense Production Act.  Today, the president said something different.


REPORTER: You just said that you haven`t had to require companies to up  their production of medical supplies, but you said Last night you invoked  the DPA.

TRUMP: When we need something, because of the act, when we need something,  we order something.


TUR: The Trump administration`s often confusing and rosy outlook ignores  the reality on the ground. Healthcare workers have taken to social media to  plead for more personal protective equipment.

In a statement today, the American Medical Association wrote, we urge our  leaders to pull every lever at their disposal to ramp up test kit  availability and to equip physicians and the health care work force to  fight the virus. Anything less is unacceptable at this critical juncture."

For more, I`m joined by the president of the AMA, Dr. Patrice Harris. 

Dr. Harris, thank you so much. 

So, you`re calling on the president to get you the supplies you need. 


And thank you for having me tonight. 

Yes, physicians and other health care workers are on the front lines in  dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. And we`re facing dire shortages of  personal protective equipment, the supplies needed to do the tests, the  test kits, but also the chemical reagents. 

And, just as you said, it is absolutely unacceptable that physicians are  reusing and cleaning masks that they have been using all day. It is  unacceptable that we are having health care staff making protective  equipment. 

And so we really are calling on the government to have an all-hands-on-deck  approach, a Marshall Plan, if you will, a Manhattan Project-type effort,  because we really have to get the equipment, the mask on the faces, the  gowns on the bodies of physicians and other health care workers in this  country. 

TUR: Do you understand what the president is doing right now? Do you  understand his mixed messages? 

HARRIS: Here`s what...

TUR: Are they mixed?

HARRIS: Here`s what we need to know. And it`s about results. 

We appreciate everyone doing all that they can. But the AMA will continue  to raise the alarms until we see the results, until we see masks and  hospitals and on the faces of physicians and other health care workers,  until we have the ability to do all the tests that we need to do whatever  we can to flatten the curve -- you have heard that before -- of this  pandemic. 

TUR: Well, I wonder given that you -- you`re asking for this over and over  again, and there`s there`s nurses and doctors pleading on social media, the  president`s being asked about this in these briefings every single day. I  know Dr. Fauci is getting calls about it. 

I wonder if you think he understands, the president understands the  urgency, this administration understands the urgency of what is needed and  what is happening right now at hospitals across America? 

HARRIS: Well, I`m not sure,but that`s why you will hear us say over and  over again about the need for this and over and over again to call for an  all-hands-on-deck approach.

And we will not stop until results are available. 

TUR: Well, yesterday as Congress announced a new cash injection into the  economy -- excuse me -- the economy. 

NBC News reported that there still has been no direct funding to hospitals  for personal protective equipment and medical infrastructure, despite the  past two legislative packages.

The American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and the  American Nurses Association, in a letter to Congress, requested direct cash  infusions, writing: "Congress should allocate $100 billion to front-line  health care personnel and providers and direct the federal agencies to  begin to infuse those funds immediately."

So this is a plea that`s coming from across health care organizations to  the federal government: Give us the money we need. 

If you get that money. What are you going to do with it? 

HARRIS: Well, I will tell you, we did, along with our colleagues at AHA and  ANA, call for $100 billion.

And that would go for PPE. That would go for the testing. But you know  what? That would also go perhaps to practices. Many folks don`t realize  that`s physicians in small and medium-sized practices are small businesses.  And as they ramp down, appropriately, as we social distance, there will be  consequences there. 

We also need funding for telehealth services. Again, as we see fewer folks  in our offices, there is great opportunity for telehealth. And so for these  and other reasons again, small business loans, direct grants, perhaps -- we  have asked, as you said, for $100 billion to aid us to make sure that we  can keep practices open, to make sure that hospitals have the equipment  they need, and nurses and doctors, again, get equipped to address this  epidemic. 

We all go into this as health professionals. And we accept a certain degree  of risk. But there should be an all-hands-on-deck approach to mitigate and  minimize any risk, as we, doctors, nurses, other health professions, are on  the front lines of this pandemic. 

TUR: So what`s happening in Italy right now is that there are doctors  treating the sick, but then becoming infected themselves, doctors and  nurses becoming patients, and they`re finding themselves in desperate need  of people, doctors to help treat the patients that they`re -- that they`re  getting. 

Do we have enough doctors in this country to meet the demand, the patient  demand, that we`re going to see those who have fallen ill to COVID-19? 

HARRIS: Well, certainly, in some areas, there is a baseline shortage of  physicians. And the AMA has been raising that and doing what we can to  encourage our ability to train more physicians in this country. 

But, as you say, right now, we have to be prepared for increased cases and  for a surge that may happen. And any physician, any nurse, any other health  professional that is ill, that cannot treat a patient because they have  tested positive results in fewer physicians and out there results in  certainly work force issues. 

And, again, I hate -- well, actually I don`t hate to -- I am happy to  continue to sound the alarm that we need to do whatever we can to reduce  that risk, to reduce the risk of physicians and nurses becoming infected,  and we start with making sure that there is adequate PPE. 

And another suggestion that we have made is, we should be tracking these  supplies. We need to know who has what, and who has the greatest need. And  so we also called on the administration to consider some sort of national  tracking system, so we can keep tabs and make sure we get equipment and  testing supplies to the areas that need it most. 

TUR: And just very quickly, the DOD is going to provide five million N95  masks, a million of them immediately, including 2000 ventilators, as part  of the DOD stockpile. Is that enough? 

HARRIS: That will not be enough. 

Certainly, we need everyone to do whatever they can. But we really need to  look at the supply chain, manufacture and distribution. So, no, that won`t  be enough. We will take that. But that is not nearly enough, which is again  while we called on the administration to look at have a Marshall Plan, a  Manhattan, whatever analogy is...

TUR: Yes. 

HARRIS: An all hands on deck to get ventilators. We haven`t talked about  that, but we need to make sure we have enough ventilators. 

So we need to have everyone engaged in addressing all of these equipment  needs. 

TUR: Well, the president says the governors are left up to that task,  because the federal government and he himself is not a shipping clerk. 

Thank you, Dr. Patrice Harris. We appreciate it.

Up next: How is President Trump handling this crisis? So far, his response  has been full of inaccurate and misleading statements, plus attacks on the  media and blaming his predecessor. 

We`re back after this.


TUR: Welcome back. 

As President Trump attempts to explain what his administration is doing to  deal with the pandemic, his remarks often don`t reflect reality. Bloomberg  News highlights just a few, including a hospital ship that can`t yet sail,  a drug that`s not approved for coronavirus, a windfall of masks that`s not  due until next year. 

At the White House today, Dr. Anthony Fauci threw cold water on one of the  president`s pronouncements, an anti-malaria drug that President Trump  touted yesterday as a potential treatment. Fauci said, any evidence of its  effectiveness is only anecdotal. 

My colleague NBC News White House correspondent Peter Alexander asked the  president about his many inaccurate statements and empty promises. And then  he followed up with a simple question. 


PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Is it possible -- it  possible that your impulse to put a positive spin on things may be giving  Americans a false sense of...

TRUMP: No, I don`t think so. 

ALEXANDER: ... hope and misrepresenting the preparedness right now? 

TRUMP: No. No, I don`t think so. I think that -- I think it`s gotten...

ALEXANDER: The ship is not yet ready to sail, the not-yet-approved drug?

TRUMP: Such a lovely question. 

Look, it may work and it may not work. And I agree with the doctor, what he  said. It may work, it may not work. 

I feel good about it. That`s all it is. Just a feeling. You know, I`m a  smart guy. 

ALEXANDER: What do you say to Americans who are scared, though? I guess,  nearly 200 dead, 14,000 who are sick, millions, as you witness, who are  scared right now. What do you say to Americans who are watching you right  now who are scared? 

TRUMP: I say that you`re a terrible reporter. That`s what I say.  Go ahead. 

ALEXANDER: Mr. President, the units that were just declared...

TRUMP: I think it`s a very nasty question, and I think it`s a very bad  signal that you`re putting out to the American people. 


TUR: I`m joined now by Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York and  Jonathan Lemire, White House reporter for the Associated Press. 

So, Jonathan, today, the president, instead of answering that question,  lashed out at Peter Alexander. When Peter asked Vice President Pence that  very same question, he responded directly and told the American people not  to be scared. 


He said, stay vigilant, but don`t be afraid, or words to that effect, which  is a very different message than the president gave. 

This -- we have seen sort of a deterioration of the president`s tone and  approach as the week has gone on. You might recall that some in the media  praised his tone on Monday, Tuesday, suggested that he had made a real sea  change, he was taking things more seriously. He was more somber about how  things had gone. 

And we have seen that slowly slip away. And, today, he was downright  combative with the media. He is -- and it`s one thing to spar with the  press. He does that often. That`s part of his brand. 

It`s different, though, when it becomes the point where he`s giving  misinformation, where he`s not giving the American public, who are home, so  many of them, frightened and unsure of what happens next, their day-to-day  routines completely upended, when he`s giving them false information or  false hope.

As you mentioned, Dr. Fauci had to correct him on the potential  effectiveness of these drugs to combat the virus. But more than that, the  president has overpromised on a number of parts of the administration`s  response. 

And when asked today about that, he didn`t want to hear it. It`s very  clear, not just from the media, but, according to our reporting, he also  doesn`t want to hear it from aides when they don`t deliver him good news.

When he`s having -- when they have to break it to him that this is going to  be a challenge and going to be for a long time, he doesn`t want to hear it.  And that was evident today. It`s one thing that, in a situation or a  meeting, to snap at an aide. It`s different to snap at a reporter in front  of the American public, when they`re just looking for you to be calm and  reassuring. 

TUR: There`s a difference between talking about politics and partisanship  and not agreeing with the president on policy or not agreeing with his  politics. 

But, Congressman, this is a crisis that we`re in, and now the conversation  has to go to, what`s happening with this leadership? And is this the most  effective leadership we can have in the midst of an event that nobody in  America has ever experienced before, and when millions of Americans,  millions are not just worried about their health, but worried about their  paychecks and worried about whether they`re going to be able to feed  themselves or their families or stay in their homes in the coming weeks and  months, if this lasts that long. 


Well, I`m talking to you from a state that has almost half of the corona  cases in the United States. New York City itself has about a third. So the  proof is going to be when enough supplies show up for the hospitals in this  state and in New York City, when there are enough masks, enough gowns,  enough protective equipment, and when we have taken the steps necessary to  hospitalize all the people who will need care. 

Those are actions that right now depend on whether the president knows what  he`s doing, and whether he`s listening to the risks and problems and he`s  asking, what`s in the way, what`s missing, how do we get this done? 

And all due respect, I don`t care what he says to reporters, I don`t care  what he says, to puff his own, his own reputation. The truth will come out  in the end. But what matters now is rushing supplies and materials to  people on the front lines, our health care workers, who need to be kept  safe. 

And we need to make sure the vulnerable people who show up in real need to  get a ventilator and can get a hospital bed. And what we do right now is  going to determine that. And that`s where our focus has to be. 

TUR: Do you have evidence that that is happening?

Yesterday, he said he wasn`t a shipping clerk for the rest of the country  and told governors to deal with it themselves. He`s signed the Defense  Production Act, but he is so far not using it. It`s not clear what exactly  is happening. He gave contrary statements on that today. 

What can you see is -- what`s actually happening right now, congressman? Is  he is he doing anything that would make this response better? 

MALONEY: It`s not enough. It is not enough. 

If you listen to the mayor of New York as recently as an hour ago, he laid  out pretty clearly what the gap is. He has not seen that action yet from  the federal government. Ask the governor of New York, I speak to him pretty  regularly. 

He will tell you we are not going to be able to house in appropriate  hospital facilities, with the right equipment needed to save lives, all of  the people who may yet fall seriously ill with the coronavirus. 

So what the president needs to do is, he needs to put everything else aside  and let the people who have the capacity, the authorities, the resources to  do that, get the job done, and he needs to stop making excuses and take  responsibility for it. 

And when he sends that signal from the top, the people around him will  understand that what matters is the results, not the praise they heap on  him, not the way this will look in the media, but what actually happens on  the ground. 

We`re talking about people`s lives. 

TUR: Yes.

MALONEY: This is not a game. It`s not some poll. It`s not a political  question to be kicked around on cable news. This is about what shows up in  terms of supplies and hospital capacity in places like New York. 

And it`s not happening fast enough. 

TUR: When you`re talking about deflecting blame, listen to this.

The president, who has been in the office for over three years, wrapped up  today`s press conference by blaming previous administrations for his slow  response to this pandemic. 


TRUMP: Just for the probably hundredth time: I, this administration,  inherited an obsolete, broken, old system that wasn`t meant for this. 

We inherited a broken, old -- frankly, a terrible system. We fixed it and  we`ve done a great job. And we haven`t been given the credit that we  deserve.


TUR: Compare that to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo`s explanation today of  his decision to effectively shut down his entire state to curb the  pandemic. 


CUOMO: And just so we`re all clear, this is a statewide order. It`s not  what your county executive is doing. It`s not what your mayor is doing.  It`s not what anyone else but me is doing. 

And I accept full responsibility. If someone is unhappy, if somebody wants  to blame someone or complain about someone, blame me. 


TUR: The president said he inherited a bad system. 

But, Jonathan, he fired the pandemic response team in 2018. 

LEMIRE: That`s right. 

I wrote a story today contrasting the different approaches between Governor  Cuomo and President Trump. And there`s no question we have -- from day one  of this administration, not just on this crisis, the president doesn`t take  responsibility very often. 

And he often -- he tries to blame his predecessor for most things, even  when it`s a complete stretch. And you`re right. There were tabletop  exercises his administration conducted. It could have been prepared for  this. They weren`t. He fired that team, as you just said.

We heard a week-and-a-half ago in the Rose Garden he was directly asked if  he shared any blame, if he took on any personal responsibility for the lack  of testing Americans have for this disease, which, mind you, is still an  issue, and he said no. 

And now he`s going to be judged in these next couple of weeks whether he  can get ventilators, masks and other equipment to the hospitals in this  country that are about to be overrun with patients. 

TUR: It`s the president`s job to act and get that -- those supplies and  equipment or make it easier to get those supplies and those -- that  equipment to hospitals across the country and to states that need it. 

But it`s also the president`s responsibility to lead and to calm people`s  nerves in a time of crisis. And that`s not political. That`s just the way  things work. 

Thank you, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney and Jonathan Lemire.

Or the way things should work, at least.

Up next: Some members of Congress are accused of dumping stock just ahead  of the outbreak, while publicly downplaying the threat.

We`re right back after this. 


TUR: Welcome back. 

Four senators are coming under fire for reportedly selling off millions of  dollars in stocks in the lead-up to the outbreak. Senate Intelligence  Committee Chairman Richard Burr sold between $600,000 at $1.7 million worth  of stock, including in hotel chains.

California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and her husband sold off  between $1.5 million to $6 million worth of stock in a biotech company. 

Georgia Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler and her husband, who is the  chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, sold up to $3.1 million in stocks,  while also purchasing shares of a teleconferencing company. 

And Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe sold about $400,000 in stocks.  The stock sales took place after senators were given a closed-door briefing  on the coronavirus by top health officials on January 24. 

Feinstein and Inhofe say they were not in attendance.

Burr, as the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, was receiving regular  coronavirus briefings. All of the senators are defending themselves against  questions about insider information. 

In a statement, Senator Burr writes that he relied solely on public news  reports to guide his investment decisions and has called for the Senate  Ethics Committee to open a review.

Senator Feinstein writes that all of her assets are in a blind trust and  that the stock sales in question were made by her husband.

Inhofe and Loeffler both say they have no control over their investments. 


SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R-OK): When I became the chairman of the Senate Armed  Services Committee, I divested myself of all stocks, because I thought  someday that may come up.

Mine was actually in a blind trust. So I didn`t know what was in there. 

SEN. KELLY LOEFFLER (R-GA): Well, certainly I`m not involved in the  decisions around buying and selling. There`s a range of different decisions  made every day with regard to my savings and 401(k) portfolios that I`m not  involved in. 


TUR: While the senators were selling off those stocks, some of them were  publicly telling the public not to worry about the coronavirus and that the  economy was strong. 

That`s next. 



LOEFFLER: The good news is, the consumer is strong, the economy is strong,  jobs are growing. Our president has done a fantastic job. 


TUR: Welcome back. 

That was Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia 10 days ago publicly downplaying  the risks of coronavirus, especially on the economy. 

What we did not know at the time was that Loeffler and other senators had  unloaded millions of dollars in stock. 

Just six days before Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina sold between  $600,000 and $1.7 million worth of stock, Burr co-wrote an op-ed for FOX  News that stated: "The United States today is better prepared than ever  before to face emerging public health threats like the coronavirus."

While Senator Burr`s February 7 op-ed made it seem like the coronavirus  situation was under control, last month, he warned a small group of well- connected constituents and donors to prepare for dire economic and societal  effects from the virus, according to a secret recording obtained by NPR. 

For more, I`m joined by Robert Faturechi, who covers money in politics for  ProPublica, which originally broke this story, and Eugene Robinson,  columnist for "The Washington Post." 

So, I do want to start with you, Robert.

The trades in question don`t smell good, to put it mildly. Are they  illegal? 

ROBERT FATURECHI, PROPUBLICA: So, it is certainly illegal for members of  Congress to partake in insider trading. Proving that is very difficult, and  that`s why it`s so rare to see these kinds of cases. 

I can tell you that I have looked at hundreds, probably thousands of these  forms as part of my job as an investigative reporter. And when I looked at  this one, I was immediately struck. It was 33 separate transactions in one  day, all of them sales, no purchases.

And the total dollar amount was whopping. It was almost -- or up to $1.7  million. And Senator Burr is wealthy compared to most Americans, but, as  far as, you know, compared to other members of Congress, he`s not.

So this is a pretty significant fraction of his net worth. 

TUR: His office today released a statement -- or maybe it was yesterday  night -- released a statement saying that he made all these trades before  the market started to fluctuate. 

Does that mean they`re OK. 

FATURECHI: So that was -- that was sort of an odd comment, right? Usually,  you get a defense from a spokesperson. And that was -- that was sort of the  point of the story, right? 

The point of the story was that he did a massive sell-off before the market  drop began. So, to be honest, I was confused by that defense, because it  wasn`t really a defense. It was sort of proving the case. 

Now, today, Senator Burr came out and gave a different defense, which was  that he used no non-public information, none of the information that he was  briefed on as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Instead, he said  he was watching CNBC. 

TUR: That`s interesting. 

North Carolina`s other senator, Thom Tillis, tweeted the Burr owes North  Carolinians and explanation and that his self-referral to the Ethics  Committee for their review is appropriate. 

Tucker Carlson took it a step further, Eugene, saying that he needs to  prove that this was not untoward or not illegal, and, if he can`t do that,  then he needs to resign and face prosecution. 


I mean, of the of the four senators we have mentioned in the intro whose  transactions are being looked at, Senator Burr really, really sticks out? I  mean, the number one, the others can make some claim, at least, that their  investments are in a blind trust, that they`re not managing them, at least  actively, that -- whether that`s strictly true or not, they can make a  pretty credible claim, I think, of not having done what it looks like they  might did -- might have done.

But Senator Burr is the chair of the Intelligence Committee. He was  regularly briefed on the coronavirus situation. He was -- while writing  that op-ed, he made it sound as if we were all ready for it. He talked to  high -- big-dollar contributor insiders in a private talk, told them that  it`s going to be really bad. 

And he made these 33 transactions, these 33 sales of stocks that he could  have reasonably concluded would crash, would tumble as the situation got  worse. 

I think he has -- he has said -- he has said he welcomes an investigation  by the Ethics Committee. That certainly should take place. And, as Robert  pointed out, insider trading is illegal. 

That first statement from Burr was inculpatory, not exculpatory. Like, oh,  I did it before anybody knew that it was going to crash. 

That`s not exculpatory. That`s -- that gets you deeper in trouble. And so  we will have to see where this leads. 

But it -- that really smells bad.

TUR: Burr, Loeffler, Feinstein, Inhofe, three Republicans and one Democrat.  Doesn`t look good, at the least.

Thank you, Robert Faturechi and Eugene Robinson. We appreciate it. Stay  safe out there, guys. 

And up next: saying goodbye to a dear friend, one of the more than 200  Americans who`ve now lost their lives to coronavirus. 

Stay with us. 


TUR: Before we go tonight, I want to say goodbye to a friend.

Larry Edgeworth was a field audio tech around here, which means he was the  guy with a 20-pound sound pack around his waist, miking you up as -- so  miking all of us up, so we -- so you could hear everything we were saying. 

In my eight years at MSNBC and NBC, I think I have worked with Larry more  than any other crew guy. 

I said this earlier, but I think it bears repeating. When you`re living on  the road, your co-workers become family. Larry was my family, my big  brother, though he`d probably laugh at me for saying that: "I`m old enough  to be your dad, kid."

I wish I had a singular story to sum up how great he was. But all I can  think of right now are the little details, the orange if I was hungry, the  stiff-arm if I was in trouble, the chair if we were on a stakeout.

In 2016, camped outside of Trump Tower, those details were daily, and the  chair was often a bunch of camera cases stacked up on top of each other. 

Larry was gruff, but he was never stingy with a smile. He was a big bear of  a man with a big bear of a heart. And that might sound cliche, but coming  from a girl with Bear as her middle name, there really is no higher  compliment. 

Larry had underlying health issues. COVID-19 exploited those and stole him  away from us way too soon. 

He is survived by his wife, two sons, and hundreds of NBC colleagues, who  are now worse off with him. 

Thanks for being with us tonight. 

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.