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Pres. Trump TRANSCRIPT: 4/13/20, MSNBC Live: Decision 2020

Guests: Kavita Patel, Rob Davidson, Chris Murphy, Jared Polis, Nicholas Kristof

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They`ve got local mayors, local representative. They have people that do it.

And what we did last time is unprecedented. We literally rebuilt test week, we rebuilt a whole industry because we inherited nothing. What we inherited from the previous administration was totally broken, which somebody should eventually say not only were the cupboards bare, as I say, but we inherited broken testing. Now we have great testing. I just left the top executives at Abbott, who would have thought that would have happened where they have such a great test.

And in fact what I`ll do, I think unless you have any further questions for the secretary of treasury -- do you have anything for Steve? Anybody? He`s actually the secretary of the treasury. (INAUDIBLE) we can wait. We have to get him back to work, okay?

REPORTER: Yes sir, for Secretary Mnuchin, I have question from one of my colleagues, who`s not able to be in the room. They`re curious about the SBA rule that prevents small casinos from getting some of this relief. Is that something that you`re taking a look at? Is there going to be a change to --

STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: Not small casinos, but there are such things as small taverns and restaurants that have literally small gaming things and we are coming out with some additional guidance on that. But I want to be clear it`s not small casinos.

REPORTER: Mr. Secretary, there was a letter that some House Republicans sent this weekend about liquidity for mortgage services. Can you explain what you`re looking at on that front?

MNUCHIN: Sure. So I think I commented on this a week or so ago. We had a subcommittee task force at FSAC (ph) that specifically studied this issue. We have all the appropriate people on it. Jenny May (ph) has automatically taken some action. We`ve had conversation with the FHFA as to what they`re going to do for Fannie and Freddie and we`ve said that to the extent they need certain authorities from the treasury. We will accommodate that.

So we`re very aware of the issue. Quite frankly, we`ve been studying this issue way before COVID and had concerns about some of these non-bank servicers not being well capitalized. But we`re going to make sure that the market functions properly.

REPORTER: Thank you, sir. We have seen in a number of these relief bills that Democrats and Republicans have been able to push forward different non-coronavirus specific funding priorities. Are you trying to keep funding specific to coronavirus and then if there are going to be other additions, for instance, a change to labor rules or something that many on the left want, some on the right are wondering if you should also -- if you should also be pushing for their preferred add-ons?

MNUCHIN: I think our expectation has always been this is COVID related. Some people have a rather broad view of what COVID related is because it has impacted almost every single business. I mean, I think we`ve -- the president has talked about the Kennedy Center, which is a good institution. Obviously, that was not the major priority of the bill, but they were hit with COVID related. So -- but no, the president has instructed, we want to be very specific in the next bill. It`s COVID related items.

TRUMP: What we do with the Kennedy center, just so you understand, that that was done -- the Democrats wanted it in. We didn`t want that. But they wanted it in and we had to agree in order to get something done for the workers. But we want this to be for the workers and for companies that employ the workers. That`s what we`re looking for. We`re not looking for extraneous nonsense.

REPORTER: It`s reported that you argued at the time the China ban was being discussed that was too disruptive to the global economy? Is that accurate?

MNUCHIN: Let me be clear, I had nothing to do with the China ban. I wasn`t on the task force at the time. I`m not even sure -- I was -- I think I was traveling at the time. But I never had any -- I was not part -- I did become active in, after the China ban. But that reported in The New York Times was not accurate. I was not part of the task force at that time and I was not involved. As a matter of fact, I think I may have been traveling.

REPORTER: A proposal by Senator Hawley to get direct payments to employers to pay people who have been laid off and keep people on payroll, does the administration support that proposal?

MNUCHIN: Again, that is the PPP. The PPP is basically sending money to small business, 50 percent of American workers, to keep those people paid. And it`s the most efficient way. Every dollar, as I said, we do through that, it`s one less dollar of unemployment. And more importantly, we want those people to have -- be associated with the business, so as soon as the president is ready to open up the economy, those businesses are together. We don`t want those businesses to fall apart. That`s why this is such a successful program --

TRUMP: Are you talking about the unemployment? Sending it indirectly to the states? We would prefer that it was sent directly to the people. The Democrats wanted to be sent through the unemployment system and, you know, I`ve talked to you about it, we have 40-year-old equipment in many of those systems that are run by the state. But I`m hearing they`re getting the money out anyway.

MNUCHIN: So some of them are and some of the states aren`t. And we encourage -- you know, we`re working with the states to try to update their computers. But it`s a long haul. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. president.

TRUMP: Phase four, Steve. Phase four. Come on, Steve.

REPORTER: A quick question on something you just said, you said when someone is president of the United States, their authority is total. That is not true.

TRUMP: Okay. You know what we`re going to do, we`re going to write up papers on this. It`s not going to be necessary. Because the governors need us one way or the other because, ultimately, it comes with the federal government. That being said, we`re getting along very well with the governors and I feel very certain that there won`t be a problem. Yes, please, go ahead.

REPORTER: Has any governor agreed that you have the authority to decide when their state --

TRUMP: I haven`t asked anybody because you know why, because I don`t have to.

REPORTER: But who told you that the president has the total authority?

TRUMP: Enough. Please.

REPORTER: You mentioned the vice president`s call with the governors today. Governor Hogan of Maryland has urged your administration to ask Congress for $500 billion to help stabilize budgetary shortfalls created by coronavirus --

TRUMP: It`s nice of Governor Hogan, very much. We appreciate Governor Hogan`s statement.

REPORTER: Governor Cuomo said the CARES Act ignored state government shortfalls. Do you see that request --

TRUMP: Which one, what he said?

REPORTER: He said the CARES Act ignored the budgetary shortfalls.

TRUMP: Well, they`re looking at things in phase four where they have -- you know, where they talk about states and they`re also talking about hospitals. They`re talking about states who have been battered and they`re also talking about hospitals and we`re certainly willing to look at that.

REPORTER: Will you urge congress on your behalf?

TRUMP: We`ll see what we will come back with. But they are talking about states and they`re talking about hospitals. Go ahead.

REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President. Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer has on Thursday signed an executive order banning the sale of non-essential goods. If other states --

TRUMP: The sale of what?

REPORTER: Non-essential goods, she has banned the sale of non-essential goods. Many are calling this draconian, unconstitutional. As President, do you think that if other states were to follow her example in the coming weeks that the federal government should intervene?

TRUMP: Well, I don`t think that`s going to happen. I think it`s very extreme, but she`s doing it and I think it`s going to be over a long way before we have to start thinking about it too much. It is strong. It`s a very strong position to take. But they`re making a lot of progress in Michigan, so let`s see how it all works out.

REPORTER: What is the status of the funding for the World Health Organization?

TRUMP: We`re going to be talking about that very soon. I`m getting a full report. I`m not happy with the World Health Organization, not happy with the World Trade Organization either. We`ve been ripped off by everybody. And we have -- this country, for so many years, has been ripped off by everybody, whether it`s the World Health or World Trade. And they`re like - - I call them the Bobbsey Twins. They look at our country for years and years, we had people that did nothing about it. We`re doing a lot about it. So we`ll have a report.

And we`re also talking about the World Trade Organization. But we`ve made a lot of progress there. We`re now winning cases for the first time because they know I`ll leave if we don`t get treated fairly. This country, our country, was at a point where we rarely, if ever won the lawsuits within the World Trade Organization. But now we`re winning a lot of it because they know I`m not playing games. We will pull out if we have to. We just won a $7 billion lawsuit, which was very nice.

REPORTER: Do you expect a decision this week on cutting funding for the WHO?

TRUMP: Yes, I would say by the end of the week I`m going to make a decision on that. There`s a lot of -- right now, there`s a lot of things happening.

REPORTER: On China, why are there no consequences for China for the misinformation that they shared?

TRUMP: How do you know there are no consequences?

REPORTER: Well, you have been asked --

TRUMP: How do you know there are no consequences?

REPORTER: What are the consequences, Mr. President, with the misinformation?

TRUMP: I wouldn`t tell you, China will find out. Why would I tell you?

REPORTER: But people are concerned that they stonewalled --

TRUMP: No, you started off by saying why are there no consequences.

REPORTER: Why are there no consequences --

TRUMP: How do you know there are no consequences? You`re going to find out. I wouldn`t tell you. You`d probably be the last person on earth I would tell. Go ahead. Yes, please.

REPORTER: Mr. President, this actually is a question for Mr. Vice President. Do you agree with the president`s statement in his understanding of federalism that his power is total in the way that he described it? Is there anything you would like to add or in context like to add to the way he was discussing that?

MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I support the president`s leadership under the national emergency declaration that he signed. We`re standing before you today for the first time in American history when all 50 states have issued emergency declarations and the territories. This is an unprecedented time in the life of the nation.

Unfortunately, as the president has reflected and our health experts will continue to reflect, because the American people have heeded the president`s coronavirus guidelines for America, because state governors have taken those and implemented them, even in states where there was not a significant outbreak, and implemented additional measures as we provided them with data about cases and best practices. We`re making real progress as a country.

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) circumscribed than the total?

PENCE: Well, make no mistake about it, in the long history of this country, the authority of the president of the United States during national emergencies is unquestionably plenary. And you can look back through times of war and other national emergencies. And as the president said, we`ll happily brief that.

But in the days ahead, what the president has charged us to do is to work with our health experts, we`re going to bring together an extraordinary group of American business leaders to counsel the president, and then working with the CDC. We`re going to produce new guidelines based upon the data for every state and territory in this nation. We`re going to give them guidance and as the president has indicated, we`ll continue to respect the leadership and partnership that we forge with every governor in America.

But this is an unprecedented time. But I have to tell you, when you look at the fact, despite the heartbreaking loss of more than 22,000 Americans, when you look at the fact of what the health experts told us this could be, I think -- I only can feel a sense of gratitude to the American people, gratitude to the extraordinary team that has counseled this president, the steps that President Trump has taken, the policies that governors have implemented all across America.

I mean, we were discussing today at the task force that when you look the at the European Union as a whole, they have nearly three times the mortality rate than the United States of America has today. And that is a tribute to our extraordinary healthcare workers, their dedication, their tireless work, but it`s also a tribute to the fact that the American people put into practice the mitigation efforts that the president counseled the nation to do on the advice of our best scientists now more than a month ago. And our hospitals were not overwhelmed and are not overwhelmed at this hour.

And I have to tell you, standing here today, I couldn`t be more proud to stand alongside this president and to be a part of this team that has served the American people during this challenging hour. And I just say to you, to every American looking on, as we see the numbers leveling and maybe even beginning to go down, I just encourage you to keep doing what you`re doing. Because of the sacrifices that Americans and American families have made through these mitigation efforts, you`re saving lives and you`re seeing our nation through this time.

REPORTER: Sir, did the states tell you -- you`ve been talking to the governors quite a bit. Did the coalition on the west coast and of northeast, did they tell you what they are going to be announcing before they announce it?

PENCE: Governor Phil Murphy and the governor of Connecticut expressed today that they were going to be speaking on a -- and discussing on a regional basis what their recommendations would be. And we assured them today-- we assured them today on our conference call with 48 governors that were with us today for the better part of an hour-and-a-half, we told them that what the president would be producing is directed to be produced are additional guidelines for the states certified by the CDC, that would inform those governors and local communities and mayors about the best way forward based on the unique circumstances that those state and those communities are facing.

I think what`s clear is the American people have seen the experience in Washington State where this really all began for us, and in California, and now the extraordinary challenges in the greater New York City area, including New Jersey and Connecticut, the challenges in New Orleans and Louisiana and Detroit, still Chicago, parts of Houston, but they`re also seeing that in each one of those cases, the mitigation efforts are truly working.

And so we`ll work with those states, and in is some cases, it will make perfect sense for them to work together on a regional basis. But the president will be -- I`m sorry, I didn`t hear your question.

REPORTER: Can you tell us, did they let you know?

PENCE: I didn`t hear you, I didn`t hear your statement.

TRUMP: And we would like to have their cooperation and we are going to have their cooperation. They will cooperate perfectly, watch.

PENCE: And let me just affirm what the president said. We heard it again today, and what I think was our ninth conference call with governors, is I think every American will be proud to see the partnership that this president has forged with governors across the country. I mean, it is an extraordinary statement and you will see some data when Admiral Polowcyzk gets up in just a few moments.

But the flow of resources from around the world that we`ve moved into areas that have faced challenges, I mean, this president has directed us to ensure that every state has what they need, when they need it. And the spirit that I heard again from Republican and Democrat governors today was reflective of that partnership. And as we move forward to the president`s goal of reopening America, we expect the same kind of partnership in the interest of the nation.

TRUMP: All right, go ahead.

REPORTER: Sir, if you can hear me through the mask --

TRUMP: Barely.

REPORTER: Can you?

TRUMP: I hear you well.

REPORTER: The District of Columbia argues that they were shortchanged in the most recent funding bill because they were treated as a territory instead of as a state. Will that be made right in phase four?

TRUMP: Well, we`re looking at that, certainly. I heard that complaint. But the mayor seems to be very happy with everything we`ve done. I mean, she was actually, and she was on today saying very good things.

Okay, yes, go ahead in the back.

REPORTER: Mr. President, you talked about this being the most difficult decision that you are going to have to take about whether to reopen the economy. I wonder how much it weighs on your mind the thought that if there is a second wave, you`ve reopened the economy and you might have to shut things down again.

TRUMP: It does. And I hope that won`t happen. I certainly hope that won`t happen. But it does weigh on my mind.

Okay, in the back, go ahead.

REPORTER: Thank you. A question for one of my colleagues who wasn`t able to be here. China deployed an aircraft carrier into the South China Sea this weekend amid claims by Chinese state media that COVID has reduced U.S. military readiness in the region. What kind of responses are you thinking of? Will you have a response to this action?

TRUMP: China has their own difficulties. We have a relationship with China that we`re not happy with certain things that happened over the last period of time as know, and I`ve been very explicit on that. But we know all about that. And, no, China is -- we`ve seen what they did, we`ve seen many other things they`ve done, both pro and con, and we`ll be just fine.

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) earlier where you said that you`re putting together the economic task force and that you thought that the recommendations were happening earlier than expected. Did you mean to suggest that it could be before May 1st that you start recommending --

TRUMP: I don`t want to say that. But we`re going to be putting out guidelines and recommendations fairly quickly in a few days.

REPORTER: Rolling out that it would be before --

TRUMP: I`m not going to say. But, look, certain states are doing very well. Certain parts of the country are doing very well. They`re doing really very well. And so we`re going to be putting out recommendations and guidelines very soon.

REPORTER: Would your guidelines be they fit each area or be a uniform set of guidelines?

TRUMP: I don`t want to tell you now. But right now, we have a very strong indication that we know pretty much we have some good ideas. I also do want to get -- I want to have -- we`ll have video conference or at least a conference call with a lot of very good people having to do with certain fields, whether it`s energy or whether entertainment and restaurants, et cetera. We have to get people back into restaurants. We have to do what we have to do, whether it`s deductibility or not, we`ll see, but it should be deductibility. You`ll get them back so fast.

I mean they used to have deductibility, the restaurant business, it was one of the hot businesses and then they ended it a long time ago, many years ago. But we may need that to get people back into the restaurants. Please.

REPORTER: Michelle Obama today, talked about mail-in voting nationwide as a possible solution to the (INAUDIBLE) on the states. She said it shouldn`t be a partisan issue. Have your advisers told you that that could save lives?

TRUMP: Absentee ballots, are you talking about?

REPORTER: On a massive scale because of the coronavirus?

TRUMP: Well, I don`t know what she did. I mean, I didn`t see that. When did that happen, today?

REPORTER: She`s at a non-partisan group --

TRUMP: I wish her a luck.

REPORTER: Yes. Mr. President, there`s a little bit of confusion about your phone calls yesterday with President Putin. The Kremlin is saying that you discussed current issues of ensuring strategic security. That wasn`t referred to in the White House read out. Can you enlighten --

TRUMP: We discussed many things. We discussed China. We discussed many different things. But it was primarily a call on the oil, as you can imagine. And they were very helpful in getting a stabilization price, a stabilization of the number of barrels.

I think the number is going to be closer to 20, maybe 15, but closer to 20 than it is going to be to 10. And I think it was a very important call. I also spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia. And that was a very important call.

And the bottom nine (sic) is OPEC-plus. It`s called OPEC-plus, because there are other states also, other nations. We came to a very good agreement.


QUESTION: And you had--

TRUMP: Go ahead.

QUESTION: What was the part about strategic security? Was that--

TRUMP: I would say, mostly, we were talking about China. We were talking about their borders.

And we were talking about our borders a little bit, our borders with Mexico, because, as you know, Mexico is a big part of the deal.

And Mexico really -- it was very complex from the standpoint of Mexico. It was not an easy deal for Mexico and the president. We appreciated a certain amount of flexibility. But we talked about borders. We talked about China, talked Mexico.


QUESTION: Security sounds more like arms treaties.

TRUMP: I mean, I -- we did talk about the arms. Yes, we did. That was a very important part of the call, actually. Yes, good point.


QUESTION: So, on Abbott Labs, you said testing is going great.

We know that they have -- these machines have been sent to some of the governors. But some of them are saying they don`t have the materials to actually conduct the tests.

TRUMP: Well, they have to get the material. You know, the governors have to get the material. Now, if they can`t get it, they have got to see us.

QUESTION: The government -- the federal government is distributing--


TRUMP: I`m talking about the local governments. I`m talking about governors have to get the material.

Now, they have machines. In fact, we`re going to go in -- and I guess Mike to go into it as soon as I leave.

They have very powerful machines that they don`t know they even have. I`m not talking about Abbott. I`m talking about the governors. They have machines that are used for this. You know what I`m talking -- you know what I`m referring to?


TRUMP: Very big, very powerful machines where, in a certain state`s case, they`re only using 10 percent of their capacity, and they didn`t know it.

That happens to be Illinois.

Jon, please.

QUESTION: Real quick. These 15-minute tests that you have sent out, these new ones that you had in the Rose Garden, they say, including Governor Sununu in New Hampshire, that they don`t have the cartridges to actually conduct the tests.

So when will they get those cartridges?

TRUMP: What do you think the answer to that is?


TRUMP: Rapidly increasing the numbers.

QUESTION: But like a timeline?

TRUMP: Rapidly increases -- well, pretty quickly.


QUESTION: They can do 50,000 a day.

TRUMP: Well, you have other machines where they can really work -- and a lot of the states have the big machines that can do a lot. They didn`t even know they had them. They didn`t even know that they had them.

And Mike is going to be talking about that.

QUESTION: And you remember you mentioned several weeks ago that Google was putting together that Web site, where they would handle the drive-through testing?

TRUMP: Yes, Google and Apple.

QUESTION: Have you given up--


TRUMP: You mean Google and Apple combination?


QUESTION: Have you moved past that, because--



A lot of people don`t like it from the standpoint of constitutional rights. I mean, a lot of people don`t like it. And some people think it`s great.

No, they are working on that, as I understand it.

QUESTION: I`m talking about the testing Web site. You remember you said, oh, the Web site from Google?

TRUMP: Yes. No, I know that. I know that. I know.

QUESTION: And it`s only operating in, I think, five counties in California right now.


TRUMP: No, Google`s looking at it. But Google is also working with Apple on looking at something.

We have the greatest companies in the world looking at things that, in a year from now, everything that we`re looking at now is going to be obsolete. That`s how good it is. We have things happening that are unbelievable.

I saw a presentation today that I can`t talk about yet, but it`s incredible. Plus, I think they`re doing -- Tony, I think they are doing very well on the vaccines. They`re working hard on the vaccines, and I think you will have an answer for vaccines.

I believe that there`s some great things coming out with respect to that. Now, you need a testing period. But you`re going to have some great things.


QUESTION: Sir, on the contact tracing that Google and Apple are doing, so different subject, on the--


TRUMP: No, no, this is -- this is the Google and Apple. I don`t know if it`s a partnership or what, but they`re working on some--

QUESTION: Correct. So, there was the one--


TRUMP: They`re working on more than one element.

They`re working on a couple of different things, Google and Apple. Google is also working on something, as you know, having to do with testing. I believe they`re doing that in a singular fashion.

QUESTION: So, my question is not about the drive-through testing Web site, not that.


QUESTION: On Google and Apple`s contact tracing, that they want to -- they have got this process now where they can put contact tracing on your phone.

If you opt in, you can be alerted if you have been in contact with someone with coronavirus.

TRUMP: That`s right.

QUESTION: Do you -- how do you feel about that?

TRUMP: Well, it`s an amazing thing. But a lot of people have some very big constitutional problems with it. You know that.

It`s an amazing thing. And it would be actually -- as you know, other countries are thinking about using something similar, but not as good.

QUESTION: Which other countries are thinking about something similar?

TRUMP: I hear Singapore is. Singapore is.

Now, Singapore had a little bit of a setback because they had a -- they had a break. You know that. And -- but they will take care of it.

I know -- I know that folks in Singapore, they`re doing a great job, and they`re going to put it back very quickly. But Singapore and other countries are looking at other things.

And some countries are doing other things.

QUESTION: Would you prefer that Americans use some other system?

TRUMP: Well, I don`t want to get into that, because we have a whole constitutional thing.

We have more of a constitutional problem than a mechanical problem. But we will be making a determination on that. That`s something we`re going to be discussing with a lot of people over the next four weeks.

That would be a very accurate way of doing it. But a lot of people have a problem with it.

Yes, please, go ahead.

QUESTION: I have a testing question, maybe for Dr. Fauci as well.

Can you talk about where the antibody test is and how quickly--


TRUMP: Well, it`s moving along. I think I can speak, because I have to leave.

Moving along quickly, moving along well. It`s a test that`s been going along for many, many years, except now we have very modern, very incredible versions of it. But that`s moving along, the antibody test moving along very well.

OK, anymore COVID-19? COVID-19.


TRUMP: Steve.

QUESTION: A soldier on the Theodore Roosevelt has died.

TRUMP: That`s terrible.

QUESTION: Have you determined the status of Captain Crozier, the former commander?

TRUMP: Well, that`s going through the Navy, as I understand it. The Navy is going to be making decisions on all of that.

And they had a break. And I don`t think the ship should have been stopping in Vietnam, when you have a pandemic, to be honest with you. I don`t think the captain should have been writing letters. He`s not Ernest Hemingway, as I said before, and he shouldn`t have been writing letters.

And I don`t think -- I don`t know who gave the orders to stop in Vietnam. But they stopped in Vietnam. And all of a sudden, they get on. And now you have over 500 sailors and people on the ship that are affected.

I don`t know whose idea that was. But that wasn`t such a good idea in the middle of a pandemic.

Yes, please.


QUESTION: Just one last on this question of constitutionality.

I`m just wondering what changed your view, because--

TRUMP: Nothing changed it. No, no, I know exactly what you`re going to say. Nothing changed it.

The fact that I want to rely on states or maybe will or maybe have, and the fact that we have gotten on -- that`s one thing. The fact that I don`t want to use the power is another thing.

Look -- look--

QUESTION: But you said, from the standpoint of the Constitution--

TRUMP: Yes, Constitution.

QUESTION: -- you thought it should be up to the governors.

TRUMP: Constitutionally. You can look at constitutionally. You could look at federalism. You could look at it any different way.

Jon, the fact that I don`t want to exert my power is much different. We have the power. You asked, does the federal government have the power? The federal government has absolute power. It has the power. As to whether or not I will use that power, we will see.

I would rather--


TRUMP: Jon, I would rather work with the states, because I like going down to a local government.

That`s why with, I guess, it`s now seven states, not eight, because South Carolina did -- they went away from what we discussed the last time. So, that`s why I looked at the individual states. They are doing a very good job. They`re really doing a very good job.

I`d rather have them make the decision. Now, the fact that I`d rather have, that`s fine. But I have the absolute right to do, if I want to. I may not want to.

We have a -- very good relationships. Now, we will see what happens. If you notice the few states you`re talking about, they`re all with Democrat governors.

But if governors are doing a good job, and they control it better, because you don`t have somebody in Washington saying, set up a testing site in the parking lot of a Walmart. And we`re in Washington, and they`re in a state that`s very far away.

That`s really -- it should be. And it should have always been -- and I have always said it was. But the relationship we have now with the states and governors is very good.

And we will be announcing over the next very short period of time exactly what we`re going to be doing.

OK, a couple of more.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: On coronavirus and Joe Biden, he`s the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Do you have any plans yet on when you will start sharing or when the White House will start sharing some of that information about the coronavirus?


TRUMP: Well, nobody`s called about coronavirus about -- from their standpoint.

Look, they had the H1N1, which is swine flu. And that was a big failure. That was a tremendous failure. They had a lot of failures. And you take a look at what -- you take a look at the history. And 17,000 people died.

And you talk about late. They were so late. They were late like it never even existed. That was a -- that was a big problem, caused a lot of other people a big problem, too.

So, if Joe Biden would like a briefing, I`d certainly get him a briefing. I don`t know what he would do with it.

Yes, please.

QUESTION: Are Jared and Ivanka serving on the new task force?

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. I`m Ari Melber.

We have been keeping an eye on the president speaking from the White House.

This briefing was not used to provide initially any actual critical information or medical information about the pandemic. Indeed, much of what characterized the core of the presentation at the top of the briefing was the president responding to and attempting to refute the explosive "New York Times" investigative report on what, according to "The Times"` reporting and several experts and sources they spoke to, including within government, saw as the president`s failure to act back when it mattered, early in the pandemic`s spread towards the United States.

There was also the distribution, the playing during the briefing of a video that seemed to defend the president`s tenure, but, again, to be clear, did not provide any new or medical briefing information.

The other thing that happened that you should know is, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is, of course, part of the White House task force, basically spoke about hot spots like New York that are showing signs of flattening the curve.

The president also asserted that he believes he has some kind of ultimate authority to decide how the country will reopen, and talked about doing that sooner than later.

But we have heard, including from governors today, about the fact that, under the police powers doctrine, as well as the way most states run, a lot of those decisions will be handled at the state and local level.

Indeed, Governor Cuomo pointing out today that the decision to close down often occurred at the state level. It wasn`t something the president leaned into. The governor of New York asking, why would the president now suddenly want to be taking the lead on the reopening, when he didn`t make what they call the hard call at the time of closing?

I want to bring in our experts right now to get into all of this, Dr. Kavita Patel from the Brookings Institute, Dr. Rob Davidson, an E.R. doctor and executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare, and Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for "PBS NewsHour."

Dr. Patel, let`s begin with the medical side of this.

As I mentioned, Dr. Fauci spoke today. I`m going to play in a few moments for people who didn`t see part of what he said.

But your view about the sliver of this briefing that might be called actually informative, which came from this update that, while it has been a very tough, horrific week for the country, there are signs of flattening.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: The nature of the hypothetical question was, if, in fact, we had mitigated earlier, could lives have been saved?

And the answer to my question, as I always do, and I`m doing right now, perfectly honestly, say, yes.

That was taken as a way that maybe somehow something was at fault here. I can just tell you, the first and only time that I went in and said, we should do mitigation strongly, the response was, yes, we will do it.

QUESTION: In this interview, you said there was pushback.


QUESTION: Where did that pushback come from?

FAUCI: No, it wasn`t -- that was the wrong choice of words.

QUESTION: Are you doing this voluntarily or did the president--


FAUCI: No, I`m doing it -- everything I do is voluntarily. Please, don`t even imply that.


MELBER: Dr. Patel?


I mean, Dr. Fauci is a class act. What can I say? I think the sliver of hope is that, despite not mitigating early enough, we actually have been seeing -- and I have to caveat this, Ari, only in largely kind of pockets of urban areas -- but we are seeing a decrease in the doubling days.

And, unfortunately, though, that doesn`t apply to all of America. And I do worry that, if we continue to see this slowing, that we still need kind of national stay-at-home policies, or we`re going to see hot spots emerging in rural America and other parts of cities in the United States.

MELBER: Dr. Davidson?


And I actually just worked a shift a few days ago in rural America, and about half of my patients were suspected COVID-19. A couple of them were very sick and got admitted to the ICU. And the rest of them were sent home. And more than half couldn`t get tested, because, frankly, our criteria are set by the number of tests we have available.

So, we`re seeing our peak about four to six weeks from now, by all the models. And that is with rigid -- or with some degree of social distancing.

And so if we base everything on some plateaus in New York City or Southeast Michigan or other urban areas, the rest of the country doesn`t abide by those rules, and this virus doesn`t understand, you know, urban vs. rural vs. state lines.

I`m just very concerned that the lack of testing, which we still haven`t completely been explained when we will have the tests and why we don`t have the tests, that`s going to hold us back.

MELBER: Understood.

Dr. Patel, I also want to remind everyone, we have the governors out there. We have all of the local activity going on, in addition to whatever the president tries to use this TV time for.

Take a listen to some of the governors that we have heard from around the country.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Yes, we have never been here before, but that doesn`t mean you can`t ensure public confidence that you`re doing everything you can to do it in a smart way, an informed way, guided by experts and data and science, and not in a political way.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): Sometimes, we all think, we`re going to turn a switch and we`re going to be back to normal. And that`s just not going to happen.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): This is not going to be a, rush the gates, everybody is able to suddenly reopen all at once. We have to understand that we must reopen in a way in which we are able to stimulate the economy, while, at the very same time, ensuring that we contain the spread of COVID- 19.


MELBER: Dr. Patel, your medical view of that?

PATEL: No, I think that governors are right to try to caveat that this is not going to be a flip-the-switch moment.

And, in fact, it`s probably going to take a couple of times of trying something, honestly, Ari, and then potentially having to either roll it back or change the course.

But what`s frustrating is that you have a president who weeks ago said that the Strategic National Stockpile was not -- really not for the states. And now you hear that the states have to all follow his commands.

So, I am concerned medically that, unfortunately, our patients and, maybe more importantly, our front-line health care workers are left without a consistent message.

MELBER: Yes, both important points you raise there.

I want to ask the doctors to stay with me. Thank you.

Yamiche, I`m going to come to you.

But, right now, I have to fit in U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, who has a window for us, as we have been in this breaking coverage.

Senator, good evening. Thanks for joining us.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Yes, thanks for having me.

MELBER: Your response to what we saw at the White House today?

I told viewers earlier, as part of our coverage, it was not, as a factual matter, a briefing, because it wasn`t providing medical information. You`re a senator in the opposition party. Your response?

MURPHY: Well, I didn`t see all of the briefing.

I did take a look at the video that he played at the opening, pure propaganda.

And I think we better get used to this. As we get closer to the election, the president is going to use all of the powers at his disposal in the Oval Office in order to try to get reelected. That`s the reason he`s trying to get rid of these inspectors general. That`s the reason that he`s making it clear that, if you criticize him and you`re a governor, you`re not going to get as much equipment as governors who say nice things about him.

I mean, this is a president who is getting ready to use every official power he has at his disposal, including the lectern in the Briefing Room, to argue for his reelection.

Joe Biden`s name didn`t show up on that video by accident. They are going to start talking about Joe Biden from the Briefing Room, through the president`s official channels, constantly. And we all have to be ready to deal with that.

MELBER: Do you think that is an abuse or misuse of that government taxpayer-funded venue?

MURPHY: Well, I mean, not only is it a sort of ethical abuse; it is a legal abuse.

You cannot use official resources to campaign for office. Every single one of us who serves in the federal government is exceedingly careful about making sure that we are not using anybody who works for us or any phone that`s been given to us by the government in order to run for reelection.

And the president is just throwing all of that caution to the wind. So, he and the people that work for him are not only engaging in a general moral abuse of office; they are also violating the law.

MELBER: That`s striking coming from you, and lets viewers have a different -- a different sort of perspective on some of what the president was pushing today.

Does that raise the onus on either your party in Congress or the aforementioned Joe Biden to do more on a daily basis?

We checked on this. He has held some sort of virtual streaming meetings. And this is a weird time for everyone who is used to normal life changing, right? And he campaigned, as you know, today, I`m sure, with Bernie Sanders endorsing him, virtually, very different than the normal in-person endorsements we`re accustomed to, life in the pandemic.

But is there a question here over whether your party in the Senate or House or the nominee, if he`s going to get name-checked, should be holding daily briefings, contra what we saw in the White House?

MURPHY: Listen, I think Joe Biden is doing it right.

He`s not the story right now. The story is the American public and the American government`s attempts to turn the corners on this virus.

And, listen, I guess I don`t think it`s a coincidence that, as the president has been standing up every day before that lectern, his approval ratings has been going down, the distance between he and Joe Biden in the polls is growing bigger.

I think the more that the American people see the president and his transparent political agenda, the worse he`s doing.

So, I would rather that he let the experts do the talking, but I also think his political party would rather that he let the experts do the talking.


MURPHY: Joe Biden is not the story right now. And I think it`s OK that he is allowing the medical experts to take the front seat.

MELBER: Copy. I hear you on that.

Before I lose you, let`s look forward. What, if anything, does Congress still have to do, in your view, to continue to help the country during this tough time?

MURPHY: So, a lot of us had hoped that the president was going to use the powers he had to require manufacturers to make more personal protective equipment and make more components for tests.

What scares the heck out of me is that we are still not testing enough. And part of that is just a production line problem.

So, one of the things Congress needs to do is pass legislation requiring that the president start to requisition manufacturing capability for the manufacture of tests and protective equipment. He has got the power.

We have given him the permissive ability to control the manufacture of this equipment. That`s not good enough anymore. I think Congress needs to come back into session and require the president to start taking over the manufacturing and the distribution of this equipment and those tests.

That`s one thing that we need to do, probably on a -- amongst a longer list.


Well, appreciate the detail and focusing in on what can be done.

Senator Murphy, thank you very much.

We have a lot more right now, including a response to something the president has been claiming. You may have seen that he thinks he and he alone will decide whether to reopen the governments of the country, the economy of the country.

That`s not quite the case, though. In fact, moments ago, take a look at the president speaking on the authority he think he has.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president of the United States has the authority to do what the president has the authority to do which is very powerful. The president of the United States calls the shots. They can`t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.


MELBER: I`m joined now by a governor in the crosshairs of all of this, Colorado Governor Jared Polis.

Thanks for joining us. Your response?


Well, obviously, it`s the governors who are making these decisions, Republican, Democrat, in the field every day. It`s the governors who made the decisions about what steps to take when we acted early. We closed our bars, our restaurants in Colorado. We moved to a stay-at-home order.

Depending on the data and situation on the ground, different governors have made different decisions, generally well informed about the Republicans and Democrats, but it was not the president making the call, it was the governors.

MELBER: When you look at this "New York Times" reporting which again the president basically felt compelled to respond to, they worked up this edited video to try to defend his record, a kind of a political -- a political defense according to the senator we just heard from. What does that tell you about this article, this report hitting home and what did you think of what was inside that report?

POLIS: Well, I think it`s ridiculous that during this pandemic, at this moment in time, anybody is focused on the politics, Ari. Everybody should be focused on how we can keep people safe, save lives and get America going again. And that should be the goal. It should not be about a finger pointing of who is to blame or what`s to blame or who did what when.

We`re all on the same team here, team America.

MELBER: Uh-huh. There has been, of course, this back and forth with Dr. Fauci, I just showed, coming of the briefing, some of his remarks which were a little unusual because he says he didn`t take his orders from anybody but went out of his way in Washington speak to kind of walk-back at least the way his comments had played yesterday, along with this other reporting and criticism of the president.

For context, though, Dr. Fauci has, you know, been widely heralded by folks, including across the political spectrum. You mentioned a time to put politics aside, take a look at something we pulled together, just some of the other presidents talking about Fauci who they`ve worked with in the past.

Take a look.


GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: I think of that Dr. Fauci, probably never heard of him -- you did, Ann (ph) heard of him. He`s a very fine research, top doctor at National Institute of Health, working hard doing something about research on this disease of AIDS.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Those who know Tony do admit one flaw, sometimes he forgets to stop working. He regularly puts in 80-hour weeks and from time to time, he`s even found notes on his windshield left by his coworkers that say things like, go home, you`re making me feel guilty.


MELBER: Perhaps simpler times. Your view of Dr. Fauci and this apparent clash with President Trump?

POLIS: I`m glad that Dr. Fauci is on the job and brings his long experience to this health care crisis, and I hope he`s able to keep his energy focused on the future and the planning of what we need to do to save lives and get the economy open and doesn`t have to divert his time to these political finger-pointing games.

MELBER: And, Governor, what are you doing on the front of coordinating with other states right now?

POLIS: Yes. I think it`s important. I was really excited to see the regional approach in Western United States, in Eastern United States. Here in Colorado surrounded by many Republican states, it needs to be more bipartisan. It`s harder to reach consensus. We have some states bordering us that don`t have a stay-at-home order.

But we would love to time all of this along with our partners in other states. I text a number of them regularly. We talk from time to time, and we all have a good working relationship and it`s appropriate that the governors on both coasts are working with one another along a timeline that makes sense regionally.

MELBER: Copy. Appreciate getting your view on several topics tonight. Governor Polis, thank you.

POLIS: Thank you.

MELBER: As promised I want to bring in our experts, Dr. Patel, Dr. Davidson, and Yamiche Alcindor.

I had to get some of our politicians and public officials in there while they have their windows.

Yamiche, we`ve been waiting to hear from you, thanks for your patience.

You have been in that briefing room. You have covered this president. Eagle eyed viewers may recall when he has attacked the premise of your questions as well. Even by this standard, though, did you see today as something different and perhaps even more extreme?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: For a president who has made it a pattern to have remarkable days, this was possibly the most remarkable White House briefing that I`ve ever seen. This was a White House briefing where the president in the most overt way I`ve ever seen, turned the White House briefing room into a sort of campaign rally.

We`ve heard from people close to the president he likes doing these briefings because he knows a lot -- millions of people are watching but to play that individual that was essentially a campaign-style individual shows and underscores that president is really using part of these briefings to really talk about his own image because he`s very worried that his election -- his ability to be re-elected will be tied to what some see and I will say many see as his failures when it comes to coronavirus and this idea of absolute power he was talking about is just to me the complete opposite of what the Republican Party stands for, which is -- that`s the party that`s usually of small government in the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution still stands, states have rights and the president is not acknowledging that.

MELBER: Well, you just said it. I think for people, again, who follow the news, we`ve seen them play fast and loose, but it is striking to hear you say this was the most overt use of the briefing in that manner and again, I want to emphasize for viewers trying to keep up with all of this -- the president has every right to go out in other forums and make his case. Everyone is well aware of how he uses campaign rallies, you mentioned, or Twitter or all kinds of interviews which he can do or on social media. I mean, he has more options than any president in American history by the technological era we`re in.

But, Yamiche, what you`re pointing out does dovetail with something the senator brought up, Senator Murphy, which is that this is not one of these meetings, this is a taxpayer funded space and I think many would argue even more seriously, this was a briefing that has been offered daily by the coronavirus task force to provide medical information.

You`re pointing out that this creates an even bigger challenge for journalists like us who want to cover him fairly, want to get the medical information out when videos are distributed that that video could have easily been put out by the campaign and would have looked like one of the YouTube videos they put out, Yamiche.

ALCINDOR: It would have -- I can`t imagine that campaign isn`t looking at this video saying this is what we should put out from our own campaign. I think what we saw today was really just a remarkable moment of the president just being openly candid about the fact that he`s using the briefings as way to talk about his own re-election campaign, as a way to push back against people he feels threatened by.

He`s clearly threatened by the dogged reporting of "The New York Times", of NBC, of other networks, of other newspapers that are showing all of America that he had -- he made big mistakes when it came to the coronavirus. Now, that doesn`t mean that president is not making -- is completely messed up everything and like this is not something I`m trying to underscore that president is a complete failure but what we see is there were failures on the part of President Trump and he`s not admitting that and using the White House briefing to just make the complete opposite remark.

And he was cherry-picking a lot of the information that he was sharing, which is what made it a campaign style individual.

MELBER: Really important points here again to give context so viewers can make up their minds.

Yamiche Alcindor, thank you so much. Dr. Patel and Dr. Davidson, appreciate the medical expertise.

"New York Times" columnist Nick Kristof meanwhile has been doing some important reporting that we want to bring you. This is something very, very significant, looking at this crisis from inside Bronx hospitals.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I spent 12 hours by his bedside with all my PPE on. He would grab my hand and I kept telling him everything is going to be OK and we`re doing the best we could. I could see the fear had in his eyes and it was heartbreaking because this is still so new to us. We`re doing what we can and we don`t know what`s going to happen.



MELBER: -- to our special coverage.

For all of the reporting and discussion about how this crisis is playing out, not many people actually see what goes on deep inside hospitals that are dealing with coronavirus hot zones unless you have the unfortunate situation of being in there as a patient or perhaps a health care worker. But two "New York Times" journalists got extra access to the city`s hospitals to show everyone what is going on and what it looks like.

Have a look.


UNIDNENTIFIED MALE: The red phone rings constantly signaling the arrival of another patient, so many there is a traffic jam of stretchers leading to a small army of doctors and nurses. They are about to attempt a last desperate step, an intubation

This procedure spews virus into the air leaving staff at enormous risk as they try to save the patient`s life.

DR. NICOLE DEL VALLE, RESIDENT: Someone code, someone dies, you go to the next patient. You don`t have time to process the emotions before you get home.


MELBER: That`s an excerpt from the work of "New York Times" reporter and columnist, Nick Kristof. He`s also the co-author of "Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope".

What did you see in there that you want people to know about?

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, you know -- whatever the president says, hospitals are overwhelmed. I saw traffic jams of stretchers trying to enter the emergency department and I was really struck by the emergency department workers, the doctors, the nurses, the technicians, the respiratory therapists, the cleaners. And they were scared, but they are showing incredible courage and compassion.

I spoke to one doctor, a resident physician, Nicole Del Valle, who was going around and trying to save patients` lives and intubating them and treating them and then she goes home at night and cries, because it`s not what she had because it`s not what she had ever expected when he signed up to be a doctor.

They don`t really have great tools. Ventilators, mostly, frankly, don`t work. But they are responding with -- you know, the hand holding really kind of got to me, Ari. They kind of go out of their way to hold patients` hands and it`s just an expression of compassion and empathy and dignity that I found really moving.

MELBER: Let`s take a listen to a Bronx hospital doctor discussing the risk posed to everyone in these conditions.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say in the intensive care unit, the second patient who came in and tested positive was a 27-year-old. I`m 29 right now. I`m just as healthy as this patient. It often times feels like a roll of the dice.


MELBER: We see the grim statistics. We cover them. People heard them. And there is, of course, evidence for why this is a greater risk to the elderly, and yet, your video here, your reporting, what you saw in there reminds everyone how many young people still can be at risk. Explain.

KRISTOF: Yes. That`s right. Look, most of the people in the few hospitals that I visited were indeed in their 70s, 80s and in some cases in their 60s, in some cases, in their 90s. But there were also some younger patients. Less common but they were there in their 30s, 40s and occasionally in their 20s. Much of the time they had comorbidities. They have diabetes, they had asthma, they were obese. But not in every case.

And, you know, one of the young doctors was, in fact, he was himself, he got COVID and he was in the ICU himself. He just got out on Thursday.

So the doctors are naturally deeply concerned. Nobody really knows what protections are necessary and yet, they go out and do their utmost to try to protect the rest of us and their plea to all of us is, you know, be careful. Don`t -- don`t just think you`re invincible. Follow social distancing.

And that helps keep them alive and also keeps the doctors alive, too.

MELBER: Amen to that. I`ll ask you one of the tricky questions that people in our business ask but you`re a pro, so I`m sure you`ve asked it of others. What did you see up close that is different from the portrait we may all get from reading and from watching on television at a far?

KRISTOF: What I think is a hard to understand until you see it right there is the fear and the loneliness. Everyone in that ward had COVID, absolutely everybody. Not one of them is allowed to bring a family member or a loved one with them. And so, they are there, you know, stretcher to stretcher to stretcher wearing masks but feeling completely alone.

They`re terrified. They`re not sure if they will see loved ones again and that sense of loneliness -- you know, even when they look at the nurses and doctors who were doing their best to help them, they often can`t even see the doctors` eyes because they`re wearing these tented ski masks for protection, and that sense of loneliness and fear as their struggling for a breath as they don`t know if they`re going to leave alive, as they see body bags being removed. That`s really hard to understand unless you actually see it and it scared me.

MELBER: Yes. I mean, just today in reporting on this, I spoke to two young kids whose father died last week as a nurse, and they were recounting how you don`t get to go to even a normal funeral. You don`t get to do that. I mean, it`s bad enough you lose a parent, it`s unthinkable and you don`t even get, what you`re talking about, which is a form of connection through the hardship.

KRISTOF: That`s right. I mean, you know, what -- the dirty little -- we talk a lot about ventilators but, you know, the secret -- what`s hard to talk about is that most of the time ventilators don`t work. In New York City, it seems that 70 to 80 percent of the time a patient is put on a ventilator ends up dying.

And so, when a patient is in oxygen distress, there`s a rush to get them intubated on a ventilator, then the doctors, nurses know this may be their last chance to speak. That tube goes through their vocal cords, they may not have another chance and they will be sedated. And so, they try to connect them with a phone or an iPad to FaceTime their loved ones, to let everybody say, you know, I love you and yet, I saw an intubation where there wasn`t time. They were fighting to save this woman`s life and there wasn`t time to make that kind of a call and much of the time there isn`t, and everybody -- this saves people`s lives but not often enough.

MELBER: Yes, it`s really sad. You`re bearing witness to it which hopefully means something to some of the people who are involved. I appreciate the reporting you`re doing and joining us. We`re over on time but I`ll tell everyone watching, keep it here.