Gov. Hogan TRANSCRIPT: 4/20/20, MSNBC Live Decision 2020

Guests: Ned Lamont, Anne Rimoin, Michael Saag, Howell Raines

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will see.

OK, go ahead.

REPORTER:  Thanks, Mr. President. (INAUDIBLE) about your meeting tomorrow with Governor Cuomo that you mentioned. Is there a reason he`s coming all the way down here?

TRUMP:  I don`t know. He wanted to. We, believe it or not, have -- we get along, okay? He was very generous yesterday, in particular. Said we did a, quote, phenomenal deal. I don`t know if anybody wrote that, but he said that and I appreciated it, because it`s not about me, it`s about these people and thousands behind Mike and the admiral and all of the other people that are working with us.

I mean, and you see, look, I don`t understand when I see polling and approval ratings for the job. I mean, this group should get a 95. It really should. And we`re really helping the governors a lot. And the governors call me, the ones I know or the republicans, but the ones I know. And they say, it`s incredible, the job you`re doing. Again, not me, the job this group is doing.

And you sit here. I just -- I`m watching from the corner, and I`m just saying, boy, it`s incredible stuff, when you watch the general get up, General Semonite, and talk about, boom, boom, boom. You don`t see that. You don`t see that when you hear the admiral speak about the testing, how good it is, and yet people don`t like to say it.

But remember, it was all about ventilators a month ago. Ventilators, ventilators. Then we fixed it, you don`t hear about ventilators. Where is the ventilators, you haven`t asked about ventilators recently. What`s going on? What about ventilators? We`re helping other countries now, because they can`t have -- they`re very hard to come by and they take a long time to make, like years. It`s incredible, the job they`ve done, that our people have done, and also private companies have done.

You know, you talk about the act, we don`t like to use it unless we have to. A lot of times, it`s just the fact that you have it gets you everything you need. So we don`t want to embarrass any of the companies, but we have used it on a number of occasions and it worked, but it worked just as well before you have to use it because they don`t want to be embarrassed. And I don`t want to embarrassed them because they`ve done a great job.

Please, go ahead.

REPORTER:  Thank you, Mr. President.

TRUMP:  No, I think right behind you, I promised, I cannot tell a lie, so we`ll get you next, okay? We`ll get you next.

REPORTER:  Probably me. Well, thank you so much, Mr. President. My question -- I have two questions. The first one is on testing. You talked about the idea that first it was ventilators, now it`s testing. You seem maybe possibly be implying that talking about testing is a personal attack on you. Can you explain why you think testing -- talking about testing is is a personal attack given that the access of testing has been an issue for a long time, there`s bipartisan outcries still today that there`s not enough testing, why do you think it`s a personal attack on you?

TRUMP:  Well, it`s not bipartisan, it`s mostly partisan, but more importantly than mostly partisan, it`s incorrect. You have the experts -- look at these maps. I mean, you have the maps with so many locations.

In the case, of a -- as an example, Governor Hogan, he didn`t really know. He really -- it was very obvious to any of those listening on the call today, even though you weren`t supposed to be on it, I`m sure that some of you were or representatives were.

He really didn`t know about the federal laboratories. Would you say that`s correct, Mike? He didn`t know. He didn`t know. And Mike doesn`t like to get into this stuff. He`s less controversial than I am, but he didn`t know about it. And if he did know about it, he would have been happy. No, we`ve done a really good job over testing.

Now, with that being said, we have tests coming out perhaps over the next two weeks that will blow the whole industry away.

Now, a lot of people love the Abbott test, so do I. The Abbott test is great, because it`s boom, they touch, they put it in, in five minutes you have -- the problem is that doesn`t do massive numbers like the big machine. But the big machine takes a day, takes a day-and-a-half, you know, with delivery and everything else. But we have tremendous testing, tremendous testing capability.

Remember this, we`ve tested more than any country in the world by far. In fact, I think I read where if you add up every other country in the world, we`ve tested more. But remember this, we`re dealing in politics. We`re dealing with a thing called November 3rd of this year. Do you know what November 3rd represents, right? You know better than anybody in the room. November 3rd of this year, it`s called the presidential election.

No matter what I do, no matter where we go, no matter how well we do, no matter what, if I came up with a tablet, you take it and this plague is gone, they`ll say, Trump did a terrible job, terrible, terrible, because that`s their sound bite. That`s the political sound bite. They know the great job we`ve done. But with all of that being said, and also, there is a thing that somebody could talk to if they want but I don`t want to bore you with it, not everybody believes we should do so much testing. You don`t need so much. We`re talking about maximum.

The reason that the Democrats and some others maybe because they don`t know, they want maximum because they want to be able to criticize, because it`s almost impossible to get to the maximum number, and yet we`ve been able to do it already. But with that, and you`ll be seeing this over the next -- I think over the next a couple of weeks or sooner, we have a test, if it comes out, it will revolutionize the whole world of testing. It will be something really special.

So I don`t view it as personal at all. What I do say is it`s something that`s not fair to thousands of people that have done such a good job.

REPORTER:  My second question is about your language and how you approached the coronavirus at the beginning. I interviewed someone who said that his family got sick, they went to a funeral in mid-March, and he said mainly because the president wasn`t taking it seriously. He said, if the president had had a mask on. If he was saying, we should have stayed home, then I would have stayed home. He said his family members were sick and because they were listening to you. Do you feel like or are you concerned that downplaying the virus maybe got some people sick?

TRUMP:  And a lot of people love Trump, right? A lot of people love me. They see me all the time, right? I guess I`m here for a reason, you know? To the best of my knowledge I won. And I think we`re going to win again, I think we`re going to win in a landslide. But just so you understand, you`re talking about March, right? And yet -- excuse me, excuse me, I know, I understand. And yet in January, a certain date, you know the date better than I do, we put on a ban on China where China can`t come in. And before March, we put on a ban in Europe, where Europe can`t come in. So how could you say I wasn`t taking it seriously?

I put on a ban on China before anybody in this country died. I put on a ban. And so you tell me. Nancy Pelosi, was having -- she wanted to have a street party in Chinatown in San Francisco at the end of February. That`s a month later. And then they tell me it`s only a political talking point. But you feed into it because you`re too good a reporter to let that happen. Really, you are a good reporter. You`re too good a reporter to let that happen.

Remember this, so at the end of January, I put on a ban. People that who were in that room will tell you, I think there were 21 people, I was the only one in that whole room that wanted to do it. Fortunately, I was the only one who counted for that purpose. We put on a ban, because I was reading bad things about China. The World Health Organization should have told us. But I was reading it, with or without them. They should all know. All they had to do was read it. They didn`t have to even be there, but they tried to cover up for China. World Health covered up for China.

But no, no, wait, but you can`t say this. No, I put on a ban. In other words, I stopped China from coming to the United States. I stopped Europe from coming into the United States long before the March date that you`re talking about. So people should say I acted very early. That was a very hard thing to do. Doing that was a very hard thing. I didn`t want to do that. But I did it because I thought -- and Dr. Fauci said that by doing it, President Trump saved tens of thousands of lives. So I did take it very seriously.

REPORTER:  You held rallies in February and March. And there some --

TRUMP:  I don`t know about rallies. I really don`t know about rallies. I know one thing, I haven`t left the White House in months except for a brief moment to give a wonderful ship, the Comfort.

REPORTER:  You held a rally in March.

TRUMP:  I don`t know. Did I hold a rally? I`m sorry, I held a rally. Did I hold a rally? Let me tell you, in January, when I did this, you had virtually no cases and no deaths, and yet I put it on, so how could I not? Why was Nancy Pelosi, right -- Nancy Pelosi is holding a street fair, she wants a street fair in San Francisco, in Chinatown, to prove -- you know what the purpose of it was, to prove that there`s no problem. Many other politicians did the same thing who wanted to prove -- while I was -- no, of course not. No. I have been -- people are amazed at how early I acted. And I did act early.

With that being said, it`s very hard to say let`s close down the greatest economy in the history of the world. I had to close down -- I and everybody else that works with me and 300 -- close to 350 million people, built the greatest economy in the history of the world, best employment numbers, best stock market numbers, best numbers in virtually every category, even good manufacturing numbers. The previous administration said manufacturing was dead for our country, even great manufacturing numbers.

And you know what? I did that, and somebody walked into my office and said, sir, you`re going to have to close down the economy. You`re going to have to close the country. But you know what I say to you? We`re going to rebuild it and we`re going to rebuild it better and it`s going to go faster than people think. I built it once, I`ll build it a second time.

Please.

REPORTER:  Mr. President, thank you. (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP:  Please, go ahead.

REPORTER:  We have -- going back to the topic of friendship and bipartisanship, Americans -- with the exception of Pelosi, Schumer and even Romney, Americans have seen an unprecedented chapter of bipartisanship and cooperation. On the political landscape, on a personal note, what has been the most significant signal that your relationship with Democrats in both division level have changed for the good of America?

TRUMP:  I think it`s a great question, because there is bipartisanship. Look, we`re getting the paycheck plan, it`s already $350 billion, was approved, essentially, unanimously, and we have another 250 which I think you`re going find out. It`s going to be a higher number than that, okay? I won`t to say it now because I don`t know if they`ll release it or not, but it`s going to end up being more $ 250 million. And this going to small business and it`s going to workers. And these are really bipartisan plans, it`s a great thing that`s happening. So I think the fact that we`re able to do all of this in a bipartisan way is great.

Now, the tax cuts that the Republicans did, we had no help from the Democrats so you can`t say that`s bipartisan. But this whole thing, getting our country back, and Nancy Pelosi has been -- she`s very nasty, she, you know, wasted a lot of time with the impeachment hoax, it was a total hoax, went nowhere. But -- and that was not good. And Schumer, I guess, it`s the same thing, but he sort of accepted it, he just did what he was supposed to do and he didn`t do very well with it. But, you know, that was not appropriate. That was a bad thing for our country.

But it was fine. I mean, I understand the game. They have a little bit of a majority so they say let`s do something and let`s try and stir it up. But they wasted a year, they wasted tremendous -- we could have been doing things that would have been great for our country. They could have been looking into China. They should have been looking into China as an example. A lot of people are blaming the Democrats for wasting all that time because it was during that period of time, as you know, that it was fomenting.

But I think we`ve had a great spirit of bipartisanship in a certain way. It`s not -- I wouldn`t say, we`re going to set records throughout the world. But things are happening that are very good. The country is coming together. And I`ll tell you what, the people are coming together. The people are really coming together. I think you`re going to find that our country is much more unified.

I do think that the press, the media, foments a lot of this -- a lot of anger. I really believe it foments tremendous anger. For instance, I`ll be asked a tremendously hostile question from somebody and then I`ll answer it in a hostile way, which is appropriate, otherwise you look foolish, otherwise it looks like just you walk off the stage and bow your head. I can`t do that. I just can`t do that.

But a lot of these questions that are asked from certain networks are so hostile, and there`s no reason for it. There`s no reason for it. We are in a war. This is a World War II. This is a World War I. Where, by the way, the war essentially ended because of a plague. That was one of the worst ever. We lost almost 100 million people. But we`re in a big war.

And I`ll say one thing about -- because I think it`s important. The last person -- I did it early, but I was the last person that wanted to close down one of the great economic -- you can`t call it an experiment, but everything I guess in life is an experiment, so I say experiments, but one of the great economic stories in history. I`m the last person that wanted to do it. But we did the right thing, because if we didn`t do it, you would have had a million people, a million-and-a-half people, maybe 2 million people, dead.

Now, we`re going toward 50, I`m hearing, or 60,000 people. One is too many. I always say it. One is too many. But we`re going toward 50 or 60,000 people. That`s at the lower -- as you know, the low number was supposed to be 100,000 people. We could end up at 50 to 60, okay? It`s horrible. If we didn`t do what we did, we would have had, I think, a million people, maybe 2 million people, maybe more than that. And you look that there`s one country in particular that decided, let`s wing it, let`s just keep going, they are being inundated with death.

Now, if you take a look at some of the hospitals where, one of them I knew growing up in queens, and I`m looking at the bodies lying in the hallways, being brought into refrigerated trucks, these massive trucks, bodies going in, multiply that times ten. It`s not sustainable. And many of the people that have this theory, oh, let`s -- you know, maybe we could have just gone right through it, I was somebody that would have loved to have done that, but it wouldn`t have been sustainable.

You can`t lose a million people. That`s more than -- that`s almost double what we lost in the civil war. I use that as a guide, civil war, 600,000 people died. So it`s not sustainable. But it could have been much more than a million people. I mean, if you took a number and cut it in half and in half and half and then half again, you would end up at 500,000 people, okay? If you want to make a very conservative guesstimate, 500,000 people is not acceptable. Is that a correct sort of an analogy?

So, I mean, I see it all the time, by friends of mine, by people that I have great respect for. Well, we could have done this, we could have done - - and remember this. When we say 50 and they compare 50 to the 35 of the flu, because it averaged 35, 36,000 over a ten-year period, that`s a lot, who would think that, but we`re not talking about with the flu. That`s just -- it just goes. We`re not locking ourselves in our units. We`re not locking ourselves in our apartments and not moving and not touching anybody and just saying, the world. In this case we are. And we`re still going to lose between 50 and 60.

But if we just kept it going on a normal basis, which is really the only standard that you can compare it to with the flu, because that was a normal basis. You get into an airplane, you travel to Florida, you go to Texas, you go wherever you`re going. But in this case, if we didn`t do anything, the number wouldn`t be 50 to 60,000. The number would be a million people dead. It would be a million five, a million two, maybe 700,000. It would have been a number like that. Because -- and it`s so important because I see so much, oh, well, you know, what -- you can`t compare it. Because I`ll tell you, what the people of this country, what they have done. They gone out -- what they -- had the way they`ve lived, it`s not -- it`s not great. It`s terrible. Maybe the first three days, they`re all of a sudden -- you see what`s going on, they want to get going. And I get that fully. But I just say this. If we would have done that, we would have lost anywhere from a million to more than 2 million people.

Now, with all of the death that we`ve seen at 50 or 60,000 people heading toward, right now it`s at 40, but 50 or 60,000 people, probably over 50, but that`s with our guard up. If we took our guard down and just said, okay, we`re just going to keep this open, we would have lost millions of people. Can you imagine? Look how bad it looks now when you look at the bodies, when you look at Hart Island in New York where they have the mass grave and all of the things that you see, can you imagine if we had the guard down, if we didn`t do anything, and we just said, let`s ride it out? It would not have been sustainable in any way. It would have been an atrocity. So we`ve done the right thing, we`ve really done the right thing.

And the people that have worked so hard and dangerously, I`ll tell you, again, I say it, but I watch those doctors and nurses and medical people running into those hospitals, and they don`t even have their gear on, forget about gear, whether it`s great gear or not, and we`re bringing in the best gear in the world, but they`re running in with open everything, and they`re -- I mean, the job. They`re like warriors, the job they`re doing. But if we didn`t do the moves that we made, you would have had a million, a million and a half, 2 million people dead. So multiply that times 50, you`re talking about -- you would have had 10 to 20 to 25 times more dead than all of the people that we`ve been watching. That`s not acceptable.

The 50,000 is not acceptable, it`s so horrible. But can you imagine multiplying that out by 20 or more? It`s not acceptable. So it`s a very good question. I appreciate it. We`ll see you tomorrow. We`ll see you tomorrow.

REPORTER:  Can I ask you for Larry Hogan`s response to what you just told me, Mr. President?

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  A lot to review from there, as there is every day. And before we bring in our guests, let`s do so starting with the top of the briefing. The president made clear they have handed the states, handed the governors, a list, a list of where to call in their states to find testing labs, not quite the traditional role of the federal government. He took a swing at Governor Hogan and Governor Pritzker, Maryland and Illinois, for not understanding either the testing or the capacity in their states.

He continues to emphasize positive quotes he`s getting from Andrew Cuomo of New York, the third time he`s used the word, phenomenal, because Cuomo used it to describe the job the government had done. Indeed, he`s having a house guest tomorrow, Governor Cuomo will join him in the Oval Office. Today, again, the president held up positive clippings to back up his story.

Today, again, the president held up positive clippings to back up his story. Today, again, he said, we`re in very good shape on testing. Today, he forced an Army general to talk about the southern border wall.

He said, after the cry about ventilators, "We are the king of ventilators all over the world."

But then he said, the focus shifted to, we will get him on testing, as if the move for aggressive testing was about him and a way of attacking him politically, and not a public health matter. We will get him on testing.

Pence talked about testing capacity vis-a-vis phase one, national testing capacity. We want people watching to realize testing capacity is not testing. They are two different things, and we have learned that every day as the new numbers come in.

The president said on testing, we`re going maximum, we`re going to the outer limits.

A reporter asked about the PPP payments not necessarily going to the most needy recipients in the country. The president interrupted and said, "I know I didn`t get any."

In response to a question from Yamiche Alcindor, the president said -- and he`s said this before -- not everybody believes we should do so much testing.

He said about himself: "A lot of people love Trump. A lot of people love me. I think we`re going to win in a landslide."

There were various campaign mentions and talking points throughout this. He gave us our daily reminder of the Civil War death toll. He gave us our daily reminder of what OPEC-plus means, our daily reminder that people were amazed at how early acted.

He was reminded, in fact, he last held a rally March 2. February 28, you will recall, is the date he referred to the reaction to COVID as the latest Democratic hoax.

He said World War I essentially ended because of the plague, which may be a surprise to historians. And our daily reminder that, if he had done nothing, two million people would be dead -- quote -- "We could end up at 50 to 60." Of course, by saying that, he means 50,000 to 60,000 dead across this country.

We`re fortunate to be joined at this hour by former Democratic U.S. senator from Missouri Claire McCaskill.

Senator, it`s a lot, but have at it in any order you wish.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, let`s start with testing.

You know, they are obfuscating the problem. And that is testing supplies. It doesn`t matter how many facilities you have in a state if you don`t have the swabs, if you don`t have the reagents, which are the chemicals you need to actually get the test results, if you don`t have the tubes to carry the swabs to those facilities for the testing process.

So that`s what the governors are saying. And it is not Democratic governors that are saying, we don`t have the tests. It is Republican governors that are saying, we don`t have the testing supplies needed.

So, this is not a matter of Larry Hogan not knowing that there are testing facilities in his state. This is a matter of Larry Hogan needing the supplies in order to fully utilize those testing facilities.

And, you know, the admiral kind of admitted they`re not going to have the supplies they need for another weeks -- two or three weeks. I think, several of the people who briefed today referred to several weeks, a handful of weeks.

So, we`re -- some states are moving into reopening because of the pressure that`s being put on them in their states. And, clearly, there is not the testing capability we need. This isn`t about Trump. This isn`t about whether you like him or don`t like him. This is just the facts.

And that`s what`s so frustrating about these briefings, is, those get glossed over, misrepresented, or, sometimes, they`re just lied about.

WILLIAMS:  That`s right.

Claire, the talking points he is concerned with and trying to push out are pretty obvious the second and third time around. They`re the ones he`s saying every day.

And the newest one from this weekend is to remind us that, you know, not everybody thinks we need widespread testing.

MCCASKILL:  I don`t know who that is. Maybe some of these, you know, alt- right guys that are having these small groups of bands, small groups of protesters around the country, maybe they don`t think.

But I am not aware of medical experts, scientists, health care professionals, I`m not aware of any of them that are saying that we don`t need testing, particularly as the country begins to ramp back up again.

If you don`t have both the testing capability and the tracing capability, then we`re going to be right back where we are right now in another two or three months. And lord only knows whose fault it will be then, but he will probably figure out somebody to blame.

WILLIAMS:  Lest people think the criticism is a partisan manner, we have a collection of some of the various state governors who, over the past let`s call it 48 to 72 hours have been talking about and asking about testing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD):  To try to push this off to say that the governors have plenty of testing, and they should just get to work on testing, somehow we aren`t doing our job, is just absolutely false.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH):  We have a shortage, worldwide shortage of some of the materials that go into this, so we really need help.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI):  We have the capacity to double or triple the number of tests that we`re doing, but we need some of these supplies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS:  Let`s add to our conversation Dr. Kavita Patel. She served as a senior aide to Valerie Jarrett in the Obama White House, advising on health reform, financial regulatory reform, economic recovery issues, also happens to be a clinical physician, and among our medical contributors.

Doctor, just in your lifetime and your learning and practicing medicine, I find that this conversation really takes the phrase public health and tosses it on its ear.

When we have a president with a straight face saying testing is a local matter, you are tempted to come back and say, well, imagine if we had treated Jonas Salk`s research that way and the dissemination of his lifesaving creation.

DR. KAVITA PATEL, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR:  Oh, absolutely, Brian, and not just Jonas Salk.

Think of every discovery, including antiretrovirals for HIV and all the medications for cancer. It was only through a coordinated federal response, in partnership with researchers, public health, and health care workers, that we were able to really tackle some of our world`s most thorny diseases.

And I truly -- I just -- I listen to these briefings, and, as a physician, I just kind of shake my head, trying to understand what someone watching, just a member of the public, is supposed to take away from this.

What are we going to do if we don`t even have agreement that we need universal testing?

WILLIAMS:  Senator, those around him have often talked about his craving of approval, whether it`s from foreign leaders or domestic figures who rival him for time and attention, media time and attention.

His preoccupation these days with Andrew Cuomo of New York -- it was just this weekend he made the White House press room and his vice president standing next to him watch television clips of how Andrew Cuomo complimented the administration on television.

MCCASKILL:  Yes, it`s -- and it`s fascinating, when you think about the reality is that Governor Cuomo has been the example that every leader should emulate in terms of his briefings.

They have been factual. They have been straightforward. He has never lied. He has said, this is what`s happening and why. He`s explained everything clearly. He doesn`t do this hot and cold, like Trump does.

One day, China is terrible. The next day, Xi is wonderful. One day, he says social distancing is important. The next day, he`s tweeting liberate in all caps. He is all over the map, terribly inconsistent, very damaging to this effort.

So I think it`s very interesting that Cuomo has really taken the position, in a lot of the public`s eye too, as the leader to look to for real information, for things you can count on, things that are science-based.

So the fact that Cuomo is coming down to the White House tomorrow, it should be interesting, especially if Trump tries to lasso him into, come on, adore me, you`re here to adore me.

I don`t think Cuomo will play that way. It will be interesting to watch.

WILLIAMS:  And, Doctor, a quick question. Please fact-check me as I fact- check Pence.

Pence declared there will be enough national testing capacity to reach a potential phase one. I chose to point out, testing capacity does not equal actual testing volume, availability, and the like. Is that correct?

PATEL:  Oh, that`s absolutely correct.

And they have been talking, Brian, about these 5,000 machines or units that can process tests, what they`re calling high-through-put tests. Even if we have the 5,000, let me just kind of give you some perspective. At most, those machines could do several hundred tests a day.

That still only gets us to about a million tests a day. So, to your point, and to the senator`s point, that has nothing to do -- and we have already seen stories where we are undertesting because of access problems in many communities around the country.

So, to put up a number with dots on a map and tell you that we have got it covered, again, it`s sending out a false signal to anybody in the American public.

WILLIAMS:  And just quickly, before we yield the floor to Ari Melber, let`s bring in Steve Kornacki.

And, Steve, let`s talk about the data you can employ at the Big Board to back up our conversation, both on testing and the subject of this weekend.

We see the protest movement, a lot of it organized, a lot of them self- identified Trump supporters, about getting back, reopening the country, and what American attitudes are on that score.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, we have got some testing numbers, some poll numbers.

Let`s start on the question of testing. You`re having this conversation about it, where the U.S. actually is right now and where it needs to be on this.

So, what you see here, this is the number of tests that have been performed daily. And what you see here are a couple things. First of all, you notice the line, it goes up to about 500,000 here. There`s no exact answer to this, but it seems the consensus from a lot of the experts is that we need to be doing at least 500,000 tests a day, somewhere around there, maybe even a little bit more, to be in the ballpark of where we need to be on testing.

And you see the trajectory on this. There was a steady growth there, and it sort of has stopped here at about 140,000 150,000. This is yesterday`s number here. Yesterday, it hit 167,000. Today, if you look -- this is the most recent one -- as of about 4:00 this afternoon, today`s number was just under 140,000.

So, really, it`s been in that ballpark for a while now. And it really needs to be much higher. So, we`re going to continue to monitor that, see if those numbers do and can start to grow here significantly.

The other question then, again, beyond testing, you mentioned poll numbers about the question of what folks are thinking here in terms of how long these stay-at-home orders should stay in place, how long they`re comfortable staying at home.

So take a look at this here. In our NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll over the weekend, we asked the question this way:  What are you more worried about? Are you more worried that these restrictions are going to be lifted too soon, or are you more worried that they`re going to be in place too long and maybe there`s some negative consequences from that?

And you see, pretty overwhelming here, 58-32 margin, the balance there is on the side of folks being worried it`s going to happen too soon, it`s going to be lifted too soon.

Now, there is an interesting partisan divide on this, among Democrats, overwhelming, 74-21, they`re more worried about this happening too quickly, getting rid of these restrictions, among Republicans, more of a split verdict there, 42 percent more worried about them ending too soon, 45 percent more worried about these staying in place too long -- overall, though, again, close to 60 percent there.

And the other question here is the economic question. While these lockdowns are in place, while people aren`t working in a lot of cases, what should the government be doing? Should the government be spending and spending more money here?

Again, the question, are you more worried the government`s going to spend too much or too little, not enough? And you see here 48 percent, a plurality, saying they`re more worried about the government spending too much. Again, there`s a partisan divide here. On the Democratic side, it`s only 33 percent who are worried that government is going to spend too much here, on the Republican side, completely opposite there; 61 percent are worried about the government spending too much.

But you can see, the balance there you`re seeing, Brian, folks seem patient on the whole here, close to 60 percent, more worried about these restrictions being lifted too soon, but a little hesitation there about the government stepping in and spending a lot more money.

WILLIAMS:  Steve Kornacki at the Big Board, part of our coverage, thank you, pal.

And as more and more elected officials learn how to deal with the wiring of this president, it is apparent they are doing so.

Andrew Cuomo, to Claire`s point, doesn`t say anything cavalier or off-the- cuff at his briefing, nor does he tend to say much by accident. And so when he used the word phenomenal to describe the government response, in response to New York`s need, he did so perhaps knowing that would reach its intended target.

In fact, the president has quoted something like three times the fact that Andrew Cuomo used that word on television.

The same is true on these several-times-a-week conference calls that Mike Pence has, and sometimes the president joins, with the nation`s governors.

There was a conference call that went off the rails, I believe, either Friday or Saturday. The president described the governors on it as rude, fresh, and nasty to Mike Pence. We can assume, by that, there were criticisms of the administration and perhaps excessive questions.

The president characterized today`s call as having gone very well. He stopped just short of the perfect phone call, but could not help himself in singling out the governors of Maryland and Illinois as either not understanding something, his view -- in his view, or perhaps they had questions.

Here is that portion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  We provided each governor with a list of the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the labs where they can find additional testing capacity within their states.

Some of the governors, like, as an example, the governor from Maryland, didn`t really understand the list. He didn`t understand too much about what was going on. So now I think he will be able to do that.

States need to assess their complete inventory of available capacity. Some states have far more capacity than they actually understand.

And it is a complex subject, but some of the governors didn`t understand it. The governor, as an example, Pritzker from Illinois did not understand his capacity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS:  So he took something less of a round -- than a roundhouse swing at both those governors.

A few moments ago, Governor Hogan of Maryland responded to the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOGAN:  I think what the president may be referring to is that they sent out a list to each of the governors of all of the different lab facilities in their states, which most of the governors already knew where the lab facilities were in their states.

So, they`re either federal health facilities that we have desperately been trying to get help from, or military installations, none of which were state-owned labs or facilities where we could actually do any testing.

But I`m not sure what the president`s referring to. I have a pretty good understanding of what`s going on. And I appreciated the information that was provided by his team. But he wasn`t there for -- I`m not sure what he was trying to say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS:  So, Claire, Claire McCaskill, this speaks to the first point I started with immediately, when the briefing wrapped up, and that is, today`s presentation was -- to the governors was, here are 5,000 labs and phone numbers, good luck with that.

The other thing is this flattery or no flattery. The head of North Korea, for example, knows always to bust out the really good letterhead, and your letter will get a really good mention.

MCCASKILL:  Yes, I mean, these governors are -- first of all, they`re engaged 24/7 in their states. They know where the lab facilities are. They know what they can and can`t access right now.

Maybe, for the first time, they began saying they could use military installations. Maybe that was new information for some of the governors. But the governors also know that taking on this president is going to hurt their states. He is not hesitant about playing favorites.

He is not hesitant about "punishing" -- quote, unquote -- the states he doesn`t think have been deferential enough to him.

So, these governors are doing what they should do. They`re looking after their states. If that includes keeping their mouth shut when Donald Trump says bad things about them, most of them are going to do that too.

WILLIAMS:  And, Doctor, your opinion on the reports we have seen just today, Georgia`s plan to reopen certain facilities, including, but not limited to, gyms and hairdressers, and then approximately, a week later, some restaurants with controls?

This is happening across our country, and is going to in real time.

PATEL:  Look, I am incredibly sympathetic to many of the business owners and also to many of us who are trying to isolate and just keep the infection down.

However, if we do this too early, like in Georgia, like reopening the beaches in Florida, Brian, and the executive order from Texas, as well as other states, we could see a resurgence, a spike. And Dr. Fauci and others have already alluded to this.

So, I think the most important thing for those states, if you live in one of them, is to have a very clear line to your health care professionals, because I can guarantee, we`re going to see some cases.

And we already know that testing is still hard. So, I encourage everybody to still do what they can to stay home and try to do what we can as a country to keep the infection plateaued as possible.

WILLIAMS:  Thank you both for having us into your homes, Senator McCaskill, Dr. Patel, and Steve Kornacki as well at the big board, we appreciate it.

Our special live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic continues now with my colleague Ari Melber.

Ari?

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Brian Williams, thank you very much.

Our coverage continues.

We`re going to be joined by our experts shortly, including Howell Raines of "The New York Times."

We begin with a governor, who as mentioned, is on the frontlines of these fights, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont.

We should mention, Connecticut is one of the seven states in Northeast coordinating on that plan with Governor Cuomo and others to reopen business at some point.

Thanks for being here.

GOV. NED LAMONT (D), CONNECTICUT:  Good evening, Ari.

MELBER:  Good evening.

Governor, where do you see your state`s efforts fitting in with everything we`ve just been hearing from the federal level?

LAMONT:  It`s bipolar down there. We had a good constructive meeting with Vice President Pence`s commission. Yeah, we know about our lab testing sites, but that`s like to say where the razors are. We still need the razor blades in order to get the testing done. That whole supply chain that`s been interrupted, and there, the federal government could be a lot more help if we`re going to get the testing we needed done.

Then you hear the press conference and the president, he sometimes feels like the governors are being used like a campaign prop. Yes, it doesn`t work. We have a good constructive relationship going with the Pence team, let`s keep that going and keep the politics out of it.

MELBER:  Well, you`re saying -- you know, to use word, quote, bipolar, and that the virus task force at the Pence level you say is working. Does that mean that the bipolarity you see is caused by the president?

LAMONT:  Look, Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci, they`re strongly in support of continuing the social distancing, stay at home, stay committed to that a little bit longer, that would greatly reduce the risk that you have a second rise of this pandemic. But you get mixed -- mixed signals coming from the White House, absolutely.

MELBER:  Take a listen to one of your fellow governors, this is Governor Brian Kemp in Georgia, who was later to slow things down and now seems to be earlier to try to partially reopen. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA:  Given the favorable data, enhanced testing, and approval of our health care professionals, we will allow gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body arts studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians, their respective schools, and massage therapists to reopen their doors this Friday, April 24. Local action cannot be taken that is more or less restrictive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  Is your state close to something like that? Do you think that is a reasonable option on the menu right now for a state like Georgia?

LAMONT:  I think it`s dangerously premature. I think Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci would agree with that. I think they would argue, you don`t want to do this until you make sure that a massage therapist has a surgical mask to protect him or her. You want to make sure there`s some testing, or else, you`re going to be in close contact with a number of clients every day and you could transmit that virus and have one more super spreader. I think it`s irresponsible.

MELBER:  I want to play for you as well the president who has been encouraging these sort of protests that have gotten a lot of attention and exactly what he said about it so viewers can hear and make up their own mind. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  People feel that way. You`re allowed to protest. I mean, they feel that way.

I watched the protest and they were all six feet apart. I think it was a very orderly group of people. But, you know, some -- some have gone too far, some governors have gone too far. Some things that happened are maybe not so appropriate. And I think in the end, it`s not going to matter because we`re starting to open up our states.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  How do you view his role in that somewhat unusual encouragement on Twitter and elsewhere for people to protest, on the other hand the argument in a democracy like ours is people have every right to publicly use their free speech to say they don`t like these restrictions on the economy or they want to make a different tradeoff than the ones that the experts are counseling.

LAMONT:  You`ve got your right to free speech. And I`ve got my right to say there`s public health issue involved. You`ve got your sign that says "liberate Connecticut". But the flip side of that sign would be saying, you`re also liberating the virus and you`re making it less safe for all your fellow citizens.

So, governors have to draw the right balance. And I think the overwhelming majority of governors are doing that.

MELBER:  Governor, you`ve been out front here, you were just quite clear about areas where you disagree with the Trump administration and others. I did want to speak to something where folks have been somewhat critical of you and your state here. Reading from the "Hartford Courant," basically the ACLU is suing you as governor and your administration, seeking a, quote, significant reduction of the state prison jail population due to COVID-19.

As you know, there`s also someone who is in that system who was supposed to be released and -- was 63 years old and ultimately died when they couldn`t secure a place for him to go. His name was Carlos de Leon.

What do you say to the ACLU that`s suing you and the folks that are critical that are saying, well, Governor Lamont says he cares about all things, why not use this as an opportunity to more further reduce the at- risk inmate population?

LAMONT:  I think they want to use it as an opportunity for a mass release. I don`t think that`s the right protocol. What we have done is we have a thousand fewer people in our prisons today than we had just six weeks ago. We`re doing it on a very thoughtful, methodical basis.

Those folks who are the most at risk, we`re trying to find a home setting for them, if that`s safe. Those closest to release and have a good record, we`re getting those folks out as well. But we`re trying to find the safest place for those people to be and I don`t think a mass release is the way to go at all.

MELBER:  Copy, I wanted to get on the record about that as well. It`s a busy time.

Governor, appreciate you making some time for us.

LAMONT:  Nice to see you, Ari. Thank you.

MELBER:  Appreciate it.

Now we`re joined by Professor Anne Rimoin, an infectious disease expert from UCLA, and Dr. Michael Saag, an infectious disease from the University of Alabama. He actually got the virus himself last month and has been speaking out about that, personal as well as professional understanding. And Howell Raines, former executive editor of "The New York Times."

Dr. Rimoin, your view on where we are here starting a new week in this era.

ANNE RIMOIN, PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMILOOGY, UCLA:  Well, thank you for having me, Ari.

I think we are still unsure of where we stand on the curve because we don`t have adequate testing in place. We are still unsure what antibody tests mean, whether or not they mean that people have immunity or not. We still do not know anything about the duration of immunity. And we still don`t know how we can determine if people can or cannot be re-infected.

So in terms of testing, I think we`re still in a very similar place. You know, I think there have been strides made. But I think this lag in testing and the lag in terms of equipment, in terms of all of the supplies that are needed to be able to really enact testing on a widespread level is really problematic.

MELBER:  Yes. All of that I understand.

Dr. Saag, I want to play for you something we have here from a front line worker, this is a nurse at Mt. Sinai. We`ve been interfering with our teams to try to get these front line views as well as credentialed experts like yourself. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASHLEY WAY, MOUNT SINAI MEDICAL CENTER REGISTERED NURSE:  We were afraid of dying in the hallway. So they set up, Mt. Sinai has Zoom so they can bring in iPads in the room. And they get the family on the phones to make a phone call, to say their goodbyes over Zoom, because we`re not allowed to have any visitors right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  Dr. Saag, I wonder if you could walk us through what it means, given your experience here, to have this death count mounting, what it means for people who are close to it, the war analogies are somewhat limited utility, but there`s certainly a feeling of being a front line doctor, nurse, at war with so many deaths every day.

DR. MICHAEL SAAG, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM ASOSCIATE DEAN FOR GLOBAL HEALTH:  Well, I can take the war analogy in a different kind of way. This is all about the brothers and sisters doing their job every day. When you`re in war, you`re in the trench, you`re with people, and you`re trying to get the job done every day.

What I think that portrayal shows us is the human side of all this. We can get embroiled to the leaves of testing and the details, but at the end of the day, it`s human beings. It`s human suffering. And what`s especially cruel about this virus is that once someone gets sick enough to go in the hospital, they`re isolated from their family, from their friends. It`s hard for the patient. It`s especially cruel and hard for the families.

So, trying to imagine what it`s like as a health care provider who is right at that interface, they`re trying desperately to make some human connection to the patient and to put the family at ease. It`s enormous pressure on the health care workers. And my hats off to all the health care workers who are doing this every day.

MELBER:  And as mentioned while I have you, walk us through your understanding having gone through the virus, that`s that Venn diagram where you know it better than a layperson like us would if we went through it, and you`re -- so you`re both expert and the patient and all that, how you`re doing and what you learned and what you learned living through it.

SAAG:  I learned several things. The first thing, Ari, is this virus is a monster. It`s cruel. It starts off kind of slow and about day five or six, it escalates to a level that is almost hard to describe. Every night, you sit there and suffer and wonder if this is the moment where my breathing is going to get bad and I`m going to go to the hospital and go on a ventilator.

Then mercifully, the next morning, you feel better. You think, oh, OK, it`s gone and then, boom, it`s right back again night after night. And as a provider, I know what it`s like. I know what`s in front of me if my breathing gets short, if I have to go to a hospital, and that`s a nightmare. It a nightmare for everyone but it was especially a nightmare for me.

And the thing I took away from this, Ari, is it really helps me when I`m in the COVID clinic now really understand what patients are going through. I had empathy before. I`m really proud of myself on that as a provider.

But this is different. Having been through it and helping patients dealing with this every day, it gives me an extra level so I can relate to what they`re going through.

MELBER:  Howell Raines, I want to bring you in here on the wider -- wider set of theater that we`re seeing. I mean, the president is clearly into these briefings, even as so many around him say it`s hurting himself and making him center stage. He`s lost the rally around the flag effect, he`s been a hotbed of misinformation, but he clearly was into it.

Here was talking about Governor Cuomo potentially coming to the White House tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The governors are really -- they`re really getting -- they`re getting it together in New York. A lot of good things are happening in New York and I think the governor is going to come in to see us tomorrow. He`s coming to the oval office tomorrow afternoon. Andrew is going to be -- coming in with some of his people so we look forward to that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  How -- what is important for folks to keep in mind as the president continues to hold these briefings and use it as a kind of a place to settle scores apart from their stated purpose of providing a medical update?

HOWELL RAINES, FORMER EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Well, last week at this time, Ari, you and I were tempted to laugh to keep from crying about that absurd infomercial the president showed.

Tonight, I feel that we`ve been exposed, the American people have been exposed to a sinister whirlwind of double talk and it`s designed to guide the American people and the press away from the central question that comes up at the end of every one of these briefings. When is this president going to step forward and do his job?

Now, tonight, we know that job as most nights has to do with national security what is needed is a president that orders a national crash program to give us testing results that the governors and our health officials need to make the critical decision about whether to reopen the economy. And we have to understand that that is a life and death decision out in the country, and so it makes it doubly sinister he`s fomenting unrest about scientific expertise.

Now, let me drill down a little on presidential leadership. I think if you had a Dwight Eisenhower or an LBJ or a JFK or a Nixon or I dare say President Obama, we would have long since seen a mass mobilization involving the Pentagon, the pharmaceutical and the medical equipment industries to give us the information that we need to know whether we can safely open the economy.

Now, 150,000 tests a day when we need several million a day just for our health care workers in the hospitals is a national tragedy. It`s a disaster waiting to draw us all into a whirl wind.

And, you know, I heard the president say the states and the governors should be doing the testing, not the federal government. Well, maybe but what we all know is missing is a federal ramrod to get this testing done. So I think we`re on a toboggan to disaster if we keep seeing actions like that taken by the Georgia governor today.

MELBER:  Yes, and this is one of those things that is just difficult for us all to go through. You wish that we could just focus on fighting this deadly disease, which is bad enough, but you have the president acting in this way and Brian Williams and our special coverage was pointing this out, and I want to play it for folks at home that may not have seen it to get the fact check on the other side, Howell Raines.

The president while literally tens of thousands of people are dead in this country and this is real, went out there and either really believes this terrible thing or is just scheming and lying, hoping it will rile people up. But either way goes out there and says with a straight face the concern about preventing the next 40,000 deaths is an effort to get him, Donald Trump, take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  Remember, it was all ventilators and the reason it was all ventilators they said there is no way he`ll ever be able to catch this one, and not only did we catch it, we are now the king of ventilators all over the world and that wasn`t playing well so they said testing, testing, we`ll get him on testing. Well, testing is much easier than ventilators. It used to be ventilators, ventilators, ventilators. Now, it`s testing, testing, testing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  Howell, you look at that. What do you even say?

RAINES:  Well, it`s all about him, isn`t it? It`s not about these people having to say good-bye by electronic means and it was a give away with Trump`s egotism and narcissism is we saw today in his comments about the governors.

His fragile ego is such that if he`s afraid of someone you see one of two reactions. He swings at them as with Governor Pritzker and Governor Hogan, two men doing a good job and not having the equipment that the federal government needs to give them and pandering to Andrew Cuomo he senses is a national figure because the American people are desperate for expert advice from their political leaders about protecting their health.

MELBER:  Dr. Saag, I`ll ask you this in the medical way and leave the White House analysis to the side, but is it true or false that the expert and medical search for ventilators was an effort to make Donald Trump look bad?

SAAG:  It`s hard for me to believe that. Here`s -- if we turn back the clock and go back to March, remember, what we were trying to do is prevent that spike from overwhelming the health system. Hospitals were being flooded with patients. Those patients were getting sicker, they go into respiratory failure and they go to the ICU, and we needed ventilators for them.

And the thing is, that patients were flowing into the ICU at rapid pace, but once they`re there, they stay for ten days, two weeks. You can see how that leads to a lot of patients and a lot of need for ventilators. Fortunately, what happened was we were successful at stay at home and the curve was flattened.

That took the pressure off the health care system. So, he`s right, we`re not focused on ventilators anymore because for the moment we don`t need them. What worries me is that if we release the constraints on stay at home and we don`t have a good plan on how to contain this, we`re just going to go right back to where we were on March 1st. The virus is still there and over 98 percent of our population is still susceptible. You mix it back together, why would we expect anything different? We`re going to get the surge and we`ll be back looking for ventilators again, I`m afraid.

MELBER:  An important point of caution there as we look at these decisions in the weeks ahead.

Dr. Rimoin, I have about 45 seconds until Chris Hayes, I give you that time for our final word.

RIMOIN:  Well, I would just like to amplify what everybody has said here. You know, I would like to see the focus on what we need to do, how we get testing ramped up, how we can have a national strategy. We are the United States of America. We`re supposed to be working together. We`re supposed to be moving forward on a plan.

You know, I would like to say that also if we cut now, if we start opening up now, it`s like jumping out of a plane and pulling your parachute and then just cutting it loose because you`ve already started to decelerate. I mean, it`s just doesn`t make any sense.

And the bottom line is when we start to see public health measures working, that`s when we say, we didn`t need so many ventilators. We didn`t need so much of this. This is a fact showing how much work we`ve done.

That`s the really the important thing. We need to keep going in this direction. We can`t stop now.

MELBER:  Right. And your point if there is a bit of a spike from some of this, that`s a product of the work done, not a reason to stop working.

I want to thank both of our doctors and Mr. Raines, appreciate it.

That does it for me. I will be back here, along with Brian Williams in the 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour tomorrow.

But don`t go anywhere, Chris Hayes starts now.

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