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Dr. Fauci TRANSCRIPT: 4/28/20, MSNBC Live

Guests: Chris Murphy, Yamiche Alcindor, Charlie Crist, Henry Olsen, Jessica Gold

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I`m Ari Melber. You`ve been watching THE BEAT with Ari Melber. We appreciate you tuning in. That does for our hour, but I will see you back here tomorrow night at 6 P.M. Eastern. I hope you tune-in, stay informed and stay safe. Keep it right here on MSNBC.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki in New York.

The coronavirus pandemic in this country has now surpassed another grim milestone. As of today, there are now more than 1 million confirmed positive cases in the United States and more than 58,000 Americans have now lost their lives to this virus.

This afternoon, President Trump said the worst days of the pandemic are now behind us. He was asked about that 1 million case number in light of his own previous attempts to downplay the crisis.


REPORTER: How did we get from your prediction of zero to 1 million?

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, it will go down to zero, ultimately. And you have to understand when it comes to cases we do much more testing than anybody else.

Also our experts, many very good experts, very good people to said that this would never affect the United States, it wouldn`t affect Europe, it wouldn`t affect anything outside of China. So we were listening to experts and we will always listen to experts. But the experts got it wrong. A lot of people got it wrong.


KORNACKI: More and more states this week have announced plans to begin to reopen their economies, at least partially. Yesterday, the administration laid out what it calls a blueprint for testing with a goal of testing roughly 2 percent of the population each month.

NBC`s Kristen Welker asked if that plan goes far enough.


KRISTEN WELKER, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Some health experts say the U.S. needs 5 million tests per day by June in order to safely reopen. You unveiled the plan yesterday that will increased testing but not by that much. Why not and can you get to that benchmark?

TRUMP: Well, we`ll increase it and it will increase it by much more than that in the very near future.

Now, with that being said, not everybody feels as strongly about testing as others. We have some governors that are very strong on testing. We have other governors, frankly, that aren`t nearly as strong on testing. Their tests are much more modest and the real test is when people stop getting sick.

WELKER: You`re confident you can surpass 5 million tests per day? Is that - -

TRUMP: Well, we`re going to be there very soon.


KORNACKI: The president took another drastic step today announcing that he would sign an executive order to mandate meat processing plants stay open amid the pandemic and to provide liability protections. Amid all of this, one of the most closely watched coronavirus tracking models, this one, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, revised its estimated death toll upward to more than 74,000 by August.

President Trump was also asked about intelligence he received about the scope of the virus earlier this year in light of a Washington Post report that claims, quote, U.S. intelligence agencies issued warnings about the novel coronavirus in more than a dozen classified briefings in January and February, months during which he continued to play down the threat.


TRUMP: We have to check. I would have to check. I want to look as to the exact dates of warnings. But I can tell you this. When I did the ban on China, almost everybody was against me, including Republicans.

And that was a big step, because I think we saved -- whether it was luck, talent or something else, we saved many thousands of lives.


KORNACKI: And I`m joined now by Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Senator, thanks for joining us.

There has been a lot of talk about testing over the last few weeks. I think we`ve well established the United States was behind and has been behind when it comes to ramping this up. The administration is now talking, and you heard the president there confidently saying, this is going to be dramatically increased. I think we`re at about 230,000 tests today in this country, that is up from last week. He`s talking about dramatically increasing it from there. Do you see the United States now being on track to get where the president is talking about?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY(D-CT): Absolutely not. There`s nothing that the president said in the clips that you just showed which is true. He has no plan to get the United States anywhere near 5 million tests. Every single day, it`s my State of Connecticut that is fighting, that is scraping, that is clawing to get more testing capacity into our state, a state that`s on the frontline of this epidemic. We`re receiving almost no help from the federal government.

You know what the president could do? He could use the powers that have been given to him to start commanding manufacturers, make more of the components necessary for these tests. He refuses to do that. So he has capabilities right now that would allow him to produce more tests domestically. He is not commandeering all of the manufacturing capacity of this country.

You know, why we can`t do tests in Connecticut right now? Well, we`d do more if we have more swabs. We have a shortage of swabs. If this president back in January and February, even early March, had seen this epidemic coming, like most experts are telling him, he could have started the domestic production of something like swabs to put us in a different position than we are today. It`s just not true that we are on a pace to be able to do that number of tests. It`s also just not true that the federal government is assisting states in the way that they need assistance.

KORNACKI: Yes, there are all sort in numbers that are floating right now. I`m just curious, as an elected official trying to help manage this, what do you think a reasonable target is on testing? Again, I think we`re at about 230,000 a day right now. We`ve been seeing this $5 million number. I`ve heard numbers much lower than that from some experts saying that we need to be at. From your standpoint as an elected official trying to deal with this, where do you think we need to be?

MURPHY: So let me just take my State of Connecticut. We`re doing about 3,000 tests a day in my state. We likely need to be doing about ten times the amount that we are today in order to reopen. Why? Because we have to have the ability to test not just symptomatic individuals but also asymptomatic individuals. We have to be able to go into hotspots or potential hotspots like nursing homes or prisons or densely populated neighborhoods and be able to test people who aren`t showing symptoms so that we can get on top of a new outbreak before it breaks out of that area.

And we just don`t have the means to do that right now. Without a federal government that`s helping us, without a federal government that is manufacturing more of these components and helping make sure that they get to the places that are of the highest need. We don`t have a plan from the federal government to get us in Connecticut where we need to get to.

KORNACKI: You mentioned there that the powers the president has at least that he could use if he chose to through the Defense Production Act, he did talk today about invoking that through an executive order that would affect the meat processing industry, saying that the food chain here, we`ve heard the Tyson`s CEO there saying the food chain is in the process of breaking right now. The president saying he`s going to sign an executive order that he says will declare this critical infrastructure, meat processing, and he also seemed to suggest they will provide some liability protection to keep that open. What`s your reaction to what the president is saying he`s about to do on that front?

MURPHY: Yes. I think it`s pretty wild that the president is willing to use the Defense Production Act to guarantee more meat production, but he is not willing to use the Defense Production Act to guarantee more testing production or more mask production.

Reports suggest that the big health care industries through the Chamber of Commerce have been lobbying the president to refrain from using his powers to require more manufacturing be done and to set prices to make sure that there isn`t gouging happening. There are big healthcare industries that are making a lot of money off of the scarcity of tests, the scarcity of swabs, the scarcity of masks. And, you know, right now, I fear the president is putting the profits ahead of the safety of my constituents.

And then he`s just lying to the American people when he says that this is a plan being run by his administration to deliver 5 million tests per day in this country. That`s just not true. And it gives a sense of false confidence to the American people that I think is really dangerous.

KORNACKI: I understand your point, that you`d like to have him invoke the Defense Production Act when it comes to testing, when it comes to critical supplies. But in terms of where he is doing it with meat processing plants, the justification again here is, hey, he says the food chain is in danger of breaking here. This needs to be done to help prevent that. On that front and that front alone, do you agree or disagree with his action today?

MURPHY: Well, I think you have to look at the two in conjunction. I`m not going to disagree that there are elements of the food distribution chain today that needs federal support. But remember, he`s not just ordering these manufacturing plants to get back online. He`s ordering all of these manufacturing workers to go back in to places where with they could transmit the disease. So you need to make sure if you`re going to force thousands of meatpacking workers to go back to work there`s testing in the sites so that you can shut down the facility if there starts to be signs of an outbreak.

And so I just worry that this administration doesn`t think before it acts. And if we`re sending all of this employees back into the meat industry without those testing protections, without the tracing and quarantine systems that need to be built around those reopening, then I`m not sure that the good that`s being done is going to outweigh the danger.

KORNACKI: All right Chris Murphy, Senator from Connecticut, thank you for joining us, I appreciate it.

And this morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he believes it is inevitable that the virus will return this coming fall if it ever goes away at all.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: So it`s not going to disappear from the planet, which means as we get into next season, in my mind, it`s inevitable that we will have a return of the virus or maybe it will never even run away. When it does, how we handle it will determine our fate.


KORNACKI: And this afternoon, Fauci said that everyone who needs a test should be able to get one by June.


FAUCI: Everyone who needs a test, according to the way we`re approaching the identification, isolation, contact tracing, keeping the country safe and healthy that hopefully we should see that as we get towards the end of May, the beginning of June. Jake, that`s what I`m being told by the people who are responsible for the testing. I take them for their word. If that doesn`t happen, I`m going to go to them and say what happened here? Why didn`t it happen? And how can we fix it?


KORNACKI: And I`m joined now by Dr Joseph Fair, a Virologist and MSNBC Science Contributor, and Yamiche Alcindor, PBS NewsHour White House Correspondent. Thanks to both of you for being with us.

Dr. Fair, let me just start with you. We were having a discussion with Senator Murphy there, about the issue of testing. And, you`re an expert on this. I think you have done some research on this very topic. So I`m curious what you think the number is the United States needs to be at in terms of daily testing? Again we`re talking about 5 million. I`ve seen, I think it was Scott Gottlieb, who said it needs to be more like 500,000. Where do you think it needs to land?

DR. JOSEPH FAIR, VIROLOGIST AND EPIDEMIOLOGIST: It`s really going to depend on where we are. And determine if there -- well, sorry, let me say it this way. It`s going to determine if this virus ends up being a seasonal virus, like Dr. Fauci was just saying.

So will we see a second wave in the fall, that`s due to seasonality of the virus, meaning it`s going to drop off maybe starting this mid-May and June and kind of stay that way until September and then going into October when our normal cold and flu season starts to pick back up again or is it just going to stay with us throughout the summer. Because it`s a new virus to humans, we don`t yet know. So it`s hard to say at any one time during an outbreak, how many diagnostics we`ll going to need.

That being said, you know the number he talked about in June, of having a diagnostic for everyone that needs one, that really accounts for everybody being tested once. And so assuming it`s not COVID-19, a lot of people will have to be retested. If they`re still naive to COVID-19, that means they still can get it and do have to have another COVID-19 at some point during their life.

And I think, ideally, we`re going to be -- as my professional opinion will be more on the 5 million aand of the number of diagnostic needs rather than the 500,000 needs. And it really depends on kind of what you`re looking for. But I think to go back to work safely as a country, the 5 million number is more accurate.

KORNACKI: Yamiche, you heard that interview there with Dr. Fauci there. He was saying, he`s being told that we`ll going to be at that level, that testing level about a month from now, late May or early June. He said, I think, the expression there was, I`ll take them at their word on that, I`ll have an issue with them if they don`t. That seems to be leading some wiggle room attach that`s actually happen. What is happening behind the scenes right now in terms of the administration trying to get that number -- trying to get those numbers up on testing?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, MSNBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the White House says that they`re trying to ramp up testing by having public/private partnerships with a number of retail companies, including writing (ph) to all of the CEOs that the president had on the White House lawn a couple of days ago now. So there is this idea that the White House is feeling like they need to continue to ramp up testing and are working with states to try to do that. And, of course, they`re using money from the congressional bill to use that -- those resources to ramp that up.

But I think one thing that`s really critical is that when you hear Dr. Fauci say, well, this test, anyone who needs a test can get a test possibly this summer essentially and he`s couching that very carefully, the president a month ago said, anyone who needs a test can get a test right now. And that was a month ago when that wasn`t true. It`s not true. It wasn`t true then and it`s not true now.

So what the president has is a political problem in some case, which is that there are a lot of people who think that the president is not credible when it comes to testing because he made that at the time misleading statement when it comes to testing.

KORNACKI: Well, meanwhile, Quest Diagnostics today announced that individuals can skip a doctor`s visit now in order a coronavirus antibody test online in a push to broaden COVID-19 screening. CNBC points outs, quote, it doesn`t guarantee immunity but physicians say a positive antibody test indicates that a patient may have some level of protection against reinfection.

Dr. Fair, this seems an important, we talk so much about testing for the virus itself, whether you have it currently. But this antibody testing will tell you if you`ve ever had it. Somebody who maybe a month or two months ago says, geez, I was having these symptoms, I didn`t get test, I didn`t go get checked out. Talk about the significance of being able to test for that.

And also I understand there`s some questions here about how reliable these tests are. What can you tell us there?

FAIR: Well, I think the one that is being offered by quest does have some form of FDA approval to it, if I`m correct. I may be wrong on that but I believe it does have some form of FDA approval and that gives you automatically a bit more confidence in it.

There are a lot of tests because the FDA has relaxed their rules regarding antibody tests in the United States that are flooding the market, especially from China, that are not necessarily specific for COVID-19. So they would give you what you would call a false positive by reacting with, say, the seasonal coronavirus that cause the common cold, et cetera.

So knowing where the different components that come from that make these tests is essential and, you know, making sure that those are validated specifically against COVID-19 or SARS. SARS is so closely related to the virus that causes COVID-19. It`s called SARS-COV-2 that it cross reacts and those test works very well.

So the importance of having these tests is to, one, know if you had COVID- 19 or not. Eventually and with time, we will know if these antibodies are what we call neutralizing or protective antibodies and if that confers that you are vaccinated against COVID-19 at least for some period of time.

In the laboratory when studied for in recent macaques, which other monkey models were used for humans. They could not be re-infected with COVID-19, so we might presume that you will have protection with these antibodies.

KORNACKI: Okay. Important piece of information there at the end, I appreciate that. Dr. Joseph Fair, Yamiche Alcindor, thank you both for joining us.

And coming up, Florida`s governor meeting with the president and preparing to take steps to reopen his state. Has the curve been flattened enough in the Sunshine State? Stay with us.



TRUMP: There`s a good example of a partnership between the federal government and the state government. Ron has been great. And some of your friends some of the other governors have done a good job and some haven`t done a very good job, I`ll be honest with you.


KORNACKI: Well, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was at the White House with the president. His state health officials announced a new milestone.

The Department of Health confirmed that 700 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to nearly 33,000. There were also 83 new deaths reported today. That`s the highest number reported on a single day.

However, important to keep in mind here, as "The Tampa Bay Times" reported, that might not be due to a spike, but rather the way the state accounts for deaths spread out over the week.

Quoting from the newspaper here: "The state has regularly reported fewer new deaths on Sundays and Mondays, as low as half of what would be expected based on weekly averages."

In fact, if you add together today`s high number with the low numbers reported over the weekend, it`s actually less than the total for the same period last week.

Overall, Florida`s death toll sits at nearly 1,200 right now.

DeSantis` visit with the president comes at a time when Trump`s ability to win Florida this fall, as he did in 2016, is in question. Three recent polls found President Trump trailing his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden.

"The Miami Herald" reports the governor`s own standing has seen a slight dip during the crisis, although DeSantis` overall approval rating with Floridians is still nearly 60 percent. Democrats in Florida have accused DeSantis of being too late in responding to the virus and failing to help expedite soaring unemployment claims.

The governor announced that he would unveil plans to reopen this the tomorrow and has said that different regions may open at different paces.

For more, I`m joined by Florida Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist, former governor of Florida as well.

Congressman, thank you for joining us.

REP. CHARLIE CRIST (D-FL): Thank you, Steve. Good to be with you.

KORNACKI: So, your state`s governor was at the White House today...


KORNACKI: ... and is teeing up a potential announcement tomorrow.

What is your sense of what the governor is going to be announcing here? And do you think the pace is too fast, too slow or just right?

CRIST: Well, that`s a great question, Steve.

And I don`t know that anybody really knows for sure, to be candid with you. I think you just try to do the best with what you have. And I have heard people describe having to deal with this situation like trying to build a plane while you`re flying it.

And there`s, I think, a lot of good reason for analogy like that. But from what I heard from the opportunity that the governor had with the president today, he talked about a fairly moderate opening, if you will, sort of a phase one as the beginning, and then moving slowly and prudently.

I`m encouraged by that, because I read recently in "TIME" magazine an article about the prefecture of Hokkaido, which is a state, one of the northern-most states in Japan, and the largest state in Japan, which apparently had shut down and had a stay-at-home order very early on, and got good results from that and had the curve start to bend down, and all the right things were happening.

And so the governor lifted it quite a little bit ago, and then they had a surge all of a sudden, where the incidence of the infections started to go back up rapidly. And so they had to shut back down again as a state in Japan.

So we need to learn from what other states and what other countries, frankly, are doing, and be prudent and smart and cautious. From my perspective, you want to err on the side of saving lives, rather than having to try to earn more money.

I mean, the economy`s important. Everybody gets that. But what`s more important than saving life? I don`t think anything. And so I think that the governor needs to be prudent and smart.

KORNACKI: Let me ask you this -- ask you it this way, because I think this is an issue in Florida. It`s an issue nationally too.

When folks are looking at this picture in terms of cases and deaths, it`s not spread out evenly. We see this nationally, where almost half the deaths are just in the New York City metro area. Can see it in your state there in Florida. I was looking at the numbers here.

Sixty percent of the deaths in your state, as I`m sure you know, are in those three counties, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach. They account for less than 30 percent of the population, but nearly 60 percent of the cases.


KORNACKI: Nationally and in Florida, what do you think of the idea of regional reopenings, hey, this part of the state can reopen, this part has got to wait for a while, this part of the country maybe reopens, this part doesn`t?

Is that feasible? Is that something we should be thinking about here?

CRIST: Sure. Why not? I mean, it sounds practical. It sounds like utilizing common sense.

And you`re right. The southeastern part of Florida has been hit the hardest. There`s no question about it. Obviously, as you cited, the New York City metro area has been hit significantly worse than any part of our country.

And so why not look at that and say, maybe the southeastern part of Florida should be delayed a bit, because they are having the highest incidence of death? I mean, that just sounds like logic and clear thinking and sober judgment.

So, I think that that is something that could be utilized, Steve, and I hope that the governor will probably take that into account. Here in Tampa Bay, the numbers are pretty low, thank God. They`re pretty low. And, hopefully, it`ll stay that way.

But I think more caution where you have more trouble is just the right formula for anybody who`s an officeholder and wants to put forward good public policy for the people`s benefit.

KORNACKI: All right, Congressman Charlie Crist from Florida, thank you for taking a few minutes.

CRIST: My pleasure, Steve. Thank you.

KORNACKI: All right.

And up next, we`re going to head over to the Big Board. We`re going to take a look at some numbers around Trump, the election, his opponent this November.

Yes, there is still an election this year. Might look a little different, but we`re going to have one, and we`re going to talk about where it stands right after this.



HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I want to add my voice to the many who have endorsed you to be our president.

Just think of what a difference it would make right now if we had a president who not only listened to the science, put facts over fiction, but brought us together.


KORNACKI: All right, Hillary Clinton officially endorsing Joe Biden for president earlier.

You didn`t think she was going to endorse Trump, did you? But there you go. Officially, the former the Democratic nominee from last time around endorses the presumptive Democratic nominee for this time around.

Got some interesting numbers I`m going to show you in a second, comparing Clinton and Biden as candidates, but want to take you through where this election, where this race stands right now, some interesting numbers on Trump, on the head-to-head here.

Let me take you through them.

First of all, the big question here on Trump always the approval rating. And, look, as this coronavirus pandemic was really taking hold, Trump`s approval rating, this doesn`t look like much paper, 47 approve, 50 disapprove. This was his average rating at the start of April.

But this was actually basically as good as Trump had ever gotten as president. He got a little -- stress little -- but he did get a bounce at the start of this in his approval rating.

And what`s happened over the course of this month is, it`s kind of receded to baseline here again -- 47 has gone down to 45. The 50 disapprove has gone up. This is more consistent with what we have been seeing from Trump before. So, that little bounce has kind of receded.

In terms of where that leaves him against Joe Biden, this is the average , Biden 48, Trump 42 here in the head to head. More importantly, perhaps, we learned this in 2016, the Electoral College, these key states in 2016.

Here`s Biden leading in Michigan by eight, a state Trump won narrowly. Here`s Biden leading by eight in Pennsylvania, a state Trump won narrowly. Here`s Biden leading in Florida, a state we were just talking about, a state Trump won narrowly in `16. Here`s Biden leading it by three points.

And I think one critical thing that we`re noticing when we look at these polls -- I`m going to show it to you here -- the difference between Biden as a candidate and Hillary Clinton as a candidate, at least as of right now.

So, take a look at this. And what you`re seeing here are these three key states, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida. This is the exit poll from 2016. It`s the favorable/unfavorable score for each candidate. They`re both very unpopular. These were historically unpopular candidates in 2016.

Trump was 20 points more unfavorable than favorable. Clinton was 14 points more unfavorable than favorable. A lot of people didn`t like either candidate. And a lot of the people who didn`t like either candidate broke for Trump. That was the story in `16.

Now here`s what it looks like in the states right now. You notice, this is different. Here`s the biggest difference. You don`t see red. You see blue here for Biden. Biden is above water. He`s more favorable than unfavorable in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Hillary Clinton was nowhere near that. Biden is. That might be changing the dynamic a bit. That favorable/unfavorable game that worked to Trump`s benefit in `16, look at these polls right now, that`s a difference. Let`s see if that lasts, but that looks like a big difference right now.

Up next: Trump was banking on a booming economy to try to get him reelected. Will his supporters give him a pass in the current economic crisis?

We`re back after this.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think you`re going to have a recovery. Look, I built -- they were just telling me inside -- and it`s fact -- I built the greatest economy -- with the help of 325 million people, I built the greatest economy in the history of the world.

We had to close our country. We had to close our economy. I built it.


KORNACKI: Welcome back.

That was President Trump last night taking sole credit for -- quote -- "building the greatest economy in the world."

And it comes as the president`s economic adviser warns that the decline in GDP this quarter will be -- quote -- "the worst since the Great Depression."

Already trailing in the polls against Joe Biden, as we just showed you, this sudden economic downturn has pushed Trump`s electoral prospects even further in question, and depriving him of a key issue at a critical time.

As NBC News reports, Trump`s campaign advisers -- quote -- "believe that a strong bounce in the economy will be critical if Trump is to win reelection."

Trump`s long-winded and partisan coronavirus briefings don`t seem to be helping his cause. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was -- quote -- "probably a good idea to shorten them."

But while Trump`s candidacy appears weakened at this moment, the dynamic we`re seeing may resemble that of 2016, when, of course, Donald Trump defied seemingly long odds to win the White House.

Conservative columnist Henry Olsen argued in "The Washington Post" last week that the president -- quote -- "may have a secret stash of voters that makes the race closer than it currently appears."

That is because, according to the polls -- quote -- "More people approve of Trump`s job performance than say they will vote for him."

And I`m joined now by the author of that piece, Henry Olsen, a columnist and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. And Steve Schmidt is a political strategist and former Republican.

I appreciate you both being here. I`m looking forward to this discussion, because I think you -- you both see the politics of the moment a little differently. And I`m really interested in getting both perspectives on this.

Henry, let me go to you to tee it up, because we put your column up there. And I want you just to explain what you mean by that. We put those numbers up a minute ago. And I can just show them to set you up here.

Trump`s approval rating right now, this is what you`re arguing, his approval rating, as folks can see, sits at 45.6 percent, on average, and his standing against Joe Biden in the head-to-head race is lower than that 45.6. It`s 42 percent.

So, take us through the argument you`re making here.

HENRY OLSEN, SENIOR FELLOW, ETHICS AND POLICY CENTER: Going back to 1972, which is as far back as we have accurate polling data in a year when a president is running for reelection, that president has, on Election Day, always gone within half-point to a point of his final job approval standing, that, if somebody says they will approve of his job, they end up voting for him.

And that`s gone -- been the case for Republicans. That`s been the case for Democrats. Every time since 1972, this has happened.

So there`s no particular reason to think that that won`t happen for Donald Trump. And what I`m looking at right now is the job approval rating. Just as in 2016, there were a lot of Republicans who told pollsters right up until the day of the election that they would vote for a third-party candidate (AUDIO GAP) suggests pretty strongly that, if people approve of his job now, that they will come home to him if they still approve of his job in November.

And that means he`s probably a lot closer to Biden, although still behind, than the head-to-head numbers suggest.

KORNACKI: So, Steve Schmidt, Henry is painting a picture there of 2016 all over again, Trump trailing in the polls, having all sorts of gaffes, folks saying there`s no path here, and yet, on Election Day, a path reveals itself.

Does that -- as a Trump critic here, is that something that haunts you as a real possibility?

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I sit here tonight as a Trump critic who believes that Donald Trump could be reelected as president of the United States.

And I believe that that is the reason this is the most consequential election the country has faced since 1864, because I think the stakes of that are so high.

Henry`s exactly right. A presidential candidate is going to perform within about a half-a-point of that approval number. And he`s correct when he says you can look back and presidential elections all the way to 1972, when we first started tracking such things.

I would disagree a little bit to look at that number and to say, without context, that it`s a sign of strength for the president.

And I think, when you look at inside the numbers, and you look specifically about his handling of this crisis, about his preparedness, whether people think we waited too long , all of those things they show a real dereliction of duty. They show a real distrust by the American people, a real unease with Trump`s handling of all of this.

Now, we look at the electoral map and we look at, for example, a state like Texas, which over time is going to trend purplish and trend blue. I can`t sit here tonight and tell you what`s going to happen in the state of Texas when there are food lines that are hours long, miles long, and when people get up to them who were working just a month or so ago to get food that they have never thought they`d ever be in that position and they don`t get it, the stripping away of dignity.

The magnitude of the recovery that will need to follow here and the fact that Trump is basically saying everything will be fine by August which is clearly not the case. As we get into the fall, the question of the election is going to be who can lead this country out of one of the most epic disasters it`s ever faced and when you have an incumbent who`s talking about people shooting up Lysol to deal with the coronavirus, it would suggest that he`s not up to the job, and in the end, there`s only two types of elections. There`s change elections and more of the same.

And so the question is for the American people, will they look at all of this in its totality and say, yeah, we want four more years of this? And I`m skeptical that`s going to be the outcome.

KORNACKI: In terms of your efforts to bring the outcome about where Trump is not re-elected, your group the Lincoln project has a new ad out slamming the president for the way he has handled this crisis. We`ll just take a look at it here.


REPORTER: How would you rate your response to this crisis?


I want them on the appreciative of me. We have Monday night football type ready. It`s like "Bachelor" finale.

I have hundreds of millions of people, number one on Facebook.

We have really done this right.

Did you know I was number one on Facebook?

People were amazed.

I mean, I just found out I`m number one on Facebook.

Everybody was amazed.

I was never involved in a model.

I`ve been right a lot.

At least this kind of model.

And you should say, thank you very much. We`ve done really an extraordinary job.


KORNACKI: So, Henry, let me ask you -- you heard the case that Steve made and this is the ad, this the type of attack that`s going to be made against the president for the way he`s handling this. Does that change the equation in a way that hurts Trump?

HENRY OLSEN, ETHICS & PUBLIC POLICY CENTER SENIOR FELLOW: Well, I think what it does is reinforce the 52 percent of the people who say they don`t like or disapprove of Donald Trump right now reinforces their pre-existing beliefs. The challenge for Trump is how to get his job approval rating up to around the 47 to 48 percent range nationally, because if he can get himself up to that he`ll be at or over 50 percent in enough swing states to win the Electoral Colleges.

He has to have a good answer for this and he then has to switch the message. He has to switch who how do we handle the recovery and numbers show that people trust him on the economy more than Joe Biden, and he needs to switch the message to one of nationalism. Who do you trust to put American first? And that`s a ground that he`s pretty strong on.

I`m not saying he`s going to succeed in it. But he has strong arguments to make and all he has to do is improve his standing in the job approval rating by about two to three points and he`s re-elected.

KORNACKI: Steve Schmidt, we had this discussion in 2016, how other Republicans, Republican candidates for Congress, for the Senate, should be approaching the president. We have seen some stories this past week about Republicans in Washington starting to nervously look at their standing in the Senate right now. Starting to wonder how they should handle -- what would your advice be as a political strategist to a Republican trying to figure out, hey, I want to keep my Senate seat this year and here`s what the president, here`s how he`s handling this, and here`s how he`s going to be attacked.

How should they handle the president here?

SCHMIDT: Well, the executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee put his name on a memo to Senate candidates basically telling them to run away from Donald Trump. They`re extremely worried on the Republican side about the Senate majority and they look out across the country whether it`s the Tillis race in North Carolina, the McSally race, the Collins race, others, they have a very difficult terrain.

And nobody is sitting in Washington, D.C., right now thinking that the full embrace of Donald Trump as a senator and in a competitive race is a -- is a healthy thing to do.

One of the things I would disagree with for a minute is on the question about whether Donald Trump has a strong argument to make here. This president, he has been a disaster at an epic level. He has failed to meet the test of history in a way that is greater a failure than we`ve ever seen any president fail at in the history of the country. We have seen the warnings that came in to Donald Trump through the form of the presidents` daily brief.

We saw the months of inaction and the result is this -- somebody who promised to run making America great again has led to death and suffering at an epic level and an economic catastrophe with 26 million Americans thus far unemployed.

And the old question that Ronald Reagan put so many years ago -- are you better off today than you were four years ago? Donald Trump is going to have an amazingly difficult time answering that question in the affirmative. He has been serially dishonest with the American people, engaged in the level of delusion and happy talk, and I suspect the bill is going to come home for that.

KORNACKI: All right. Steve Schmidt and Henry Olsen, thank you both for the conversation. Appreciate that.

And still ahead, the emotional and psychological toll of this pandemic is significant. We`re going to have an expert talk us through some coping mechanisms and the signs of severe distress we can be on the lookout for. Stay with us.


KORNACKI: Welcome back.

Many health care workers are being pushed to the breaking point as they work on the front lines battling the coronavirus.

On Sunday, a top New York City emergency room doctor took her own life.

NBC`s Stephanie Gosk has more on the tragic story.


STEPHANIE GOSK, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Overnight, new reaction to the tragic news. That shines a light on the overwhelming impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Lorna Breen, an emergency doctor at New York`s Presbyterian Hospital, took her own life.

Her father telling NBC News she was in every sense of the word a hero who gave her life for her friends and city. Breen`s father, also a doctor, confirming his daughter had contracted the disease and survived it.

But she had described devastating scenes of the toll the coronavirus took on patients. She tried to do her job, and it killed her, her father told "The New York Times." She`s a casualty just as much as min else who has died.


KORNACKI: And joining me now is Dr. Jessica Gold, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis.

Doctor, thank you for joining us.

You know, just listening to that piece right there and that description, I mean, that sounds like the kind of story you get coming out of a war zone where people just see unspeakable tragedy all around them and just become overwhelmed trying to deal wit. That seems to drive home there, that`s in a lot of ways what this is.

DR. JESSICA GOLD, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF PSYCHIATRY: Yes, thank you for having me and for having this conversation. I use the analogy of war zone, because it is different than what doctors are used to experiencing on the day-to-day job.

What people are seeing is different, it`s hard. We`ve been seeing a lot more deaths. We`re seeing a lot more infections. So, doctors are scared we`re going to get sick and infect our families, that we`re going to die. It`s not something doctors think about very often.

We`re afraid that we`re not protected with protective gear, which is something that we are used to having and are taught we should be having, and that is something when you go into a, quote-unquote, battlefield, it can feel trauma provoking, it can feel trauma provoking. It can feel depressing. It`s just not something we`re used to.

So, you`re right, it`s very different.

KORNACKI: Well, health care workers have been sharing their experiences and concerns with us online. Here are a few of their responses.


NURSE MEGHAN DANCY, ST. LUKE`S HOSPITAL CHESTERFIELD, MO: I have a 4-year- old, a 6-year-old and husband at home. That`s one of my biggest fears. I drove home that night, that first night, and I just cried, because I couldn`t -- I really couldn`t fathom the thought of bringing COVID home and exposing my family to that.

NURSE MAUREEN BIDDINGER-GRISIUS, BEAUMONT HOSPITAL FARMINGTON HILLS, MI: My patients today weren`t -- you know, these elderly people. I see a lot of people who aren`t that far off from my age. It`s hard not to be scared. It`s hard to not let that get to you.


KORNACKI: You see and hear there those fears that you were describing there. Some of those fears that health care workers are facing here. What advice, whatever the specific fear is, whatever the specific anxieties, what advice do you have for health care workers who are dealing with it?

GOLD: Yes, you`re right. You can hear it in their voices. It`s really heavy when they speak. It`s almost like palpable when they talk.

I mean, I think the first thing to do is to really let yourself feel. Health care workers are used to being stoic. We don`t like to talk about feelings. It`s almost hard to not talk about feelings. So the first thing we need to do is allow ourselves to feel, talk to our friends and family if we can, if that`s not someone we feel comfortable talking to, reach out for help.

There`s help that exists, there`s help from people like me, and we want to help you. And I think that`s not something we`re used to doing. We`re used to putting the mask on other people and really, really focusing on helping other people before we help ourselves and we really need to do both right now. That`s hard to do, especially when the day-to-day is filled with so much adrenaline that we can`t stop and we can`t focus on ourselves at all. And we need to do both to keep going and to want to keep going.

KORNACKI: And for members of the public just wondering what they can do to help, what`s the advice there?

GOLD: Yes. I mean, I hear from friends and family and a lot of patients who are health care workers that has been really nice. Those little things people have been doing, like showing up and thanking health care workers and sending cards to people that are health care workers and texts and things like that. So please keep doing that.

I think know that sometimes we can`t tell you our stories and sometimes we can`t be the narrators because it is hard for us. I think that it is hard to be the people who are always telling you what`s going on inside the walls of the hospital. That`s trauma provoking for us at times. I think people ask us, because they care and sometimes we just can`t tell and know that`s not because we don`t know you care. It`s just hard sometimes. Keep that in mind.

I think there are ways to volunteer, you know, you can -- some hospitals have ways to donate PPEs, some places like is an organization my friend started and that`s a really great place to donate to and get involved with. That`s a great way to get involved. The crisis text line has a frontline worker specific line and I know that they`re always looking for volunteers, so you can look up the crisis text line and trying to get involved.

KORNACKI: All right. Dr. Jessica Gold, thank you for joining us.

And we want to let you know if you or someone you know is in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The number is 1-800-273- TALK.

We`ll be right back.


KORNACKI: Earlier today, the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy`s Blue Angels staged a collaborative flyover of New York City area hospitals to thank coronavirus first responders and health care workers. Take a look.


KORNACKI: And that does it for us tonight. Thank you for being with us. And don`t go anywhere.