ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I want to give you that update.
That does it for us. I hope you had a great week. Thanks for joining me. I`ll be back here Monday night on THE BEAT with Ari Melber at 6:00 P.M. Eastern. And right now, keep it right now on MSNBC.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki in New York.
An additional 13 states began the process of partly reopening their economies today. That makes a total of two dozen now, 24 states that are working to gradually lift some of their restrictions. And ten more states plan to follow suit in the future. 15 states continue to keep all of their restrictions in place, so does the District of Columbia.
In attempting to begin reopening, the states are employing a dizzying patchwork of rules, some of them very -- not just state-by-state but county-by-county within each state. And for an extremely vocal minority, all of the restrictions cannot end soon enough.
Since yesterday, hundreds of protesters have descended on Michigan`s capital, Lansing, some of them armed with assault rifles, many without masks. The protesters entered the state house. And according to the Associated Press, some even, quote, demanded to be let on to the house floor.
Those scenes out of Michigan come as that state`s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, today put a new state of emergency in place that will go through May 29th. This came over the objections of Republican lawmakers and some business owners in the state as well.
The president said this about those protesters, quote, the governor of Michigan should give a little and put out the fire. These are very good people but they are angry. Talk to them. Make a deal.
There is also new reporting from NBC News today that the government has, quote, placed orders for well over 100,000 new body bags to hold victims. Additionally, quote, the documents show that the task force members remain worried about the insufficient availability of coronavirus tests and the possibility of a catastrophic resurgence of the virus.
Meanwhile, for many states across the country, as we said at the top, this is not a black and white debate. It is not over opening everything versus keeping everything close. It`s more about survival and balance, how to keep people alive and how to keep as many possible from losing their jobs, their businesses, their savings.
It is happening in red states. It`s also happening in blue stays, states like Colorado, where, today, much of the state, retail stores were given the green light to reopen with strict social distancing rules in place. And Monday, business offices in Colorado will be able to reopen too at a 50 percent capacity. Elective surgeries are not permitted, again, with restrictions.
There is a lot that is still not open in the state. That includes bars, in- person dining, but this is the start of one of the more ambition reopening plans now being undertaken in this country. And I`m joined now by the governor of that State of Colorado, Jared Polis. Governor, thank you for joining us. I appreciate it.
So today, this is the beginning of retail businesses in Colorado. I say most of Colorado, it sounds like the Denver area, these restrictions, the stay-at-home is still in place. But in the rest of the state, at least, you`re talking about retail businesses opening up today with strict social distancing guidelines. How is it going? What is lifelike in Colorado today?
GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): You know, I think it`s also important to point out that in all the states that had stay-at-homes, retail stores were open during that period, pharmacies, grocery stores, convenience stores. So all of those stores have been open during this period.
What we have done in Colorado is we really learned from that experience about what are those best practices that the stores that did well. This last month, they`ve done decals on the floor where you wait in line in distance, limiting traffic flow and then really applying that to the rest of retail, which is open today. And much of Colorado, as you indicated, it`s another week in parts of the Denver metro area.
KORNACKI: We have been talking about this with all of states pretty much around the country that are beginning some form of reopening. I want to put up on the screen here the guidelines that Anthony Fauci and the federal government put out there for states to enter a reopening phase.
One of the guidelines, it involved cases, a downward trajectory within a 14-day, a two-week period, or a downward trajectory and the positive test rate over that period. I`m just looking at the stats that are out there for your state. The cases per day, 564 new cases a day, that`s the average for the last week in Colorado. That`s up from where it was two weeks ago. We were looking at that positive test rate. It looks pretty flat, pretty much the same.
I`m not seeing declines there. And this is happening, I say, in other states. When you look at the federal guidelines, not requirements, but the guidelines and where you look at where your state is, why do you feel comfortable going forward with what you`re doing here?
POLIS: Well, the data shows in Colorado we absolutely have a decline in cases. What we`re doing is we`re measuring more of them. So we are picking up more of the cases. All of these case numbers that are going out there are huge understatements of how many people actually have COVID-19. I think the national figure is just north of a million, Steve, if I`m not mistaken.
Most epidemiologists and scientists I talk to think the actual figure is 2, 3, 4 million, it`s the same in our state. We are picking up a few more of them now but the actual infection rate, while it`s declined over the last two weeks, is unquestionably three, four, five times higher than the number of cases that we have reported, same in every state.
KORNACKI: You`re talking about another stat here we talk about all the time is testing. You`re talking about in Colorado, being able to do, you said, in the month of May, getting to 5,000, getting over 8,000, getting up to 10,000 tests a day this month.
Again, I was looking at the stats. It looks like the last couple of days, the numbers being reported out are more about 1,500, 2,000, your highest days here look about 4,000. How are you going to get to 10,000 tests a day in Colorado this month? What`s your plan?
POLIS: So the limiting factors, not just for me but for every governor, is not so much personnel. We have it. We have the logistics. We are using the Colorado National Guard to testing. To a certain extent, it`s the personal protection equipment but we`ve overcome that. It`s really about the tests themselves.
We have the lab capacity today in Colorado to process 10,000 a day but we don`t have the viral reagents or the detection reagents. Now, we`ve solved that. We imported 100,000 from South Korea. We got them here. They`re on the ground.
And we have reached an agreement with the federal government around additional supplies, and I talked to the CEO of a major test supplier today about the reliability throughout May. So I have great confidence that we we`ll be in that 5,000 to 10,000 tests per day range throughout May, hopefully, averaging towards the upper end of that over the month, as much as we need to do to keep people safe.
KORNACKI: You mentioned what is not in Colorado right now for in-person dining. Restaurants are not open at this point. Bars are not open, places like this.
There are some other states that are beginning to allow in-person dining with limited capacity, 50 percent, 25 percent, things like this. I`m curious, how closely are you watching those states and how will that impact on how you handle that facet of reopening in Colorado?
POLIS: Very closely. We`re watching all these measures across America and across the world. So countries like Denmark, that went back to school before many of them went back to work to see the impact of that. That was almost two weeks ago. Other states that have opened up bars and restaurants. We don`t have a definitive date for bars and restaurants.
We are working hard on those safety protocols, on what the distancing looks like, in a way that doesn`t interfere with business but keeps people safe. But there`s no date yet for those to go live because those decisions will be based on the data that we don`t have yet, the data of the future. And, unfortunately, as much as I`d like to, Steve, I don`t have a crystal ball.
KORNACKI: I wanted to ask you too this week, we`ve talked a little bit in the show the president with that executive order to invoke the Defense Production Act, to declare meat processing plants, part of the critical infrastructure of this country, to order them to stay open. This has been an issue in your state, I know, in Greeley, Colorado. You had a big outbreak there. What do you make of the presidential order? And do you think it`s feasible to keep meat processing open in your state and elsewhere?
POLIS: So the JBS meat facility really was under a public health order. It closed for about two weeks at this point and reopened. We are doing community testing. Meaning, since there wasn`t testing on site, we`d hope the company would do that. We`re just a mile from their site, we are doing free testing for anybody who`s there. So over a thousand people have showed up and, really, just in the last few days, been tested, some are workers, some are their family members, some are community members.
I think that I made these case to the vice president as well. If we care about keeping these facilities online, deploying testing specific to those facilities, for the states that have those facilities, is really important. Because then we can simply test folks and get everybody who is negative, probably 90, 95 percent, 85 percent of the workforce back to work the next day. They`re not contagious if they don`t have it, no need to keep them out. If they are contagious and they have it, they should enter a quarantine order for 14 days.
KORNACKI: All right. Governor Jared Polis from Colorado, again, this as we`re watching all of these states closely, I think, as you are too, good luck to you as you pursue this partial reopening.
POLIS: Good luck to all of us. Thank you, Steve.
KORNACKI: All right. Meanwhile, another troubling sign the country is still behind the curve when it comes to testing, with the Senate reconvening on Monday, Politico reports, that the attending physician told officials that there are not enough tests, quote, to proactively test all 100 senators as the chamber comes back in session.
I`m joined now by Dr. Leana Wen, Emergency Physician and Public Health Professor at George Washington University, and Shannon Pettypiece is Digital White House Reporter for NBC News. Thanks to both of you for being with us.
Dr. Wen, let me start with you. I put the question to the governor of Colorado there, I`m not sure if you heard it, but there has been this debate about what the federal guidelines from Dr. Anthony Fauci are for states to begin some form of reopening and where the states actually are. He seemed confident he was saying that Colorado was moving in the right direction on testing. I have to say, the numbers I was looking at earlier from that state wasn`t as clear to me looking at it. What is your sense of the readiness of at least some states in this country to begin doing what Colorado is doing?
DR. LEANA WEN, VISITING PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Steve, I worry. I worry that we`re reopening too soon before we get the numbers under control and before we have the capabilities in place for us to actually test everyone and also figure out who they`re exposed to.
I mean, this is not a matter of timeline. This is a matter of the capabilities. And I just -- I`m really concerned that we don`t have the capabilities yet to do either that widespread testing or have the public health infrastructure. Because it`s so critical for every person who tests positive, we can identify who they have exposed to and then figure out how to quarantine them.
And if we don`t have a true sense of the numbers of infections in various states, how do we know that we have the capabilities in place either? And I do worry that if we open too soon, we`re going to end up having either a second wave of infections that`s worse than the first wave or we`re going to end up having to make a difficult decision to shut down states again. And I`m not sure what the tolerance of the American people is going to be to do that all over again.
KORNACKI: Shannon, we showed that message that the president put up on Twitter today, those protestors in Michigan at the state capitol there, showing, it seems, support for them. I`m thinking back, I think it was a week or so ago, that the president said that he thought Georgia, one of the states that is pursuing a form of reopening, that Georgia was doing it too soon.
Is there a clear and consistent message that this White House, behind the scenes, not on Twitter, but behind the scenes, is delivers to the states on this?
SHANNON PETTYPIECE, MSNBC DIGITAL SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I mean, this is difficult for the administration because they really don`t have any control over the governors. They could argue they have some control when it comes to a public health crisis and closing things and shutting things down, but they really don`t have any legal authority when it comes to opening back up and how states do it with and when they do it.
And the administration is obviously very eager. They have made this very clear. They want states to reopen. They are encouraging that. You know, they themselves, you hear a top administration official is talking about things like life returning to normal by this summer and this being behind us by Memorial Day.
So they certainly are indicating they want governors to move in that direction. But at the same time, they know that a lot of the blame will fall on them that if there is a rebound, a second wave, states have to reclose. It`s kind of unavoidable at this point for some of that blame to come to the federal government and then for the federal government, they have to be ones who mount the response again. So it`s a difficult position they are in.
But I do think the White House is still erring on the side of pushing everyone to reopen and get the economy going sooner rather than later.
KORNACKI: Dr. Wen, you shared your concerns with some of these states and the actions they are taking. I`m curious, you heard the governor in Colorado say he is watching the other states closely. We are all watching Colorado, Georgia, Florida very closely. What would -- when you look at the data on this, what would success this month look like in those states? Can you set some criteria that we can all be looking at to decide, did it work in Colorado, did it in Georgia, in Minnesota, Florida and so on?
WEN: Yes, it`s a really good question, and I wish I could say, well, look at this particular metric. That`s going to tell us whether this reopening was just on time or it was too soon.
Here is the problem though. There is a significant lag of time that we have to take into consideration. There is the lag of time between when people are exposed to the virus and when they get sick, which could be up to 14 days for the incubation period. Then there`s time between when somebody gets sick and then when they get really sick and when they end up succumbing, some of them, to COVID-19.
And so it may be that we`re looking at weeks to even months before we see a real a rise in the number of, let`s say, hospitalizations or deaths. And also you know then when things reopen, it doesn`t mean that everyone is going to go into public, and so some people may not go immediately. So you may see there may be another lag of time.
And so I worry that we are drawing the wrong lessons too. If we don`t see an immediate increase, I don`t want other states to say, well, it wasn`t so bad that these states reopened so I should also proceed accordingly. I actually think that we should all proceed with an abundance of caution and all those who can should continue to stay at home and shelter in place even if our states open.
KORNACKI: All right. Dr. Leana Wen and Shannon Pettypiece, thanks to both of you for being with us. I appreciate that.
And up next, the big divide between red states and blue states on how and when to reopen their states. Is it much of a divide? Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were so excited that everybody wants to come back but it`s very hard to navigate that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know that we`re going to take precautions like we did before, to be sanitizing more. And I know God has got us.
KORNACKI: All right. We have been talking about it this week, the White House, the president deciding not if extend those federal social distancing guidelines. This is up to the states right now to decide what they want to do. Do They want to start reopening, do they want to put a plan in place to reopen or do they want to do nothing and stay sheltered in place right now?
Different decisions being made in different states, we have been talking about this, so check this out. First of all, this a pretty big collection of states right now that you see highlighted here. These are states that have begun, and they are not all doing this the same but they have begun loosening some of these restrictions and reopening.
And so let me give you an example. Take a look at Georgia, probably the most ambitious and aggressive reopening plan that we`ve seen. So, sorry, the second one here. This is second category, I meant to say. These are states that are beginning to do it soon.
So let me give you a sense. If you take a look at Georgia, again, this is probably one of the most ambitious re-openings that we are seeing here. You got retail and restaurants, not seeing this in a lot of states. Georgia is one of them. Restaurants are allowed to open. They have to have social distancing in place in these restaurants. They can`t do it -- cram everybody today. Social distancing rules in place in these restaurants. But restaurants, in-person dining can happen in Georgia. Also something you`re really not seeing elsewhere, gyms and movie theaters in Georgia can open too, again, with those social distancing guidelines. But when you say Georgia is one of the most ambitious, that is why.
Now, not everything is open, again, in Georgia, even with social distancing, bars, amusement parks, concert venues, things like this, those are not open. And, again, this is a statewide order. You`ve had some mayors in Georgia saying they are not happy with this, like the mayor of Atlanta. But this is a statewide order, so these rules apply statewide.
And, again, the death rate in Georgia, by the way, it is 16th in the country right now out of 50 starts, but also the District of Columbia. So it`s 16th when it comes to death rate. It is the mostly ambitious right now in terms of what it is trying to do.
I`ll give you another example. Florida, so you take a look -- oh, Minnesota, boy, I`m on a roll here, another state Minnesota doing a partial reopening. Look, Minnesota, when it comes to reopening, it`s kind of the opposite of Georgia. In the category of states that are doing reopening, this is one of the least ambitious that you`re seeing.
What you`re seeing here are industrial and offices, offices that don`t -- they`re not customer-facing. They don`t have customers coming in and dealing directly with you. Business offices, they can open with strict social distancing.
Retail stores, you got to do it curbside. They just changed the rule out there in Minnesota. You`re not going into the store. You can pick it up outside. Restaurants, it`s pickup, delivery only. No one`s going inside there. Bars are closed.
So, again, Minnesota like Georgia, they`re both trying to do reopening, but you`re seeing the plan here is much more scaled back compared to what you`re seeing in Georgia.
And then, by the way, I did want to mention Florida. There it is, Florida. This is a state that`s planning to -- planning to means they`re doing this Monday.
And here what you`re seeing in Florida, by the way, this is another twist. Florida is saying, look, three counties down here, three giant counties, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, they`re not reopening. Sixty percent of the coronavirus deaths are in those three counties. So they are not doing any reopening.
But the rest of the state, retail and restaurants, they can open, 25 percent capacity max. Gyms, bars, those are all closed. And, by the way, elective procedures can resume in Florida. So, that will be Monday in Florida.
But, again, just giving you a sense, a wide range here. So, when you see just reopening, does not mean the same thing from state to state. Can mean very different things. They`re all trying to figure this out themselves.
Up next: Governors and mayors are finding that their pandemic response not one-size-fits-all. We`re going to ask two mayors how they are tailoring their plans to the needs of their citizens.
Back after this.
KORNACKI: Welcome back.
And as we were just discussing, a number of Republican and Democratic governors across the country have rolled out plans to begin reopening their states.
In Oklahoma, the governor has lifted the statewide stay-at-home directive, but has given mayors the option of keeping their own stay-at-home orders in effect.
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom has hinted that he may lift state restrictions sooner than anticipated, as long as citizens continue to exercise prudence.
One expert warns that there may be dangers in a piecemeal approach, saying -- quote -- "The approach could make it both more difficult to enforce social distancing in cities and more likely that the novel coronavirus will continue its spread into the countryside."
Joining me now, the mayor of Norman, Oklahoma, Breea Clark, and Oakland, California, Mayor Libby Schaaf.
Mayor, Your Honors, I believe would be the way to address you, thank you for joining me.
Let me start in Norman, Oklahoma.
Mayor, your city today, your governor gave you the option. You chose to let retail, restaurants open, with some pretty strict restrictions. But retail and restaurants can open. Soccer fields, it looks like, baseball diamonds can open, golf courses.
It looks like -- I just checked the weather on my phone, 85 and sunny in Norman. What`s it like on the streets?
MAYOR BREEA CLARK (D-OK), NORMAN: Well, I have had many residents report to me today that people are out and about.
And, unfortunately, they`re not wearing the facial coverings that they were just a day ago. So it seems like -- and this is what we were worried about -- the relaxing of the orders statewide and even in the city, people seem to have flipped a switch, thinking things are back to normal.
And I have tried to stress many, many times that they`re nowhere near normal. And we`re actually going to have to work on defining a new normal here in our community at this time.
KORNACKI: You have raised a point of concern. And that takes me to by next question. You have the power. Not every mayor in a state that`s doing some kind of reopening has this power.
You have the power to say, you know what, we`re not going to do that, we`re not going to reopen this, we`re not going to reopen that. Would not wearing masks cause you to pull back some of these openings?
CLARK: I`m sorry. I -- could you finish the question again, please? I broke up a little bit. It`s very windy here, as well as being 85 degrees.
KORNACKI: No problem. Yes, I know wind power is a big issue down in Oklahoma.
If you`re concerned that people aren`t hearing to adhering to masks, aren`t out there wearing masks, would that cause you -- is that a thing that would cause you to pull back some of these openings, some of these relaxed rules?
CLARK: Well, all of our decisions have been data-driven.
So we`re watching our numbers closely each day, not just our hospital capacity, but the three-day rolling average of new reported cases. And so what we are looking at again is the data. But we are going to do what we can to push facial coverings.
We`re going to start a promotional campaign with our city staff, city council, police and fire. I`m even going to be requesting mayors around Oklahoma, join me in my mayors mask up campaign, because we need to walk the walk as much as we talk the talk.
So, hopefully, we can continue to drive home the importance of social distancing and facial coverings, as we continue to try and flatten that curve and stop the spread of the coronavirus here in Norman.
KORNACKI: All right, let`s go from Oklahoma out to Oakland, California, the Bay Area.
Mayor Schaaf, thank you for joining us.
So, your situation in California is interesting, because one of the first places we started to see coronavirus cases was on the West Coast. And yet now, when you start to look at the data, the death rate in California is lower, significantly lower, than some of these states that we`re talking about that are beginning to reopen.
And yet California is not there right now. And yet -- I think we mentioned this -- your state`s Governor Gavin Newsom said today he might be days away from beginning the process of reopening.
Does that sound right to you? Does that sound like the timeline that you would have in mind?
MAYOR LIBBY SCHAAF (D-CA), OAKLAND: You know, Governor Newsom has also been respectful of regional differences.
And so he has always said that more restrictive orders will be upheld. And in the Bay Area, we were the first region in the entire country to impose shelter in place, two days before the governor imposed it for the rest of California.
And we have seen that that has saved thousands of lives. Now, the Bay Area is a large region. It`s 7.5 million people. And so, while we do look forward to some reopening, this is a moment where we have to be guided by the professional opinions of our health care experts, and not politics.
And that is where we`re going to be going. The mayors of the big cities in California, we are in constant communication. Of course, we all want people to get back to work. We want our economy to get back up again, but never at the expense of human life.
KORNACKI: I guess that does raise the question, then.
I mean, is that the standard that you would apply, then, for reopening, when this is eradicated, when there`s a vaccine? I mean, to get to no human life, you would have to get there, right?
SCHAAF: No, we`re doing the same type of data tracing that Mayor Clark is.
We`re looking at our hospital capacity. We`re looking at new cases. Are we increasing or have we flattened that curve? And are we testing at sufficient levels? And do we have contact tracing in place?
And I will say, I am feeling very optimistic that we have gotten to a place where those resources are now available. And so I do expect to see a very cautious and thoughtful and responsible reopening of low-risk and high- reward activities in the Bay Area and greater California.
Just this week, we`re allowing construction to start again, which had been prohibited in the Bay Area, although not in parts of California outside the Bay Area.
So, again, the Bay Area has taken a little bit more of a cautious approach. But, boy, have we been rewarded for it, because we are seeing far fewer cases, far fewer deaths than areas like Riverside and Los Angeles.
So, I trust that data. And that`s how we`re going to be proceeding.
KORNACKI: All right, Mayor Libby Schaaf from Oakland, California, Mayor Breea Clark in Norman, Oklahoma, where there is some business activity today, good luck to you in both of your cities. Thank you.
SCHAAF: Thank you.
CLARK: Thank you.
KORNACKI: And up next: Joe Biden responding for the first time today to the recent allegation of sexual assault, what he had to say and the facts surrounding the allegation -- next.
KORNACKI: Welcome back.
Former Vice President and apparent Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden spoke publicly today for the first time about an allegation of sexual assault from a former Senate staffer, saying -- quote -- "It never happened."
The former Senate aide, Tara Reade, alleges that, in 1993, Biden pinned her against the wall and sexually assaulted her in a Senate office building, a hallway. She told NBC News that she filed a formal personnel complaint with the Senate alleging harassment in Biden`s office, but did not allege sexual assault at the time.
In an exclusive interview with "Morning Joe" today, Biden told Mika Brzezinski that he believes all women who say they are victims should be heard, and their claims should be investigated, but he reiterated his campaign`s assertion that the allegation is false.
Here is a portion of that interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC HOST, "MORNING JOE": Would you please go on the record with the American people? Did you sexually assault Tara Reade?
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, it is not true. I`m saying unequivocally, it never, never happened. And it didn`t. It never happened.
BRZEZINSKI: Do you remember her? Do you remember any -- any types of complaints that she might have made?
BIDEN: I don`t remember any type of complaint she may have made.
It was 27 years ago, and I don`t remember, nor does anyone else that I`m aware of. And the fact is that I don`t remember. I don`t remember any complaint ever having been made.
BRZEZINSKI: Why limit this only to Tara Reade? Why not release any complaints that had been made against you during your Senate career?
BIDEN: I`m prepared to do that.
To the best of my knowledge, there`s been no complaints made against me in terms of my Senate career, in terms of my office, and anything that`s been run.
Look, this is an open book. There`s nothing for me to hide, nothing at all.
BRZEZINSKI: You were unequivocal, Mr. Vice President, back in 2018 during the Kavanaugh controversy and hearings, and you said that women should be believed.
BIDEN: Look, from the very beginning, I`ve said believing women means taking the woman`s claim seriously when she steps forward, and then vet it. Look into it.
That`s true in this case as well.
Women have a right to be heard, and the press should rigorously investigate claims they make.
And I will always uphold that principle. But, in the end, in every case, the truth is what matters. And, in this case, the truth is the claims are false.
I`m not going to question her motive. I`m not going to get into that at all. I don`t know why she`s saying this. I don`t know why, after 27 years, all of a sudden, this gets raised. I don`t understand it.
But I`m not going to go in and question her motive. I`m not going to attack her. She has a right to say whatever she wants to say.
But I have a right to say, look at the facts, check it out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: NBC News reached out to Reade after Biden`s morning Joe interview this morning, but we haven`t heard back.
Reade`s public accounting of the allegation has changed over time. Last year, she told a California newspaper that Biden had engaged in inappropriate, but not sexual touching, but she did not alleged sexual assault at that time.
Reade has subsequently told NBC News that she didn`t feel comfortable telling her full story then.
Biden`s general election opponent, Donald Trump, has been accused more than -- by more than a dozen women of sexual misconduct, ranging from harassment to assault. The president denies their accounts.
Joining me now is MSNBC political reporter Ali Vitali, who has interviewed Tara Reade and has been reporting on this allegation.
Ali, thank you for joining us.
Let me start with this issue of the complaint.
First of all...
ALI VITALI, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes.
KORNACKI: So, Biden says that any complaint that Tara Reade filed would now be on file at the National Archives, and he would like to see that released, if it is there.
I understand, though, that there is some confusion over whether any complaint would actually be there. Take us through what we know about this complaint, if there is one.
VITALI: Well, Steve, this is really the quest for a paper trail and if a paper trail exists, because, just a few hours ago, Biden put a -- put a letter out to the secretary of the Senate saying that he would like these records to be found and released if they exist.
And all of this stems from Tara Reade telling me that she filed a complaint with the Senate office in 1993.
Now, Biden is saying that he thinks that that record, if it exists, because it`s a personnel record, would be in the National Archives, as opposed to the University of Delaware, which has a trove of documents related to Biden`s time in public life.
The thing is, there`s a difference here between these two entities. Biden is now calling on the National Archives to release the documents if they exist. On the other hand, the documents that are at the University of Delaware are sealed for two years after Biden leaves public life.
He sort of explained that this morning with Mika Brzezinski, saying that in those documents at the University of Delaware are things like speeches that he`s given over the years, conversations and public statements that he`s made on policy.
He says that releasing those things in the context of a campaign would mean being taken out of context. And so he wants those things to remain sealed.
And so I think all of this comes against the backdrop of transparency and how much is enough. Of course, the scars are still fresh from 2016 for many Democrats, after seeing Hillary Clinton being asked to release more e- mails, more things from her time at the State Department and other points in her public life.
So those scars are still fresh. And then, of course, there`s the reality of President Donald Trump. He, as you mentioned, is accused multiple times of things ranging from harassment to assault.
And so I think, as we go down the road with this, the question is, as it becomes more politicized, how will this manifest by Democrats and Republicans both?
KORNACKI: We mentioned, NBC News, that you have reached out to Tara Reade today to see if she had any further response, have not heard anything.
Are we expecting at all? Do you know if she`s expected to address this again, if she`s expected to make a response in any way?
VITALI: Well, certainly, I have reached out to her, and I have not heard back from her. And we have asked her to do an interview with us as well.
There has been reporting that she will be doing an interview with another outlet. We`re not sure when that`s going to be happening. But I think the thing that`s really notable here is the way that we have seen Democrats and Joe Biden both having to respond to this allegation, it sort of forces a redefining or specifying when you talk about what it means to believe women.
Over the course of my reporting on this story with my colleague Mike Memoli, we have heard from the Biden campaign something that the vice -- former vice president echoed this morning, which is that he believes that women`s stories should be put out there, but then also vetted.
In the case of this one, he says, it`s untrue. But, at the same time, you look what other Democratic women specifically have said when they have been asked about this, and many of them say that they tend to believe Joe Biden in this instance.
But, of course, for many Democrats, it does sort of demand a reckoning of what it means to believe women. And, in this case, we`re watching a lot of Democrats thread that needle by specifying that they think that these claims should be aired in public, that Tara Reade has a right to be talking about her story in a public forum, at the same time, though, many of these Democrats then going the next step and saying, but in this instance, they believe that it`s been vetted and investigated by reporters, and that it`s untrue, as Joe Biden says.
KORNACKI: All right, Ali Vitali, who has been covering this story, and will continue to.
Ali, thank you for joining us. Appreciate it.
Still ahead: more on the presidential race, including Biden`s search for a running mate and President Trump trying to express optimism about an economic rebound.
Stay with us.
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TINA TCHEN, PRESIDENT, TIME`S UP: You know, we`re in a pivotal moment in our country with candidates charged with sexual assault, and what they need to do is treat them with the seriousness that they deserve.
Treat allegations seriously and have them investigated. Go directly to the people and say -- and address them and call for full transparency, which Vice President Biden did today.
We need the same transparency, Stephanie, for every candidate running for president.
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KORNACKI: Welcome back.
That was Tina Tchen, former chief of staff for first lady Michelle Obama, now the president of Time`s Up, a nonprofit organization aiming to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
Former Vice President Joe Biden`s denial of a former staffer`s claim of sexual assault 27 years ago comes with the presidential election now just six months away.
And for more, I am joined by Michelle Goldberg, columnist for "The New York Times," Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Christine Rosen, senior writer for "Commentary" magazine.
Thanks to all of you for being with us. Appreciate it.
Michelle, let me start with you, because you had written about these accusations against Biden a few weeks ago as they were starting to get some attention. You wrote then: "Personally, I`m just left with doubt, doubt about Biden and doubt about the charges against him."
You have heard Biden today. Is that still how you feel about this? Or has your view of it changed at all?
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": No, that is still how I feel about it.
And I think, to some extent, it depends on the time of day, right? There`s obviously been the corroboration of Tara Reade`s story in terms of her neighbor, her neighbor saying that she was told the story before. On the other hand, the neighbor told -- the neighbor came forward at Tara Reade`s urging, after being reminded of the story by Tara Reade.
She told the reporter that she had forgotten it, until Tara Reade reminded her of it. So, I think you can -- you can continue to make the case either way.
I do think it means a lot that Biden has called for any records, if the Senate has them, to be released. And I think he did something important today, which was to deny it unequivocally, without attacking Tara Reade`s character, without sort of playing whataboutism with Trump, without saying that Trump`s allegations are worse, although they are, and kind of -- I think he threaded a difficult needle of saying that, this woman is not telling the truth about me, without really attacking her character in any way.
KORNACKI: Michael, I want to ask you about a piece of it that Michelle just raised there, and that is the records, and what Joe Biden is saying here.
Now, he says he would like any record of this complaint that she says she filed in 1993 to be released. He said, go through the National Archives. There`s, I understand, some question there about what they have, whether they have anything.
Then there`s this question of his -- of his papers at the University of Delaware. And you heard from Ali Vitali in the last segment explain, what his folks are saying is, look, there`s all sorts of documents totally unrelated to this in there. No politician releases this kind of thing when they`re active.
The case that`s being made here for transparency is, you get an independent person to go through the Delaware records from the time Tara Reade was in the office, which I think was about nine months, and if there`s anything related to Tara Reade in there, bring that out.
Is it a problem for Biden that he`s not embracing that kind of transparency?
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Not yet.
I think that, as was just expressed, the vice president came out today in the most forthright manner he could, in a very difficult position, a very narrow lane that he had to walk today. And I think he did, by and large, pretty well at that.
With respect to the university documents, the inference, not necessarily the facts, but the inference is that those documents have nothing to do with Senate staff personnel issues. They are -- they are speeches. They`re memos. They`re their documents related to the business of the Senate and the business of the senator that have nothing to do with personnel engagements.
That`s where I think, at some point, to your point, that an independent individual or group would go in and go through those documents just to make certain that no staff- or personnel-related issues or documents were corresponded with or noted in some form in those documents, just to make it clear that, yes, I am being transparent.
As I told you, what you`re looking for is not here. It`s in the Senate archives or in the National Archives, and not over here.
So I think he may move to that point, but not just yet.
KORNACKI: Christine Rosen, I want to bring you in on an argument you`re making.
You`re saying that this allegation against Biden and the way it has been sort of processed in our politics gets to a double standard. You`re saying, you believe that Biden is due and is owed the presumption of innocence, but that Biden and his allies are applying a standard here that they have not always applied.
Explain what you`re arguing there.
CHRISTINE ROSEN, SENIOR WRITER, "COMMENTARY": Well, look, I think, like anyone accused of a serious crime, Joe Biden deserves due process. He deserves the presumption of innocence.
That is not, in fact, the standard that has been applied by his advocates in cases, as you mentioned earlier, about Brett Kavanaugh. But even on college campuses, for example, when Joe Biden was vice president, the Obama administration dramatically expanded Title IX regulations and guidance regarding sexual assault on campus.
And one of the after-effects of that was that many young men accused of sexual assault were not given due process, they were not allowed to confront their accusers.
So, I want to know from Joe Biden -- look, I will presume his innocence, but I want to know if his standard has changed. And if it has changed, then why aren`t his surrogates, people like Stacey Abrams and Kirsten Gillibrand and Nancy Pelosi -- he`s sending women out as his surrogates to argue his case and to say that they believe him.
They look like hypocrites, unless he defines what this new standard should be and if it should apply to him.
KORNACKI: Michelle Goldberg, I`m curious about that, because the argument is being made out there that this is a moment -- and I think Ali Vitali mentioned this in the last segment -- for Democrats who embraced the MeToo movement, for instance, when the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination was going through, and there was the allegation there about his teenage years; this is a moment for Democrats to reconsider the standards they are applying in these cases and whether they have applied -- unnecessarily applied them fairly in the past.
Do you agree with that?
GOLDBERG: No, I don`t.
I think the Democrats are being asked to apply a set of standards to themselves that they would never dare apply to anyone else. I have seen a lot of people trying to equate this with the Brett Kavanaugh case.
And part of the difficulty in talking about this is that I, like I think most people who have supported MeToo movement, do not want to go through a case by -- or a point-by-point discussion of why one accuser seems more credible, or why one case seems to have more backing than another.
I will say that, if Christine Blasey Ford -- and this is not saying that I don`t believe Tara Reade. I just think that if Christine Blasey Ford had done some of the things that Tara Reade had done, Democrats would never have dared put her on the stand.
If she had ever tweeted out before going public with her allegations, dot, dot, dot timing, dot, dot dot, wait for it, dot, dot, dot, ticktock, there would have been no Kavanaugh hearings.
And, again, let`s remember that what -- Christine Blasey Ford was cross- examined under oath on national television. And what feminists and other supporters of the MeToo movement were asking for at the time was that the FBI interview witnesses that she had identified.
So they weren`t saying that everything that she said should be taken on faith and should be taken on faith based on accounts in the media. They were asking for the fullest possible airing of the evidence.
And I think that that`s -- that that should be the standard here as well.
KORNACKI: All right, I think there`s a good discussion here I would -- I wish we had time to continue with, because there`s a lot more I`d like to ask and hear here.
But, for right now, I have to thank Michelle Goldberg, Michael Steele, Christine Rosen. Appreciate you all being with us.
And up next: a rock `n` roll tribute to those on the front lines.
KORNACKI: Because of the pandemic, this year`s tour by the rock group Queen and Adam Lambert has been postponed until next year, but they are putting that extra time to good use.
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KORNACKI: To help raise money for the World Health Organization`s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, the group reworked their classic anthem "We Are the Champions," calling it "You Are the Champions."
They are dedicating it to coronavirus front-line workers.
Queen guitarist Brian May told "Rolling Stone" this -- quote -- "Just like we sent our young men and women into two World Wars to fight, these young men and women are now fighting for us and risking their lives every day. That`s what this song has become about. It`s for everyone who is out there working and putting their life at risk."
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KORNACKI: Thanks for being with us.
And don`t go anywhere. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" is up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.