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Navajo nation TRANSCRIPT: 5/15/20, MSNBC Live

Guests: Nancy Pelosi, Steve Schmidt, Patrice Harris, Mandela Barnes, Elena Schneider, Sean Penn, Jonathan Nez, Tiffany Cross



BRAD "SCARFACE" JORDAN, AMERICAN RAPPER: Like I`ve wanted to live in the midst of COVID, in the midst of this Pneumonia, in the midst of this kidney failure, I still want to live. But you know --

MELBER: Let me say this Brad, because we -- I`m at the end of my hour. I want to have you back on the show, and I want you to recover and I want to see you in person. So if you do, let`s do it again, and you come back. Yes, sir?

JORDAN: Yes, you got my number, you call me any time. You hear?

MELBER: You got it, honor to me, thanks to John for riding with us. Brad "Scarface" Jordan, we all wish you speedy recovery. That does it for us, keep it right here on MSNBC.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening I am Joy Reid.

Well, Donald Trump`s incoherent response to the coronavirus pandemic is eliciting a reaction from the rest of the world that most Americans are unfamiliar with, unfamiliar with being the recipient of, and that would be pity. I mean, of course, we have drawn the empathy of the world. We faced past tragedies like 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina. But pity, the sense that we are, in fact, pitiable, well, that is something new for Americans.

In an unprecedented rebuke of a sitting American president, the British scientific journal, The Lancet, offered this blunt advice today. Americans must put a president in the White House who understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics. It comes as the guardian reports that in countries known for chronic problems of governance, there`s been a sense of wonder that the U.S. appears to have joined their ranks.

Eugene Robinson echoed those themes today in The Washington Post, writing, the pandemic is acting as a stress test for societies around the world, and ours is in danger of failing. He says, the phrase American exceptionalism has always meant different things to different people. Not not until now, at least in my lifetime, has it suggested that the United States should be pitied.

All you need to do is look at Donald Trump`s rose garden event today. It was meant to send a message that his administration is rushing a coronavirus vaccine to the American public. But as Trump promised a vaccine within the year, even at the same time, he dismissed the very need for one.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There`s never been a vaccine project anywhere in history like this, and I just want to make something clear. It`s very important. Vaccine or no vaccine, we`re back.

We think we`re going to have a vaccine in the pretty near future, and if we do, we`re going to really be a big step ahead. And if we don`t, we`re going to be like so many other cases where you had a problem come in, it will go away. At some point it will go away.

You know, it`s not solely vaccine based. Other things have never had a vaccine and they go away. So, I don`t want people to think that this is all dependent on vaccine.


REID: It illustrates the dangerous disconnect between Trump`s political agenda and the science that should be guiding his decisions. It comes after he bragged yesterday that the United States has the best testing in the world, before adding the testing is overrated.


TRUMP: So we have the best testing in the world. It could be the testing is, frankly, overrated. Maybe it is overrated.

We have more cases than anybody in the world, but why? Because we do more testing. When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn`t do any testing, we would have very few cases.


REID: Likewise, Donald Trump has repeatedly questioned the expertise of public health officials, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the very people that he needs to make decisions in the public`s interest.

I`m joined by, Steve Schmidt, Political Strategist and former Republican. And, Steve, you know today, you tweeted a piece that was done by The Atlantic. It was a video montage that contrasted Donald Trump and leaders of other countries in the world. I just want to play a little piece of that.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: Basing our decisions on evidence, on facts, on best science available is going to be extremely important for keeping Canadians safe.

TRUMP: The vast majority of Americans, the risk is very, very low.


REPORTER: Why do you keep using this? A lot will say it`s racist.

TRUMP: Because it comes from China. It`s not racist at all, no. Not at all. It comes from China.

TSAI ING-WEN, REPUBLIC OF CHINA PRESIDENT: I want to ask everyone not to see others as potential enemies and not to point the finger of blame.

REPORTER: What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now, who are scared?

TRUMP: I say that you`re a terrible reporter.


REID: You know, Steve, when you tweeted that out, it kind of wrecked my day, because it had me thinking, you know, people in those other countries must look at us and think, my God, what happened to the the country that liberated the world and led the world out of World War II, and set a standard, you know? At least we always claim, for democracy. And I`m thinking of all these pieces that I`ve written about other countries feeling sorry for us, pitying us. And I really want to talk to you about that. So I`m glad you`re hear. Your thoughts?

STEVE SCHMIDT, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, Joy, good evening. I think that what makes the country exceptional is that we`re made up of all the peoples of the world. We`re the only country in the history of the world that`s founded on the power of an idea, and that idea, though it was wrapped in injustice and hypocrisy, is that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with an inimitable rights in overtime. That came to include African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Women, gay men and women. And we still have work to do.

But that collection of people, Americans, we have fed more people, clothed more people, liberated more people, cured more people and done more general good in the world than all the other countries of the world put together since the beginning of time.

And for the last 75 years, since the end of World War II, we`ve lived in an American era. It was a liberal U.S.-led, liberal global order that was architected in the mind of the 20th century`s greatest president and FDR, was built by Harry Truman, it was maintenance (ph) from presidents between Eisenhower and Obama of both parties, and it`s ended.

Donald Trump has been the worst president this country has ever had. And I don`t say that hyperbolically. He is. But he is a consequential president. And he has brought this country in three short years to a place of weakness that is simply unimaginable if you were pondering where we are today from the day where Barack Obama left office and there were a lot of us on that day who were deeply skeptical and very worried about what a Trump presidency would be.

But this is a moment of unparalleled national humiliation, of weakness. When you listen to the president, these are the musings of an imbecile, an idiot. And I don`t use those words to name call. I use them because they`re the precise words in the English language to describe his behavior, his comportment, his actions. We`ve never seen a level of incompetence, a level of ineptitude so staggering on a daily basis by anybody in the history of the country who has ever been charged with substantial responsibilities.

It`s just astonishing that this man is the president of the United States, the man, the con man from New York City. Many bankruptcies, failed businesses, a reality show that branded him as something that he never was, a successful businessman. Well, he is the president of the United States now, and the man who said that he would make the country great again, he`s brought death, suffering and economic collapse on truly an epic scale. And let`s be clear, this isn`t happening in every country around the world.

This place, our place, our home, our country, the United States, we are the epicenter. We are the place where you`re most likely to die of this disease. We`re the ones with the most shattered economy and we are because of the fool that sits in the Oval Office behind the resolute desk.

REID: Yes, I mean, I am almost waiting for a Bob Geldof figure to sort of say, we need a telethon for America. Like it is embarrassing, it is humiliating in a lot of fundamental ways to watch him and then contrast him with the way the rest of the world is being led. I want you to stay -- just sit with me Steve, please stand by, because history actually holds a lot of different lessons for us about politicians rushing the science when it comes to vaccines.

In early 1976 a strain of swine flu was discovered in the United States, which sparked fears of a wider outbreak. In an attempt to avert a full- blown pandemic during an election year, no less, President Gerald Ford announced his intent to vaccinate the entire United States population.


GERARD FORD, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Inoculation are to be available at schools, hospitals, physician`s offices and public health facilities. The reaction to the shot, I am told, may mean a few sore arms for a day or two, a very small price to pay for this vital protection.


REID: That vaccine was indeed produced at warp speed and was delivered to the public in less than six months. In fact, a widely publicized event that October, in a widely publicized event that October, President Ford himself received the vaccine before the T.V. cameras, all part of a P.R. campaign to encourage mass inoculation.

However, the ambitious program was abruptly suspended when it the vaccine was linked to a rare neurological disorder in some patients. And thankfully that epidemic never materialized but it is a reminder that political expediency should not drive scientific decision-making.

Now, fast forward to today, and we can all see, that the 45th president is emphasizing the speed of a vaccine more than the science.


TRUMP: My administration cut through every piece of red tape to achieve the fastest ever by far launch of a vaccine trial for this new virus. It`s called Operation Warp Speed. That means big and it means fast. Moving on at record, record, record speed. You better come up with a good vaccine, because we`re ready to deliver it.


REID: I want to bring in Dr. Patrice Harris, President of the American Medical Association, as well as Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times. And I believe Steve is still with us as well.

And, Dr. Baker -- I`m sorry, Dr. Harris, let me start with you first. This was the testimony yesterday about the timeframe for bringing a vaccine to market, for people -- to be useable for people from Dr. Bright, who was dismissed from the administration, who was the head of trying to create such a vaccine. Take a listen.


DR. RICK BRIGHT, OUSTED VACCINE OFFICIAL: A lot of optimism is swirling around a 12 to 18-month timeframe if everything goes perfectly. We`ve never seen everything go perfectly. My concern is if we rush too quickly and consider cutting out critical steps, we may not have a full assessment of the safety of that vaccine.


REID: You know, Dr. Harris, NBC News did a fact check on this today that a coronavirus vaccine, Trump says, this could come out this year, this sort of happy talk that he`s doing about a vaccine, experts say he would need a miracle to be right. It would take over a year. It`s going to take quite a long time.

We`re talking -- I was talking earlier with, Steve, about this idea of this sort of humiliating impact of watching this president operate around the world. We`re not even in the global -- we`re not even working together with the rest of the world to create a vaccine. Is it possible for -- at this stage, do you think it`s realistic that this country, such as it is, as we are being led, is going to create a vaccine by the end of the year?

DR. PATRICE HARRIS, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT: Well, Joy, it`s good to be with you. And certainly, early on, we heard Dr. Fauci say that 12 to 18 months would be ambitious. And so as you so note, we have come a long way since 1976, but politics absolutely cannot drive the timeline for the development of a vaccine. We have to let the research dictate the efficacy and the safety. And we cannot sacrifice safety for speed.

REID: And, you know, Peter, does the White House understand that in your reporting? Donald Trump does this happy talk, right, the power of positive thinking, which he is very influenced by he in his father. But happy talk won`t make a vaccine happen. And saying a vaccine will happen simply raises expectations because he hopes he will go out and shop. But when there is no vaccine, do they have a plan for what happens when there is no vaccine by fall?

PETER BAKER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, that`s a great question. Remember, this is a president who told us back at the beginning of this that a vaccine would be available soon. He had to be corrected by Dr. Fauci and said, no, it`s not going to be soon. Don`t get your hopes too far up.

So this is the president who want this is to go away. He`s frustrated by this virus, he`s frustrated by the economic shutdown, he`s frustrated by the impact obviously on the country and on his re-election chances. And he`s looking for something, anything that will make this go away. Even this just -- he keeps telling us the nature it will make this go away at some point. You know, that`s the doctor will tell you about that, but this vaccine is not in the immediate future. And to tell the country that it is risks raising expectations beyond where the science seems to be at the moment.

REID: Dr. Harris, isn`t testing and contact tracing that would make it go away? The thing is there`s an optimism or is there answer that he could reach for, lots and lots and lots of testing and contact tracing. Isn`t that the thing that most countries are doing?

HARRIS: Testing is critical and, of course, a part of testing is a capacity, but also a strategy. And we`ve been lacking in both capacity and strategy. And certainly, Joy, it`s important though that the tests are reliable and accurate.

And we`ve seen the FDA raise concerns yesterday regarding the rapid test and the AMA put forth guidance yesterday regarding the antibody test. And we are really urging caution on widespread use of the antibody test because of the error rate.

And so, yes, testing is critical. It`s also, though, critical to continue with our wearing face coverings in public and physical distancing and really being careful with gathering in large crowds. So it`s about layers, the more that we do. But we have to make sure that our tests are reliable.

But in the meantime -- in the meantime, before we develop a vaccine which, of course, will take time, we need to continue the basic public health strategies that we know work to reduce the spread and ultimately save lives.

REID: You know, Steve, here is Donald Trump, you know, re-tweeting to somebody that`s out at a bar, right? So he thinks that the thing to do is just do happy talk, and say everything is great, go to a bar, right, which is a where people would, of course, get sick.

We were on opposite sides of the world of politics back when with George W. Bush. And this was a president who, in a lot of our minds, made a huge and tragic error invading Iraq. But you could see that at a certain point he realized he needed to fix and he needed to right things, that he needed to bring in people like Peter Baker. I mean, he need to bring in people who were experts, people who could turn things around. You could see that at least he understood that he was on a wrong track.

This president doesn`t seem to understand or accept that. He just seems to decide he is on the right track and that somehow it will work out. I`ve never seen anything like this, Steve. Have you? I mean, even just looking at history, is there another instance of a president like this?

SCHMIDT: There is no instance of leadership in American history where you`ve seen somebody so lacking in the intellect, the mental skills, the moral -- he is deficient at an intellectual, at a moral and at a mental level for leadership, profoundly so.

And as Peter analyzed the things that are upsetting the president, what I would say is he cares about one thing, and he shown this to us for three years. He cares about Donald Trump. What he cares mostly about is being re- elected so he doesn`t go down in history as a loser. That`s what he cares about. He stands up on a stage behind the presidential podium, talking about his television ratings.

In the next breath, he`s talking to the American people about injecting household disinfectant, the level of just abject stupidity that flows from his mouth on a daily basis is hard to articulate. But when he stands up there and he says, the economy should be firing on all cylinders next year, and we`re going to have a good fourth quarter, and we`ll start to turn around in the third, none of this is true. This isn`t magic. It`s not happy talk. It`s stupid talk.

He has been fundamentally dishonest with the American people almost 20,000 times, is how many times he has lied. He has misinformed the American people. He`s communicated erratically. It is an awful exposition of leadership. And as a result, the United States is in the worst position of any country in the world when it comes to COVID-19. This is so much worse than it otherwise would have been.

And what he`s betting on is that the American people are going to be hoodwinked into accepting the happy talk. But here is the thing. We`re closing in on 90,000 deaths and soon it will be at 100,000, and then it will be at 200,000 dead Americans, which will be half the tally of the casualties of the Second World War.

We will all know somebody who has perished from this by the time we get to the end, by the time we get to the vaccine. But I would bet my left arm that Donald Trump can`t spell vaccine, let alone be able to make a prediction when we`re likely to see one.

REID: Yes, it is both humiliating and also incredibly tragic. Steve Schmidt, thank you very much, Dr. Patrice Harris, thank you. Peter Baker, I might have upgraded you to a presidential whisperer, that was James Baker, that was that. Peter Baker, thank you very much.

Coming up, a chaotic path to reopening. A new poll that shows that many Americans are worried that that it is all happening too soon.


REID: Welcome back.

Wisconsin`s state Supreme Court struck down Democratic Governor Tony Evers` stay-at-home order this week. With no new order in place, it`s led to a disjointed response, where some counties are keeping the order in place and others have allowed the reopening of bars and restaurants and other businesses.

In some case, guidance is being ignored about wearing masks and social distancing.

On the front page of "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" today, the editorial board blasted conservative justices on the court, as well as state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle for failing the public.

Quote: "We can`t count on our elected representatives to work together for the public good in Wisconsin. They have proven themselves utterly incapable of compromising, even in an emergency, to come up with a sensible plan to protect the health of our most vulnerable friends, neighbors and family members."

For more, I`m joined by Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes.

And, Lieutenant Governor Barnes, thanks so much for being here.

The editorial board was very clear that the Supreme Court, for very partisan reasons, decided to overturn the Governor Evers` order. However, what do they mean when they`re saying that neither side is working in tandem to come up with rules?

Are there rules that Republicans have put forward that you think are reasonable that Democrats are saying no to?

LT. GOV. MANDELA BARNES (D-WI): So, I would like to first -- thank you for having me.

But I want to point out, I`m happy that they mentioned the fact that there`s dysfunction when it comes to an issue that should be hyper- nonpartisan. But the fact is, the pointing fingers -- I would respect it more if they pointed fingers in the right direction.

The fact is, Governor Evers came up with a plan. The only thing we got from the Republican majority in the legislature was them saying no, without offering an alternative.

Now, I have always learned that if I have a problem with something, if I`m going to be critical about a plan, I should have one of my own. They haven`t done that.

And they chose to run to the Supreme Court, which has acted as an extension of the legislative branch as of late. And that`s why the safer-at-home order was struck down, without any real path forward. And it also created chaos for local governments and tribal governments as well in the state of Wisconsin.

REID: And so my understanding now is that you have got some places where bars and restaurants are open, people coming from over the border from other states, like, oh, good, now we can go out to the bar in your state, which means more potential tax on your public health services.

This sounds to me like chaos.

BARNES: Well, absolutely. It`s a patchwork now.

And they are following right in line President Donald Trump, who offered no streamlined set of rules or a set of standards that the federal government should operate by, leaving the states to figure it out.

And now that our safer-at-home order is been struck down by the hyper partisan Supreme Court here, we`re -- we`re seeing cities and municipalities figuring it out and playing by their own set of rules.

You can take Milwaukee County, for example. The city of Milwaukee has a safer-at-home order. The 18 surrounding areas don`t. It`s a little bit different. The rules are different, no matter which -- where you go.

And the fact is, what I have tried to explain to people is that there`s no municipal boundary, there is no county line road that`s going to prevent the disease from coming into your area, that`s going to prevent it from coming into your community.

And so it`s very irresponsible on behalf of the legislature. And like you said, have they offered any plan that we have said no to? No, they have not. They have chosen just to be critical, without being productive.

And that`s the -- that`s the bigger problem here. And people are going to suffer as a result. People`s health and safety is being completely jeopardized.

REID: And do I understand that the sort of swing vote here was the same Supreme Court justice who was just voted out, and who also essentially forced voters in your state to line up and vote, even though that was also unsafe?

BARNES: Let`s point out the fact this is Donald Trump`s handpicked candidate for Supreme Court, who lost in the election this April that should have never taken place in the first place, by the way.

REID: Yes.

BARNES: But, yes, that is -- that was the deciding vote on his way out, a big middle finger to the people of the state of Wisconsin.

REID: Well, maybe you guys can try again with another plan once he has finished his term.

Thank you very much, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes. Please be safe. Thank you.

And still ahead: The Navajo Nation has one of the highest rates of coronavirus infection nationwide, but that`s just one of many challenges facing Navajo families today.

We will talk with the president of the Navajo Nation and actor and activist Sean Penn, who`s on the reservation helping relief efforts there.

That is next. Do not go away.


REID: Welcome back.

Last night, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden held a virtual town hall right here on MSNBC with our own Lawrence O`Donnell.

Biden once again emphatically denied the allegation from former staffer Tara Reade that he sexually assaulted her 27 years ago. But, for the first time, he acknowledged the dilemma facing some voters, particularly women.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think they should vote their heart.

And if they believe Tara Reade, they probably shouldn`t vote for me. I wouldn`t vote for me if I believed Tara Reade.

I promise you, it never happened. It should be vetted. She should be thoroughly looked at, and whether or not these happened. Look at the story, follow the storyline, and determine if there`s any truth to it.

And there is no truth to it, I promise you.


REID: Biden also committed that, if elected, he would not pardon Donald Trump.

And Biden said that, unlike Trump, he would have a hands-off approach to the Justice Department.

But all the buzz last night was around Biden`s special guest, Stacey Abrams, one of the women believed to be on his V.P. short list.

Abrams, who formally endorsed by on Tuesday, used the appearance to push for criminal justice reform and fair voting.


STACEY ABRAMS (D), FORMER GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not in politics simply to run and stand for office. I`m here to do the work.

And the work that I thought was most important was making sure that we had free and fair elections across this country. I did that through Fair Fight.


REID: And, today, the Biden campaign laid out their strategy for victory in November.

Advisers for Biden called Trump`s strategy desperate but acknowledge that they are bracing for an unprecedented deluge of attacks from Trump. The Biden campaign outlined the states that they say that they are targeting, including battlegrounds like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, as well as red states like Arizona, Texas, and Georgia.

But to do any of that, Biden will need help from the Democratic Party`s most reliable voters.

And that is coming up next.


REID: Today, apparent Democratic nominee Joe Biden`s campaign outlined his path to victory in November, saying that voters will reject Donald Trump.

But in "The Washington Post," seven prominent black women activists and media figures argue that what the former V.P. really needs is black women to support him in record numbers and with record enthusiasm.

The author say: "We have been the Democrats` most reliable voting bloc since passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Most recently, we resurrected Biden`s campaign. This year is no different. Biden`s only path to victory is through black women and the voters we know how to energize. Very simply, Vice President Biden, you owe us. You need us. And you must not take our votes for granted. They must be earned."

I`m joined now by one of the authors of that piece, Tiffany Cross. She`s a resident fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and the author of "Say It Louder!: Black Voters, White Narratives and the Saving of Our Democracy," as well as Elena Schneider, who`s a national political reporter for Politico.

Thank you both for being here.

Tiffany, I`m going to start with you.

And this piece in "The Washington Post" and the video that goes with it outlines the three things that the group of you say need to be done, Joe Biden needs to do. What are those things?

TIFFANY CROSS, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL: So, one, we say black woman as vice president, two, a black woman Supreme Court justice, and, three, the adoption of a comprehensive black agenda.

So, I know for some people across the country that may seem radical, but if you think about it, Joy, we have had a white man vice president at the same time that we have had a white man attorney general, at the same time that we have had almost all white men Supreme Court justices.

So, at this point, because black women have so disproportionately upheld the Democratic Party, we don`t believe that it is too much to ask that our work be rewarded, that our labor bear fruit in this administration.

And so I`m so proud to join my sisters in this effort and make our demands heard at the national level. And I certainly hope that the Biden campaign has taken heed to what we`re asking.

REID: You know, a lot, Tiffany, that you hear sort of in the Twitters and in the world is, but black voters already vote for Democrats. Black voters -- Biden`s got black women. They`re going to vote 90-plus percent for Biden anyway. Why does he need to do anything extra?

How do you respond to that?

CROSS: That is such a dangerous misunderstanding and misconception.

Biden would be wrong to assume that he has black voters. Now, yes, black woman do overwhelmingly vote Democrat, as do black people. But we`re asking our friends and our family to leapfrog over this unholy trinity of things that we will be trying to suppress our vote. That`s foreign election interference, that`s GOP voter suppression, and now we have the dangers of COVID-19.

If we are asking people to put their bodies on the line, to put their lives at risk, to put their livelihoods in the hands of this administration, we would like some of those demands met.

If Joe Biden thinks he is Joe-Bama, he is wrong. He actually does need to make inroads with this community. And what we saw Super Tuesday, black voters, as we always do, made a pragmatic decision. It`s not that black voters are so overly enthusiastic about Joe Biden, but he looked like the candidate who was, one, the most likely to get elected, that perhaps the rest of the country might vote in their interest and vote for him, and, two, would cause the least harm to the black community, despite some of his questionable and problematic record.

So, we stand by this op-ed. And I want to be clear, if I can, Joy, and just say, in no way are we saying we -- meet these demands or we won`t vote. But we`re asking -- you`re asking us to lift you up. Make our lift that much lighter by meeting some of these demands. That`s what we`re asking for.

And we hope that the Biden campaign will take heed to these demands, because we are here to help him help us help you.

REID: Well, and, Elena, I wonder, if you -- in your reporting, how the Biden campaign is reacting to this, because there are now -- there are demands on the table of him.

And he does have a record, as did Hillary Clinton, that could help him. He has some connections to the African American community. I saw it myself in Selma. But he also has a record. He`s got Anita Hill. It`s an issue. It`s going to come up, the crime bill, which did in Hillary Clinton, even though she had nothing to do with it, other than being married to the guy who signed it.

So, does the Biden campaign understand that it`s not a walk for them with black voters?

ELENA SCHNEIDER, POLITICO: I do think they understand that they have a real responsibility, and following up on the constituency that lifted them, first in South Carolina, which was key to turning around his bid in the primary, and second on Super Tuesday.

Look, they are looking at this very similarly, in fact, to how President Obama ran his V.P. search, which, obviously, Vice President Biden is deeply familiar with, somebody who is tested on the national stage, somebody who`s been vetted through this primary process, who`s gone through those national presidential debate stages.

Those are the sorts of things they`re looking for. And that`s why he`s got three women who he competed against in this primary top of list. And, obviously, Kamala Harris is the only black woman on that list in terms of those who competed against him in a primary, a presidential primary, and so certainly she is his top among those potential options.

But, look, he`s got several other women who are -- who are at least in the mix right now.

REID: And do you have any insight into who is sort of gaining favor?

There have been a lot of pieces written about the family`s sort of favoritism toward Amy Klobuchar, who`s got a lot of criminal justice record issues that would be a problem, would be a thing if they picked her, but there are -- do you have any insight into who they`re leaning toward?

SCHNEIDER: Well, my understanding is that, based on my reporting, is that they`re really looking at two things, one which is somebody who could take over the presidency on day one. So, they want someone who has that experience who can jump into the job, given Biden`s age in particular, with the awareness of looking at that whoever this candidate may be would be the likeliest to go on to be the next potential sort of top pick for a presidential nominee themselves.

And then, two, chemistry, which is a very sort of difficult thing to measure. It`s all about personal relationships. And that`s very difficult to gauge, not only sort of in this cloak-and-dagger moment of vice presidential veepstakes, but also in this COVID era, where a lot of these conversations are happening over the phone, as opposed to how they would traditionally happen, which is on stage, where they would be all appearing at events together.

They would get time backstage with the families. It`s a much more complicated process this go-round, but one that still very much relies on chemistry.

REID: Yes.

And, Tiffany, do you have a sense, in talking with -- I know you`re -- they`re not -- there`s no classes right now -- when you talk with young black women and men, when you talk with people just in the world and through your work that you do, is there a preference?

Because we saw Stacey Abrams sort of looking like an audition last night. There`s a lot of talk about Elizabeth Warren being a very popular pick for a lot of people, including some black people. There`s a lot of talk about Kamala Harris.

Do people have a preference? Or is it just that he`s making that statement that black women are important enough to reward with this position?

CROSS: So, I think two things can be true.

One, yes, I think there is a preference. And I think that black -- overwhelmingly, black voters, it`s not a question of, how black are you, but how black are your policies? How does your platform speak to me?

So, that`s first and foremost.

But, two, also, I think people do want a ticket that can energize them and excite them. And I have to say this talk about a Vice President Amy Klobuchar does feel like a slap in the face to the black voters who came out overwhelmingly to support this ticket.

She has been very problematic. She does not have a great record on race. That did not seem to be something that she wanted to correct on the campaign trail. I know there was a lot of stories that came out about her and the way that she treated her staff, and she kind of decided to spin it that she was a woman being tough.

But, really, when you look at some of those things, she was a boss being abusive.

So, what I know that matters with black voters and voters overwhelmingly is authenticity. So, I don`t think voters will respond well to somebody who`s trying to be Minnesota nice, but when we peel away layers, we see something different.

So I think black voters want someone who will prioritize them and our needs and somebody who they can authentically relate to.


REID: Welcome back.

Since the very creation of the United States of America, the Native people of this land have been systematically disenfranchised. To this day, indigenous communities in the United States still have little limited access to health care, to infrastructure, and have disproportionately higher rates of chronic illnesses.

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated those existing disparities. According to "Indian Country Today," a newspaper that has been tracking the pandemic among Native people, nearly 5,000 cases have been confirmed, and nearly 100 people -- 150 people have died from the coronavirus.

The Navajo Nation, the country`s largest Indian reservation, now has a higher death rate than any U.S. state, except New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

Navajo Nation has tested about 8 percent of its population, compared to roughly 2 percent of the total U.S. population. In March, Congress passed the CARES Act, which allocated $8 billion for Native tribes. It took more than a month for the Treasury Department to distribute a little more than half of that money.

The Navajo Nation has paired with CORE, a network of doctors, emergency workers and government officials co-founded by Sean Penn to pilot free expanded diagnostic testing at five sites in Navajo country.

And for more, I`m joined by Sean Penn, actor and co-founder of CORE, and Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation.

And, President Nez, I want to start with you first.

Let`s talk about whether or not the money that is owed to the Navajo Nation ever got there.

JONATHAN NEZ, PRESIDENT, NAVAJO NATION: Joy, thank you for having us on the show.

Let me first of all say that yesterday`s epidemiology report had 21,697 total tests given to our Navajo citizens here. Eight percent, a little bit over 8 percent of our total population have been tested; 3,632 have been positive.

And over 50 percent of those numbers in the IHS are right here on the Navajo Nation; 16,354 are negative, 127 deaths. We also have some -- some good news, even though all these numbers are not that great, but recovery, 515 confirmed recoveries here on Navajo Nation.

And with what Sean and CORE have been doing, it`s helping out with some testing here on the Navajo Nation, and the dollars that have finally come in one week ago -- we waited seven weeks. And we had to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Treasury for those dollars to go out to Indian country, 574 tribes.

And with the help of Allie Young and Mark Ruffalo (AUDIO GAP) and Sean Penn here, we`re utilizing our own resources and the friends of the Navajo Nation to help test and to help get supplies, the needed food and supplies to our Navajo citizens.

REID: Yes.

And, , one of the challenges is that there were already disparities in terms of access to health care, meaning, in many of these -- in parts of Indian country, as it`s called, there just weren`t hospitals. There weren`t a lot of hospitals anyway.

So, how is the resource allocation working to make sure that the amount of hospital availability, the amount of ventilators, et cetera, matches the need?

SEAN PENN, ACTOR AND ACTIVIST: I think the first resource we concern ourselves with as an organization is where leadership and citizenry are combined in terms of helping themselves and each other.

So, we found that in an extraordinary way here at the Navajo Reservation, where we believe that they`re going to be able to do whatever they have to do, whether they get the support that is not a gift.

It`s a support this we -- as a nation, through treaty. This is their money. This is their support already. So, what we are able to do, when we work with leadership like President Nez and with the people of the Navajo Nation who, when we ride around their reservation, from chapter to chapter, we see this great respect to social distancing and wearing of masks.

And I think that`s the reason that Navajo Nation is on the recovery. And, as you said, though, the resources are very depleted here. And so, we are hoping and helping to resource some of that and support and supplement of - - under the leadership.

And, also, we have great partners with Jose Andres of World Central Kitchen. We have got the Johns Hopkins University that has been here for about 40 years working.

So, we think we have got a good team in support of the Navajo and with the Navajo to be able to really enhance the testing that, as the president said, already, in their will and under his leadership, they have done about 7 percent better than the national average.

REID: Yes.

And, President Nez, there`s been, obviously, a very tormented history of the federal government in the United States not keeping promises and, in fact, in many cases, doing more damage than is even imaginable to indigenous tribes, to Native tribes.

We have also seen some state governments not be helpful. We see in South Dakota the governor there suing and threatening the tribes there, the Sioux tribes there, saying they have to open up their roads, et cetera.

Are you getting the kind of local government cooperation that you need?

NEZ: Well, here on Navajo Nation, we are 27,000 square miles. We have 350,000 Navajos. Half of those lives on our Navajo Nation.

We are in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. And I want to give a thank you to those governors to -- for them recognizing the inherent sovereignty of the Navajo Nation. And I don`t see that happening up there in South Dakota.

We need people to be working together, leaders to be working together to help flatten this curve.

The other thing that I see that is needed is -- also is to follow the CDC guidelines. These experts and the health care professionals, they are telling us that we shouldn`t be opening up businesses or governments in the region.

And I hate for us to lower the numbers here on the Navajo Nation, and then you get other spikes in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, and then we begin to have a second rise in coronavirus cases.

So, it is very important, Joy, to let our neighbors know in the border towns that we`re all interconnected, and we all need to work together to flatten the curve, so that we can eradicate coronavirus throughout this country.

REID: Yes.

NEZ: And, lastly, with the federal government`s slowness to give us some resources -- you know, we`re not asking for handouts, Joy.

These are dollars that were intended for U.S. citizens. And we are the first citizens here in the United States of America. And it`s quite alarming to see that leaders, tribal leaders have to wait for the necessary aid to get to their people to help.

And I`m looking at these numbers. They always say hindsight is 20/20, Joy. I don`t know.

REID: Yes.

NEZ: If the money came in 10 weeks ago, I wonder how these numbers may have been different or a lot less.

REID: Yes. Yes, absolutely.

Well, Sean Penn, President Jonathan Nez, thank you both very much. Be safe, and best of luck with everything that you are doing.

And we will be right back.


REID: That is all for this hour.

Please, be sure to join me tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. Eastern for "A.M. JOY." I will be joined by Tamika Palmer. She`s the mother of Breonna Taylor, who was shot eight times and killed inside her home by police in Louisville, Kentucky.

And then I will be back tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. Eastern to preview former President Barack Obama`s keynote speech before the 8:00 p.m. special, "Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020."

That will be followed by Ali Velshi at 9:00 p.m. on the debate over reopening the economy.

Thanks so much for being with us.