IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Anti-Trump ad TRANSCRIPT: 5/21/20, MSNBC Live

Guests: Yamiche Alcindor, Andy Slavitt, Elissa Slotkin, Benjamin Crump, Kate Andersen Brower


WALE, RAPPER: I'm in a crazy town right now, but as you know, we're all going to stay in our luggage. We're going to push through, as the people don't push through, everybody standing back in their luggage.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Amen, I appreciate that, we appreciate you and also all the work you're doing that you told us about. Wale's debut on THE BEAT, I hope you come back. We're out of time. That's THE BEAT. I'll see you tomorrow night to keep here right here on MSNBC.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. I'm Joy Reid. We are following breaking news out of Georgia tonight, where a third man has been arrested for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old black man who was shut after being pursued in a pick-up truck by two white man. His family says he was jogging. He was -- he's killing sparked a national outcry. And today, police arrested William Bryan, a neighbor who recorded the fatal encounter.

In a little while, I'll by joined by the Arbery family's lawyer.

But first, Donald Trump took his push to reopen the county to Michigan today. The president toured a Ford plant that was repurposed to make ventilators, not wearing a mask, despite warning from Michigan Attorney General, that it is his legal and moral responsibility to do so. And the failing to do so is a violation of the plants own policy. Here is how he tried to justify his actions.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I did wear -- I had one on before. I wore one in this back area, but I didn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.

Not necessary here. Everybody has been tested and I've been tested. In fact, I was tested this morning, so it's not necessary. I was given a choice. And I had one on in an area where they preferred it. So, I put it on and it was very nice, that looked very, nice but they said not necessary here.


REID: OK. So, it's a secret mask. He toured the plant after holding a roundtable with local African American leaders works, where he similarly did not wear a mask, secret or otherwise.

Michigan has been hit especially hard by the pandemic with more than 53,000 cases and more than 5,000 deaths. Today, the state announced a record a 22.7 percent unemployment rate in April.

We also got another indication of the national economic toll of this pandemic, with 2.4 million new jobs claims last week, bringing the total during the crisis to nearly 40 million people.

Meanwhile, Columbia University released a study on how many lives could have been saved in the U.S. if social distancing had started sooner. According to researchers, if those policies had been enacted just one week earlier in March, 36,000 lives could have been saved. If they had been acted two weeks earlier? 50,000 fewer people would have died.

Donald Trump was asked if he believed that study.


TRUMP: I was so early. I was earlier than anybody thought. I put a ban on people coming in from China. Everybody fought me on that. They didn't want it. I was way early. Columbia is an institution that is very liberal. It's a -- I think it's just a political hit job, if you want to know the truth.


REID: For more now, I am joined by, Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, and Andy Slavitt, former Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicate Services. Thank you all for being here.

You know, it's hard to know where to begin. Donald Trump doesn't listen to science. He doesn't listen to the researchers. Let's see if he listens to Dr. Fauci. And this is about whether or not this -- the implementation of trying to protect Americans has actually worked at all. Here is Dr. Fauci.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The scientific evidence clearly indicates that physical separation has worked but not completely. If you look at the curves in our country, it isn't like everything is going dramatically down. I mean New York got hit very badly, but they starting to come down now. Now is not the time to tempt fate. And pull back completely. There is a golden mean there. You don't want to stay locked down forever.


REID: Yamiche, it is hard for me to imagine that behind the scenes, when they're just talking to each other, that people in the White House believe that this has been anything other than a disaster. Is there any indication that they understand the cost of their inaction?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we know is the president really feels that personally and takes it as a personal attack. If anyone says anything about the idea that the United States could have done a better job with the coronavirus.

So the people close to the president really are the ones that he's going hear from, who will tell him, hey, Mr. President, you should have taken this more seriously in January and February. Maybe you shouldn't have said there was going to be some miracle that would have wiped away the virus.

But there are people including, of course, the scientists who are very sober about what could have been done differently. And Dr. Fauci has said, if we have acted sooner, yes, there would be more people whose lives would have been said. That said, Dr. Fauci said there is this idea that there wasn't enough testing at the very beginning of this, and there still needs tore more testing as we look at reopening.

There are places, of course, that scientists say can opened safely, but for the vast majority of America, there are still all these jurisdictions that are like we need to figure out who even hand the virus and we need to do contact tracing before we feel comfortable.

But the president, you hear today, say that this as really a political battle, and he sees this is part of this is battle with the media. You think of the fact that while he was toured that plant, he said I didn't want to give the media the satisfaction of seeing me with the mask, instead of saying, you know, I think it's best for me to wear a mask, because I think that's what people want me to do because they think it's safe. The president has said he's looking at this as a political (INAUDIBLE) and like he has done a lot of the things that are going on with the virus.

REID: You know, Andy, what Donald Trump has done is he's spent a lot of time bickering with and undermining the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, which you'd think would be somebody he wants in charge. NBC is reporting that the White House is going to now going to issue guidelines on church reopening, after a dispute with the CDC caused a delay. The CDCs recommendations can be overly bureaucratic. So we are doing our best to rein in the CDC and empower states to make their own decisions.

That doesn't seem wise. Donald Trump's base -- his base is largely composed of white evangelicals, who I'm sure are eager to do whatever he recommends, including going back into churches, where they'd be congregating. This seems unwise. Your thoughts.

ANDY SLAVIT, FMR. ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AN MEDICAID SERVICES: No, I think you have couple of issues there, Joy. First of all, I think the CDC is getting -- put in the exact same box that the EPA and climate scientists, as a whole, are getting put into, which to say putting ahead to the experts who are getting in the way of Donald Trump's economic agenda.

And I think that' something that we should be wary of. Because when Trump play scientist, when the president plays scientist, as he does when he says he knows better, when he professes to take a certain medicine or what he's now about to tell us whether or not it's safe to go into church and overrule CDC guidelines, we ought to be wary.

Now, if you ask me based on what we know today, having people who are elderly go elbow to elbow in a poorly circulating room where they're singing, and therefore spreading the virus, strikes me as exactly what we don't want to be doing right now.

There are responsible governors, people who have faith, who are saying, your church is where you are. If you pray at home, you connect at home, you connecting services that over zoom, that's the smart thing to do.

And the one thing that we have learned is that just because a government says you can do it, just because Donald Trump says you can do it, it doesn't mean you should do it. And I think people unfortunately are showing more caution than the president here, and they ought to continue to do that when it comes to church as well, in my hope.

REID: Yes, you can get an amen on that one. Yamiche Alcindor, Andy Slavitt, thank you both very much.

And joining me now is Democratic Congresswoman, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan.

Donald Trump, Congresswoman, was in your state today, trying to drum up his reelect. Do you think that visits like these have any positive impact for him with voters who are not already on his team, shall we say?

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): Well, listen, I mean, he was there to recognize workers. And we have a heck of a lot of auto workers in our state. And people feel like we really stood up in the COVID crisis and retooled to make ventilators and masks. So I think there is an appreciation that there's recognition of what Michigan has really done in this crisis. But, you know, I do think at this point people have largely taken their sides and they tend to view it that way. We had protesters on both side supporting and against him on the route. But I do think that it's important that, you know, people recognize who stood up in this crisis. So I think some people appreciate that, for sure.

REID: Yes, well, not wearing a mask didn't seem like sending a very leader a great leadership message, but we'll leave that at that. I want to play for you a little bite of Donald Trump. And this is him talking about threatening the state of Michigan if he doesn't get his way. Let's listen to him for a moment.


REPORTER: Mr. President, where are you on funding for Michigan? A lot of people are concerned, they're flooded out, they said that's the last thing they need, a threat to come from the president.

TRUMP: So we're looking at the floods, we have our people from the Army Corps of Engineers there. We have FEMA there. I spoke with the governor, Governor Whitmer, yesterday. And we have a very good understanding.

REPORTER: How about the funding though? What you threatened to take away the funding?

TRUMP: Well, we'll take a look. Now, we'll take a look, that was unrelated to that.


REID: And, of course, it is related in the sense that it's related to voting, that he is trying to suppress mail-in voting, and he's threatening states now. This is Governor Whitmer responding to Donald Trump.


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): Threatening to take money away from a state that is hurting as bad as we are right now. It is just scary and I think something that is unacceptable. And my hope is that, today, he will be in Michigan, he will see we are hardworking, good Americans, we need support of our federal government as much as anybody else, if not, more right now, because of this added challenge.


REID: It occurs to me, Congresswoman, that Donald Trump just got impeached for this, withholding money that had been allocated by Congress to a country -- to a foreign country is what he got impeached for, pretending that he could supersede after you all, the legislator which has the power of the purse.

The fear and one of the people who testified, said that the fear was that he could do this to a governor, that he could do this to a state. Well, voila, we are here. What is Congress going to do about the fact that this guy is doing the exact same thing again, but now he's not doing it to Ukraine, he's doing it to American states?

SLOTKIN: Yes. I mean, this is where words matter, right? I mean, I cannot tell you how it struck the heart of every Michigander yesterday when we saw this dam breaks, and then the same day the president is threatening assistance for political reasons to our state. I mean, we all sort of throws where we were standing.

Now, it looks like from what he said and his administration has said, that we will get money to help with this. And I hope that he's serious about that. So, again, like this huge delta between his words and his deeds, obviously, it's not permissible, not appropriate, not OK for the president of the United States to threaten the assistance of a state for just his own personal grudges. And I think that, you know, it's a kind of long litany of things that the president has threatened to do.

Congress can provide some oversight. Congress can make sure that the money that we appropriated effectively goes out to all the states where it was intended to go. But the fundamental question to me is why do that? You're out of step, even with the Republicans in the State of Michigan. You don't see our senior Republicans talking like that and acting like that. Actually, they showed up in masks today, right? They showed up -- they condemned some of the protests that he has been lauding in our state. And he's just out of step. And I think that's actually an interesting thing to note given that for many, many years they've been in lockstep.

REID: Yes, and I just want to play you what Senator Kalama Harris had to say about this very topic, the idea of Donald Trump trying to withhold money that have been allotted by Congress to a state to punish them. Take a listen.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): Mr. President, it is a federal crime to withhold money from states with the purpose of interfering with people's right to vote. So you may want to talk with your lawyer, Bill Barr, about that.


REID: It is hard to imagine a president being impeached twice, but if Donald Trump withholds money from a United States to bully them politically and to try to get his way on mail-in-voting, is he potential facing impeachment in the house again?

SLOTKIN: Well, again, we have to actually see what the facts were. The man is sort of classically known now for saying one thing and doing another. So I believe in watching where the facts go on things. I certainly think that Congress has a responsibility to watch this issue, especially with trillions going out from the federal government with these appropriations that we're doing for COVID-19. That's why, we've insisted on oversight bodies that the Senate has already resisted.

And it's because we know with that much money moving through the system, monkey business can happen. Things that weren't intended can happen.

So he's going to have to submit to that oversight, and if not, we'll go the route we've gone before, which is via the courts. No one wants to do that. And, hopefully, we will see that in short order, he will provide us the resource that we need. Because people really need that assistant. Just look at the pictures. We need the help and he shouldn't be withholding it for a grudge.

REID: Yes. Indeed. That seems perfectly clear. One would think he would know that. Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, thank you very much, of Michigan, I appreciate it.

Coming up, with the economy still in shamble, will Trump become the first president in a generation to lose his bid for re-election? And how many of the people who supported last time, are saying, you know what, no thank you, never again? I'll talk to Steve Schmidt in a moment.

Plus, while Trump will never be a part of that special club of former U.S. presidents. Stay with us.


REID: Welcome back.

That was a piece of what I would argue was the best political ad of 2016 campaign. A pro-Trump ad from an outside group that reinforced Donald Trump's claim that he was the candidate of the regular man. That ran on a loop in swing states, like Pennsylvania and Michigan.

But now, as he faces re-election, Trump has been engulfed by questions of corruption. As he runs against the real version of what he only pretended to be, a regular guy, a regular joe, if you might add, maybe the ultimate political regular guy, Joe Biden.

According to a national Quinnipiac poll yesterday, Biden is now leading Trump by 11 percentage points with the support of a majority voters. 50 percent favored Biden while 39 percent are for Trump.

Hitting 50 percent against an incumbent president is a rather big deal. In fact, Biden's lead has grown by three points since last month despite his low profile during the pandemic. And that may explain Trump's frantic attempts to discourage vote by mail, which he falsely linked to voter fraud again today.


TRUMP: We don't want them to do mail-in ballots because it's going to lead to total election fraud. So we don't want them to do mail-in ballots. We don't want anyone to do mail-in ballots.

Now, if somebody has to mail it in because they're sick or, by the way, because they live in the White House and they have to vote in Florida and they won't be in Florida, if there's a reason for it, that's OK, if there's a reason. But if there's not -- we don't want to take any chances with fraud in our elections.


REID: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

Despite receiving far more media coverage than Biden, far more, Trump is still not satisfied. Today, he made it explicit that he expects his favorite news channel, FOX News, to promote his campaign, rather than just cover it.

He complained that -- quote -- "FOX News is doing nothing to help Republicans and me get reelected on November 3."

I'm joined now by Steve Schmidt, political strategist and former Republican.

And, Steve, this set of polls, it kind of explains a little bit of what's going on inside of Donald Trump's head as he's thinking about things like mail-in voting, et cetera.

Here are the numbers, Michigan, Biden plus 5.5, Pennsylvania, Biden up 6.5, Wisconsin, Biden up to 2.7. These are the kind of numbers that have got to make his campaign manager nervous, because Joe, Joe Biden, is the regular Joe. He's the regular guy that Trump pretended to be or to appeal to.

What do you make of how he's trying to fix that problem?


Right now, Donald Trump is losing. He's losing the race because of the incompetence and the ineptitude of the response to one of the great crises in American history.

This period of time from early March through today and coming into Memorial Day weekend, this is the lost spring of American history. The American people largely have been locked away at home. Most of us have not been working.

People, we have learned, are having to go out to risk their lives to be able to provide the essential services. We have seen heroism with our health care workers, with our first responders yet again.

But, with Donald Trump, we have seen negligence. We have seen an absence of leadership. We have seen him recommending the injection of household disinfectants to fight coronavirus, which, of course, is a disease he told us would never hit American shores, that, when there were 15 Americans infected, he said it would soon go away.

He talked about how great a job the Chinese have done. We have seen him engage in loony conspiracy theories. And we have seen him melt down on a daily basis, attacking the press, blaming President Obama, blaming everybody, unable to take responsibility for one of the most profound failures of government in the history of the United States.

And so we're about five months away from the election. The American people have taken this measure. And they're looking at him, and they're saying, wow, the guy who said he alone could fix it, the man who promised to make America great again has led to the most severe and serious period of precipitous decline in American history.

And the country's far weaker, for poorer, more sick than it's ever been and certainly was on the day he became -- office.

REID: Yes.

SCHMIDT: Nobody in America, except for a few handful of his political cronies, is better off than they were four years ago.

REID: Well, if -- and on that point, that man of steel ad that ran back in 2016, I remember traveling to Pennsylvania and to Ohio and seeing that ad just run on TV constantly.

And what I thought worked about it is that it didn't talk about Donald Trump at all. It talked about the idea of American hands and American steel getting back in business. And I can see that being something you could really sell to a working-class audience of all races.

At this point, Donald Trump has presided over really helping the rich, really trying to be a celebrity, really trying to sort of break into the sort of world of faith. But that thing, he hasn't done much with.

I'm noting that he's still leading among white men and he's still leading among white working-class men. And that lives at the same time that Brad Parscale, he's tweeting out, we're the Death Star, right? He's tweeting out, we're the Death Star? That was his tweet earlier this week.

But the headline of "Business Insider" talked about companies owned by the same guy...

SCHMIDT: Apparently, he didn't -- apparently, he didn't watch the movie.

REID: The end of the movie. He doesn't know how the movie ended.


REID: He apparently had raked in $40 million from the president's reelection committees, $40 million.

He's one of the people feeding on the trough. Let me play you the ad from your organization, The Lincoln Project, a little bit of it. Let's take a look.


NARRATOR: Meet Brad Parscale, from dead broke to the man Trump can't win without.

Brad was getting rich. How rich? Really rich. But don't tell Donald. He'd wonder how Brad can afford so much, a $2.4 million waterfront house in Fort Lauderdale. He even has his very own yacht, a gorgeous Ferrari, a sleek Range Rover. Brad brags about using private jets.

Oh, my. Brad's a star.


REID: You guys are great at trolling.


REID: But I wonder how this ends up playing, right?

I mean, I know that you guys, that is, the Republicans, in 2008 tried to do the Obama's a celebrity. But people like celebrities, right? Him being around Beyonce, that's great for him, right? It's actually enhanced him.

Will this kind of portrayal of Trump's people as just feeders raking in money on the backs of these same white working-class men, will that move voters away from him?

SCHMIDT: I don't know that it will move voters, specifically to that ad, Joy, but the add is true.

Look, Stuart Stevens made the point, when you look at Trump, it's like Elvis in the final days. Everybody's like Colonel Parker and the crew trying to get as much money out of the deal as possible, and giving him as many peanut butter, banana and fried sandwiches as they can get into his mouth.

And so, right, that's what this is. It's just all a giant scam. And here's the deal, right? Donald Trump, the great businessman, got taken by his I.T. guy, right? We have the I.T. guy in charge of the campaigns, buying Ferraris, yachts, votes, condos.

It's all a scam. That's the point here. A lot of people are getting rich doing wrong by the American people. We have all these hosts on FOX News, for example, making $10 million, $15 million, $20 million, $30 million a year telling people to go out, stop social distancing, open up your businesses, while they're ensconced on their estates.

It's just outrageous hypocrisy. It is just another facet of it. And it's just one more piece in the mosaic of hypocrisy, the mosaic of the great con that the country has been subjected to over these last couple of years by a reality show...

REID: Yes, I mean, the...

SCHMIDT: ... pretend businessman who's done tremendous damage to the country through his incompetence and ineptitude.

REID: Yes, it would be funny if it weren't so sad.

As Chris Hayes has said, probably the saddest part of it is, he one of the marks. Trump also is buying the same stuff. He's selling it and he's buying it, too. It is amazing.

Steve Schmidt, it's always great to talk to you. Thank you very much. Please be safe.


REID: And there is breaking news now.

There is -- thank you, sir.

There is a new arrest in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery. This is important. That breaking news is next. And we're going to be joined by the attorney for the Arbery family.

Stay right there. Ben Crump is next.


REID: We have breaking news tonight in the Ahmaud Arbery case.

William "Roddie" Bryan has been arrested on felony charges of murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. You might remember Bryan because he was the man who filmed the brutal shooting of Arbery near Brunswick, Georgia, back in February.

Arbery was out for a run, according to his family. He was chased down, shot and killed by two white men. Gregory McMichael and his sons Travis -- and his son Travis McMichael. The McMichaels have said they believed Arbery was a burglary suspect.

Both men have been arrested and face charges of aggravated assault and murder. According to a police report, Bryan was in a vehicle that tried to cut Arbery off while he was being chased by the McMichaels.

The video, which was released two months later, was the catalyst for the arrest of the McMichaels. Bryan has maintained his innocence.

Earlier this week, Arbery's family lawyer called on the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to arrest Bryan.

I'm joined now by Benjamin Crump. He also represents off Ahmaud Arbery's family.

And, Ben, walk us through this, because, originally, it looked like the two cars were in some -- working in some way, right, they were -- they were together. But then the second man was separated. The second car was separated.

Are -- is the allegation now that they were working in tandem?


And, Ahmaud Arbery's family and my co-counsels have said from the very beginning, we believe that he was an accomplice to this execution of Ahmaud, because the police report, Gregory McMichael stated that Roddie cut him off.

And when you put that in context, Joy Reid, with that text message that was sent to Gregory McMichael and the homeowner, saying that, next time he comes through, don't call the police, call Gregory McMichael.

So this was an organized effort of them to capture this young man when he came jogging through their neighborhood.

REID: And so the arrest now, the significance of that is that -- because there was a potential that the man in the second car could be a witness in the case.

That does now look like that -- that doesn't look like the case at this point.

CRUMP: Well, I think he may have information to divulge.

We're just starting this criminal process. And it's going to be very interesting what agreements individuals make or won't make as they try to protect themselves.

We believe William "Roddie" Bryan was part of this from not only what we had in that statement, but, remember, Joy, when you watch that chase, where Ahmaud Arbery is running for his life, you see over four minutes that these cars are chasing him.

And so for him to tell us that he was just an innocent bystander is not supported by what we see in the video. In fact, it is contradicted.

So, the charge of felony murder is absolutely appropriate.

REID: And I understand now that there has been a retirement in that police department in that community. Can you give us a little bit of a detail on that?

It seems that the police is now retired from the force?

CRUMP: In Breonna Taylor's case? Yes, ma'am.

In Louisville, Kentucky, where she was executed (AUDIO GAP) her bedroom, the police chief retired. And so it is a great day for justice.


REID: OK. So, that's a retirement in the Breonna Taylor case.

CRUMP: Yes, ma'am. It's a great day for equal justice, Joy, in both Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

And I know it's so much to cover. We have might not get to all of it.

But @attorneyBenCrump, for everybody who stood for Bre and ran for Ahmaud, we want us to stay focused as we get this march for justice for these two young people, who were both 26 years old, if they were living today, and had so much potential for this world, that we have to stay vigilant to get them justice.

We cannot stop now. This is just the first steps towards justice.

REID: Benjamin Crump, thank you so much for coming on tonight. We grabbed you at the last minute, so I really appreciate your time.

So, just to clarify for the audience, in the Breonna Taylor case there, the police chief has resigned. In the case of Ahmaud Arbery, we have now had a third man arrested. These are important new developments.

Ben, I will keep in touch with you. But, hopefully, you will keep in touch with the show as well, so we can keep those updates coming. Thank you so much.

CRUMP: Thank you, Joy.

REID: Thank you.

And still ahead: Brazil becomes the world's latest coronavirus hot spot. And experts say the widespread poverty and social inequality there could make the impact much worse there than in many other countries.

We will get a live report from Sao Paulo, where they have got their very own version of Trump, maybe even worse.

That's next.


REID: Welcome back.

Coronavirus cases are surging in Brazil, making it the world's latest hot spot.

Brazil now has more than 290,000 confirmed cases, more than any other country, except the U.S. and Russia. This week, Brazil saw its daily death toll top 1,000 for the first time. Disturbing new pictures of freshly dug mass graves in the country's largest city, Sao Paulo, highlight the dire situation.

NBC News chief -- chief global correspondent Bill Neely joins us now from Sao Paulo.

And, Bill, the crisis is real. We can see the data.

How is Bolsonaro, the president there, responding to it? Does he seem to be taking it at all seriously?

BILL NEELY, NBC NEWS CHIEF GLOBAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Hi, Joy. He has downplayed this right from the beginning. And in fact, a couple of weeks ago, when he was asked about the rising death toll, he shrugged and said, so what? What do you want me to do about it?

He believes that 70 percent of the population will get this virus, so he wants Brazil's economy to keep ticking. He is against lockdown. He's against social distancing.

I've been speaking to doctors over the last two days who are simply furious at this, because they believe the cost is in thousands of lives. People simply don't know who to listen to. Do they listen to the medical establishment, which is telling them to stay at home and protect themselves, or do they listen to the president who's telling them to go out and earn money, and don't worry about the lockdown, or don't worry about virus, because in fact, he says, it's just a little flu.

So he's a very divisive politician, Joy. He has been from the beginning. He's antiestablishment, and certainly fighting the establishment here. I was speaking to the governor of this state, Sao Paolo, a couple nights ago, and he says there are two viruses in Brazil, coronavirus and Bolsonaro virus.

REID: Wow. In this country, there is a huge disparity in terms of communities of color, particularly black communities and brown communities. I know that Brazil has very similar demographics, even more of a black population that the United States has. Is that same sort of disparity playing out there?

NEELY: It really is, Joy. And this is one of the most unequal countries on earth. The virus has simply exposed some of those divisions. For example, it was almost certainly brought to Brazil by richer, probably white people who were skiing in Europe. That's what people here are saying, but the people who are getting it and dying in there thousands now are mostly the black underclass, I mean, the people who are living in the kind of slums that we were in today.

We were in the most densely packed place in Latin America, where people are dying in large numbers. They are the people who are the cleaners, the maids, the mechanics, for the better-off people in Brazil. It really is an unequal society. The people now pays the price are the poorest.

Isn't that just typical, joy? You know, it's always the poorest in these terrible situations who end up dying. And they were dying in droves. I mean, 2,000 people in the last 48 hours? Twenty thousand new cases in the last 24 hours. This virus is just exploding in this country.

REID: Wow. Thank you so much for this report. I think it's important to understand it's not just here. It's not just in the United States. There are others that are very similar to Donald Trump.

Thank you so much, Bill Neely, in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Thank you so much. Please stay safe.

And up next, the author of a new book about the presidents club. Where if anywhere does Trump fit in? This does he even want to be a member of this prestigious club?

We're right back after this.



BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: When all the living former presidents are together, it's also a special day for our democracy. We've been called the world's most exclusive club, and we do have a pretty nice clubhouse. The truth is our club's more like a support group.

Every president gains a greater appreciation for all those who served before them, the leaders from both parties who have taken on the momentous challenges and felt the enormous weight of a nation on their shoulders.


REID: Welcome back.

Well, that was former President Barack Obama at the dedication of George W. Bush's presidential library in 2013, speaking about the presidents club, the strong relationships between himself and other living past presidents despite their vast political differences.

But as Kate Andersen Brower writes in her new book "Team of Five", the current president, Donald Trump, does not quite fit in to that club.

She writes: Trump is proud of his ostracism from the Presidents Club, and his contempt for his predecessors is obvious. The scorched-earth path he's chosen has made it impossible to maintain any friendships, or even civility, with the men who once occupied the Oval Office.

I'm a different kind of president, he declared. She notes, when I asked whether he would go to President Obama's presidential library opening, the question sounded preposterous once it was spoken. I don't know. He probably wouldn't invite me. Why should he?

Similarly, earlier this week, NBC's Carol Lee reported that Trump also isn't planning to host President Obama for his official White House portrait unveiling, noting that Trump is unconcerned about shunning yet another presidential custom and Obama, for his part, has no interest in participating in the post-presidency, this post-presidency rite of passage.

I'm joined now by Kate Andersen Brower, author of "Team of Five: The Presidents Club in the Age of Trump."

Wow, wow, wow. The dismissiveness of this president toward his predecessors. Let me play a bit of Donald Trump talking about how he feels about past presidents. Here he is.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I get elected, and I beat the Bush dynasty. OK. We beat the Clinton dynasty, right? And then we beat Barack Hussein Obama and whatever the hell dynasty that is.

President Obama, I was at the funeral of President Bush, sat next to him, and I said, hello, and goodbye. That's about it. No, I didn't like it -- I don't -- I didn't like the job he did.

REPORTER: Do you have any interest in reaching out to Presidents Bush, Obama, Clinton and Carter?

TRUMP: So, I don't want to disturb them and bother them. I don't think I'm going to learn much.


REID: Not going to learn much.

You know, President Obama ran against the Iraq war. Like that was his, the thing that he hinged his presidency on. Eisenhower was not a fan of Nixon. It's not all presidents were fans of one another, but they find a way to be in concert because they've had the same experience.

What did you learn just looking at Donald Trump in that regard?

KATE ANDERSEN BROWER, AUTHOR, "TEAM OF FIVE": Well, when I interviewed him, he was completely dismissive and our interview was over and I was walking out of the Oval Office and he said say hi to President Bush in a voice like elated with sarcasm. And it's just that stark contrast to President Obama and President George W. Bush, but also George H.W. Bush, and I have reporting in the book the last former president to see Bush Senior alive was Barack Obama.

They had a very emotional final meeting in Houston just three days before Bush passed away, and now we're in this middle of this terrible pandemic, and the president will not reach out to his predecessors, and I know for a fact from my reporting that they all would love to help in any way they can. We've seen them help again and again in the past.

REID: Yeah, and he could use some help to put it bluntly.

You know, I think about, you know, Bill Clinton and the closeness he developed ultimately with George Herbert Walker Bush like a father to him. This is the consistent way it's worked. There are 45 people with this job but this quote I thought was really telling from your book and it's about Trump and empathy.

He said I asked Trump if being faced with difficult decisions that cross that famous desk because only the most difficult decisions reach the president had given him a new understanding and empathy for the men who came before him. No, he replied flatly.

He doesn't seem to have any emotional connection to the job. He doesn't seem to have any emotional connection to the grandeur of the position. What does -- is he connected to anything about the presidency?

BROWER: I think he's connected to the power. He has 45 monogrammed on his shirt cuff. So, I think he likes that he can host people in the Oval Office. He's the most powerful person in the world.

So I think that's a part of it that he likes but, you know, when you hear him talk about former presidents, it's always ones that passed away he talks about. Lincoln comparing himself to Lincoln and Andrew Jackson. He recently talked about Richard Nixon, which was a very strange thing to mention.

So it's the living former presidents that I think he feels particularly threatened by.

REID: Yes, yes. And I remember an Andrew Jackson moment he had. I want to talk with you about the death of a pretty significant one that took place as part of this coronavirus nightmare we're all living through.

A former White House butler that served 11 presidents has died after contracting the coronavirus. His name was Wilson Roosevelt Jerman who was one of the White House's longest serving employees. He began as a cleaner in 1957 in the Eisenhower administration and promoted during the Kennedy presidency and he retired in 2012. There are pictures with President Obama.

You know, the converging of that White House with black Americans in the history, the people who have worked there and been part of the staff largely, you know, I remember being in the White House and seeing staffers and that connection they had to the White House was built by slaves.

Trump, I can't imagine honoring this man. I can't imagine him even talking about this man. These are the things he doesn't do.

BROWER: I mean, Wilson Jerman never thought he would live to see the first African American president and first lady, right? He was incredibly honored to be there. It was very emotional for him. I had interviewed him before for another book I wrote about the resident staff.

And he was beloved. I talked to one of his children today who said she never heard him once raise his voice. She said that the White House was his second family, both the staff and the presidents and first ladies and actually, Wilson's wife passed away when he had young children, and the Eisenhowers, Mamie Eisenhower would give him food that they weren't using, you know. She would give it to him to take home to feed his family.

It is a family atmosphere there, and I know that he was close with the Obamas and on inauguration day, it was an overwhelming feeling for the African American butlers to see this moment they truly never thought would come.

REID: Indeed. Wilson Roosevelt Jerman will be remembered by your work and remembered by us despite the current occupant of the White House.

Thank you so much, Kate Andersen Brower. Best of luck with the book.

And up next, a tribute to few of those lost to COVID-19.

Please stay with us.


REID: More than 94,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus and we wanted to end the show tonight by putting faces and names to those numbers. The pandemic has been especially tragic for minority communities in the United States with current data from the CDC suggesting a disproportionate burden of illness and death.

Dr. James Mahoney (ph) was a pulmonary and critical physician at the University Hospital of Brooklyn. He was on the front lines of AIDS, the September 11th terrorist attacks, and Hurricane Sandy. He even pushed back his retirement after 40 years of work to help patients with the coronavirus before he himself succumb to it on April 26th. Dr. Mahoney was 62.

As a prenatal clinical specialist, Judy Wilson Griffin (ph) advocated and cared for mothers and babies. She was the first person in St. Louis County known to die from the coronavirus and she was 63.

Sean Boines was a father of two young daughters and a pharmacy manager in Bowie, Maryland. He helped people get access to health care and help start a pharmacy last year at a clinic and he died from the coronavirus on April 2nd at age 46.

Each of them will be missed.

Thanks so much for being with us.