(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cases in Texas are going up. I`m seeing a lot more cases every day than I was seeing for the last three months. Most of them are young healthy people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Certainly a concerning update that we`ve seen lately.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hot spot to me is New York City, freezer trucks with bodies in it, and you know, I quickly went into denial, it`s not possible. Greenville can`t be a hot spot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re seeing a lot of patients who are sick who don`t need to be sick.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stick to the rules, wear your mask, social distance, and it is real.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Covid never really went away and so it was kind of slow and steady for a while there. We`re all kind of looking at the numbers with trepidation and maybe even a little bit of a sense of dread. Seeing some pushback from people who have quarantine fatigue and knowing how that can affect our numbers here is troublesome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: We begin the show once again with sound from medical workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. Welcome to Tuesday, it is MEET THE PRESS DAILY, and again, I`m Katy Tur in for Chuck Todd.
Despite the administration`s efforts to downplay the current surge, this virus once again risks spiraling out of control, according to the warnings today from top career public health officials. Right now, confirmed cases continue to rise at alarming levels and states across the Sun Belt. Florida closing beaches as cases spike, Texas not just seeing record cases but also record hospitalizations.
Arizona, record hospitalizations three days in a row. Georgia, two days in a row. South Carolina, 14 days in a row. Nevada, California, Arkansas, all breaking hospitalization records. Oklahoma, a record spike in cases. The number of confirmed cases are rising in roughly 35 states right now and positivity rates are exceeding recommended guidelines in roughly two dozen of them.
Already, roughly 17 states have paused or begun rolling back their reopening plans, and if the data doesn`t spook you, then the warnings from the nation`s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, probably will. He testified before the Senate today, warning that the U.S. was losing control of this pandemic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALERGY AND INFECTOUS DISEASE: We`re going in the wrong direction. If you look at the curves of the new cases. So we`ve really got to do something about that and we need to do it quickly. Short answer to the question is that clearly, we are not in total control right now.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Dr. Fauci, based on what you`re seeing now, how many covid-19 deaths and infections should America expect before this is all over?
FAUCI: I can`t make an accurate prediction, but it is going to be very disturbing, I will guarantee you that. We are now having 40,000 plus new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned. I think it`s important to tell you and the American public that I`m very concerned because it could get very bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Right now, the vice president and some members of the coronavirus task force are holding a briefing, basically trying to reassure the public that the administration is prepared to once again slow the spread of cases. The vice president just said that they are dispatching emergency workers to Arizona and are in consultation to send assistance to Texas as well.
The vice president also urged all Americans to wear a mask to help slow the spread. The situation we are in right now stands in stark contrast to the rosy portrait that is consistently pushed by the president or the rosy comments we heard from the vice president just five days ago, claiming all 50 states were reopening safely and responsibly.
And now, some Republicans have begun to voice their frustrations with the example being set at the top. Senator Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate`s committee focusing on public health issues, lamented that the president will not urge the country to take the most basic of protective measures, like wearing a mask. The presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, meanwhile, delivered remarks this afternoon, saying that President Trump has waved the white flag on this pandemic.
Let`s bring in my NBC News colleagues who are covering the surges across the country. David Gura is in Houston, Texas. Kerry Sanders in Lauderdale by the sea and Erin McLaughlin in Manhattan Beach, California.
David, I do want to start with you. I spoke to you a little bit earlier as you were at that site, that testing site there in Houston where there was a long line of cars. Tell me how the governor is reacting and how much authority he`s given to local municipalities to set rules and boundaries for their own areas.
DAVID GURA, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: This is shaping up, Katy, to be a very interesting narrative here in the state of Texas. The governor has a lot of control, and so far, he`s rebuffed attempts by local officials to get more control over their municipalities and counties, and Houston is a really good example of this. Harris County, where Houston is located, is a good example of this.
There is a county judge, Lina Hidalgo, effectively a county manager in Texas speak, a county judge. She has wanted to put a pretty robust stay in place order in effect in this county. She`s looking at those data, she`s getting concerned. She is unable to do that because the governor has power over this county. It has to be approved by him.
Now, she was able to make one small change today. There`s an emergency declaration that`s been in place. She extended that with the approval for colleagues through the end of August. Among the things that that allows her to do is mandate mask wearing here in Harris County. Again, Houston is the county seat of Harris County.
But you have the governor wielding this kind of control, and he`s increasingly in an unpopular position. There was a protest today in Austin, in the capital of this state, by bar owners. They`re upset with the fact that he has now closed bars in Texas. He had opened them up as part of his reopening plan.
Again, he has a lot of power here but he`s under a great deal of scrutiny particularly as we see the kinds of numbers that we see. You mentioned just quickly here, Katy, the testing site behind me here. We still have a very incomplete picture of how bad the situation is here in Houston and in Harris County. The city runs this testing site behind me. They very proudly said they were able to test 650 people today.
That`s 150 people more than they were able to test in recent days. That is still a very small number when you look at the entire population of Houston. I`m not even talking about Harris County, but look at the city of Houston, a city that has 2.3 million people, Katy.
TUR: And David, what about hospitalizations? Because I was reading yesterday that there was a hospital in Houston where a majority of the patients were under the age of 50 and 30 percent of those who were in the ICU were under the age of 50.
GURA: Yeah, hospitalization is a growing concern here. There was a particularly bad moment a couple of days ago. There`s a data dashboard that the Texas Medical Center puts out, effectively an illustration of how many cases there are, who`s being hospitalized, et cetera, and when you pull that up, it looked like, at the Texas medical center, which is this huge conglomerate of hospitals, it`s the largest hospital complex in the world. It looked like there were no ICU beds left, that they had reached their maximum capacity.
In recent days, you have had the Texas Medical Center push back on that. They said that it was presented in a wrong way for a couple of days that data disappeared as they reworked that dashboard, but people here, greatly concerned that there will not be enough beds. Again, you`re getting a message though from the leadership of that medical center, local officials as well, that it`s not a crisis point yet.
But when you listen to what you hear from Dr. Fauci and when you look at the data that we have thus far, it`s hard not to worry, feel concerned over the fact that there could be a situation involving hospitalization, involving the capacity of these hospitals in the near future, Katy.
TUR: And Texas just reported 6,975 new confirmed cases. Let`s head over to Florida where Kerry Sanders is. Kerry, some of the beaches are closing in Florida. What is happening there, especially when you consider that there`s only a month, two months ago that it was seen that Governor DeSantis was kind of gloating over what was going on in Florida and their ability to have a handle on the virus at that time compared to what was happening in New York.
KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, he has, the governor, a little bit of an explanation, he says, as to why we`re seeing the numbers change. Not only are the beaches closing, but he says that what`s going on is that it`s hot out and it absolutely is. It`s in the 90s still and it`s late in the afternoon, and so he says that people are now beginning to move indoors in Florida and because they`re moving indoors in Florida, they`re closer together, somewhat mimicking the situation in the northeast a couple months ago when the number of cases were high.
So, that`s his explanation not only as to why the numbers are rising but also why we`re seeing the ages come down. Now, the beaches that are closing, I`m in Broward County right now so where I am, Lauderdale by the sea, people are socially distanced, it`s late in the day, a lot of people are leaving, kids are running around, having a good time as we can see there.
But there are going to be the beaches closing in Broward up north and Palm Beach, down in Miami Dade and all the way down in Monroe, which is the keys, on Fourth of July, because they just generally felt people coming to the beach would crowd in that would not work to the favor of trying to stop people being socially distanced.
And here, as well as some of the other places, they`ve decided to go ahead and cancel the fireworks shows because they feel people would draw up. And I don`t know whether you can hear somebody screaming in the background there, but that`s a Trump supporter who`s been yelling everything from fire Fauci to Trump, go USA, so clearly, this issue here has become a political issue beyond, I guess, for many people, the health issue. And that, of course, is what Dr. Fauci and others are saying. Wearing a mask is about health. This is not about politics.
TUR: I`m going to venture to guess that that man is not wearing a mask, Kerry.
SANDERS: He`s not wearing a mask. He`s just standing on a pier off to the side screaming at me, take your mask off. He says there`s no coronavirus. I got to say, Katy, I did have a chance to speak to some young people out here today too that are on vacation, and they`re not paying attention to the news. I`m talking about people 19, 20 years old, and they say, look, I go on the internet, and I don`t know what to believe because on the internet, it doesn`t look like this coronavirus thing is real. I don`t know anybody who got coronavirus.
And so, there`s this general sense of disbelief. Some of that is youthfulness, you know, people, if they don`t see it and touch it, they can`t really believe it, but by the same token, it`s also just reading on the internet and apparently a lot of bad information that`s floating around on social media and elsewhere leading people to question whether this makes sense.
TUR: Oh, Kerry, thank you for that. Erin, let`s talk about Los Angeles and California. California had one of the fastest lockdowns, but now they`re seeing their cases spike once again. Are officials out there attributing that to anything specific happening in the last few weeks?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, experts I`ve been talking to, Katy, say that they believe the origins of the surge that California is seeing now can be found in Memorial Day weekend. People let their guard down that weekend and that continued leading to this spike in cases, some 45 percent increase, the number of coronavirus cases over the past week.
And we just heard from Governor Gavin Newsom, that picture appears to be getting even worse. He has a watch list of counties he has his eye on based on the metrics he currently has 19 counties that he`s watching. He says over the next 24 hours, he expects to add four more to that list and he says he`s going to be making an announcement tomorrow. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): I want to make this clear and preview. Tomorrow we`ll be making some additional announcements on efforts to use that dimmer switch that we referred to and begin to toggle back on our stay-at-home order and tighten things up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLAUGHLIN: He says that announcement is going to be looking at enforcement of existing rules and restrictions and just to give you a picture of just how people are --
TUR: Unfortunately, we lost Erin McLaughlin`s shot there, so let`s go now to the Dr. Ashish Jha, he`s the Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. Dr. Jha, we are seeing an alarming spike all across the country, so much so that the tristate has now expanded the number of states that they will require to quarantine if there are travelers from those states. It`s well over nine states now. How do we get a handle on this when it seems like so many places are in the process of playing catch-up?
DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yeah, so, thanks for having me on. You know, in the long run, this strategy of states quarantining people coming from other states, states, everybody kind of sorting this all out on their own is not going to work. We have never had walls across states in the U.S., and we`re not going to be able to build them now, and so we really do need a national coordinated strategy and every state for themselves, I think, is just going to be a very, very difficult thing.
We do have about 30 states where things are looking bad, about a dozen of which, I think, are looking alarmingly bad and we`ve got to get going on really ramping up pressure to bring the virus under control. I just don`t see the level of action that we need right now.
TUR: Is asking people to quarantine when they`re coming in from a hot spot to a place that`s already found a way to decrease the number of cases, is asking them to quarantine enough, or should there be some consideration given to putting up -- not closing down borders, to putting up more barriers between borders, between states in this country, less free movement between hot spots and places that have seen their infections decrease.
JHA: Yeah, not an area of expertise for me of how you do that. You know, we`ve never had states put up border checks against other states in any sizable way. We have always thought of ourselves as one country.
TUR: But from a health perspective.
JHA: Look, I think we can try, and I think we can have those policies. I just don`t know how well it`s going to work is I guess my -- I`m skeptical that it would work. I just think we need a national policy to try to get these things under control. It`s going to be very hard for New York to not get into trouble because of what`s happening in Texas and Florida and Arizona.
TUR: Dr. Fauci today warned that he could see or this country could see 100,000 new infections per day.
JHA: Yes. I think all of us are worried about this. We`ve been hearing from the -- finally hearing from some of the leadership of the CDC. We heard from Dr. Fauci today. Things are pretty out of control in large chunks of the country. You know, we`ve been denying that the pandemic is still with us.
We`ve heard from the leadership of the government -- of the federal government that the pandemic is behind us, and we have wasted, I would say, the last four, six weeks and have not acted with the urgency we need and now we`re finding ourselves in a difficult situation where I suspect we`re going to end up having states with shelter in place orders and having to lock down again. This is what we were all afraid of, but we`re running out of options right now.
TUR: I wonder how much of the confusion is playing into why we`re seeing infections spike in other states. We just talked to Kerry Sanders a second ago who said that young people don`t really see this as a big problem. They don`t see the severity of it, the seriousness of it on social media. They`re getting conflicting information. Today, the vice president urged all Americans to wear masks but at the same time, on Friday, he painted a very rosy picture of what was happening in the United States. Let`s listen to what he was saying on Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As we stand here today, all 50 states and territories across this country are opening up safely and responsibly. As we reported early on, 34 states across the country, though, are experiencing a measure of stability that is a credit to all the people of those states. We want the American people to understand it`s almost inarguable that more testing is generating more cases. To one extent or another, the volume of new cases coming in is a reflection of a great success in expanding testing across the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Again, that was Friday, but how do you follow what the recommendations are when on Friday, Pence is saying, everything`s fine, and on Monday, not everything`s fine, but everything`s not that bad and on Monday, he`s urging everybody to wear masks and taking a much more dire tone. It feels like whiplash.
JHA: Yeah, I think part of it is, during this entire pandemic, we have always looked for the most kind of benign, the most optimistic explanation for everything. When cases started going up, first we denied that. Then we said they`re going up because of testing, and when hospitals starting getting full and became untenable to say it was just testing, now we finally are starting to acknowledge what`s been in front of us.
I think a clear, consistent message from the White House, from all the governors would counter a lot of the misinformation that`s out in the -- on Facebook and elsewhere, and would help Americans understand that we`re in the middle of a pandemic, we`re going to have to get our act together, and we`re going to have to get through this if we want to keep our economy open and save lives. Misinformation and sort of confusing information coming out of the White House and our leaders is not helpful in this situation.
TUR: Dr. Jha, thank you so much for joining us today, and offering your perspective, sir, and all of your expertise. We appreciate it.
JHA: Thank you.
TUR: And ahead, the latest on the reports that the Russians offered the Taliban money to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. What did President Trump know, and when did he know it? We`re going to tell you what we know.
Plus I`ll talk to a Democratic Congresswoman and an intelligence expert about what she knows after getting briefed at the White House.
TUR: Welcome back. A person with direct knowledge of the intelligence tells NBC news that White House and top National Security Council officials knew about intelligence indicating Russia was offering the Taliban bounties on U.S. troops more than a year ago in early 2019. We still do not know if bounty money was ever paid, and we don`t know whether it resulted in the deaths of any Americans.
We do know, however, that the Intel was out there at least a month before three marines were killed in a car bomb in Afghanistan, an incident which is under increased scrutiny right now. And we know that The New York Times is now reporting that American officials intercepted financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia`s military intelligence agency to an account linked to the Taliban. But perhaps the biggest unknown right now is when President Trump knew about the intelligence.
National security advisor Robert O`Brian insists the president was not briefed on the situation, but the Associated Press is reporting that John Bolton told colleagues he briefed the president about the intelligence in March of last year when he was still national security advisor. Bolton would not confirm nor would he deny the report during a series of interviews today.
With me now is NBC News`s Carol Lee who helped break today`s news on when the White House knew about the Russian bounty intel, and NBC`s national security correspondent Ken Dilanian who`s been talking to his sources in the Intel community. So, Carol, the White House and the president both maintain they were not briefed or the president was not briefed on this intelligence.
CAROL LEE, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, they`ve said that the president was not briefed on this intelligence, which we now know goes back to at least March of 2019, so some 15 months, and that the White House press secretary, Kayleigh Mcenany, said today that the president has been briefed on this intelligence but only since that New York Times report first came out and it was in the public domain and she really blamed the media for why the president had to be briefed about this.
She also said that there`s still no consensus on whether the intelligence is -- the intelligence has not been verified and there`s no consensus within the intelligence community about it. She gave no indication of whether the president was demanding that they get to the bottom of this, which has been a question, and she said that the president -- she declined to say whether the president had this information in his presidential daily brief, in a written form, even if he wasn`t verbally briefed on that.
And in saying that, she said, Katy, I`ll just read the quote for you, the president, I will tell you is the most informed person on planet earth when it comes to the threats we face. So that was her pushback on criticism that the president was not -- whether the president didn`t read this, if it was in his PDB she didn`t confirm or deny that and the White House basically trying to stick to its story on this that the president didn`t know about this.
They didn`t feel like he should have known about this, that it wasn`t the kind of thing that should have been elevated to that level and he`s now only been briefed since the existence of this intelligence has become public, Katy.
TUR: Carol, there`s a wealth of past reporting out there that the president doesn`t read his PDBs and isn`t necessarily paying attention when he has verbal briefings on what`s contained in those PDBs, so when Kayleigh Mcenany says he`s the most informed person on the planet, what does the reporting say?
LEE: I mean, you`ve seen the reporting. We`ve had our own reporting on this. It`s president`s -- people who have worked for the president, people who have briefed him, officials current and former, will say that this is a president who likes things brief. He likes, at most, a single page. He can get distracted in briefings, particularly on intelligence briefings, Katy, he`ll often, according to officials, take a piece of information and then switch and go off on a tangent about whatever topic comes to his mind.
We`ve seen that outlined, frankly, in John Bolton, his former national security advisor`s book multiple times, and this is a well-known thing. So, you know, our reporting and other reporting really since the president came into office about how he prefers to be briefed suggests that he is not someone who is a voracious consumer of briefing books and that he likes it to be succinct, concise, and can often get distracted when he`s briefed, Katy.
TUR: Ken, you`ve been talking to your intelligence sources about this Intel and with the caveat that Intel is always murky, the president says it`s not credible. Is that the assessment that has been made by the Intelligence Community about this information?
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE REPORTER: Absolutely not, Katy. That statement by the president is just flat wrong. It may be uncorroborated and in fact, there appears to be a dispute about how strong this intelligence is and different agencies have different views. That`s very common, by the way.
But it certainly has not been deemed not credible and all the lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, who have been briefed on it now, have come away and said, these are serious allegations and there should be a response to Russia if they prove out to be true. In my reporting I picked up there appears to be a CIA military divide on this. Where the CIA appears to be -- have more confidence in this intelligence, perhaps because it`s based in part on human sources, than the military and the national security agency, which does digital intercepts and intercepts communications.
But that`s also very common and in a normal administration, the national security advisor would ultimately make a call and decide how much confidence he or she has in this intelligence and what to do about it. The fact that the president wasn`t briefed appears to me that there was no resolution of this and therefore, there has been no response to this provocation by Russia.
It`s not a scandal that this happened and people knew about it and didn`t make it public. I mean, stuff like this happened in the Obama administration. Pakistan supported the Taliban. Iran supported the Taliban. The scandal would be as Democrats see it, there has been no response by Donald Trump because he wasn`t even briefed, according to his own people, except in writing which, as you said, he doesn`t read those things, Katy.
TUR: This sort of intelligence, does Congress usually get a chance to see this? Do we know anything about whether Congress was briefed on this before both Republicans and Democrats were given separate briefings by the White House?
DILANIAN: That`s a very interesting question. Many members have acted as if they are hearing this information for the first time and that may be true in most cases, but I am told by a well-placed source that some of this intelligence did find its way to the Congressional Intelligence Committees in classified form and Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican, said today that the so-called gang of eight, the leadership of Congress had been briefed on this.
I believe he`s wrong about that. My source says it wasn`t the gang of eight, it was the intelligence committees and a lot of Intel, Katy, goes to those committees that is only seen by staffers. So it`s not clear what members knew about this, and it`s not clear how much detail was sent to them, whether it was several months ago or last year, compared to what`s available now. It`s pretty clear, actually, that it was much less detail but nonetheless, people like Adam Schiff, it`s not clear that this is the first time they`re hearing about this when the news broke a few days ago.
TUR: Ken Dilanian and Carol Lee, guys, thank you so much for that reporting, and Ken, nice pillow. Nice peacock pillow behind you.
DILANIAN: Thanks, Katy.
TUR: Coming up next, we`ve got more on this story with the Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin. We`re going to ask her what we just ask Ken about a briefing. She`s also a former CIA analyst, a former acting assistant Secretary of Defense, and she was at the White House today for the briefing on Russian bounties. We are going to ask her what she thinks about that briefing, the intelligence, and what the president should or should not have been told.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD): This was a red flag. It either was not waved or the president ignored the wave. President Truman said the buck stops here. President Trump says I never saw the buck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Welcome back. That was House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer following the briefing. He and a handful of other Democrats received today about the reports Russians offered the Taliban money to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
Democrats want to know what the president knew about the intelligence and when he knew it. They are concerned that the intelligence either did not get in front of the president for political reasons or that President Trump saw the intelligence and ignored it because of his relationship with Vladimir Putin.
But Republicans who were briefed separately from Democrats say the intelligence was not strong enough to make it to President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JIM INHOFE (R-OK): After a very long briefing, I`m confident that President Trump didn`t know about the reporting. There is some confusion in terms of our own intelligence, and it just didn`t rise to the level of the president at that time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Joining me now is one of those Democrats who was at the White House briefing this morning, Michigan Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin. She serves on the Armed Services Committee. And prior to taking office, she served in defense and intelligence positions under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Congresswoman, thank you very much for joining us. I just want to get your opinion on what Senator Inhofe just said, that the intelligence wasn`t strong enough to make it to the president`s desk.
REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): Yeah, well, I mean, I think as a CIA officer, I would like the CIA to come and talk to us about the intelligence. I`d like to get briefed from some of the intelligence officials, career folks who really are immersed and understand kind of wheat from chaff.
Today, we had a briefing at the White House in the Situation Room and I appreciate that we had it, but we walked in and there was no one who was a career professional. So, we spent the -- a lot of time talking about this different intelligence, the debates among the Intelligence Community, which are fine, you know, let`s have that debate. But I`d really like to hear it from them, specifically, the head of the CIA and other agencies.
TUR: And you think that information would be presented differently, perhaps be fuller if it was presented by the CIA or another intelligence agency and not Mark Meadows, the chief of staff?
SLOTKIN: Yeah. And I just think there`s certain training and an art to this. I was an intelligence analyst. I was at the CIA and did three tours in Iraq, sort of battlefield intelligence and then strategic intelligence writing back at Langley. There`s a science to this, an art to this, and it`s not just every day that people are making assessments about specific pieces of intelligence.
Also, Intelligence Community assessments change. You get new information, they evolve. So, I want to hear from the heads of these agencies and let them tell us what they think.
I mean, I think the bigger picture here, though, is that whether we feel confident about the intel or it needs more development, more work, more verification, it`s -- it was really hard for me to understand why they just wouldn`t alert the president, say, hey, you know, we`ve gotten this in, we`re looking into it, boss, but I want you to know that it`s there because it`s so important to think about the idea of, you know, Russia targeting the United States, putting a bounty on the head of U.S. forces.
So, that struck me more than the conversation, frankly, around intelligence.
TUR: So, why do you think the president might not have been told, if he was not told, and there`s reporting suggesting, including our own reporting, that it was in the presidential daily briefing, which is something that does get in front of the president, at least in theory?
SLOTKIN: Yeah, I mean, and to be clear, I used to write the, you know, articles for the presidential daily brief. I`ve briefed them in the Oval Office to different presidents. There`s a book that`s produced every single day and that can be 40 to 60 pages. I mean, it`s a lot.
Not everything is briefed out by the intelligence briefer. Maybe you`re going to pick the top three or five things. I don`t know. I do have no special knowledge. The president said he wasn`t briefed. It may have been in the book and he didn`t read it.
But I think the point is, separate from it just being inside a book, to me, as someone who served at the NSC under Bush, under Obama, if this came across our desk, something that was so important to our strategic relationship with Russia, so potentially important, I would say, hey, Mr. President, I`m just making you aware of this, especially since the president has been on the phone with Vladimir Putin over five -- I think at least five times since March 30th.
So they have had lots of prep, lots of time talking about Russia, getting him ready for these calls, and it`s just hard -- and that`s what I spent my time asking in this meeting is, how could it be that you didn`t feel like this was relevant to talk to him about?
TUR: What are the answers you got?
SLOTKIN: Well, I just -- I think that they went back to this idea that there wasn`t a clear picture on the intelligence, and I get it. You know, you don`t want to take the president something that may be wrong.
But on something like this, when you`re engaging and the president is thinking about reaching out to Russia again, inviting them to be in the G7, you want to say, hey, boss, this is happening, like we`re researching this issue, we`re getting more intelligence, and I don`t have an answer for you yet, but we`re on it.
And you know, presidents that I have worked for would say go, go get on it, I want to know the answer. And that would affect their thinking and when they think about inviting, for instance, President Putin back into the G7.
I didn`t get an answer and that`s what concerns me. I`m a stepmom of an army officer who could easily be deployed to Afghanistan in the next week - - in the next year, excuse me, and I just want to know that the commander in chief is aware and he`s making sure we`re doing everything possible to protect our forces.
TUR: Well, as somebody who has prepared the PDB before, is there a scenario where that sort of intelligence is not strong enough? Even if it`s as inflammatory, potentially, as Russia paying the Taliban to kill American soldiers, is there a scenario where the information, the underlying intelligence, the evidence provided below it is just not strong enough to bring it to the president and make him aware of it? Is that -- is that at all plausible?
SLOTKIN: So, you know, there is a lot of vetting that goes on. The idea -- you don`t just throw something in the president`s daily brief, right? It`s gone through some vetting. What does happen is that different intelligence agencies have different assessments. So, it is not uncommon, especially after some of the failures on the WMD in Iraq, it`s not uncommon for the CIA to think one thing and DIA to think another thing.
And you`ll see in a piece, and I`ve written this dissent. You`ll say CIA assesses this but DIA has concerns about X, Y, and Z. So that`s not totally out of the ordinary. It`s not every day but it`s not out of the ordinary. But typically, if you`re going to put something in front of the president, there`s been at least some vetting and at least one of the agencies feels strongly about getting that message to the president.
TUR: And very quickly, are you going to get a briefing from the CIA or the DNI or anybody else? Is that on the schedule?
SLOTKIN: We`ve asked for that. I hope that we get it. I think it`s important that we hear directly from them and I think it`s important that the president comes out and says, you know what, we`re looking into this, and if it`s true, I`m not going to allow this to happen, I`m going to engage and push back on Vladimir Putin. That`s what I want to know as the stepmom of an army officer.
TUR: Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, thank you very much for joining us today and giving us all of that insight. It`s certainly a lot more than I understood before this conversation. So, thank you very much.
SLOTKIN: Thank you.
TUR: And ahead, elections in the age of coronavirus. We`ve got results from one race and a preview of another. But first, Vice President Biden was asked today by NBC`s Mike Memoli about the state of the presidential race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the most unusual campaign, I think, in modern history in that -- well, I start off with the premise, Mike, that I`m going to follow the doc`s orders. Not just for me but for the country. And that means that I am not going to be holding rallies. I don`t want to jinx myself. I know the polling data is very good, but I think it`s really early. It`s much too early to make any judgment. I think we got a whole lot more work to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Welcome back. You know what Chuck likes to say, if it`s Tuesday, someone is voting somewhere. And today, that somewhere is Utah, Oklahoma, and Colorado. But we don`t just have elections going on today. We also have election results from last Tuesday`s primaries. That`s because in a preview of what we can expect come November, a record number of people voted by mail.
Let`s bring in my colleague, Steve Kornacki, at the big board to break down the big Senate contest we`re watching today and the big race we know now we will be watching in November. Steve, what do you got?
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Here it is, Katy. This is democratic primary in Kentucky for the right to take on Mitch McConnell in the fall. And Amy McGrath, you see the check mark there, a couple of hours ago, Amy McGrath declared the winner, a very close race. Charles Booker got late momentum in this campaign but falls just short against Amy McGrath.
Of course, McGrath had run for the House in 2018. She got a lot of national attention back then, a former Air Force fighter pilot who ran against a Republican incumbent in a district in Kentucky. She came close, fell just short then, got in the Senate race, and got a lot of big national attention. And then Booker is with very late momentum, a lot of national progressive endorsements for him late. McGrath is going to win this.
I think what`s interesting here, though, is there was a split here in when the votes were cast, how the votes were cast. I think you got to keep in mind, as we head to November, so take a look at this. These are the three biggest counties in Kentucky. This is Louisville, this is Lexington, and this is Cincinnati`s suburbs right here. These are the three largest.
Remember, last week was the official primary date. Some people went out and voted in person at polling places a week ago today. The folks who did that -- I mean, look at this. In the Louisville area, Booker won by 57 points, his home base, but 57. He won by 51 in Lexington. That`s where the University of Kentucky is. He won by almost 20 points here in this big county in the Cincinnati suburbs. But there weren`t a lot of people who went and did that last week.
Now, these were numbers we had for all of last week. What we got today was the mail-in. I mean, it`s just night and day. Look at this, 37-point difference, the mail-in ballots in Jefferson. He won them by 37 points less. Look at this, from 51 down to five. He actually lost by nearly 40 points in the mail-in ballots in Kenton County.
So, a lot more mail-in votes than in person votes. We didn`t get the mail- in totals until today. And what that resulted in, you know, look, Booker won these two counties. He was expecting to win this by a bigger margin. He lost here. He ends up losing statewide. The mail-in ballots that were cast earlier -- go ahead, Katy, what`s that?
TUR: No, Steve, I`m sorry. I didn`t interrupt, but I do want to ask you a question. What does this mean for the general election against Mitch McConnell for McGrath?
KORNACKI: Yeah, I mean, this is an uphill fight for Amy McGrath in November. She did have a lot of money. She already raised a ton of money. But keep in mind, 2016, Kentucky voted for Donald Trump by 30 points, not just a Trump state, one of Trump`s strongest states. So that`s the kind of uphill fight she`s got there in November against Mitch McConnell.
TUR: And what about the primaries today, Steve?
KORNACKI: And then take a look at this. We`re looking in Colorado. Let me call that one up here, democratic primary in Colorado. John Hickenlooper, remember that name, a former governor, former presidential candidate, he`s got a primary fight here with Andrew Romanoff. The winner gets Cory Gardner, who was elected in 2014. There is one poll in this race. We will see if the primary matches up. Hickenlooper is certainly the favorite in this primary.
And then you look at the general election. Remember, Colorado is one of those states. There are two of them on the map this year where a Republican senator is running for re-election in a state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. It`s Gardner in Colorado and it`s Susan Collins in Maine, two of the more endangered Republicans there, Katy.
TUR: We will be watching that race, as well as the race in Kentucky. Steve Kornacki, Steve, thank you as always. And coming up next, we`re going to turn to the issue of racial justice and inequality in America, that latest development, and the latest developments on the case of alleged police brutality in the death of Elijah McClain. Don`t go anywhere.
TUR: Welcome back. Multiple police officers in Aurora, Colorado have been placed on administrative leave after photos depicting them at a memorial for Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old man who died in police custody last August, were turned over to internal investigators. Interim Police Chief Vanessa Wilson offered no further details on what those pictures show.
The memorial built at the site of McClain`s death has become a center point of protests, calling for justice and an investigation into the officers who put McClain in a chokehold. NBC News correspondent Gabe Gutierrez is in Aurora, Colorado. Gabe, what`s going on with this story?
GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Katy. Yes, as you mentioned, there was a development overnight that surprised some people when the police chief made that announcement, that several officers have been placed on paid administrative leave.
We just learned some new information from the police department today. They say that this complaint by another officer, that these two pictures, the complaint was made last Thursday, that`s when the interim chief was made aware of this.
We understand that the internal investigation has now been completed. But it is now being reviewed by the police chief`s review board and then it will have to be viewed by the chief. The officers then have some time to be able to appeal this.
So, it is unclear exactly when we might get to see what`s on these pictures. But I did hear from the police department that the other officer made a complaint of a potentially inappropriate set of pictures that were taken by those other officers.
Now, Katy, there`s that. And then, there are a lot of questions regarding the special prosecutor that was appointed by the governor last week, the state`s attorney general.
You`ll remember, Katy, this case actually happened in August of last year. The body cam or video was released in November of last year. It wasn`t until after the death of George Floyd that this really started to get national attention. I spoke with the governor about that a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUTIERREZ (on camera): Why was not a special prosecutor appointed sooner?
GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): We have a system of local control in our state. So, it automatically goes to the D.A. The D.A. took a look at it.
GUTIERREZ (on camera): You disagree with what the D.A. found?
POLIS: Well, I lack confidence in what the D.A. found. I think disagree is too strong a term because I want to see a new objective set of eyes on this. Is there a prosecutable offense? I have full confidence that the attorney general will do that. And we`ll see what the conclusion is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUTIERREZ: So again, the governor is now saying that he lacks confidence in what the local district attorney found. A few days ago, that district attorney said he did not condone what these officers did, but it did not rise to the level of criminal prosecution.
And Katy, an internal investigation actually found that these officers follow policy and that`s why charges were not brought. That was part of the reason that the district attorney said that. Certainly, a lot of people are asking questions about this case. It is drawing more outrage across the country, Katy.
TUR: NBC`s Gabe Gutierrez, Gabe, thank you very much for all of that reporting. We`ll be right back.
TUR: Welcome back. In just a few moments, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves will take a symbolic step towards closing a racist chapter in American history. He is expected to sign a bill shortly that will retire the state`s flag, ridding it of the confederate emblem.
Lawmakers voted this week to change the flag, replacing the symbol with the words "In God We Trust." Once the bill is signed, the flag will lose its official status. A new design is expected in September.
That will do it for us tonight. We will be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY. I`m in again for Chuck. In the meantime, "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END