Trump administration visa policy TRANSCRIPT: 7/8/20, MTP Daily

Guests: Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, Mary Fowkes

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this continues the way it is, it`s going to be we`re going to look like Elmhurst Hospital in New York. If this continues, the capacity will be strained.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Frankly, we are running out of room. I mean, even the largest hospitals have a finite number of beds and a finite number of supplies. It is putting a large burden on our health care staff and our health care system as a whole.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a nurse, my main concern is manpower. This virus, it is wicked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are seeing a lot of patients come in, we are playing musical chairs, moving one patient from one side to another. It is a lot of work. We are trying to tell people, you know, keep a safe distance. Use your mask. Wash your hands. They don`t do it. They think it is a hoax. Anybody that thinks that this is a hoax, they should come and spend the day with me here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: Once again, we begin with the show with sound from medical workers on the front lines of this pandemic. Welcome to Wednesday. It is MEET THE PRESS DAILY and I`m Katy Tur in for Chuck Todd. The U.S. is battling a record surge of COVID cases. We crossed 3 million cases. Hospitals are being pushed to the brink of capacity, and yet the president is publicly dismissing the warnings and recommendations of his top infectious disease experts while also threatening to cut funding to schools if they cannot reopen. It has been a head spinning 24 hours.

The U.S. set another single day record of confirmed cases at more than 60,000. Hospitalizations hit record levels in Arizona, Alabama, California, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. The situation in the south continues to deteriorate. Cases are still exploding. Hospitalizations are still climbing, and deaths have begun ticking upwards.

At the same time, the president is publicly dismissing CDC guidelines on reopening schools, calling them very tough and expensive. A senior administration official tells NBC news that the White House is going to issue its own guidelines because the CDC`s are too restrictive. And Vice President Pence said the CDC would be releasing new guidelines.

Let that sink in. The CDC is going to change its recommendations amid a ranging pandemic apparently because the president doesn`t like them. Not only that, the president is also threatening to cut off funding for schools if they do not reopen, and he continues to advance baseless claims that schools are being pressured to stay closed as a way to hurt his re-election chances.

The president is also downplaying warnings from Dr. Fauci. He said he disagreed with Fauci`s assessment that we are knee deep in this first wave, which we are. He also questioned Fauci`s expertise. When the White House task force briefed the public today, Fauci was notably absent, and has become a Washington tradition in this pandemic, the task force named -- the officials not named Fauci tried to put a rosy spin on the current crisis, and the vice president tried to dodge questions about the president`s impulsiveness.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We all know the CDC guidelines are not requirements, they`re advice. Isn`t the president when he calls it too tough or impractical making it easier for Americans and for school officials to ignore that advice?

I have every confidence that governors, and state education officials and local health officials are going to implement the policies that they think are in the best interest of children and families.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you explain why the president is threatening to cut funding from schools at a time when educators are saying they need more so that they can safely reopen?

PENCE: Kaitlan, first and foremost, it`s what you heard from the president is just a determination to provide the kind of leadership from the federal level that says we`re going to get our kids back to school because that`s where they belong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Joining me from the White House is my NBC News colleague Carol Lee, also with us is Robert Costa, national political reporter with the Washington Post, and a MSNBC political analyst. Also for a medical perspective and public health perspective, Dr. Kavita Patel, former health official in the Obama administration, and a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution.

So, Carol, let`s start with you on this, we are getting from Vice President Pence the same thing we`ve been getting from officials in this administration now, since time memorial which is that, don`t believe the words that are coming out of the president`s mouth here or his tweets, I should say.

Here`s what he actually believes. In reality, the president disagreed with the CDC guidelines, he blasted them on Twitter, too restrictive, too expensive. And now the White House is issuing its own and Vice President Pence says the CDC is going to reissue their guidelines. Can you tell us about what`s going on behind the scenes about what the administration actually wants to do, what they want to see happen?

CAROL LEE, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, Katy, this is another instance that we`ve seen throughout the pandemic since the president has really leaned into the reopening of the economy where the president is at odds with his advice from his own government. We saw this from CDC guidelines for opening states generally, we saw this with opening guidelines for opening churches, where the White House came in with a heavy hand, and now we`re seeing it with schools.

And what they say is that, looking at these guidelines which came out in May, and are voluntary, which is worth underscoring, now that they`re saying that they`re too prescriptive. They basically are so prescriptive that they prohibit schools from fully opening. And Kayleigh Mcenany, the press secretary`s briefing -- her briefing is ongoing when I came out here, but she was asked what some examples are that the president takes issue. And that she mentioned that they`re encouraged to -- for kids to bring their own meals to school when feasible.

White House officials also told me that another thing they don`t like is limiting the sharing of books, electronics and toys. So, what you`re seeing here is the White House come in and try to take control of this process, and while the vice president says the CDC is going to issue the guidelines that maybe a CDC document, but it is definitely a White House document in the sense that it is not going to be issued unless this White House signs off on it.

And what we`re told is that it`s going to be a hybrid potentially of some of the CDC guidelines that are out there and some recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. But just generally to sum up the thinking that the White House has about the president and the medical experts` advice that he`s getting, Kayleigh Mcenany just said that while he has confidence in the advice of his medical experts, he decides whether or not he listens to them. And that`s where we are on that, Katy.

TUR: Let`s talk about the president saying it was very tough but also very expensive. Bob Costa, expensive is a hurdle that you can get over when you have the purse of the federal government behind you. After all, look at all the PPP loans that we -- as a nation just issued, the supplements, the billions of dollars, trillions of dollars in supplemental money that went out to shore up businesses and corporations and industries, and individuals in this country.

If money is an issue for making these schools safer, is there a plan in the administration, potentially in Congress, to give the schools all of the money they need to make sure that our kids and our teachers are as protected as they can be so everybody else can try to get back to work.

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER THE WASHINGTON POST: Based on my conversations today with lawmakers in both parties and their aides, it is clear that the conversation is changing right now on Capitol Hill. There used to be talk among Republicans at least that any second round of stimulus would be as they saw it a blue state bailout.

But now as you see coronavirus cases rising in red states, the conversation is taking a turn, and there`s more talk among Republicans and Democrats about having not only more stimulus checks go out but to have cash go directly to states because states across the country, whether it`s New Jersey, California, Texas are seeing revenue shortfalls. They are seeing a lack of business activity, and they`re looking to the federal government for help. The question is, what is the scope of that? Will liability insurance be part of it? That`s what Republicans want at this moment.

TUR: And the normal host of this show predicted that very thing happening once this virus hit the red states, suddenly those lawmakers in Congress that were calling it a blue state bailout would no longer be singing that tune. Let`s get to the other part of the president`s statement, Dr. Patel, very tough on the CDC guidelines, they`re very tough. Are these guidelines very tough?

KAVITA PATEL, NBC NEWS MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR, FELLOW AT THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: No, and as many of us have stated in the health environment, these are guidelines. And actually schools are trying to do more than just the suggested guidelines because as we have now seen time and time again, that if we don`t feel safe and healthy in any environment, then we`re not going to be able to recover as a country.

So, in terms of toughness, I think what`s important to remind everybody is that we need to do everything that we can to protect our children and ensure their safety, and that includes not just compliance with guidelines but having all of those pieces in place to support the health infrastructure.

That goes back to something that Katy, you and Chuck talked about, testing, tracing, isolation. I keep coming back to that, but you can`t do any of the CDC guidance without also ensuring that you have those public health measures in place. And we are still seeing despite all the talk and the rhetoric from the White House, we`re still seeing severe shortages, hospital beds as you`ve already reported on, and also reusing PPE.

And could you imagine if we actually then contributed to a second wave or worsening of the first wave because we didn`t heed these warnings in reopening schools. So the CDC guidance itself is practical and schools are actually trying to go above and beyond that, and that`s where I think we should be concentrating efforts. How do we support them?

TUR: Dr. Patel, quickly on children, how easily do they spread this disease?

PATEL: Yeah, this has been a pretty big topic about certainly for the White House task force, talk about the fact that children are not necessarily a large source of transmitting this virus, and I think it is pretty else -- I think it`s important to look at the facts that there`s still a lot we do not know about how this virus affects children.

Let me start there. A lot of it has to do with the fact that we shut schools down since March, and in many places still to this day we`re not doing testing in many children under the age of 10. It is just very difficult to do, and so -- we don`t have enough supplies in places. Having said that, children can be an important source of the virus. We think, and I will emphasize the word, Katy, think, we think that they`re not the major source of transmission and that means that if you have a child in your house like I do, that it is probably not them spreading the virus.

But I also think it is a false narrative to work in because if it is your child that`s sick and I`ve seen it, let me reassure you that that matters. So, I totally respect why scientists and the American Academy of Pediatrics had put out this guidance that we need to reopen schools. I think we need to concentrate on how we not only reopen safely, how we keep people in schools, including the workers and the teachers safe.

And we can do that, but I haven`t seen any evidence from the White House or state leaders, especially in the surging states that that is their priority. Right now, they`re just trying to keep people healthy today.

TUR: And the other countries where that has been done, they do practice social distancing, the kids are wearing masks, there are precautions that have been put in place. Bob, Robert, I want to talk to you about just the state of the virus, and the way the president is painting a picture compared to what Dr. Fauci is. I`m going to play you two sound bites. The first one is, Dr. Fauci on Monday. The second one is the president yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALERGY AND INFECTOUS DISEASE: The current state is really not good in the sense that as you know we had been in a situation, we were averaging about 20,000 new cases a day. And then a series of circumstances associated with various states and cities trying to open up in the sense of getting back to some form of normality has led to a situation where we now have record breaking cases.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we are in a good place, I disagree with him. You know, Dr. Fauci said don`t wear masks, and now he says wear them. He said numerous things. Don`t close off China, don`t ban China, and I did it anyway. I sort of didn`t listen to my experts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: So, Robert, he`s undercutting Dr. Fauci there, the virus is spreading in red states as you mentioned a moment ago. Is there anybody who is not named Trump in Congress or in the administration or at the White House that agrees with the president`s assessment of how things are right now?

COSTA: Based on my conversations with the president`s advisers, it is clear the new chief of staff, Mark Meadows, is one of the people behind the scene, along with President Trump encouraging this idea that the country should continue to reopen, that the country needs to and Americans need to internalize the circumstances here and the challenges ahead, to keep moving forward. And that goes against the message from Dr. Fauci.

But you don`t see Trump advisers or Meadows to others on the political side trying to have a dramatic public brawl with Dr. Fauci because they know if he somehow had a break with the administration or left the administration, it could cost them political points. So, you see this tension continue. But the president is moving forward with his own message, despite what Dr. Fauci who is a nonpartisan figure, is saying.

TUR: Well, let`s look at what you`re just talking about. That`s trust. Look at this polling. The CDC, I`ll put it back up on the screen, 77 percent of all people in the country voters are, all those poll in the country, trust the CDC, 67 percent trust Dr. Fauci, 26 percent trust President Trump. Carol, you know this well, his internal poll numbers at the campaign are not good. He is not winning in any state. How does he feel that, I guess what is the motivation for the president to go after Dr. Fauci who has all of that trust or the CDC that has all of that trust?

LEE: It`s basically their only play, the president`s only play is to push full speed on reopening on the economy. That`s what he`s been trying to do and what put him at odds with experts like Dr. Fauci for months now. This is just the latest example of that. The problem that the president runs into when he tries to do this which is pressure states to move faster than they want to, is one. Dr. Fauci and others have laid this out. You can see a spike in cases and perhaps people moved too quickly in terms of reopening.

You know, the other thing is that he doesn`t have the kind of control over this process that he thinks he does, he has a bully pulpit for sure and they can put out their recommendations, but the states are going to decide. The funding, it is unclear what funding he could even pull from states for education and whether he would get Congress to go on board with that.

So, a lot of this is the president applying pressure in ways that he may find out, that is not going -- they`re not going to go the way he wants to. And if they do, it could really backfire him in the fall if it turns out that sending his or pressuring schools to open fully, and that`s what they are saying, fully, not part-time, if that causes a new spike in cases, Katy.

TUR: The virus is not a political opponent and treating it as such as the president has been doing is not winning politically for him, at least not now. Carol Lee, thank you very much. Robert Costa, thank you. And Dr. Kavita Patel, thank you as well.

Coming up next, front line workers are ahead. Front line workers are sounding the alarm about too many patients and not enough personal protective equipment. We are going to check in on two of the hottest hot spots.

And later, the Supreme Court is ruling on Obamacare. That could affect well over 100,000 women. The employers now allowed to opt out of covering contraceptives.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: We`re actually seeing early indications of a percent of positive testing flattening in Arizona and Florida and Texas. Governors in each of those states have taken strong steps to flatten the curve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Welcome back. While the Trump administration may be trying to put a positive spin on the situation in some of the country`s hot spots, a quarter of COVID-19 test in Arizona are coming back positive, 25 percent. That is the highest percentage in the country. Texas meanwhile reported more than 10,000 new cases yesterday, a record for the state. That`s nearly 2,000 more cases than Texas` previous record which was set last Saturday. We`re still awaiting on numbers from today.

Moments ago, the nation`s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that states experiencing serious problems right now may want to take the drastic step of shutting down. For more, I am joined by NBC`s Steve Patterson in Phoenix and our own Priscilla Thompson in Houston. So, Steve, simple question, is the curve flattening in Arizona as the vice president is saying?

STEVE PATTERSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Look, Katy, by all indications that is not happening when you talk to people who are health workers in the hospital, front line workers who say the number one thing that they need is more bodies, more people in these hospitals that are already packed, nearing capacity. But one indicator that you have to look at, you already mentioned, that quarter test positive rate among all the cases that means more than just what it sounds like.

It also means according to health officials based on that John Hopkins study that found that that essentially that testing is so low that it is not accounting for people who are not sick, right. So when you have 25 percent of people testing positive, it means it is not getting to a core group that`s asymptomatic. They may now have symptoms. And that speaks to the fact that there is not enough testing being done on the ground.

So, you have situations in which you essentially have blind spots. And that speaks to the fact that there may be more community spread over a much longer sustained time, like let`s say since middle of May when the stay at home order lifted to where you have a situation where you were blind to where the disease or the virus is spreading at this point.

So, health officials are really worried about a few things. They are worried about obviously that community spread, they`re worried about obviously the test positive rate, but they`re really worried about having people on the ground. This is banner health, they`re running a drive right now. You can see cars behind me, people getting tested. They say they can do about a thousand a day, every single day, but that wouldn`t -- for getting the test back, it takes some five to seven days for people to see their results. That is not salient for really tracking or knowing the spread of this virus.

You would like to see the virus and test results back within two days. But because the sites are still slammed, the hospitals are so slammed, the labs are slammed as well. So, it is a real just clog in the system here, especially when you have this severe spike in the number of cases, this surge which continues and is scaring everybody here, Katy.

TUR: You can`t tell if you`re flattening a curve if there aren`t enough tests, you just don`t have the visuals or the knowledge in order to say that. Priscilla, you`re in Texas. The governor had said in the past that he would be concerned about a 10 percent positivity rate in testing. Right now, the state of Texas is at a 13.5 percent on average positivity rate. What are you hearing from the governor now?

PRISCILLA THOMPSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Katy, that positivity rate did sort of urge the governor to go ahead and make some changes, we saw him close bars a few weeks ago, and also roll back capacity on restaurants from 75 percent to 50 percent. But that does not seem to be enough.

You mention those -- that record daily number that we saw just yesterday, those numbers are continuing to tick up. We`re here in Harris County which just crossed the 40,000 people who have tested positive for the virus, that threshold. It is the hardest-hit county in Texas. And now business owners here are very concerned about remaining open regardless of what the governor has said. I spoke to a handful of business owners today, specifically restaurant owners that have actually closed their doors voluntarily, some of them, because they are concerned about this surging numbers.

And others are considering that. But they want to see more aid from the government and they say that right now, this pandemic is being used as a partisan sort of argument that doesn`t need to be happening when lives are on the line. Take a listen to what the owner of the breakfast club here told me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately we turned this pandemic into a partisan issue instead of an issue of humanity where we see people as people. And we decided to put profits before people in the midst of a pandemic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS: And so restaurant owners here are urging their local elected officials when they go back to Washington, D.C. to pass the restaurants act which would actually allow for $120 billion in funding to help keep these restaurants afloat as they decide whether to remain open or close and look at what this COVID numbers are going to be doing in Texas over the next few weeks. Katy?

TUR: So it sounds like a shutdown would be OK, as long as you give the restaurants the support they need to survive. Steve Patterson, we just heard a second ago Dr. Fauci or just mentioned that Dr. Fauci said that some of these states where the hot spots are need to consider shutting down. Is that even under consideration in Arizona?

PATTERSON: I had the Director of Public Health of Arizona on the phone the other night, I asked that question directly to her. She said yes, that is an option on the table. It is not as if they`re completely negating another stay at home order. But the fact that the matter is, they`re relying on messaging, they are relying on outreach. They said that they -- that would be a last case scenario. That they would like to exhaust all other options before they go there.

You know, I asked if this is all about social distancing, this is all about the things that we`ve heard from the federal government from the very beginning, why not do it now because anything you do lags for another two weeks. And they said they`re sticking to that. So, we`ll see if the strategy works, but it`s not looking good right now, Katy.

TUR: There were studies done in what happened here in New York, and they found that if we had shut down a week earlier or two weeks earlier, thousands of lives would have been saved. Just a week or two, and thousands of lives. So, every second counts when you`re battling the spread of this virus. Steve Patterson, thank you very much. Priscilla Thompson, thank you as well.

And a little more news out of Texas today. The Republican Party of Texas cancelled its in person convention scheduled for next week. There were a lot of people wondering if this was still going to happen. 6,000 were expected to attend in Harris County. Currently the state`s biggest coronavirus hot spot. And in other convention news, the list of Republican Senators not going to the Republican convention is growing. Five Senators now say they will not be going to Jacksonville next month. Chuck Grassley, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, and Lamar Alexander.

Senator Grassley, who is 86 said he`ll be sitting out because of the coronavirus. Senator Collins has a different reason though, aides say it`s her long running tradition to skip the convention when she`s running for re-election. Senators McConnell, Graham, Braun however all say that they will be at the convention next month.

And ahead, Harvard and MIT are suing the Trump administration, fighting back against White House plans to force some international students to leave the United States. We`ll be right back.

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TUR: Welcome back. Moments ago, we received new numbers out of Texas. The state reported 9,979 new cases, a few shy of yesterday`s one-day record. Texas did, however, report a record 98 deaths. The previous record was set yesterday. It was 60.

And we now know that tomorrow will be the last day of the Supreme Court`s term. We are expecting a decision then on two cases involving the release of President Trump`s personal financial documents and tax records.

But today, in a win for the Trump administration, the Supreme Court issued a decision that expands the kind of employers that can use religious or moral objections to opt out of providing contraceptive care in their health care plans.

Here to break down today`s decision and to look ahead is NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams. So Pete, that question to you, how does this expand the kind of employer that can use these opt outs?

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you mentioned one of them already, religious or moral objections. That`s a new part of this Trump administration rules. The second part is the kinds of employers who can cite these objections as reasons to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage at no cost to their employees.

Now, remember in the past when Obamacare first came around in 2010, there was an immediate carve-out for religious institutions themselves, for synagogues, mosques, churches, and so forth. Then the legal fight was OK, what about religiously affiliated institutions, can they opt out too, what do they have to do to not be complicit in opt out? That`s kind of where the court action is.

The Trump administration kind of leapfrogged over all of that with these new rules that the court upheld today by a 7-2 vote. What the new rules say is that it is not just religiously affiliated institutions like universities maybe but even for profit companies can opt out for either religious or moral reasons and not have to provide contraceptive coverage.

The government has estimated that this would mean about 126,000 women nationwide would have to find some other way to get that coverage.

TUR: What about tomorrow, Pete, and the two big cases that people are watching out for, Trump`s tax returns, both the Cy Vance case here in New York and the congressional demand for his returns?

WILLIAMS: Right. So, two very different questions, because the question in the congressional cases, these are three house committees that want to get access to the president`s financial documents. And by the way, in both cases, they`re not asking for them directly from the president, they`re asking from his accountants and bankers. So, that`s one question. Does that make any legal difference?

Secondly, these are not things that apply to his official duties. That will make some difference. In the congressional case, it is really all about the congressional power to subpoena. You know, the Constitution doesn`t say that Congress can do it, but the courts over the years have said that Congress needs to gather information for legislative purposes.

The president`s lawyers told the Supreme Court is they don`t need this stuff to legislate. They just want to investigate. They want to poke around and see if they can find anything. That is not a legitimate use of the congressional power. So we`ll see what the Supreme Court says about that.

The Cy Vance case is a very different issue. It is whether the president is subject to the criminal proceedings of a grand jury run by a state prosecution. So, lots of levels of the cases there. It did seem from the argument, when this case was argued in May, and remember, a lot can happen between now and then, but it did seem like the court was prepared to say that Congress really went too far with its subpoenas, but that Vance might be able to get the president`s tax returns.

TUR: I was going to ask you to make a prediction based on what you heard in oral arguments, but you beat me to it, Pete.

WILLIAMS: OK.

TUR: Pete, thank you very much. We appreciate.

(LAUGHTER)

TUR: I know no predictions, though, because anything can happen.

WILLIAMS: You got it.

TUR: Pete Williams. Pete, thank you so much.

WILLIAMS: OK.

TUR: And ahead, the latest in a string of immigration decisions being made by the White House during the pandemic. This one has top universities filing a lawsuit. Stay with us.

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TUR: Welcome back. This morning, Harvard and MIT announced that they are suing the Trump administration over new policy changes announced Monday that would limit international students` ability to stay in the U.S. if their university decides to hold classes online.

They were joined this afternoon by Northeastern University. The policy would force international students to take at least one class in person or leave the country. At a time when universities are finalizing return plans and safety measures, the policy would force schools to hold in-person classes or leave international students behind.

This policy is just the latest in the steady stream of immigration policies the Trump administration has enacted over the course of the pandemic. In the name of the virus and its safety, they include passing H-1B worker visas until the end of the year, closing the border, restricting the process of seeking asylum, and refusing to release families from ICE detention centers.

Joining me now is NBC News correspondent Julia Ainsley and Aaron Reichlin- Melnick, policy counsel at the American Immigration Council. Julia, a lot of this is your reporting, so let`s start with you. First, on the university front, what exactly is the administration trying to accomplish?

JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, they`re trying to accomplish two goals at once, Katy. They`re trying to force schools to reopen by holding in-person classes or the schools would have to choose not to allow these international students to live inside the United States.

And therefore, a lot of these students may not want to enrol in these schools and pay the tuition that so many of these schools really depend on, which is a policy goal of people like Stephen Miller inside the White House. As you well know, they want to bring down overall numbers of immigrants, even legal ones, even those who are paying to come here to American universities.

So, it is accomplishing really two birds with one stone, but advocates are saying that it`s -- they`re calling their bluff, that it is using COVID as the cover, as we`ve seen time and time again with these policies.

TUR: Well, Julia, then I guess -- I wonder if my question still stands, my next question, which was who are they trying to punish here, who suffers the most, the universities or the students? It sounds like if this is a brainchild of Stephen Miller, the punishing is not letting foreigners in.

AINSLEY: Yeah. I mean, that`s the punishing and it is hard to imagine that this is really the economic boost that they would want it to be. If they are hoping that by opening up schools, they`ll be able to boost the economy, well, they`re also losing out on an extraordinary amount of tuition that these students pay and that these students spend in small university towns that depend on their money, on their living here.

So, it is hard to see really who is the winner here, although, you know, the election is coming up and these are two key issues for the president, to have schools open, the economy reopen, and to bring down immigration before November. So, maybe that`s the idea of the winner and then we are seeing the victims first hand.

TUR: Let me ask a devil`s advocate question. Aaron, if the students are -- if the classes are being held online, could the students take those classes in their home countries and then come back once classes resume in person?

AARON REICHLIN-MELNICK, AMERICAN IMMIGRATION COUNCIL POLICY COUNSEL: So, all -- that may, in fact, work for some people. The reality is there are major issues of time and technology that are going to interfere with students taking classes at home.

Many foreign students from places like India and China will be 12 hours apart from their classes in the United States, which means that if they had to take online classes, they may have to get up at midnight or 1:00 a.m. to take classes at the same time as their American -- other American students.

In addition, there are a lot of problems with technology, especially with technology censorship. Internet broadband isn`t the same around the world.

Students from places like China may not have access to the same kind of freedoms they have in the United States to study issues of political science or linguistics or other things that they don`t have the freedom to do in China. In addition, in China, things like Google sweep (ph) products are unavailable entirely, which could make online education impossible.

TUR: I wonder if they`re asking universities to choose between their American students and their international students by saying, you know, we are going to move classes online because we believe it is safe, safer to have students not on campus because it is too hard to socially distance.

Is this the government saying to the university, if you want to keep your students safe, you`ve got to then only keep the American students and let the international students go? Aaron?

REICHLIN-MELNICK: Well, we don`t know whether it is that exact kind of compromise, but the problem is that universities shouldn`t be forced to ask these questions in the first place. A common sense rule would allow students to remain in the United States on their visas to attend online only classes.

In fact, Canada, which has the same rules about students as the United States did prior to the pandemic, has done exactly that. They`ve said it is easier for everybody and offers less disruption and a risk of spreading COVID if people are allowed to remain in the place that they are currently and not have to leave and go to dozens of different countries and return to study there.

So rather than kick students out, it would be better if the Trump administration simply took the common sense approach of allowing students to remain here during the pandemic, which is what they said they would do from the beginning.

TUR: Julia, on the other side of the immigration coin, you have new reporting on detention centers and what`s happening and what`s happening in some of those ICE facilities. Can you tell us?

AINSLEY: That`s right. My colleague Jacob Soboroff and I spoke to two employees at an ICE detention facility in Eloy, Arizona who talked about the conditions there. They say it is like going to work in a warzone because so many officers and detainees have gotten sick. So people are afraid to come to work because they`re afraid they`ll spread it to their families.

And we now know that nearly half the employees inside that facility, 127 of them, have tested positive for the virus. And so this is a time where these employees say, look, it is risking our lives to come to work.

And for the detainees themselves, they are noticing the staff shortage. They say that because of the staff shortage, they`re being left in their cells, sometimes only getting out for as much as 20 minutes a day where they have to decide between access to a lawyer or taking a shower that they desperately need.

So, the company, CoreCivic, a private company that runs the ICE detention facility, says these lockdowns are really just part of a quarantining measure to stop the spread of the virus, and they say they don`t have a staffing problem. They`re able to bring in other workers from around the country.

But these employees tell me they`ve seen the staffing shortages first hand and it is because people are afraid to come to work, risking their lives or their families` lives.

TUR: Julia Ainsley. Julia, thank you very much. And Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, thank you, as well. Coming up next, we are going to talk to a front line doctor about her eye-opening findings on possible long-term impacts of COVID-19-.

But first, a key witness in President Trump`s impeachment trial says he is leaving the military because of the commander in chief. Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman announced today that he is retiring from the army after 21 years of service.

In a statement from his lawyer, Vindman said he decided to step down after being subject to a campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation by the president. Vindman was set to receive a promotion to full colonel this year, but multiple government officials fear that the White House would get involved and stop it. We`ll be right back.

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TUR: Welcome back. For all the things doctors do know now about treating the virus that they didn`t know back in March and April, there is still a lot that they don`t know, like why some people are affected more than others, why the symptoms vary so wildly in patients, and what the long-term health impacts could be. One way doctors are learning more about the virus though is through autopsies, examining the bodies of the dead to help save the living.

Joining me now is Dr. Mary Fowkes, a New York-based pathologist with Mt. Sinai. She managed the morgue response for seven hospitals during New York`s peak virus outbreak and is part of the team that performed autopsies on COVID patients.

Dr. Fowkes, thank you very much for being with us. And just to make it very clear why you`re here, we learn about how viruses attack the bodies from autopsies. So when you are doing -- when you were doing the autopsies on these COVID patients, these COVID bodies, what did you learn about this virus?

MARY FOWKES, PATHOLOGIST: When we first started doing the autopsies, we knew very little about the virus. And so we knew that the lungs were going to be a problem and we identified severe lung damage in pretty much all the cases. But we did not know a lot about what we were going to find.

And so we knew some patients were having problems with confusion, with loss of sense of smell, and we looked at the nerves and the -- it is called the olfactory bulb that allows you to smell. And we really didn`t see much of anything involving that area.

However, some of the tissue that we got from the brain overlying the nose, overlying the olfactory bulb and our sense of smell, did show virus. And the virus was present in some of the blood vessels of the brain. We also identified virus within the brain itself. So, that was intriguing because it indicated that the virus was present in the blood vessels.

We also know that the blood vessels contain -- some blood vessels at least -- contain ACE2 receptor and ACE2 receptor is used by the virus to enter the cells. So, the studies from the autopsies have been able to identify areas of the body that may be susceptible to viral attack. We also know that there is an inflammatory response produced by the body because of the virus. There is a chemical reaction basically to the virus.

But trying to identify what the changes are in the organs is really important. So the brain, the lungs, the kidney, the liver, the spleen, the lymph nodes, those organs, we also looked at. We have been able to identify the virus in lymph nodes, spleen, and kidney. But we`re not seeing the inflammation like we do in the lungs in the other organs.

And so there is still a lot going on that we need to know and autopsies are critically important to identify more about this virus. We only did about five percent of the COVID deaths as autopsies. So, we`re only getting a very small picture about what this virus actually is able to do. And by doing more autopsies, we will be able to get a better handle on how this virus is causing problems and potentially how to treat it.

TUR: What did it tell you about symptoms and how we can better identify those who have COVID, who might not have the tell-tale signs like a fever or a really bad cough?

FOWKES: So obviously, treating a patient when they`re not terribly sick is most important. This virus is still very confusing. We`re not seeing a lot of the typical changes that we expect to see from a virus. A lot of the times, when you have a viral infection involving the brain, you see a lot of inflammation. And we`re not seeing a lot of inflammation.

But we are seeing small strokes. The small strokes don`t explain a lot of the clinical symptoms. So I think there`s something else going on. The small strokes don`t explain the loss of sense of smell. So there is more to be uncovered with this disease. But the more that we look at the tissues, the more that we do the autopsies to be able to examine all the different organs, the more answers we`re getting.

TUR: Dr. Mary Fowkes, I could talk to you for a full hour about all that you found. I think it is so fascinating and it will give us so much more insight into how this virus works and what we can do to protect ourselves and how we can look for it. Doctor, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate your time.

FOWKES: Thank you very much. I appreciate being on.

TUR: And we`ll be right back.

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TUR: That is all for tonight. Good news, though. Chuck will be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY. And he and I will both be back tomorrow at 1 and 2 p.m. Eastern. 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