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President Trump TRANSCRIPT: 8/7/20, MTP Daily

Guests: Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ashish Jha, Katie Park

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to Friday. It is Meet the Press Daily. I`m  Katy Tur in for Chuck Todd. Russia, China and Iran are all seeking to  disrupt our election according to a new warning from the office of the  Director of National Intelligence. We are going to have more on that  developing story in just a moment but let us begin with the other breaking  news this afternoon. 

White House and Democratic negotiators have failed to reach a deal in  coronavirus relief talks and the president is at his golf resort right now  readying a series of executive actions to bypass Congress. It has been a  very busy if not a very productive day on Capitol Hill after meeting again  this afternoon for the 11th time, negotiators don`t seem anywhere close to  a deal. They told reporters that they were at a standstill before today`s  talks and they told reporters virtually the same thing after today`s talks. 


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I will once again make the offer we`ll come down  a trillion, you go up a trillion and then we can have -- we`ll be within  range of each other but again, this is a very different set of values  across the table. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said you guys need to come up a trillion dollars. Is  that a non-starter for you? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s a nonstarter. 

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): It was a disappointing meeting. We reiterated in  very strong terms our offer. 

PELOSI: I said come back when you`re ready to give a higher number. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, we did not make any progress today. We  discussed the same issues. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can`t come up with any significant cuts in their  bill. What they want is a $2.5 trillion blank check. 


TUR: The White House says it has offered concessions to Democrats on issues  ranging from unemployment benefits to funding for the post office, but  Democrats have said no. 


REP. MARK MEADOWS, (R-NC): We`ve offered $105 billion for children to  attend school. The Democrats said that`s not enough. $915 billion for state  and local, that`s where they were two weeks ago. Today, they`re at $915  billion. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`ve had hours of negotiation madam speaker an still  no deal -- 

PELOSI: Well, we don`t have share values. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you over place your hand and your leverage? 

PELOSI: No, we didn`t. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you over play your hand? 

PELOSI: No. We haven`t ever played our hand. This is life and death. This  is lives of the American people, livelihood in terms of their economic  success and life of our democracy. 


TUR: Meanwhile, the president is vowing to use his executive authority to  unilaterally do what Congress has not, cut payroll taxes, extend eviction  protections and enhance unemployment benefits among other things. Democrats  are warning that such action is both insufficient and legally questionable. 

Right now, it strangely feels like there is a lack of -- I`m sorry, there  is a bizarre lack of real urgency in Washington on this issue which is  remarkable because of the numbers you`re seeing on your screen right now.  1,000 deaths a day, 300,000 are expected to have died by December 1st, tens  of millions are unemployed. The recovery is losing steam and the election  is in less than 90 days. 

Joining me now from New Jersey where President Trump is spending the day is  NBC`s Kelly O`Donnell. Leigh Ann Caldwell is on Capitol Hill with the  latest on the relief package talks. Also, with us is Yamiche Alcindor,  White House correspondent for PBS news hour and an MSNBC contributor and  Stephanie Ruhle, NBC News senior business correspondent and anchor of the  9:00 a.m. hour here on MSNBC. 

So, Kelly O`Donnell, the president is at Bedminster, he is readying a  series of executive orders. What are they and does he have the authority to  extend the things that he wants to extend? He doesn`t have the power of the  purse. 

KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Katy, those are good  questions because it is unclear what lanes the president can fill to  address these needs. Maybe the simplest among them would be rent  protections and protection against eviction through the powers that come  from an agency like housing and urban development, it does not relate  directly to taxes. 

That kind of an area could be something where the president might be able  to use some authority. The office of legal counsel inside the White House,  the counsel`s office able to try and find pathways for the president but we  don`t have any guidance yet on what that would exactly look like. One of  the problems is that it is very clear under the constitution that dealing  with anything that relates to spending money or taxes has to come from  Congress. 

So the president has a real pension for mentioning the payroll tax cut,  which he believes would be a way by stripping that back to put more money  into the economy. Now, if you don`t have a job currently, that would not be  helpful. But for those who are under employed or families that might have  one member of the family who is working and another who is unemployed, they  might get some benefits there. But can the president do that given the fact  that that is not a function of the executive branch? So those are real  questions. 

We have been told by Mark Meadows, the chief of staff in recent days that  one area where the money has run out, where they could not move funds  around from other pots, if you will, with respect to the federal enhanced  unemployment insurance, the $600 figure weekly that had expired a week ago,  there`s been a lot of debate between the negotiators of the top four  negotiators who have been doing these meetings about where that number  should fall. 

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer want to keep it at 600. The White House has  been trying to pull it back to make it more of a representation of  replacement of income, which for many Americans it would not even be  sufficient to do that or for some Americans who are on the lower end of the  pay and earning scale, that $600 might be more than they are taking home  and that`s what Republicans have argued they want to remove. They want to  disincentivize making that more lucrative than actual work. 

So, the president has said he wants to do something, and often what the  president does is gets out the pen and even if those things are not  necessarily mechanisms that are that useful and sometimes they are  questionable legally but there can be a lawsuit to follow, which the  president is certainly not shying away from. It might be a way for him to  put his imprint on this when he is not been at the negotiating table  through any of these many hours of talks. Katy? 

TUR: Well, he`s trying to put his imprint on it through Twitter and he just  tweeted a moment ago that the Democrats only want bailout money for blue  states. He says we are going a different way.

So Leigh Ann Caldwell, the question I`ve got to ask you is, is Mark Meadows  was not in the or initial round of talks for the initial relief packages  that were passed by both Houses of Congress and signed by the president.  Mark Meadows is there now. They are making no headway. Is Mark Meadows the  roadblock? 

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Mark Meadows is  definitely the factor that is different from previous negotiations and  let`s look at Mark Meadows in his previous life. He was a member of  Congress. He was the head of the freedom caucus. He was elected on a Tea  Party platform. He was usually the person who was in the room to block any  sort of negotiations, any sort of big government spending. 

So that the fact that he is in the room trying to negotiate a one, two, $3  trillion piece of legislation is mind boggling within itself. He is always  been the one who has been the most pessimistic throughout this entire  process and I have to say that I was under counting the amount of influence  he has in this process throughout thinking that Mnuchin had always been  more positive that they would get a deal, so is Schumer and Pelosi. 

Meadows was always been on the sideline or the person saying that it was a  waste of time and not going to happen, but he`s also extremely close to the  president and he seems to have the president`s ear on this. Now, as far you  as asked about the state and local funding and the president tweeted about  that, this is something that has been a major sticking point. 

He asked the Democrats what $915 billion, the Republicans say that they  have -- they started their offer at zero. They are now at about $150  billion, but that still is so far apart, and then when you counter that and  with the fact that they can`t even come to a top line number, Katy, forget  all the details. If one party is at $1 trillion, the other party is $3.4  trillion and they can`t even agree on what number to start at, the details  don`t really matter. 

So, it was a day on Capitol Hill that produced absolutely no results and  there are no plans at this point for them to come back and just keep  negotiating. Each side says if the other side is willing to break on what  their hard line is, then maybe we`ll start talking again but that`s not the  case at this point, Katy. 

TUR: You mentioned Mark Meadows and talking about how he is part of the Tea  Party doesn`t like the deficit. Mark Meadows voted for the president`s tax  bill back at the end of, I believe it was 2017, which led to a pretty steep  increase in the deficit. The CBO has just said this year that Trump`s tax  plan, his tax bill that was passed continues to lead to trillion-dollar  deficits. 

So that`s still adding onto the deficit. I wonder why this thing is a  sticking point and Yamiche, I`m going to ask you on that, with the White  House preparing these executive orders that they might not have the legal  authority to do, are they trying to play a political game with the  Democrats by saying if you try to push me on this and my ability to do  this, you`re the ones that are actually responsible for not getting money  into the hands of the American people? Are they trying to do a bait and  switch with the Democrats? 

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the Democrats think that  that`s what they are trying to do, they think that the president is trying  to move forward with his executive action.

The executive action that we`re not sure including the White House whether  or not he legally has the authority to do but the president is eager to try  to say, look, I`m trying to do the best I can. I`m trying to help people  out in the middle of a pandemic and as a result, I`m going to try to go at  it alone and do these executive orders. 

The president had been on the sideline for a long time but yesterday he  called three times Mark Meadows while he was meeting with the Democrats. So  you see the president trying to get to hone in and trying to look now as if  he`s in the middle of the negotiations. He had of course always been  represented by Steve Mnuchin and Mark Meadows. 

But the president in some has made a habit of passing executive orders.  Sometimes they have teeth, a lot of times they don`t. So, what the  president wants to do is maybe emerge on Monday or Tuesday and say look,  here`s what I did as the White House to try to help people out during a  pandemic and the Democrats are still not being serious. That`s the  messaging coming out of the White House. 

The Democrats of course say, one, that the president doesn`t even have the  authority to do some of the things he wants to do and two that Republicans  don`t really have in their hearts the idea that they need to take care of  people who are the most vulnerable during a real crisis in America. 

TUR: Stephanie, it seems like there is not a real urgency among some on  Capitol Hill to get something done, potentially someone in the White House  to get something done to help Americans. What I was just mentioning on the  deficit. That comes from a Forbes article talking about the president`s tax  bill. You follow this so closely. You know what people are going through.  You know how the deficits work. 

To have Mark Meadows and the Republicans say that we`re worried about  adding to the deficit with more money going back to Americans who need it  and remember a payroll tax cut as Kelly pointed out at the top of the show  would only go to those who still have a job.

There are more than 30 million Americans who are collecting unemployment  insurance as of at least last month. The monthly jobs report came out  today. What does it mean to not get this money back into the hands of  Americans, back into the economy immediately, quickly? 

STEPHANIE RUHLE, NBC BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT, MSNBC ANCHOR: OK. Well, first  of all, Katy, let`s just take a beat for one second and say how awesome it  is that this segment is five women and two of us are located in New Jersey  right now. So that`s a double win. But moving forward, Mark Meadows, are  you kidding me talking about the deficit?

Republicans love to talk about how much they care about the deficit and the  truth is your average voter out there, if you ask them the U.S. deficit,  they couldn`t get within a gazillion. It is something that`s an abstract,  but Republicans like to go back and say it matters to them. 

To your point, it didn`t matter when the president had his big corporate  tax cut and we heard from the likes of Gary Cohn, former national economic  adviser to the president who said, we didn`t make that -- we did not need  to make that corporate tax cut as big as we did and it is laughable that  the president continues to talk about this payroll tax cut. 

And again, this is all about money. The president continues to tweet how  important it is to reopen schools. Here is the big catch. You cannot reopen  and reconfigure schools without real dollars. The teachers union has said  it would take about $116 billion to reconfigure schools. Thus far the  federal government has set aside $13 billion.

So, if they want to do that, they need to spend the money, and this  narrative that people aren`t going back to work because they are making  just so much darn money, sure, that might be the case for a small portion  of people, but let`s not forget, if kids do have to stay home, well then  working families, working parents have to stay home with them. 

If people have jobs that don`t provide health insurance or to those  Republicans who want to give businesses a liability shield so you hold no  accountability if your employee gets sick, if you`re a working parent,  you`re going to say I can`t go to work because I need to stay healthy for  my children.

So this all goes back to money, and to say that it`s only the Democrats,  it`s only the Republicans. The only way you`re going to solve this for the  American people is a financial cushion to give them the support and safety  so they can go on and lead healthy safe lives. 

TUR: And economists have said that it`s been the thing that stimulus, that  extra benefit in the unemployment insurance, it has been the thing that --  that`s kept the economy from cratering even further. Yamiche, the president  is on the golf course, he`s going to fundraisers. He`s not actively  involved in these negotiations.

He`s deputized his Chief of Staff. What it -- does he not see the urgency?  Does he not feel like he needs to be involved to get something done to  rally Republicans behind him? Because remember, Republicans were the ones  that were having a hard time getting on the same page to present a full  package to the Democrats who have had a deal on the table for a couple  months now? 

ALCINDOR: Well, of course, critics of the president would say this is a  president who is more interested in his reelection campaign than in being  actively involved in these negotiations. The president of course would take  issue with that.

The thing that is very clear is the president has been traveling around the  country to make his campaign style speeches just this week while the  president is thinking through kind of where to go next and doing it alone  and really, the heart of this has been happening on Capitol Hill and the  president while calling it has not been actively involved in that. 

I think what we see from the president at this point is someone who really  ran and campaigned as a deal maker and doesn`t want to be associated with a  deal that just is simply not working out. Both parties have clearly made it  clear that they have things they want and they`re not able to come  together.

So I think what you`re seeing is the president trying to protect his brand  a bit here and saying look, I don`t want to be associated with this but as  we all know, the president -- the buck stops largely with the president.  He`s going to have to be the one that says look at the American people, we  didn`t come up with this and my government is the one that`s not going to  be able to provide that for you. 


TUR: Yamiche Alcindor, Stephanie Ruhle, Leigh Ann Caldwell -- Steph, go  ahead. We got to make it quick. 

RUHLE: The reason that $600 matters so much, we saw the evidence, retail  sales went back up. Consumer spending, it went right back into the economy  as opposed to the corporate tax cut that was supposed to result in hiring  and increasing wages. Last I checked, one out of every five working people  just got a wage cut. 

TUR: Stephanie Ruhle making a very good point. Stephanie, thank you.  Yamiche Alcindor, thank you. Leigh Ann Caldwell and Kelly O`Donnell, an  awesome four-some of women, I`ll include myself on that, five-some. Ahead,  new revelations from a top intelligence official about the countries that  could pose serious election threats this November. China wants Biden.  Russia wants Trump and Iran just wants to cause chaos. We got the former  Director of the CIA John Brennan joining us on all of that next. 

And later, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says his state is going back to  school, but what is being done to keep students and teachers and staff  safe? And will it be enough? 


TUR: Welcome back. A top intelligence official today released publicly what  he has been telling lawmakers in closed door briefings about other  country`s efforts to influence the 2020 election. According to an  intelligence assessment released this afternoon while it would quote be  difficult for adversaries to interfere or manipulate voting results, many  foreign actors have a preference for who wins the election. 

The ODNI reports that China does not want President Trump to win  reelection. They see him as unpredictable while Russia somewhat predictably  does and is actively taking measures to disparage Biden and his campaign.  The third country mentioned is Iran and while they`re not a fan of the  president, the reports says that Iran quote, seeks to undermine U.S.  Democratic institution, President Trump and to divide the country. 

Former CIA Director John Brennan will join me in a minute, but first, NBC  News national security correspondent, Ken Dilanian. Ken, just getting into  the semantics of that statement, did you read anything into China doesn`t  like President Trump, they believe that he is unpredictable and they are  saying that out loud versus Russia, which is taking active measures to  undermine the election. 

KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE REPORTER: I think  you`ve got to the heart of it, Katy. This is why some Democrats are  criticizing this statement. They say it`s an improvement over the one that  Bill Evanina the counterintelligence executive made two weeks ago.

In this statement, Evanina is actually explicitly saying that Russia is  trying to help Trump. And I`m not aware that any Trump appointee has said  that before in such stark terms. So, we should give them credit for that. 

But at the same time what Democrats are saying is that China is not the  same as Russia when it comes to election interference and the fact that  this statement puts China first before Russia and points out that China  prefers that Trump not be reelected, that is probably the position of many  governments around the world, Katy. 

But in fact, what my sources tell me is Russia is the only country that`s  actively trying to interfere in the American presidential election and  they`re doing so on social media and they have cyber capabilities and this  statement plainly says that Kremlin linked actors are using social media  and Russia state television to try to boost Trump`s candidacy and also  using anti-Biden propaganda including a pro-Ukrainian lawmaker who`s been a  feature in Republican Congressional investigations.

So, Russia interfering this statement tries to suggest that China is on par  with that and that`s why some Democrats are criticizing it. 

TUR: Well, help us understand the part that you just mentioned there.  Trying to tear down Biden through intermediaries in Ukraine, how does Rudy  Giuliani fit into that and how does the Republican investigation into  Hunter Biden and Joe Biden fit into that? 

DILANIAN: So, surprisingly, Bill Evanina`s statement mentions specifically  this Ukraine parliamentarian who is viewed as pro-Russia and who has been  trying to sort of foment these conspiracy theories that Biden was involved  in corruption in Russia and he has met with the president`s personal lawyer  Rudy Guiliani. 

And Senator Ron Johnson, who is a Republican chairman has been trying to  investigate these matters has tried to publicize his claims and he has  talked about getting him in front of the committee even though he`s been  warned that this person is, if not a Russian agent, acting certainly to  further Russian propaganda. 

And Evanina doesn`t explicitly say look, these corruption claims are bogus  but by including it in a paragraph about Russian election interference here  is this Trump appointee essentially saying, look, the Russians want you to  believe Biden is corrupt and that is part of their propaganda, Katy. 

TUR: Ken Dilanian, Ken, thank you very much. And with me now is former John  Brennan, he is also a MSNBC senior national security and intelligence  analyst. So John, thanks for being here. Are Ken and I reading this  correctly the semantics of it that China doesn`t like the president and is  being vocal about it while Russia is actively pursuing a way to undermine  our elections? Is it fair to see it as a -- as kind of a semantics sleight  of hand? 

JOHN BRENNAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: First of all, Katy, I`m glad that the  intelligence committee has put out a statement. This is one of things that  myself and others have long encouraged the intelligence community to do to  (inaudible) update the American public about foreign efforts to interfere  in the election. 

Number two, Bill Evanina is a professional. He`s been working  counterintelligence for many years. He is not as though he`s a lackey of  the Trump administration. So he is somebody who has a lot of respect within  the counter intelligence community and I`m sure he stands behind the words  in that statement. These statements are very tough to craft because it`s  really difficult to be able to explain exactly what the foreign countries  are doing without being seen as getting involved in domestic U.S. politics. 

And you know, you can quibble about the language in there. A couple things  that struck me, one, is that there seems to be a bit of a lack of  parallelism between the statement on China and the statement on Russia. It  says that China prefers that Trump not win the election. But statement done  Russia does not say what the Russian preference is, it just says that  they`ve been trying to denigrate former Vice President Biden. 

And China and Russia have probably the most capable cyber, you know,  capabilities in the world in terms of trying to interfere in the U.S.  critical infrastructure including the election infrastructure. So I do  think it`s important that those two have private place in this statement.  On Iran, yes, Iran and the United States right now are engaged in quite a  bit of, you know, back and forth in terms of tensions between the two  countries. 

The Iran statement does seem to be a bit speculative when it says that Iran  probably will try to use online opportunities to try to sew divisions  within the United States. But I think overall, I think Bill Evanina and the  Intelligence Community are trying to do what the American people expect  them to do, try to explain exactly what foreign countries are doing to try  to interfere in this upcoming presidential election. 

TUR: Is our government doing enough to protect us from that?

BRENNAN: Well, that`s the good question and I do think professionals are  trying. I think the professionals at the FBI and CIA and NSA and others  are.

I`m hoping that they`re getting the encouragement and direction from the  political, you know, leaders of this country including from the White House  to make sure that they uncover and identify any attempts whether it be  influence operations or actual attempts to, you know, try to hurt the  election itself in terms of trying to prevent POTUS from going to the  polls.

But I am confident that at least the professionals out there recognize that  this most fundamental of our Democratic institutions needs to be carried  out without any type of foreign interference whatsoever. 

TUR: The statement also says that it would be very hard for foreign  countries to tamper with the results of the election. Can we remain  confident that they wouldn`t be able to get into, if not a voting booth,  then a voter role? A lot of those are stored on Secretary of State Servers.  They are stored in a way that potentially could be hacked. 

BRENNAN: Look, I think you know and most listeners know that the voting  mechanisms and responsibilities are really in the preserve of the  individual states. The federal government has tried to help states over the  years and I do hope the states are taking advantage of federal assistance.

But some of the systems are vulnerable to some type of, you know,  interference whether it be to try to disable voter registration roles on  the day of the election or beforehand and try to create some type of havoc. 

So, although there is a statement that says it is difficult to do this, and  certainly it is difficult to do it on a large scale, I think there are  vulnerabilities in the system that we need to make sure that we`re trying  to address and that we`re not going to leave any opening for a foreign  actor or even a domestic actor that is trying to influence the election  from getting into these voting systems. 

It`s critically important that all of the I.T. specialist and others and  the government officials at the states and federal and local levels are  working on this problem together and in a manner that really ensures that  the outcome of this election truly is going to represent the will of the  American people. 

TUR: So the way that we know that Russia operated last time, one of the big  ways was by sewing discord on social media and there is tons of reporting  out there that shows that they`re -- they`ve been still doing it. They  didn`t stop after 2016.

Facebook and Twitter and other social media sites have taken some measures  to try and push back. They`re still out there, though. What can Americans  do to individually protect themselves from being unduly influenced by  Russian misinformation? 

BRENNAN: I think this is the challenge of the next decade for our  government officials and not just our government officials but also for our  technologies out there, the social media companies. It is so easy to be  able to operate clandestinely or with some false personas in that cyber  digital environment.

And therefore, Russia, with very sophisticated cyber capabilities, as well  as China, can misrepresent themselves in social media as being Americans  and trying to ferment problems inside of our country by again trying to  advance their own interest under the guise of an American persona.

And so this is something that I think our government still has to come to  terms with. And I am hoping that we are not going to have another 9/11 type  of digital cyberattack before we`re able to address it.

We really do need to find a way to ensure that we maintain our privacy and  civil liberties while at the same time trying to ensure that the digital  domain is not going to be exploited and manipulated by these bad actors who  are going to try to undermine our way of life.

And unfortunately, the Russians and Chinese and Iranians and others, you  know, really have had the opportunity to take advantage of the freedoms and  liberties that we really relish here in the United States.

But this is something that I think both parties and all Americans need to  really think through how we`re going to try to address these challenges in  this digital environment in the 21st century.

KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: One more, because you used to be the  director of the CIA. Politico is reporting that the CIA has been hesitant  or has ignored requests by senators as part of the GOP-led investigations  to brief them on the investigations that target Joe Biden and his son  Hunter Biden.

Sources telling them that they see Senator Johnson as toxic. Is that  something that would happen in the CIA where they would ignore requests to  brief because of a feeling that an investigation is, I guess, too  politically focused?

BRENNAN: Unfortunately, I think the CIA and the Intelligence Community have  become the political football during these very, very tense political  periods. And I know that the CIA, when I was there, I was very concerned  about how partisanship was seeping into the Intelligence Community  environment from the standpoint of the oversight activities of the members  of Congress.

And I must tell you, listening to some of these congressional hearings, I  do believe that there is a very toxic partisan environment right now. And  unfortunately, I think a lot of the members of the Republican Party have  really opted to use their positions in Congress to advance partisan  interests including very, very sensitive intelligence oversight committees  such as Homeland Security and Judiciary.

And I am hoping that the CIA is going to fulfil its obligations to keep the  Congress fully and duly informed. But the same time, the CIA has to be  careful about not being pulled into a partisan environment where they`re  going to be exploited for individual personal, political, partisan agendas.

TUR: John Brennan. John, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate  all of your expertise, especially on topics like this.

BRENNAN: Thanks, Katy.

TUR: And with me now is Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois. He is  a member of the Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thank you very much  for joining us. What is your reaction to the ODNI statement?

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): I`m glad that they provided additional  information. But the way that it was structured, it makes it look like all  three countries have equal capabilities, are undertaking equal amounts of  effort to interfere in our elections. And without going into specific  details about the Intelligence I`ve seen, that is not what we see in the  Intelligence.

And so I am hopeful that the ODNI continue to provide more information so  that members of Congress as well as the public and American people can  protect against further interference in this election.

TUR: What is Congress doing or planning to do to act on this?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, we`re going to continue to talk to the agencies and  the Intelligence Community that have direct factual knowledge about current  efforts and continue to make sure that they do everything they can to  police against what is happening.

But in addition, Katy, we have to make sure that our social media platforms  are safeguarded from disinformation efforts by these powers and others, and  we have to provide vital election security assistance to the states and  local jurisdictions that are conducting these elections.

You asked a minute ago about whether our election infrastructure is safe  from attack. Well, I am sitting here in Illinois and back in 2016,  unfortunately, the Russians performed a successful fishing effort on our  databases with regard to our voter rolls.

And so this is something that is of grave concern coming up in the  elections of 2020, and we have to do whenever we can to protect against  this type of interference from happening again.

TUR: On the congressional negotiations for another relief bill, things are  stalled. It doesn`t seem like there is any end in sight or any compromise  in sight. What are you hearing?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I`m not hearing differently than what you heard. I am  hearing that Speaker Pelosi is making strong efforts to compromise. I think  that she went in with another offer today with regard to the size of the  package that we would like to see. However, it was not met with an  acceptable response from the other side.

Quite frankly, Katy, it is not clear that the other side even wants to do a  deal. Leader McConnell has said that he might not even be able to deliver  20 votes from his caucus for any deal of any spending of any kind. And so  when you have that type of situation, it`s very, very difficult to get to a  deal.

I had a tele-town hall meeting on Tuesday where 2,000 people were on the  line and the vast majority of the callers, Katy, were telling me that they  lost their jobs, their businesses had lost almost all their revenue, and  they desperately, desperately want a stimulus deal now.

TUR: Let`s talk about the EVALUATE Act which you introduced yesterday. That  is asking for oversight, congressional oversight over any vaccines that are  developed. What are you looking for?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, we all want a vaccine ASAP, but it has to be safe and  effective and the American people have to trust it. It turns out there is  an outside advisory committee that`s already been set up by the FDA that`s  been around for 40 years, that we are proposing, as part of this  legislation, must be consulted for purposes of vetting and approving a  vaccine.

And the reason is to make sure that that vaccine is safe and effective and  that the American people trust it, because if they don`t, then not enough  people will get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, Katy.

TUR: Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, thank you so much for joining us,  sir. We appreciate all of your time.

And ahead, New York is getting ready to send children back to school. But  are schools ready and how about the rest of the country?

First up, though, if you`re a school parent or a teacher, "Meet the Press"  wants to hear from you for a special segment airing this Sunday. Share your  thoughts and concerns about the upcoming school year in a 10-second video.  Be sure to include your name and hometown, and you may see your video on  air or online. Post it using the hashtag, if it`s Sunday.

We`ll be right back.


TUR: Welcome back. There is a major milestone today for New York, once the  epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in America. Governor Andrew Cuomo  authorized schools across the state to reopen for in-person learning,  citing the state`s low infection rate.

Whether schools do reopen and if so, how is now up to local officials and  superintendents that includes New York City, which is home to the nation`s  largest school district and more than a million students.

Joining me now is Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health  Institute. Dr. Jha, thanks for being here with us. Good idea, bad idea to  reopen schools for in-person learning here in New York City?

ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: I think largely a  good idea, Katy. Look, the biggest determinant of whether it is safe to  open up schools is the amount of community transmission and New York has  done a fabulous job of bringing the level of virus in the community way  down.

That alone isn`t enough. Schools still have to have good ventilation. I  would encourage people to have classes outside. There is a lot more we can  still do. But obviously, everybody should be wearing a mask. But if we do  all of that, I think we can get kids back into schools in New York pretty  safely.

TUR: There is going to come a point this fall where having school outside  is not going to be possible. Also, there are a lot of old buildings here. I  am not sure the ventilation issue unless you`re just leaving windows open  is going to be all that easy either.

When I look to what happened in Israel, they have their infection rate down  significantly, very, very small infection rate. They reopened schools and  it exploded. They also reopened a lot of the country at the same time. Was  that what happened there? Was it the schools or was it the reopening of  everything else?

JHA: You know, so, there have been a lot of experiences with schools. If  you look at other European countries, they have been able to open schools  with relatively low infection rates, kind of along the lines of New York.

Obviously, I`m not suggesting New York to open schools and bars and  restaurants and everything else and act like the pandemic is over. That  will be very, very problematic.

If New York focuses on schools, and the reason why schools are so important  is that they have this massive benefit for kids and for working parents.  And whereas I don`t recommend it for large parts of the country, i do think  New York is at a point where they could do it.

And even if, you know, the weather gets cold and they can`t keep windows  open for forever, if we could get a few months of in-person instruction, I  think it would make a big difference.

TUR: Let`s talk about the rapid test and the reliability of it. We had a  good example of an issue just the couple of days with Governor DeWine  having rapid test yesterday, testing positive, having another test today  and testing negative. Which tests do you trust, the positive one or the  negative one?

JHA: Yeah. So we`re in a funny period in our country because we have been  relying on these PCR tests. These are the one that take like 10 days or two  weeks to come back. There is very good evidence now that these rapid tests,  if we can employ them, if we can have them available widely can make a  very, very big difference in reducing the number of infections in the  country and getting people the results back quickly.

In terms of Governor DeWine, I`ve been puzzling over what is happening with  him. The short answer is we don`t know which one of them is more reliable  for him. And that`s why I think it`s important that you continue to  quarantine and get retested again in the next day or so.

We will see this happen occasionally. None of these tests are perfect. But  I`d much rather take a test that is quick, that can come back quickly, that  we can do on an ongoing basis. That is going to make the country much  safer.

TUR: How -- what`s the problem with scaling up on this? Why can`t we -- why  don`t we have it already? I mean, we`re six months into this pandemic here  in this country and we are supposed to be the most advanced country in the  world.

JHA: In lots of ways, we are the most advanced country. I don`t mean to  laugh, but it is comical that like, we have known about this problem of  inadequate testing for months, and it feels to me like, you know, look,  there is a lot states can do, a lot that localities can do, but ultimately,  this is a federal problem.

And the federal government just has not been willing to use its full powers  to scale up testing for the entire country. It`s very puzzling. And again,  there is obviously lots of debate and some people in the White House  clearly believe that we should not have too much testing.

But at the end of the day, without the federal government doing this, we  cannot scale up testing at the level that we need. I think what a lot of us  are working on is a plan B where we really give money to states and let  them drive the testing. It`s not as good as having a federal plan but it  can move the ball forward.

TUR: Certainly, seems like it would take a lot longer, especially since  it`s been so hard to get money to states. One other question for you, The  New York Times has a story about Dr. Deborah Birx and some of her old  colleagues, saying that she is doing more harm than good now. What is your  take on the job that she is performing at the White House task force?

JHA: Yeah, that -- I`m quoted in that article. I have known Dr. Birx for a  long time. I admire her. She is a terrific health professional. I think the  question she needs to ask herself is whether she is doing more harm or more  good.

Look, first of all, I want a good scientist in the White House, but it is  very clear that she has not been able to move the ball forward in a way  that would be really, really important for the American people.

So, that`s the question ultimately, she can answer. I do want to cut her  some slack. She`s under very difficult circumstances. I think she`s  committed to try to get it right. Whether she`s being effective or not, I  think that is something that she needs to answer and the American people  need to answer.

TUR: One last quick question. You talked to Dr. Fauci today. What was your  big takeaway?

JHA: I did talk to Dr. Fauci today. Two quick takeaways, one is he reminded  us we`re on track for a vaccine but the vaccine is not (INAUDIBLE) and we  can`t give up on public health measures like mask wearing and like some  moderate amount of social distancing.

I think the other thing that Dr. Fauci reminded us of is that there is an  incredible amount of work happening to get therapeutics and vaccines ramped  up. The science here is going at an unbelievable pace. We`ve never done  anything like this.

While that is happening, we have to continue to do our part as Americans  and there is so much we can do to prevent thousands of deaths while we  await these new therapies and vaccines and we can`t give up on those very  basic public health measures that are so important.

TUR: The IHME yesterday said 300,000 deaths by December 1st, but 70,000  lives could be saved if we just had consistent mask wearing, an important  point to remember.

Dr. Ashish Jha, thank you very much.

And still ahead, the reality behind the surge of coronavirus cases behind  bars. They account for the biggest cluster of cases in the country and the  impact is spreading far beyond prison walls. That`s next.


TUR: Welcome back. This week, the Arizona Department of Corrections  reported that nearly half of the inmates at a Tucson area prison have  tested positive for the coronavirus.

Let me say that again, nearly half of the population of a single prison.  Places like jails and nursing homes have tested positive. Places like jails  and nursing homes where people live and work in tight quarters are  incredibly vulnerable to the spread of the virus.

According to the Marshall Project, a non-profit journalist organization  focusing on criminal justice, there have been more than 86,000 cases of  COVID-19 among prisoners in this country. The New York Times puts that  number at over 100,000.

According to the New York Times list, all of those case clusters are at all  10 of the nation`s largest clusters at correctional facilities.

Katie Park is one of the journalists who has been reporting on and tracking  the virus outbreak in jails for the Marshall Project. She joins us now.

Katie, thanks for having us. We were talking a lot about jails and prisons  during the first wave of this virus, when we saw it in the northeast, much  of it. We haven`t been talking about it as much. But now that there`s  another spike that is going through the Midwest and the south, places like  Arizona, we`re seeing another spike, how bad is it at correctional  facilities right now?

KATIE PARK, DATA VISUALIZATIONS DEVELOPER, THE MARSHALL PROJECT: Well, this  week, we saw the highest number of new COVID cases among prisoners since we  started tracking the data back in March. There were 8,000 new cases in  prisons this week, bringing the total up to 86,000.

We`re at a point now where people who are incarcerated, people who are in  prison are nearly five times as likely to be infected with the virus as the  general population in the U.S. There was also a spike in deaths last week.  The total number of deaths in prisons from complications from COVID is  about 800.

TUR: So, when Arizona says there`s a prison population that has -- that  half of which has tested positive for COVID-19, is it safe to assume that  that is going to get to everybody in that correctional facility?

PARK: Well, I think it is. We have seen a lot of the prison systems that  have been doing mass testing do see kind of early numbers being pretty  small and then spreading rapidly throughout the prison.

Certainly, prison conditions are not conducive to conducting social  distancing, physical distancing, even having some of the basic access to  hygiene.

TUR: Soap is lacking in a lot of correctional facilities. Across the  country, when we`re collecting data on who is affected by this virus,  disproportionately, minorities, Black Americans, Brown Americans are being  affected worse than White Americans. Are you seeing similar outcomes in  prisons? Is that data even being collected? 

PARK: Well, the Marshall Project asked all of the state prison agencies as  well as the federal bureau prisons for a racial breakdown of the COVID data  that they`re seeing in prisons and the overwhelming majority of states  would not give that to us. Or is some cases, they couldn`t give it to us  because some state prison agencies just aren`t tracking their demographic  COVID data.

So it is really hard to get any kind of comprehensive picture of the role  that race is playing in COVID cases in prison. We can say that in Michigan,  one of the few states that provided data to us, Black people are  incarcerated at a disproportionately higher rate, and Black prisoners who - - Black prisoners made up a far higher percentage of COVID deaths in prison  than Black residents in the state overall.

TUR: How much does this stay within the prisons are we seeing, because  there are correctional officers in the prisons or people cycling in and out  of the prison that this is ending up spreading within the community?

PARK: Right. It`s easy to think of prisons being closed systems but that`s  really not the case. For example, San Quentin in California recently saw a  major outbreak after people were transferred in from another facility.

And of course, the staff is at great risk of contracting the virus because  they`re moving in and out of prisons. They have the potential to carry the  virus between prison facilities and the community outside.

TUR: It is not a closed system. Katie Park, thank you so much for joining  us. We appreciate all of your time. And thank you for bringing us this  excellent reporting.

PARK: Thank you.

TUR: And we`ll be right back.


TUR: That will do it for tonight. We will be back on Monday with more "Meet  the Press Daily."