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Pro-Russia Ukrainian TRANSCRIPT: The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests: James Clyburn, Joel Villarreal

MARK DIMONDSTEIN, AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION PRESIDENT:  In this  pandemic, where are going to have to -- in order to vote safely, they`re  going to have to vote by mail. 

So we do it. It`s secure. There`s virtually no fraud. That`s what all the  history says. But they need the support to get it done and get it done  right and get the mail there.

SAM SEDER, MSNBC HOST: American Postal Worker Union president Mark  Dimondstein, thank you so much for being with me. 

DIMONDSTEIN:  Thank you.

SEDER:  That is "ALL IN" this Friday night. I`m Sam Seder. 

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. 

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Sam Seder, it is great to see you. I`m flashing  back to our previous lives at Air America together. 

SEDER:  Indeed, I am too a bit.

MADDOW:  Well done, my friend. Thank you.

SEDER:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour, this Friday  night. It`s good to have you here. 

So, I`ll give you a warning in advance, here is one of those stories that  starts in one place and then, boy, does it veer off in an unexpected  direction. But here`s where it starts. 

This is an ad, a political ad that you might remember from a few months  ago. It was launched way back in March, as coronavirus cases were starting  to take off like a rocket in the U.S., just a 30-second ad. I`m going to  play it now to jog your memory, but you might remember it from back in  March. 



This is the new hoax. 

We have it totally under control. 

It`s one person coming in from China. 

One day it`s like a miracle, it will disappear. 

When you have 15 people and within a couple of days it`s going to be down  to close to zero. 

We really think we`ve done a great job at keeping it down to a minimum. 

I like this stuff, I really get it, people are surprised that I understand  it. 

No, I don`t take responsibility at all. 

ANNOUNCER:  Priorities USA Action is responsible for the content of this  ad. 


MADDOW:  That ad, again, that was from way back in March, when U.S.  coronavirus cases were at what felt like an absolutely terrifying number,  what was a terrible number, it was in the tens of thousands of cases by  late March. Of course now coronavirus cases in the U.S. are in the  millions. 

And in the meantime, in the ensuing weeks and months, we`ve seen a lot of  ads along these lines since then. There`s a gazillion ads like this hitting  the president mostly for his failed response to this crisis and the  resultant terrible world`s worst epidemic that we`re now trying to survive.  But this ad that we just showed, this was a landmark. 

When the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA made this one way back in  March, it was one of the first ads of its kind hitting the president on the  pandemic and also, notably and importantly, it was one of the first ads of  this kind that actually ran on TV a lot, in swing states and places where  it matters for the election. A lot of the very pungent, very hard-hitting  ads you see online or social media, never actually make it onto TV screens.  This one did, they ran it on TV stations in Florida and Michigan and  Minnesota and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Those are the only states I know  of it, there may have even been others. 

But the Trump campaign got super mad when this ad ran in March and they  said publicly that nobody should air this ad, they threatened that they  would sue anybody who aired this ad. 

And then of course they didn`t do that, they didn`t sue everybody who ran  that ad. They picked one little TV station that wasn`t part of a big  conglomerate or group of stations. They picked one little basically mom and  pop shop in northern Wisconsin and they sued that one little TV station  that had run that ad to try to stop them from running the ad. 

And I`m not a lawyer, but I will tell you that I`ve read a lot about this  case and most observers believe and continue to maintain that the Trump  campaign is quite unlikely to prevail in that case. I mean, the ad, after  all, was just publicly available information and the president`s public  statements, and, of course, you put them together that way and you play the  ominous music and it makes the president look terrible, but that`s what  happens when you behave terribly, right? When you say things like, it will  disappear like a miracle and I don`t take responsibility at all, somebody  eventually is going to cut that into a political ad that makes you look  terrible, welcome to politics. 

But the Trump campaign did bring this lawsuit against this one station and  it earned them national headlines like this one. The Trump campaign`s legal  strategy includes suing a tiny TV station in northern Wisconsin. And when  they did that, they didn`t sue everybody who ran the ad, they just picked  this one station. People started to realize about what the Trump campaign  was doing there tactically, is that although they weren`t likely to succeed  on the merits of that case, they weren`t likely to prevail against TV  stations or anybody else for running that ad, nevertheless suing that one  station might be an effective tactic for them in the long run. 

They want to try to neutralize the strongest criticism against the  president. They want to make people think twice before they run hard- hitting ads against the president. If you harass entities that might air  that criticism, you could have a chilling effect that causes people to not  do that, that causes people to sort of lose their nerve. 

Now, legally, in a lot of states in this country, if you bring a lawsuit, a  harassing lawsuit like that, if you bring a lawsuit that the court decides  is a frivolous lawsuit, can`t be won on its merits, it`s just been brought  to harass and tie down and intimidate the other party, in lots of states in  this country there`s a provision in the law that says, OK, you who brought  that lawsuit, not only are you going to lose this case in you`re going to  have to pay all the costs this lawsuit entailed, all the court costs, all  the lawyers` fees for your own side plus all the lawyers` fees that the  other side had to pay to defend itself against this B.S. lawsuit from you. 

That`s true in lots of states. But it is not true in Wisconsin. Wisconsin  doesn`t have those kinds of protections in their law. So the Trump campaign  picked this one little station that didn`t have very deep pockets in  Wisconsin where the law doesn`t protect people from harassing lawsuits like  that. They picked that one station to make an example of them and get  national headlines. 

Trump campaign sues TV station for airing this controversial ad. And, of  course, by bringing this lawsuit, they ensured they would cost that TV  station tons of money in legal fees, even if the case was ultimately lost,  right? Most observers say there`s basically no chance the Trump campaign  will actually win this case but they will succeed in dragging this TV  station through hell. 

It`s intimidation, to intimidate that one station in Wisconsin, but also  stations everywhere. You air criticism of Trump, we will make your life  hell. How much time do you want to spend in court fighting us? How  expensive are your lawyers? How much can you afford? 

It`s this nasty little underbelly tactic from the president`s reelection  campaign, right? Just one little scale from the seamy underbelly of the  president`s reelection tactics. 

Here comes the twist in this story. Here is the docket from that case in  Wisconsin, from in a little TV station in Wisconsin getting sued by the  Trump campaign. This was posted online by Daniel Bice, who`s a reporter at  "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel." And you see there, it says Donald J.  Trump for President Incorporated versus the name of TV station, that`s up  in the upper left hand corner there, it`s filed April 27th of this year.  Plaintiff Donald j. Trump for President Incorporated and then Donald J.  Trump for President Incorporated is represented by those two attorneys  whose names you see there on the docket. 

The second name on the docket, Lane Ruhland, the name should mean nothing  to you, it doesn`t mean anything to me, except now we know that same lawyer  who is representing the Trump campaign in this intimidation lawsuit against  a tiny northern Wisconsin TV station to try to get them to stop playing  anti-Trump ads, that same lawyer can also be seen here, this week, rushing  into the state elections board, one night this week, right at the 5:00 p.m.  filing deadline, to get troubled celebrity rapper Kanye West on the ballot  in Wisconsin in November as a presidential candidate running on the  birthday party ticket. Same lawyer from that Trump campaign lawsuit in  April, same lawyer getting Kanye on the ballot now. 

So the Trump campaign is running two candidates for president in Wisconsin.  They are running Donald Trump for reelection and they are running Mr. West  against him as well. 

A watchdog group has actually just filed a complaint with the Wisconsin  state bar association saying, hey, there`s this Wisconsin Republican lawyer  here who has a real conflict of interest on the surface of things, right?  She has engaged in conduct inconsistent with her ethical obligations as a  member of the Wisconsin Bar, specifically the conflict is she`s  simultaneously working for two different presidential candidates who  theoretically are competing against each other in the same election. 

Except, of course, Kanye West and Donald Trump aren`t really competing  against each other because everybody knows now it is the Trump campaign and  the Republican Party that is running the Kanye West for president campaign,  because apparently this is how they want to do it. Part of their plan to  reelect the president of the United States in this year`s election is to  hope nobody notices that they`re the ones who are also running the rap star  guy too, the guy who appears to be having some active, serious issues with  mental illness, they`re going to run him on the ballot in multiple states  too because they think voters won`t know they`re doing it and they`ll vote  for the rap star guy by mistake and that will siphon votes away that would  otherwise go to Joe Biden. 

So they`re trying that. And they`re, you know, bullying TV stations into  not airing ads critical of the president, tie them up in court, if they run  anti-Trump ads, bleed them dry, anywhere they can find a soft enough target  without deep pockets. That`s what they`re doing. Less than 90 days out from  the election, that`s the show of confidence from the Republican Party and  from the president`s reelection campaign about what they have to run on.  About how proud they are of what this president has done with his time in  office. That`s what they think they`ve got to run on. 

OK, what else you got? Well, there`s this. It was more than a month ago now  that "The New York Times" was first to report that U.S. intelligence had  concluded that the Russian federation, the government of Russian of Russia,  was paying bounties to Taliban fighters and other fighters in Afghanistan  for them to target and kill American troops there. 

Now, crucially, "The Times" also reported in their initial report that U.S.  intelligence agencies had not only concluded that Russia was doing this,  they had briefed this conclusion to the president. The National Security  Council had met on the subject. It was not a secret inside the  administration. It had been discussed at the highest levels.

But president Trump had done nothing about it. By the time this news broke  publicly just over a month ago in "The Times," President Trump had spoken  with Russian President Vladimir Putin multiple times after he was briefed  on this issue, but he never brought it up with Vladimir Putin. 

"The Times" further reported that a sort of menu of retaliatory or at least  threatening options had been drawn up for the president to choose from in  response to this information, right? Things that the United States  government could do to stop Russia from doing this, or even, imagine, to  punish Russia for doing this, to retaliate against them for having paid  bounties to fighters who had killed or tried to kill American soldiers. 

President Trump was presented with this menu of options for what the U.S.  government could do in response and he chose from this menu, none of the  above. He chose to do nothing. To not even bring it up in his multiple  subsequent phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin, because he  apparently just does not care. What`s the message that Russia is getting  here? 

Russia, go ahead, pay people to kill Americans in Afghanistan, go ahead,  President Trump knows about it, he has been told with a you`re doing,  apparently it`s cool with him, he hasn`t even said that we shouldn`t, so go  for it. I mean, feels like an age that we have been living with this, but  this is just one of the things we`ve lived with for the past month or so,  knowing that that`s who`s in the Oval Office right now, that`s who`s  running the U.S. government right now, that`s what he has done or rather,  not done, even with this deadly information. 

Well, now today the next chapter of that. Now, today, "The New York Times"  reports that Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, he did talk to the  Russians about this bounties issue. He apparently didn`t do anything about  it all last year while the whole Trump administration was ignoring it. But  after it ended up in "The New York Times," just over a month ago, Mike  Pompeo did say something to the Russian government.

According to "The Times" today, Pompeo raised the issue with his  counterpart, the Russian foreign minister. But like I warned you, here is  the twist. Pompeo did this, according to "The Times," on July 13. That`s  apparently when Mike Pompeo finally, when anybody from the U.S. government  finally said something to the Russians rebuking them for this program  they`ve been running where they`ve been paying cash money for dead  Americans in Afghanistan. He did it on July 13. That was 3 1/2 weeks ago.  How come we`re only hearing about it now? 

Ah. Well, we`re only hearing about it now, according to "The Times,"  because apparently Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not want it to be  known that he had done this. He didn`t include it in any official  statements about his communications with the Russian government. He didn`t  say anything about it publicly even when he was asked about this topic, he  kept it secret until now, until it leaked anonymously to "The New York  Times." why was he keeping it secret? 

He was keeping it secret in part, quote, to avoid potential fury from  President Trump. Ah, yes. Can`t let President Trump know that you`ve done  such a thing, the president would be so mad if he found out that anybody in  his government had raised objections of any kind to Russia putting out paid  hits on Americans. 

If we ever do find out ways to try to protect Americans from this sort of  thing, if we ever do find some way secretly to push back on anything Russia  is doing to us, including killing Americans, don`t let the president hear  about it because he will be so mad. 

"The Times" also says, almost in passing today, that President Trump and  President Putin have been talking to each other more than ever recently.  Quote, Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin have spoken eight times this year, according  to the Kremlin list of the Russian president`s diplomatic activity. That is  twice as many times as they spoke in all of 2019

So Putin and Trump talked four times last year in 2019. It`s only August  this year, and already they`ve talked eight times, but never about Russia  paying to kill Americans. That just has never come up. 

What have you guys been talking about all these days? 

Today for the first time, U.S. intelligence officials released information  to us, the public, about Russia once again attacking our presidential  elections, once again, to try to benefit president Trump. Two weeks ago,  the director of the National Counterintelligence Security Center gave this  sort of vague public warning, saying that basically Russia still had  feelings about our election, they still had designs on it, they wanted to  do us harm. It was a very vague, short statement. 

Democrats in Congress who had seen the intelligence underlying that vague  public warning screamed bloody murder about it over the past two weeks,  about how vague and unhelpful that was. That appears to have resulted today  in the National Counterintelligence director putting more meat on the  bones. 

And this statement that he released today is helpful and interesting. It`s  also weird. Someone somewhat bizarrely, the statement also includes two  full paragraphs on how China and Iran also have feelings about our election  too, and they may have preferences, even though there is no assessment that  they`re doing anything about it other than making public statements. 

Quite unlike what they say about China and Iran, the counterintelligence  director today has very specific things to say about not just Russia`s  feelings and its preferences but what they`re actually doing. And Russia,  this is specific. Quote: Russia -- we assess that Russia is using a range  of measures to denigrate former Vice President Joe Biden and what Russia  sees as an anti-Russia establishment in the U.S. This is consistent with  Moscow`s public criticism of Joe Biden when he was vice president for his  role in the Obama administration`s policies on Ukraine and its support for  the anti-Putin opposition inside Russia. 

Then the counterintelligence director continues. This is important. Quote:  For example, pro-Russia/Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach is  spreading claims about corruption including through publicizing leaked  phone calls to undermine former Vice President Biden`s candidacy and the  Democratic Party. It concludes: Some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking  to boost President Trump`s candidacy on social media and on Russian  television. 

So like 2016, according to the top counterintelligence official in the U.S.  government, just like 2016, we`ve once again got the Kremlin running social  media operations and also Russian propaganda operations to undermine the  Democratic candidate and the Democratic Party and thereby boost Donald  Trump`s chances of winning the White House again just like in 2016. 

But we also get this specific mention of one named, quote, pro-Russia  Ukrainian parliamentarian who as part of the Russian government`s efforts  to mess with our election and undermine Biden`s campaign and get Donald  Trump four more years, this specific named guy has been spreading claims  about corruption. 

How is he spreading these claims? The rest of the statement mentions the  Kremlin`s operation here being active on social media, active in terms of  Russian propaganda outlets. But with this guy it`s something different. He  is spreading these claims to undermine Biden`s campaign and thereby help  Trump. 

Well, what is his medium for doing this? How is he spreading these claims?  As part of the Russian government`s operation against our 2020 election? 

Well, we know what he`s doing to try to spread these claims. He`s spreading  these claims by providing those claims to this man. The Republican U.S.  senator from Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, who heads the Senate Homeland Security  Committee. The same pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian named in today`s  intelligence report also indicates to us that he is spreading these claims  by providing them to this man, the Republican senior U.S. senator from  Iowa, Chuck Grassley, who runs the finance committee in the United States  senate. 

I mean, this is remarkable. The guy who is named by U.S. intelligence in  this specific public warning today about what Russia is doing to interfere  in the 2020 election to try to reelect Trump, the way he`s been doing his  work for the Russian government to mess with our election, is by feeding  material to a purported investigation of Joe Biden by Senator Ron Johnson  on the Homeland Security Committee and Senator Chuck Grassley on the  finance committee in the Senate, because those two senators have been use  information from that specific named guy as the basis for what they say is  going to be their big investigation, a big report on their investigation  into Biden that they`re planning on releasing in mid-September right in  time for the election. 

I mean, this guy, who is doing this work on behalf of the Russian  government, per this intelligence statement to the American push today, he  course has been feeding anti-Biden stuff to Rudy Giuliani. There`s Giuliani  on the left, there`s this guy on the right. Rudy Giuliani, of course,  continuing to act as the president`s lawyer. He and Giuliani, in fact, did  a whole mini-series of pro-Trump anti-Biden propaganda a few months ago on  one of these rabidly pro-Trump fringe TV networks, one that shares at least  one reporter with the Russian propaganda network Sputnik. 

And, you know, at this point, we`re four years into this. We sort of expect  that. That`s just the flavor of the Trump-verse at this point, right? 

Rudy Giuliani being dispatched abroad to go collect Russian intelligence- provided dirt and bring it home and try to launder it into the American  ecosystem, right? Not minding Russian bounties being paid for dead American  soldiers, it being a scandal in the Trump administration only if someone  deigns to criticize Russia for that, right? 

Promoting Russian propaganda on everything from NATO to Ukraine to the  coronavirus, you name it, we`ve gotten used to the fact that this is how  this presidency and the Trump world and Republican politics now operates  when it comes to Russia. This is what we expect from the president, from  the president`s close associates, from the Trump White House. 

But what`s happening in 2020 is that this is now the Republican-led United  States Senate accepting and acting on, effectively laundering and promoting  dirt that the U.S. intelligence community now publicly says is a Russian  operation to mess with our election because that`s what they want to do to  try to beat Joe Biden. That`s what the Republican Party in the United  States Senate is willing to do to try to beat Joe Biden. 

That`s what the Trump campaign -- apparently that`s how they`re going to  approach this, you know. They will run fake third-party candidates that  they think might peel off voters from Biden. They`ll have their lawyers run  his whole campaign operation too. 

Use the lawyers we`ve had trying to bankrupt and intimidate mom and pop  media outlets into not run any criticism of Trump. Use those players, we  got any of them in places like Wisconsin?

What else can we do? Let`s take over the post office and make drama last- minute changes to slow down the mail right before the first national  election ever conducted mostly by mail because of the pandemic. We are  watching this breaking news tonight that Trump`s new handpicked postmaster  general has just fired tonight nearly two dozen senior leaders at the  Postal Service, thus centralizing power over mail delivery under himself  personally less than 90 days before the election. 

This comes on the same day that Democrats asked the Postal Service  inspector general to investigate what that guy, Trump`s handpicked  postmaster general, has done since he very recently took over the Postal  Service and immediately started to slow down mail delivery all over the  country. 

I mean, these are the terms on which they`re waging this campaign.  Frivolous lawsuits, random fake third-party candidacies, messing with the  actual mechanism by which most of us will vote. And this time, like in  2016, apparently they`ve got Russia again pulling along side them on Donald  Trump`s behalf. 

The difference this time, at least for now, is that the Republican Party in  Congress, the Republican Party in the United States Senate, is helping the  Russian effort along explicitly and knowingly. I mean, they can`t say they  don`t know what they`re doing and what it means here, right? They can`t say  they don`t know the implications of accepting anti-Biden material ginned up  by this random pro-Russia Ukrainian lawmaker and laundering it through the  United States Senate to incorporate it into U.S. election concerns. They  can`t say they don`t know what that means or what the origins of that  material might be or what material is provided them in order to do. They  can`t plead ignorance after this public warning today from the country`s  top counterintelligence official saying, that guy, that is Russia`s effort  to interference in the election this year for 2020, right? 

They can`t plead ignorance. They know what they are doing is taking part in  Russia`s efforts to elect Donald Trump again. But these are the means by  which this president is trying to stay in office. These are the means by  which the Republican Party is trying to keep this president in office. 

This is what the campaign is like, and it`s not going to get better over  the next less than 90 days. I don`t know that we should have expected  better. I mean, I suppose if I were presiding over 160,000-plus Americans  dead in six months and an epidemic raging totally out of control and my  best idea about it is still, it will go away like magic, I suppose if that  were me, I might want to try to run on terms this odious as well. 

But that`s what he`s trying. That`s what the Republican Party is trying  alongside him knowingly while the rest of the country tries to stay alive  in the midst of this catastrophic epidemic. 

That`s what this is going to be like for the next 90 days. Buckle up. Eyes  open. 

Big show for you tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW:  Democratic congressional leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi  met with the Trump administration today for what we think was an 11th round  of face to face negotiations on another COVID relief package for Americans  out of work or otherwise up against it in the seventh full blown month of  this pandemic. 

Democrats offered to knock about a trillion dollars off of their relief  bill, which had otherwise been pegged at $3.4 trillion. The White House  apparently said no to that offer. Many of the deadlines to replenish or  extend the relief programs that Congress has passed in the past, those have  already come and gone. The deadline to continue paying the extra 600 bucks  in unemployment benefits that tens of millions have Americans have been  relying on since they`ve been out of work, that deadline came and went July  31. 

The deadline to extend the ban on evicting people across the country, that  passed on July 24th. Now as many as 12 million people are at risk of losing  their homes if they don`t get help. 

Technically, the paycheck protection program, the federal loan program to  try to keep small businesses afloat. Technically that program is still  alive. That program doesn`t expire until tomorrow, but it does expire  tomorrow. With all these federal relief programs either collapsing or on  the verge of collapsing, the Trump administration is saying no to the  Democrats` compromise offer. They`ve been making vague noises about the  president trying to do some of these things by executive order. The  president talked about that tonight at his golf club in Bedminster but then  quickly pivoted to spending the next half an hour of his remarks basically  holding a very small campaign rally. 

Left unsaid at all was how he intends to muster the authority to try to do  any of this single handedly since it`s Congress, not the president, that  holds the power of the purse. Tick tock, though, in terms of how much  Americans need relief right now. 

There`s no end to this pandemic in sight. The reason all these things are  expiring is because when they initially passed, people thought this would  be over by now. It`s nowhere near over. Americans are suffering just as  much as they were when these things were passed in the first place. 

How is this going to resolve? 

Joining us now is the great James Clyburn, South Carolina congressman,  chair of the House Select Committee that oversees coronavirus relief funds. 

Congressman Clyburn, it`s nice to see you here tonight. It`s been too long  since you`ve been here on the show. I really appreciate you making time to  be here. 

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Thank you very much for having me. 

MADDOW:  Can you just give us your overview perspective on what you think  is going to happen, whether you think that these programs that so many  Americans have been counting on will get extended? What kind of lapse that  we`ll be looking at between those programs initially expiring and then  getting re-upped hopefully when some deal gets worked out?

CLYBURN:  I think we`re going to get a deal worked out. There will be --  the committee is meeting over weekend. We will have some consultations  tomorrow. I think we`re getting close to something happening that will be  of benefit to everybody. 

MADDOW:  When the president talks about doing some of these things by  executive order, I feel like I`m going back to my Schoolhouse Rock, it`s  just a bill -- I`m just a bill, kind of basics about how the different  branches of government work. 

I mean, the one thing the president doesn`t have is the power of the purse.  When he says he can do some of these things just by signing an executive  order, when we`re talking about, you know, sending money to people, when  we`re talking about an unemployment benefits boost, when we`re talking even  about changes around taxes that he`s talking about, it doesn`t seem to me  that he has the power to do any of that as president, yet the White House  seems to think that that`s -- that`s another way to get at the relief  that`s needed. 

CLYBURN:  You know, the president seems to think that there is no Congress  that he has to deal with, no people that he has to listen to. He says these  things. 

I think that he`s always throwing something up on the wall to see if it  will stick. I think he knows better than this. The executive orders that he  issues have gone to court time and time again, and they`ve been thrown back  into his face. At some point in time, I think he`s going to get the message  from the courts as well. 

But we`re going to keep working, and we`ll come to some agreement. I wish  that Mr. McConnell were in the room so that we can get the legislative  bodies together, but he seems to have, you know, turned it over to the  White House. But we`ll get something. 

MADDOW:  You sound confident, and that is buoying to me because I feel like  you`re a pretty clear-eyed observer about what is capable -- what Capitol  Hill is capable of doing. I`ll just ask what you would say to Americans  right now who are really scared about not just the health aspects of this  but the economic aspects of this. I mean, so many people I know just in my  personal life, whether they`re small business owners or employees of public  or private entities, people are worried about whether or not the economic  blow that`s been dealt to individual families and to our country right now  is something that we`re going to recover from in the long run. 

How do you -- do you see that? And how do you think the government has done  in terms of trying to fix some of these wounds? 

CLYBURN:  Well, people are worried, and quite frankly I am worried. You  see, we`ve got really a pandemic within a pandemic here. When you really  look at it, we`ve got a big health care crisis. We`ve got an economic  crisis. And as we`ve focused on trying to do something about the economic  crisis, the fact of the matter is we cannot get it solved without solving  this health care crisis. 

So it`s a double whammy here. We have to try and operate knowing full well  that you cannot operate within a silo here. These two things must be taken  together, and I really believe people are coming to that realization, and  we`re going to get to where we need to be. 

Now, I`m always the optimist. I just don`t believe that I can afford to  give up on the capacity of this country to respond to the needs of its  people. 

So I`m holding on to that hope that we`ll get there, and I feel confident  that it may not be tomorrow, but I think before next week is out, we`ll  have an issue resolved. 

MADDOW:  It is, as a say, buoying to hear you say that, sir. I`d be remiss,  though, if I let you go here before asking you about politics. 

I want to just get your take on how the Joe Biden campaign is doing right  now. I`ve been paying more and more attention to how the Trump campaign is  behaving itself, and I feel like their tactics are starting to -- we`re  getting a sort of sense of what their tactics are going to be over these  last 90 days. 

I want to ask you about how you feel the Biden campaign is doing, and how  enthusiastic or how optimistic you are about Jamie Harrison, a former  staffer of yours who is running against Lindsey Graham for that Senate seat  in South Carolina? He just had a poll this week that showed him in a dead  heat, tied at 44 points each with the incumbent senator, Lindsey Graham. 

CLYBURN:  Jamie is doing extremely well. I knew since I first met him when  he was an 11th grader that there was something special about him. I`ve been  holding on to him ever since. He has conducted himself in a way that he`s  making all the South Carolinians proud. 

I ran into a guy yesterday who told me that he was just a rock-ribbed  Republican, but he was extremely impressed with Jamie Harrison. He hadn`t  gotten around yet to whether he was going to vote for him, but he just  thinks that he`s exactly the kind of person who should be representing us  in Washington. So, I`m very proud of him.

As for Biden, he`s running a real good race. He`s taking his time on the  vice presidential search. I believe that the vetting is about over. 

I think he is in the process of determining simpatico, which ones he`s got  the most simpatico with. And I think that by next weekend, he`ll make an  announcement. 

He shouldn`t rush into this. We`ve had experiences with what happens when  you rush. I always remember Eagleton. Most people don`t remember that, but  I remember when we rushed into that convention, came out with Eagleton on  the ticket and had to jettison him several days later because the vetting  was incomplete. 

I remember what happened with Geraldine Ferraro. The vetting was not done  properly. And so, I think McCain, if he had to do it all over, I don`t  think he would have done what he did with Sarah Palin because someone  didn`t do their homework. 

So Joe Biden is doing his homework. He`s taking his time, and I think he`s  going to come up with the person that all of us can be proud of. 

MADDOW:  Congressman James Clyburn, the dean of South Carolina  congressional delegation and a sage voice in Democratic politics and on so  much more -- sir, it`s an honor to have you here anytime. Thank you so much  for being here tonight. 

CLYBURN:  Thank you very much for having me. 

MADDOW:  All right. We`ve got much more to come here this Friday. Stay with  us.


MADDOW:  Starr County, Texas, has one hospital. Starr County Memorial  Hospital, which is in Rio Grande City in Texas. Right now, they`ve got this  lovely display of carefully hand-lettered thank you cards sent into the  staff of that hospital. The cards say things like, you are amazing and  strong and brave and appreciated. Remember that each and every day. And  when you are feeling overwhelmed, it`s OK to scream, to cry, and to grieve.  Take a long, deep breath and find comfort in knowing that you are held  dearly in our hearts every moment of the day. 

Starr County Memorial Hospital is in Rio Grande City, Texas. That`s the  county seat. The staff of that hospital can use the good wishes right now.  A couple of weeks ago on the show, you might remember we sort of sounded  the alarm about this one overwhelmed hospital in Starr County, Texas. 

There`s 65,000 people that live in the county. They`ve just got this one  hospital. It`s got 48 beds. There`s only 12 doctors serving that entire  county, two of whom do anesthesia, two of whom are E.R. doctors. That  leaves a total of eight more for the entire county. That`s less two doctors  for every 10,000 people in that county, and again, one hospital.

When we reported on the dire COVID situation in Starr County a few weeks  ago, the hospital was reporting that they had three times the number of  COVID patients as they did beds to put those patients in. That`s when the  top executive in Starr County issued this sort of apocalyptic warning to  the people living in this part of Rural Texas. He said, quote,  unfortunately, Starr County Memorial Hospital has limited resources, and  our doctors are going to have to decide who receives treatment and who is  sent home to die by their loved ones. 

That was not a warning that`s what`s coming. That`s what they were saying  was upon Starr County. That was two weeks ago. Since then, I am sorry to  not be able to tell you about a dramatic turnaround. 

This is the headline in "The New York Times" this week about that same  hospital. Their headline is, quote, like a horror movie, a small border  hospital battles the coronavirus. The hospital`s COVID ward at capacity,  doctors are overwhelmed. They say they cannot always provide the level of  care these critically ill COVID patients need to stay alive.

Quoting from "The Times," the nurse in charge watched closely as three  other nurses wrapped bandages around the knees of a woman in her 60s  connected to a ventilators. Her treatment at the hospital, he said, had run  its course. 

The nurse said, quote, she needs a higher level of care than we can  provide. We need to open her throat and clear her airways. We simply don`t  have the necessary tools to do that here. 

Starr County Memorial Hospital was medevacing her out. They`ve been forced  to medevac out, helicopter out patients to other facilities whenever they  can. Other hospitals that can provide higher-level care or simply hospitals  that have open beds. 

Sick patients in Starr County have been sent as far as Dallas and San  Antonio. They`ve been sent across state lines to Oklahoma to receive care.  Almost unfathomably, though, none of them have come back. A health  authority in Starr County saying, quote, very, very unfortunately, of all  the patients we have transferred, none of them have come back alive. 

One consequence to not having a national strategy for dealing with this  thing, one consequence to an incompetent federal response to this  coronavirus crisis is that our country continues to recover on very, very  uneven timelines, even when the situation is getting better in some places,  it is getting worse in others. 

But what we have seen over the past few weeks is in the Rio Grande Valley,  in Starr County, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, we have seen the  coronavirus crisis in a constant, unrelieved de-crescendo. It is just an  unmitigated disaster that is plugging steadily along for which there has  been no relief. And that has been true for weeks now. 

A couple weeks ago I said on the air that this looked to me like an issue  of national concern, potentially something that should be seen as a  national-level emergency in the Rio Grande Valley. Things have not gotten  better since then, but we are going to be joined by the mayor of Rio Grande  city here next, live. 

Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  Every day the official in charge of public health in Starr County,  Texas, posts updates of the toll that COVID has taken on that community,  2,400 people known to be infected, that`s about 4 percent of the whole  population of the county. Twenty-two county residents confirmed to have  died. Another 51 suspected deaths are awaiting confirmation as COVID deaths  from the state. Among those are small children, even a 9-month-old infant. 

There`s only one hospital in Starr County. It`s operating beyond capacity.  They`ve been transferring patients as far away as New Mexico and Oklahoma  because they don`t have space or resources to treat this nonstop surge of  cases and very sick people. 

Starr County`s county seat is Rio Grande City. The mayor of Rio Grande City  told the A.P. this week, quote, we need the help. Our house is on fire. We  are no less American than other people in other parts of the country. 

Joining us now is Mayor Joel Villarreal, who represents Rio Grande City and  Starr City, Texas. He`s the elected mayor of that topw.

Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate  you being here. 

MAYOR JOEL VILLARREAL, RIO GRANDE CITY, TEXAS:  Well, thank you for having  me on your show, and on behalf of Rio Grande City and the Rio Grande  Valley, a heartfelt thank you for the national coverage that has truly made  a significant difference in the mobilization of resources that are now  benefiting our area. So thank you for highlighting our predicament as we  continue to fight this global pandemic. So thank you. 

MADDOW:  Well, tell me about that mobilization of resources. I know that  you and other communities in the Rio Grande Valley have been hurting for  weeks if not months now. Tell me about what new resources have been brought  to bear and what kind of a difference they`re making. 

VILLARREAL:  We are in a position now where we are fortunate and thankful  that the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Audie Murphy Hospital in San  Antonio has come to our aid in this time of need, and they have agreed to  accept our patients. And that has been crucial because our small hospital,  as you mentioned prior, we have limited resources. When you`re looking at  six beds for every 10,000 people, zero ICU beds, one from six doctors for  every 10,000 people, we have limited resources. 

However, they have done a tremendous job in spite of these limited  resources in now having this lifeline to San Antonio and also to DHR in  Edinburgh. And now we have the alternative health care facility in McAllen  at the convention center. So, again, these resources have come our way in a  critical time because we were at a critical juncture when our medical --  when our community`s medical needs far exceeded our medical resources. 

And we were at the point where it -- it was dire, and we did not see an end  in sight. However, most recently now we can take a breather. However -- and  I say this strongly. As you mention, we have still 2,478 cases, over 73  fatalities. Our rates as far as positivity rate is 16 percent, and out of  those positives, 400 of our children are positive. 

So when you`re looking at those numbers, it`s still in a position where we  need to address these medical needs. But we are fortunate, though. So thank  you to our governor. Thank you to the Department of Veterans Affairs and  Audie Murphy Hospital for bringing some of these resources to our area that  we now can see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, we are not yet  out of the woods. 

MADDOW:  Mayor Joel Villarreal, mayor of Rio Grande City in Starr County,  Texas, hearing your special gratitude for the help that you had so far when  you have been dealing with so much and such dire circumstances, it lifts a  spirit. But I know that you have a long way to go. 

Stay in touch with us. We`d love to keep people apprised about how things  are going in your community. Thank you, sir. 

VILLARREAL:  Thank you. 

MADDOW:  All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  That`s good to do it for us tonight. Thanks for being with us  tonight and all this week. We`ll see you again on Monday. 

Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" where the great Ali Velshi is in for  Lawrence tonight.

Good evening, Ali. 


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