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Coronavirus TRANSCRIPT: 2/27/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: John Garamendi, Matt McCarthy, Lily Adams, Yamiche Alcindor, Dr. Lance Dodes

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. And you know something big is going on when "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" show ends with the stock market.


O`DONNELL:  And the futures market, and, boy, you just taught me everything I now know about the markets.

MADDOW:  Actually, if you give me all your money, just trust it to me I`ll take care of it. I`m great with this stuff, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  You know how future markets stuff works?

MADDOW:  Yes, I`ll take care of it. You literally just sign --


O`DONNELL:  I will hand it over tomorrow.

MADDOW:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel.

Well, the coronavirus crisis is going to get much worse for Donald Trump. We know at least that much. He will probably stay physically healthy throughout the crisis, but his mental health which is weak on his best day can only get much worse every day of this crisis.

At the end of this hour, we will consider Donald Trump`s complete bewilderment in the face of this crisis which was on display last night in his press conference and will continue to be on display whenever -- whenever he discusses this crisis, which he is obviously completely incapable of understanding.

Dr. Lance Dodes, a psychiatrist who was one of the coauthors of the bestselling book, "A Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: An Assessment of the President`s Declining Mental Health", will join us at the end of this hour.

There is another whistle-blower in the Trump administration tonight. The new whistle-blower is being treated by Donald Trump and by his administration like all Trump whistleblowers. She is being threatened with being fired from her job in the Health and Human Services Department because she is trying to save your life.

The whistle-blower has not been identified but the whistle-blower`s lawyer has confirmed she`s a woman who`s a career Health and Human Services Employee, who`s received awards for her service in the past. She is blowing the whistle on the incompetence of Donald Trump`s secretary of health and human services and the political appointees there who have endangered peoples lives with their incompetence and possibly created the very conditions that allowed for the first transmission of coronavirus to a woman in California who has not traveled to Asia and has not knowingly interacted with anyone who has traveled to Asia.

The whistle-blower has filed a 24-page complaint saying, according to "The Washington Post", officials to the Health and Human Services sent more than dozen workers to receive the first Americans evacuated from China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, without proper training for infection control or appropriate protective gear. The whistle-blower alleges she was unfairly and improperly reassigned after raising concerns about the safety of these workers to HHS officials, including those within the office of Health and Human Services, Secretary Alex Azar.

The whistle-blower was told if she did not accept her reassignment, she will be fired. Alex Azar is Donald Trump`s second secretary of health and human services. The first secretary of Health and Human Services, Thomas Price, was forced out of office after less than a year of service after he was drowning in a sea of corruption that he created at the Health and Human Services Department.

Donald Trump`s secretary of health and human services who is now charged with defending you, charged with defending the nation against the coronavirus is not a scientist. He is not a doctor. Alex Azar is a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical company -- for the pharmaceutical industry. And I say is because there`s absolutely no reason to think that he stopped lobbying for the pharmaceutical industry simply because he took a job in the Trump administration after earning his money as a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry.

Like most Trump cabinet members, Alex Azar`s resume represents exactly what you don`t want in a cabinet member, in this case secretary of health and human services. And you especially don`t want a lobbyist in a cabinet position when a crisis hits and the defense of American lives depends on a lobbyist. The whistle-blower complaint says, according to "The Washington Post," that staff were improperly deployed and were not properly trained or equipped to operate in a public health emergency situation. The complaint also alleges the workers were potentially exposed to coronavirus because appropriate steps were not taken to protect them and staffers were not trained in wearing personal protective equipment, even though they had face-to-face contact with returning passengers.

The workers were in contact with passengers in an airplane hangar where evacuees were received and on two other occasions when they helped distribute keys for room assignments and hand out colored ribbons for identification purposes. "The Washington Post" quotes the whistle-blower complaint itself, saying, quote: appropriate steps were not taken to quarantine, monitor or test the workers during their deployment and upon their return home.

And some of those workers returned home to the area near Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California. Vacaville is one of the biggest towns near Travis Air Force Base, nine miles from Travis Air Force Base. About a week after a planes landed at Travis Air Force Base with infected victims of the coronavirus, a woman in Vacaville, California, went to her local hospital explain complaining of extreme flu symptoms on February 15th and was immediately checked into that hospital. She was later transferred to a more sophisticated medical facility in Sacramento, California, University of California-Davis Medical Center, where doctors immediately wanted to test her for coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention refused the test on the grounds since she hadn`t traveled to or knew anyone who had traveled to a risk area, she was not a high priority for receiving that test. Her doctors eventually prevailed and when the CDC administered the test, the woman made tragic history by becoming the first American infected with coronavirus without having traveled or knowingly interacted with anyone who had traveled to a high risk area.

It appears tonight the incompetence of the Trump administration and Alex Azar in particular and his political appointments in his office increased the risk to people living in and around Travis Air Force Base in California. And now, Alex Azar is doing exactly what he knows Donald Trump wants him to do which is punish the woman who is trying to warn this country about the risk of having Trump appointees defending the health of Americans instead of professionals who know how to do it.

Alex Azar testified to the House Ways and Means Committee today before -- this is important -- before "The Washington Post" exposed the existence of the whistle-blower`s report.

Congressman Jimmy Gomez of California voiced suspicions in his questions that are now supported by the whistle-blower report.


REP. JIMMY GOMEZ (D-CA):  Do you think that breaking basic protocols and exposing untrained human service employees to the coronavirus before allowing them to be dispersed around the country could have endangered the employees and other Americans?

ALEX AZAR, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES:  I don`t believe that has taken place, and the isolation and quarantine protocols should always be followed according to whatever CDC or state and local public officials have recommended.

GOMEZ:  OK. If they were not followed -- say they weren`t followed, what would be the steps to deal with those employees?

AZAR:  Well, I`d want to know the full facts and we`d take appropriate remedial measures.

GOMEZ:  Do you know who the employees that were part of these teams that were deployed to Travis Air Force Base?

AZAR:  I don`t know their name, no, 3,000 employees. I apologize I don`t know all of their names.


O`DONNELL:  Very funny. Very, very funny.

Congressman Gomez didn`t ask him the names of those workers. Alex Azar`s sleazy evasion of his responsibility in that answer was to try to create a joke that he alone in the United States of America thought was funny. You didn`t hear any other laughing in that room with lives at stake.

Tom Price`s corruption at the Department of Health and Human Services was all about giving himself the fancy cushy lifestyle of private jets he`d always dreamed about and taking personal advantage of his position at taxpayer expense. Alex Azar`s corruption is now much, much worse.

Alex Azar`s threat to the whistle-blower who is trying to save us from the threat of Alex Azar`s incompetence could be the most dangerous corruption of the most corrupt presidential administration in history.

Leading off our discussion tonight are Democratic Congressman John Garamendi of California. The woman who made history by becoming that first American coronavirus case in California is a resident of Congressman Garamendi`s district. Also joining us, Dr. Matthew McCarthy, an infectious disease doctor and the author of "Super Bugs: A Race to Stop an Epidemic", and Ned Price is with us, a former spokesperson for the National Security Council in the Obama administration. He worked on the Ebola crisis during the Obama administration.

And, Congressman Garamendi, we learned an awful lot today. We didn`t know all of this about the whistle-blower report when Secretary Azar was testifying today. But what can you tell us about what this whistle-blower report might indicate has happened in your district?

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA):  Well, first of all, our prayers and best wishes go out to this lady that is very, very sick at this moment. Beyond that, we have a very serious problem where we do have community infection. The problem facing us is that we don`t know who is ill.

The testing protocols are so restrictive that this woman fell into the void and her sickness was allowed to be forward unnoticed for several days. So, we`ve got a problem with testing.

The CDC has made a terrible mistake in not allowing early testing and not preparing with test kits. Therefore, all of the effort to try to contain this may go to naught because we simply don`t know who is ill. We do know in the community of Solano County we now have a public health emergency. We know we`re gearing up to try to deal with it.

But even to this moment there are no test kits, and CDC has refused to allow the state of California to use its very high quality, very, very capable labs in Berkeley and Richmond, California, to do the testing. It is reprehensible. It is dangerous, and God help us, it could be deadly.

O`DONNELL:  Congressman, as you said Solano County where this occurred in your district has declared a public health emergency. There are only according to reports 200 test kits in the entire state of California with 40 million people. 200 test kits doesn`t seem like enough just for your congressional district alone.

What can you tell us about CDC`s interactions here? Is this being controlled by the Trump administration?

GARAMENDI:  Well, insofar as the CDC is controlled by the Trump administration, yes, of course.

But we also know that test kits are readily available in Korea. Korea went at this immediately. They put in place systems to develop test kits that are available. There`s a company in Korea tonight that is creating 100,000 test kits a day. They could arrive in California tomorrow.

And I`m just looking at the CDC and saying, what are you guys doing? First of all, you limit the ability of doctors to have tests on their patients. This lady was one who suffered as a result of that perhaps 3 to 5 days without being able to get a test. And then beyond that, we know there are other people that are clearly in trouble here.

Eighty-four people at the hospitals in the area have been sent home to be self-quarantined. Are they infected? They have no idea because they cannot get tested.

And the doctors have no idea. Medical personnel at all the hospitals are at risk, and we can`t test them because the CDC refuses to do the most basic, the most basic of work which is to make tests available.

Let`s go to Korea. Let`s buy those test kits. Let`s get them available and let`s open the laboratories that are less than 15 miles away from Vacaville.

O`DONNELL:  Dr. McCarthy, I want to get your reaction to what`s happening in Congressman Garamendi`s district with what we know to be the one case there and the way these people were involved in the delivery of infected patients who were landing at the Air Force base there and then went off out into the community without any real warning about what they`d been exposed to.

DR. MATT MCCARTHY, INFECTIOUS DISEASE DOCTOR:  It`s outrageous. What we`re seeing is just a colossal failure. The CDC created tests, sent them to all 50 states and after they arrived they said, oh, wait a minute, the tests are flawed, don`t use them. And we have been beating the drum begging for new tests for weeks.

And you see what`s happening in the congressman`s district. Patients lives are at risk. This woman is clinging to life because doctors wanted to test her and they couldn`t. And one of the big things happening now in that press conference Trump created a chain of command and now this is Mike Pence`s job, and Americans are going to live or die based on the decisions he makes.

I know that he`s creating a task force and that`s going to be broadening out the responsibilities, but ultimately, he`s got to cut through the red tape and get us these tests. And I`ll say the first decision he made today which was to sensor government experts, this was a colossal error. We need to be hearing from scientist and hearing from doctors standing at podiums unfiltered, telling us the truth about what`s really happening. Because right now, we don`t have the testing and patients across the country and around the world are at risk because we don`t know the full scope of the problem.

This is something the whole world is watching and I`ll say that Donald Trump appointed Mike Pence the leader here but we need some leadership.

O`DONNELL:  Ned Price one of those doctors and experts stood on the podium last night with the president they completely contradicted the president. The next day, we discover they are now muzzled. They are not allowed to speak to any reporters about any of this.

NED PRICE, FORMER CIA ANALYST: Lawrence, in reading that story I was reminded of something I learned from Ron Klain, the former Ebola czar, who I worked under during 2014 and 2015. He said the first casualties of any epidemic is rational thinking. And what we learned there was an antidote to that irrational thinking. It was information, it was facts, it was truth.

And that is why far from muzzled people like Tony Fauci and his fellow experts across the community, we used to joke we needed to clone them. We wanted them out there every day, all day speaking the facts, offering context, offering perspective because their knowledge gleaned over the course of decades of epidemiological study and disease fighting was in fact helpful to the public to understand this.

Now, of course, here`s the proof of that. In September of 2014, the CDC actually put out a report that really spoke to the CDC`s own data. It said that within a year, there would be up to 1.4 million cases of Ebola in West Africa. Now, obviously, this caused a bit of consternation. The CDC felt it needed to step out. But in doing so, it provided the CDC an opportunity to speak to how the entire whole of government response would staunch this epidemic, how we could fight it at its source, how we could prevent that that 1.4 million number from coming to fruition.

On the other hand, in this administration, we have Donald Trump essentially doing a reenactment of HBO docu drama, "Chernobyl" and I`m reminded of the key line, that every lie -- every lie incurs a debt to the truth, and eventually that debt is paid and we`ve seen this president lie about the weather. We`ve seen him lie about our lethal operations overseas and now we`re seeing that debt being paid when it comes to something as profoundly important as coronavirus and public health.

O`DONNELL:  Dr. McCarthy, what would you recommend to Congressman Garamendi and more importantly the people living in his district in and around Vacaville, where this infection occurred? What should their daily behavior be now in that small city there?

Should they be wearing surgical masks, for example, just routinely? Should they be staying home? Should they be avoiding any kind of gathering as audiences or in -- what should they be doing?

MCCARTHY:  We cannot give sound medical advice without testing. I don`t want to hear another word from this administration about new drugs and clinical trials or vaccines that are going to save the day. Those things are months or years away.

Without testing, we can`t tell people what to do. We can`t tell people whether they should stay home or whether they should wear an N-95 mask, a type of mask that actually works.

I see a lot of people walking around with surgical masks that don`t actually protect them. There`s so much misinformation coming out. This is why it`s incumbent upon us to hear from the doctors, the scientists, the experts to give us sound medical advice.

Right now, we can`t tell a community in northern California whether or not they should self-quarantine, whether they should close schools. All of this is completely influx, and it`s going to stay this way until we get something called point of care diagnostics and that means bed side testing, where any doctor in the country can look at a patient and say, I want to test this patient and get an answer back reliably and efficiently and we`re not there yet.

And, you know, people talk about the stock market. That`s not something I wake up thinking about, but I can tell you it`s going to continue to go haywire until we have testing because that will generate data and that data will give us informed information to make informed decisions. Until then, everything else is nonsense.

We`ve got to get point of care diagnostics throughout the United States. As I said this is on Mike Pence. When this spirals out of control he`s the leader, and today`s leader can be tomorrow`s fall guy.

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Garamendi, what are your next steps?

GARAMENDI:  One of my next steps are to continue call for the testing, continue to look for opportunities for that and also work with our -- my communities. There are certain steps.

The first line of defense is the individual. All of us, you know, wash your hands, the things you learned in kindergarten. Wash your hands, don`t cough on people, avoid people, stay home if you have a fever or if you`re sick. Don`t spread the disease. That`s the first line of defense.

The second line of defense are the counties. As Solano County is doing, gearing up its public health organizations, working with the state.

The third line of defense has got to be the hospitals. There are 20 isolation beds at the biggest medical facility in Sacramento. This thing is going to blow right through that capacity. So we`re going to need to have hospital capacity.

The other thing is that the hospital personnel are now off-duty in Vacaville. They`ve been sent home because they didn`t know that their patient was sick. So, there`s going to be a question about availability of hospital and medical personnel. Those are critical issues. Those are issues that need national leadership.

O`DONNELL:  So, Congressman, just to clarify, those hospital workers were sent home because they weren`t aware they were being exposed to that virus because they didn`t know that patient when she arrived at the first hospital had this virus.

GARAMENDI:  That`s correct. They were exposed and didn`t know of the exposure and now they`re sent home so they don`t further spread that illness.

O`DONNELL:  Congressman John Garamendi, I`m sorry, this has hit your congressional district, the way it has. We really appreciate you taking the time to join us tonight.

Dr. Matthew McCarthy, Ned Price, thank you for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

And when we come back, South Carolina. John Heilemann is live in South Carolina tonight where new polls are showing Joe Biden with what is a strong lead. Some polls showing it to be an increasing lead over Bernie Sanders.

South Carolina votes on Saturday.


O`DONNELL:  We`re at that stage of the presidential candidate that when you hear one of the candidates call the other a decent guy, you know -- you know that the next sentence will be an attack.

Here is Bernie Sanders tonight in South Carolina.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Now, I`ve known Joe for many years. He is a decent guy, but I don`t believe that Joe can beat Trump when people learn that he voted for the war in Iraq, when people understand he voted for NAFTA and PNTR with China, terrible trade agreements which cost us millions of jobs. When people learn that he has been on the floor of the House in years past talking about the need to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.


O`DONNELL:  Joe Biden is Bernie Sander`s target now that Joe Biden is leading in the most recent South Carolina polls in that state by an average of 10 points, with one poll showing Joe Biden with a 20-point lead ahead of Bernie Sanders in South Carolina.

Here`s Joe Biden making his closing argument in South Carolina where there`s just one more day -- just tomorrow, one more day of campaigning before that primary on Saturday.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We`re in an inflection point in American history right now. A point in which that if we don`t get things straight, we`re going to be changed for a long, long, long time. Four years of Donald Trump, God willing with the right nominee we can, in fact, turn that four years into an aberration of American history.


O`DONNELL:  Joining our discussion now, John Heilemann. He`s a national affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. He is co-host of Showtime`s "The Circus" and editor-in-chief of "The Recount", and he now lives in South Carolina or has for the last week or so, John.

John, I was so struck -- 


O`DONNELL:  -- I was so struck by Bernie sander`s line there right after saying what a decent guy Joe Biden is. His line was I don`t believe Joe can beat Trump when people learn that he, you know -- so there`s Bernie Sanders saying, yes, it is about electability.

HEILEMANN:  Right. I mean, I think, you know, you`re starting to see in this moment when there`s all this consistent polling. We talked on the air last night there was consensus that Biden was going to win, the question was by how much.

We`ve now seen a bunch of polling that as you said the average is in double digits and you`ll remember, Lawrence, back in 2000 -- both in 2016 and 2008 when Hillary Clinton had a large lead on the actual -- in the polling on primary day, it turned out to be double of that. And the same to be true of Barack Obama in 2008, there`s often an understatement of it polling off the African-American vote here.

So, there`s a chance that the Biden lead is even there in some of these bigger polls. I`m not saying that`s true, but there`s been a pattern of that. So you see Bernie Sanders I think a little bit he came out in Nevada talking about how he built a new kind of coalition, a much broader, more diverse coalition.

The question now in people`s minds is, if he loses and loses decisively here in South Carolina, and doesn`t do much with his problem from 2016 with African-American voters, will that start to throw into question not whether Bernie Sanders is the front-runner, because he`s still be the frontrunner, but whether he is, in fact, growing his vote share beyond the quarter of electorate that voted for him in Iowa, beyond the quarter that voted for him in New Hampshire and is he going to start to have traction with this very key constituency, black voters?

That`s going to be a big deal in Super Tuesday, and that`s why the results here on Sunday matter so much. And Sanders I think is starting to feel the heat a little bit when he`s starting to change the subject away from principle and toward the questions of electability, which is what he`s getting hit on by his opponents more than anything else.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: And pretty much everyone is focusing on Bernie Sanders at this point because his national polling numbers are so strong. I want to listen to what Elizabeth Warren said today about Bernie Sanders.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bernie and I agree on a lot of ideas, a lot of ideas. But here`s the thing. Back - we both wanted to reign in Wall Street and back in 2008 at the time of the crash we got our chance, and that was it. Only I was the one who dug in, came up with the good idea for the agency, fought the banks, fought Wall Street, built the coalition and helped get it passed.


O`DONNELL: John, strategically the most interesting thing about what Elizabeth Warren said today is where she said it. She`s given up on South Carolina. She`s in Texas and Amy Klobuchar was in North Carolina given it`s a Super Tuesday state. Mike Bloomberg, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas Super Tuesday states.

Only Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer were in South Carolina today along with Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. So there`s a clear understanding for some people that they are not in the running in South Carolina.

HEILEMANN: It is clear, it is clear to a lot of people Lawrence and in fact Bernie Sanders although he has been in South Carolina every day the last few days and he is going to be here at least once you know - he is here tomorrow morning but tonight he is out of the state too.

He has been in and out he is hitting Super Tuesday states too. But there is no doubt that people understand this is a two way race, I mean three way races. You`ve got to count Tom Steyer and there are some polling that suggest he might steal second place from Sanders, there has been some polling that suggests that.

But the people`s eyes are moving past this race. People are now getting that Joe Biden is going to win here again by how much we don`t know? But people recognize that Joe Biden is very weak in the Super Tuesday states. He has got no advertising virtually no advertising on the air in any of the 16 states and territories that have votes on Tuesday.

He has very little on the ground. Elizabeth Warren we know in 21 states has over a 1000 staffers who are around the country. So she thinks maybe she can get out there and take a couple of states on Tuesday claim some delegates.

No one wants to give up until next Tuesday Lawrence and I think it is partly because they sense that may be Sanders isn`t as strong as people thought a week ago and they know that Joe Biden even if he wins big here on Sunday that Joe Biden doesn`t have necessarily the kind of power to capitalize on a big win here with a giant day on Super Tuesday. So this race continues to feel at least to a lot of people in it like it is very much up for grabs.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann from South Carolina, thank you for joining us. Once again I really appreciate it.

HEILEMANN: Always happy to see you Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back next Tuesday is obviously the superest Tuesday that we have ever seen with 1300 delegates at stake in the Presidential Primaries around the country. The biggest part of gold as usual in California, Super Tuesday is next.



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We are all unified whoever the nominee is of our party. We will wholeheartedly support. Our gospel is one of unity, unity, unity.


LAWRENCE: The Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a favorite candidate as we approach Super Tuesday when 14 states will be voting for Democratic candidate for President, she`s keeping that name to herself. But on Wednesday of next week after Super Tuesday there will probably be fewer names running for Democratic nomination for President.

Super Tuesday will select the finalists who have enough voter support and enough money to continue campaigning for that Presidential Nomination. Super Tuesday is by far the most important Election Day on the way to the Democratic Presidential Nomination with a total of 1,357 delegates at stake over 400 of them in California alone.

California used to vote in June at the end of the primary season when the fight for the nomination was already over most of the time. California decided it was time to play a more significant role in the nominating process, and so now Super Tuesday is more super-sized than it has ever been.

Joining us now Presidential Campaign Professional Lily Adams, Former Communications Director for Kamala Harris` 2020 Presidential Campaign. She was also Hillary Clinton`s Spokesperson in the 2016 election. And Yamiche Alcindor is with us she is a White House Correspondent for the PBS News Hour and an MSNBC Political Analyst.

And Lily is Kamala Harris going to accept the Vice Presidential Nomination that`s what I saw on everyone`s mind because she`s at the top of the list for every candidate to possibly select. So let`s just get right to that, where do that go?

LILY ADAMS, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR KAMALA HARRIS 2020 CAMPAIGN: Look I mean, she should be at the top of everybody`s list. She`d be a great Vice Presidential Candidate and I say that being wholly biased but I think obviously all those candidates have a long way to go starting with South Carolina and then with Tuesday.

Where as you said there are just so many delegates that are up for grabs and it will really determine the trajectory for the rest of the race and whether this becomes very quickly a two or three person race at all.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at what Mike Bloomberg had to say today and he was campaigning. He might be the only one who`s done this at all. He was campaigning in Oklahoma today.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Getting it done finally - means finally providing health insurance to every American who lacks it and lowering the cost for everyone else.


BLOOMBERG: And you don`t do that by kicking the 155 million people off their health insurance and imposing a massive tax on working people, and that`s what Sanders would do and that just doesn`t work at all.

O`DONNELL: Yamiche not exactly an inspiring speech, but he`s actually in Oklahoma where there were 37 delegates at stake on Tuesday. Elizabeth Warren is from Oklahoma. She has campaigned there, but Mike Bloomberg has the time and money to go to states that other people can`t afford to get to.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWS HOUR: That`s right. And what we see is an all out war on Bernie Sanders from all sides. Even Elizabeth Warren who had a long trace with Bernie Sanders has said I`m going to be a better President than Bernie Sanders.

And they`re all trying to cast him as a polarizing figure. Now Nancy Pelosi is saying that it`s going to be unity, unity, unity but from my reporting based on talking to elected officials, talking to super delegates, they are most terrified about Bernie Sanders because he`s someone that of course has the most delegates right now but also he is someone who`s had an outsized influence on the party even though he is not actually a Democrat.

He`s a Democratic Socialist and has run as an independent. What you see now are candidate really sounding urgent when it comes to Super Tuesday because they understand that there are a lot at risk. We`re going to see people like Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg has to make tough decisions about whether they can go on.

Michael Bloomberg has the money to continue to go on but other candidates including Elizabeth Warren they`re looking at a very big test to their candidacy come Super Tuesday.

O`DONNELL: Lily, the two most difficult decisions that candidates pursuing a nomination have to make, and all of them except one make both of these decisions. That`s the decision to get in and the decision to get out.

You were there when Kamala Harris had to make her decision to get out of this campaign. What are those conversations going to be like on Wednesday morning or late Tuesday night when candidates have to decide this is the end for them?

ADAMS: Well, look, I think every single one of the candidates knows that we face Donald Trump this November, and every single one of them even though they want to be that person taking him on wants to beat him.

And so you do have to ask yourself a really hard question, which is why am I running for President? Am I running for President to win the nomination and take on Trump? And do I still have a path to get there where I can tell voters and donors that they should be a part of my campaign? Or do I not logically have a path anymore?

And if you don`t have a path the really the responsible thing to do is to be honest with folks and say this isn`t my time and get behind someone else.

O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to squeeze in a quick break here. We`re going to come back with Lily and Yamiche and consider "The New York Times" lead editorial which is entitled "The Primaries Are Just Dumb".



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just wanted to ask you whether you asked Michelle Obama to be your running mate?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m here for that. So it`s the gentleman right there in the black. That`s the last question.

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`d do that in the heartbeat if I think there`d any chance for doing it.


O`DONNELL: And we have a new front runner for the Vice Presidential Nomination tonight Michelle Obama. We`re back with Lily Adams and Yamiche Alcindor. So "The New York Times" today does this big editorial about how dumb the primaries are. This is kind of a four-year anniversary of doing these kinds of editorials.

No one likes the non-representative nature of Iowa and New Hampshire. It doesn`t look like the United States of America. So it certainly doesn`t look like the Democratic Electorate. "The Times" mentioned that. They also mentioned the fact that on this large slate of candidates which is common in a Presidential Primary there should be ranked choice voting.

You should be able say as in California I know I`ve heard from a lot of people saying they have a first choice but they`re worried that their first choice might not make the 15 percent threshold so then who should they vote for?

If they had ranked choice voting it wouldn`t matter. You could just vote for whoever you wanted to and eventually for people who didn`t clear the 15 percent threshold, the second choice on that ballot that you cast would then move over to those people who are above the 15 percent.

And so, Lily, you`ve been through this process professionally a couple of times. Does "The Times" have it right?

ADAMS: Yes, look, I think, you know, when this whole cycle plays out this primary process doesn`t just need a makeover it needs like full reconstructive surgery. I think we`re going to have to look at what states go first. We`re also going to have to look at caucuses which a lot of the times give more delegates to people who have less voters voting for them.

If we`re going to be a party that rails against the Electoral College and we can`t tolerate these kinds of contests that aren`t giving the most delegates to the person that got the most voters. So I do think you know there will have to be a reckoning about what this process looks like in I hope eight years from now.

O`DONNELL: Yamiche, after the Iowa disaster there seems to be unanimous consent that the caucus system should not be repeated, it should all be primaries with ballots and voting booths and one person, one vote.

ALCINDOR: There would definitely have to be a robust conversation about the primary process. I`ve talked to a bunch of voters especially in South Carolina where I just came from who are frustrated with the idea that the base of the Democratic Party is largely black women but they have to come after states that are less representative like Iowa and New Hampshire.

I also think that when it comes to voter ranking one candidate who would really benefit from that is Elizabeth Warren. In fact a lot of black women who like Elizabeth Warren but who think other people don`t like her as much and as a result they`re looking at Joe Biden or they`re looking at Michael Bloomberg and others because they`re nervous that their first choice isn`t going to be able to make it.

If you had a ranking system the voters that I`ve talked to seems like they would like it because they would be able to just vote their hearts and minds and then wait to see what happens.

O`DONNELL: Yes, they could vote for their heart for number one and then their practical alternative or their second choice for number two. I`m hearing that from an awful lot of voters these days. Lily Adams and Yamiche Alcindor thank you both very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.

ADAMS: Thanks a bunch.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, a Former Harvard Medical School Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Lance Dodes will join us to consider what it means to have a President in declining mental health in charge of protecting the public health of the United States of America.


O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s last word. The Coronavirus crisis is going to get worse for Donald Trump even though the President will probably stay physically healthy throughout the crisis, his mental health could decline each day of the crisis.

Some mental health professionals like our next guest believe that the President`s mental health has been and will continue to be in decline. The incompetence of Donald Trump and his administration is on dramatic and dangerous display every day now.

The President demonstrated in last night`s press conference that he has no idea how to deal with the Coronavirus crisis. He demonstrated a complete lack of comprehension of the dimensions of the crisis. He contradicted public health experts before and after they spoke as if he didn`t hear a word that they said.

And he made it very clear that he cares much, much more about the health of the stock market than the health of human beings.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I really think the stock market, something I know a lot about, I think it took a hilt maybe for two reasons. I think they look at the people that you watched debating last night and they say if there`s even a possibility that could happen, I think it really takes a hit because of that.

And it certainly took a hit because of this. And I understand that also because of supply chains and various other things, and people coming in. But I think the stock market will recover.


O`DONNELL: He thinks the stock market will recover. And of course the stock market continued record losses today, dropping nearly 1,200 points. It`s the biggest one-day point decline in history the day after Donald Trump says I think the stock market will recover.

Joining us now is Dr. Lance Dodes the Former Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Dodes is a contributor to the best-selling book "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 psychiatrists and mental health experts assess a President."

Dr. Dodes, what do you think you were watching last night when the President participated in that press conference where we went from a President who seems to know nothing about what`s going on, worried about the stock market, to public health experts explaining things that the President then immediately contradicted?

DR. LANCE DODES, FORMER ASSISTANT PROFESSOR HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Well, I think that what was on display is what we really ought to have already known. As you pointed out, Lawrence, this man is about himself. He really is not about the country. He`s not about public health.

Although he has already severely damaged the country by being a psychopath or sociopath, in many ways he`s damaged democracy. I think people`s lives will be lost now. Individual lives will be lost because of the way he`s mishandling the Coronavirus issue. So, you know, as you pointed out, he lies. He has contradicted his own health officials. And in a very dangerous move, he`s apparently muzzled them so that they now can`t speak out.

If you listened in the interview, just listening to the way he presented it, I think about a dozen times he said what a wonderful job he has done. It`s hard to imagine any other President in United States history, when addressing the country during a public health crisis, talking about what a wonderful job he personally has done.

But this is where he`s at. This is what he cares about. He cares about the stock market also because it reflects on him and his candidacy. Bringing in the Democratic debate is completely irrelevant and also incorrect because the market had fallen before the debate.

But, again, it tells you where his mind is at. His mind is on him. And we`ve known that, and that he`s a pathological liar. We`ve known that. In a way, what`s fascinating in a terrible kind of way is that everyone doesn`t get this.

You know, most of America sees him contradict the public health officials and they say, this man must be incompetent. But what he does is what was made famous as the big lie technique in Germany, is by repeating what he wants you to hear over and over again, against the statements that were just made in opposition to it, the act of repeating it makes people think it must be true. It may not make sense, but that`s how it works.

So he is an extremely successful con man. As we know, his whole life is about that. So I think that explains why people can watch this, watch him deny what his own officials just said, watch him lie about things, and say he must be doing the right thing. He must be looking after us. That`s why he`s a successful con man.

What has to happen if we`re all going to survive is that this reaches a tipping point. Eventually the fact that the emperor has no clothes is revealed, and then everyone will understand that he`s been lying all along. We haven`t reached that yet unfortunately.

O`DONNELL: There was a striking moment last night where Dr. Fauci had to kind of grab the microphone to basically say that Donald Trump was wrong when he just said we will have a vaccine rapidly.

I just want to show some of what Dr. Fauci said because what interests me this time, since we all heard what he said, is watching Donald Trump doing whatever it is he`s doing, but it sure doesn`t look like listening.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I told you we would have a vaccine that we would be putting into trials to see if it`s safe and if it induces a response that you would predict would be protective in about three months.

I think it`s going to be a little bit less than that. It`s probably going to be closer to two months. That would then take about three months to determine if it`s safe and immunogenic, which gives us six months. Then you graduate from a trial, which is phase one of 45 people, to a trial that involves hundreds, if not low thousands of people.


O`DONNELL: Dr. Fauci went on for a couple of minutes there, and as I was watching Donald Trump, my guess was he didn`t comprehend a word.

DODES: I think he didn`t care.


DODES: I think he hears what - he hears what`s in his head, and the rest doesn`t matter. To your original point, Lawrence, yes, he`s getting worse. The more things go badly for him, the more paranoid he becomes, the more out of touch with reality, and the more bad decisions he`s going to make. The more desperate he`s going to be to hold on to what he needs in his power.

O`DONNELL: Dr. Lance Dodes gets tonight`s last word.