IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

AMA TRANSCRIPT: 4/3/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Mazie Hirono, Rishi Desai, Laurie Garrett, Paul Bozyk, Robert Reich, Adam Schiff

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: In this country in Chicago, they have converted McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America into a hospital with 3,000 beds. It only took them five days to do it.

If it is big enough to be seen from space, it is a hospital now. And that is true all over the globe. That`s going to do it for us tonight. We will see you again on Monday. Now it`s time for "The Last Word" where Ali Velshi is in Lawrence tonight. Good evening, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, stay safe, and we will see you on Monday. Tonight, we will get two reports from the frontlines. A E.R. doctor in Michigan who says they are just keeping their heads above water, and a nurse who left her home state to come to work in New York in this crisis.

Plus, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich on the economic crisis -- today`s devastating job numbers are likely going to look mild compared to what`s ahead. And for some families already hurting, the Trump administration and Republican policies in effect right now are making the pain worse.

At the end of the hour, this is an extremely difficult time, but all of these social distancing measures are for the greater good. We`ve got an important and we hope inspiring message about sacrifices that we`re making. That is in tonight`s "Last Word."

All right, tonight, the United States has reached another grim milestone in the coronavirus pandemic. We`ve now seen at least 1,000 deaths in a single day. As of tonight, there are 275,583 reported cases of coronavirus in the United States and there are 7,051 reported deaths from coronavirus in the United States.

The total number of reported cases of coronavirus worldwide is now 1,096,816. The number of deaths reported worldwide is now 58,764. And it has been 73 days since the first case of coronavirus was reported in the United States.

Two and a half months later, we`re still asking very basic questions about the state of care here. Where are the tests? Where are the ventilators? Where is the personal protective equipment for front line responders? And what exactly is the federal government doing to help save lives?

We don`t have answers to many of those questions because President Trump has been presenting an inconsistent and often false narrative about the severity of the pandemic about what officials are doing to stop the spread of the virus and about what Americans should do to protect themselves.

Case in point, today, the CDC released new recommendations calling for people to wear cloth masks over the face when going out in public. Trump went to the podium to announce it and made it clear he wouldn`t follow it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With the masks, it`s going to be really a voluntary thing. You can do it. You don`t have to do it. I`m choosing not to do it, but some people may want to do it, and that`s okay. It may be good, probably will. They are making a recommendation. It`s only a recommendation. It`s voluntary.


VELSHI: The president is under cutting the CDC`s advice moments after that agency releases the advice. So what are Americans supposed to believe? And the president has made moves like this time and time again.

Last night, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation`s top infectious disease expert says that he felt the entire country should be under a mandatory stay-at- home order.

Today, the American Medical Association says all governors should issue stay-at-home orders because social distancing is the only way to stop the spread of the virus, but President Trump refuses to endorse such an order.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should every state in this country have the kind of stay-at-home orders that we now see in places like Washington --

TRUMP: I leave it up to the governors. The governors know what they are doing. They`ve been doing a great job. I guess we`re close to 90 percent anyway and the states that we`re talking about are not in jeopardy, and I would leave it to the governors.


VELSHI: We`ve heard stories for weeks about governors calling on the Trump administration to provide them with critical medical supplies from the federal stockpile. But today, the president following his son-in-law, Jared Kushner yesterday, continued to make confused statements about who the federal stockpile is for and to blame states for not being prepared.


TRUMP: We have a federal stockpile and they have state stockpiles and frankly, they were -- many of the states were totally unprepared for this so we had to go into the federal stockpile. But we`re not an ordering clerk. They have to have for themselves.


VELSHI: Here is the deal. The federal stockpile is for the American people, almost all of whom live in states and here is some of what`s actually happening in terms of the federal government response to the states that are desperately in need of supplies.

The Associated Press reports that more than 5,000 medical masks that Montgomery County, Alabama received from the national stockpile were unusable because of dry rot.

"USA Today" reports that Trump has not ordered any ventilators from General Motors using the Defense Production Act despite announcing that he would. "Three administration officials speaking on condition of anonymity told "USA Today" that the government is still exploring its options and has not placed an order."

I think it goes without saying that this is a deadly serious time for our country. Just this week, members of the president`s coronavirus task force presented models showing between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans may die of coronavirus, but when Trump was asked about those models today, hear is how he chose to respond.


TRUMP: The professionals did the models. I was never involved in a model. But it`s this kind of a model. But you know what? Hundreds of thousands of people they say are going to die. I want much less than that. I want none, but it`s too late for that.


VELSHI: Remember, he said that in response to models showing at least 100,000 people dying as more areas of the country are feeling the pain from this pandemic, health care provider and state governments are being forced to get creative on their own to find solutions to medical supply shortages.

The "Boston Globe" reports a machine that can sterilize up to 80,000 respirator masks a day will be operational next week thanks to a partnership between a Massachusetts and Ohio. The "Globe" describes it as a major breakthrough that could potentially recycle protective masks safely for all Massachusetts hospitals. but that`s next week.

And that`s in one state. Massachusetts. In New York, Nurse Victoria Lanquah is on the front lines calling for -- caring for coronavirus patients. Here is what she said about the lack of protective equipment.


VICTORIA LANQUAH, NURSE TREATING NYC CORONAVIRUS PATIENTS: Management is requesting we bring in bleach spray, our own wipes because they cannot provide it. This is a disgrace. Requesting workers to re-use PPE is never recommended after being in contact with a contaminated environment.

Reusing contaminated items put me at risk. It puts you at risk. It put everyone in the health care building at risk. If we are accepting patients without the right equipments and right staffing, it is a recipe for patients to die and health care workers to get sick due to exposure.


VELSHI: Leading off our discussion tonight, our Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. Dr. Rishi Desai, the chief medical officer at Osmosis and the former epidemic intelligence services officer at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Laurie Garrett, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter covering global pandemics. She is the former senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Welcome to all of you.

Senator, aloha to you. Let discuss what is going on here. We`ve got phase three of the bill that`s gone out about a week ago. We understand there will be delays in getting these checks to Americans because of the processing of them.

We saw a bundle rollout of the small business loan infrastructure today, and now we continue to get conflicting information from the president about supplies and materials and how they`re being made and who is supposed to get them.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): One of the most fundamental responsibilities of the federal government, Ali, should be to make sure that we have adequate tests and the personal protection equipment that our health care workers need and we don`t even have that.

And remember, about a month ago, he said there will be a million tests in our country. We`re not even near that yet. So, we are (INAUDIBLE) the kinds of materials and this is why every single day (INAUDIBLE) health care workers pleading, the governors pleading for ventilators and other equipment, which should be in my view a national responsibility because this is a pandemic.

This virus knows no state lines. And so the president is very slow to act and he still has not fully utilized the Defense Production Act to provide the kind of support that our states need to take care of our people.

VELSHI: Dr. Desai, I want to just read to you a letter from Dr. Craig Smith, he`s the chief of surgery at New York Presbyterian and Colombia University Medical Center here in New York talking about the lack of swabs to conduct the coronavirus tests.

He said our machine capacity for PCR viral antigen assays, which is the technical term for a type influenza test, is very large but remains resource-constrained swabs and reagents. New York Presbyterian is eager to include testing for all health care workers, but today our capacity is still too limited for that step."

And basically, if you`ve chosen one example to give you, Dr. Desai, we know of these shortages of tests or testing material or the ability to get test results all across the country and yet, every day at around 5:30 eastern the president gets up there and says this isn`t true or Jared Kushner got up there yesterday and said this isn`t true, these calls by doctors across the country are false.

RISHI DESAI, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, OSMOSIS: Yes, one thing I want to point out is that you just mentioned the swab and I just want your viewers to understand this is basically a glorified Q-tip. It a sterile Q-tip, that`s very important. But the cost of a swab is pennies. These things are the no expensive.

We just have to figure out the supply chain to get it to those hospitals. And the physicians are right, these are very, very scarce resources and there is absolutely no reason for it. When you think about it, if we could get testing done, then we`d really know the number of cases.

And those numbers that you throw up in terms of the cases that we have today and the deaths, those are a fraction of the real cases and we will only know that when we get the full testing done.

VELSHI: Laurie, you and I have been talking about this right from the beginning. We`ve known about the first case in the U.S. for two and a half months now. And right in the beginning, I have to -- I`ll go back and look at it, but one of the earliest conversations you and I had was how we`re going to test for people.

Are we ready to test? How will we test? What happens when somebody presents with symptoms at a hospital? We saw it happen in California, in northern California who would realize they didn`t have the preparations from it. They couldn`t get the testing protocol through.

We knew this was a problem two and a half months ago. Why is it that not only have we not solved the problem, but we don`t even have full acknowledgement on the part of the administration that this testing issue continues and basic supplies -- the supply chain for basic materials and supplies continues.

LAURIE GARRETT, FORMER SENIOR FELLOW FOR GLOBAL HEALTH, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Look, Ali, even where there is political will, which is in the case of key governors such as here where I am in New York, Governor Cuomo. Even when there is political will, there are supply problems.

There are difficulties in getting all the supplies you need and distributing them in the midst of chaos to the right places. But, you know, it`s very hard to understand why there`s no political will at the top. Why in Washington it just doesn`t seem to be the case and they want to know what the real numbers are.

You`re tempted to think they don`t want to know, that, you know, things look better if the cases are a smaller number. You may remember, Ali, you and I were talking right after the president had been to the CDC and he did that hand motion saying I want small numbers, small numbers. That`s what I like.

Well, yes, he`s getting them, smaller than reality because we don`t have testing. I have friends right here in New York who I know have COVID, are very sick. In a couple of cases I`m actually terribly, terribly worried about them and they can`t get tested and their doctors are telling them the hospitals are full and they`re not safe.

And so, they are hunkered down at home with no health care at all and they`re not counted. And we have no idea how extensive the under count is even hear in New York where we want to know the numbers.

VELSHI: Yes, so denial, Senator Mazie Hirono, is not going to get us anywhere including on a major issue that we`ve been confronting for the last few years, and that is the issue of immigrants, undocumented or documented because this disease doesn`t know they`re immigrants and doesn`t know they`re documented or not documented.

And like we`ve seen with T.B. in the last century, in confined spaces where people do not seek health care, diseases like this will spread. So you`re trying to take some action on this.

HIRONO: Kamala Harris and I and some of our colleagues are going to be introducing a bill that would specifically focus on making sure that our immigrant communities get access, have access to the health care and the testing that they need.

And this is, as you say, a virus that crosses all boundaries and so there`s some good to it and the COVID 3 bill that we passed and that we want to make sure that everyone, everyone has access to the test and medical care that they need and this is a group, the immigrant group, many of them, millions of them are living in the shadows, they`re very afraid to come forward because the Trump administration is very anti-immigrant.

And so we need to focus on getting the information to these immigrant communities and they need to be provided with the economic support that is also there for them. So, there are language barriers. There is a fear and confusion within this community and one of the best ways that we can get the word out is to have the help of the community organizations that already have the relationships with these groups.

And this is a virus that is going to go everywhere and we have to make sure everyone, everyone in our community, particularly the most vulnerable have the help that they need and that`s what this bill will do.

VELSHI: Dr. Desai, you are a former epidemic intelligence service officer, which leads me to believe you need data to do what you do. I understand that in an epidemic, not 100 percent of people need to be tested.

But again, when I`ve studied what has happened in T.B. in this country, it was about intelligence. T.B. was defeated by intelligence, by knowing who had it, who they were with, who they were around and then treating them for it.

What can be gained by not having enough testing and what is the right amount of testing? What percentage of the population needs to be tested? How do we know who to believe about testing?

DESAI: So, just to be clear, when you have testing available and it`s rapid testing and you think it`s reliable testing, you want to use that testing as broadly as possible among people that you think might have COVID-19.

Today, I would say almost everyone in America might have COVID-19. And so, if we could do blanket testing, that would be fantastic and there are certain cities and counties that are trying that approach.

The other piece of this is that testing also need two categories. There is looking for the viral RAN, RT-PCR, which is the Abbott Lab image that you just showed.

There`s also serology testing. And I think one of the beautiful things that we will likely take more and more advantage of over time is serologic testing to see who had COVID-19 and who is now immune to COVID-19. Both of those types of testing are absolutely crucial and necessary like you said in an epidemic like this one. You can`t go and fight an opponent blindfolded, so.

VELSHI: And some of that antibody testing, the serology testing is on its way out and started to become enrolled. So, Laurie, that will help in getting people back to work because there will be a portion of the population that maybe has developed some immunity to this.

Where is the flaw in the plan here, Laurie? In September of 2018, the administration received detailed plans for a new machine for instance that would churn out millions of protective respirator masks at high speed during a pandemic. HHS didn`t move forward with making the machine.

Now, I don`t know whether that`s a good decision or that`s a bad decision. Everything has a cost analysis associated with it, but it does appear now it hindsight, this administration did turn down several opportunities for pandemic preparedness.

GARRETT: Yes, absolutely. I mean, but, first to be fair, every president has had greater concern about pandemic preparedness in a time when there was an active epidemic and then, you know, as the epidemic goes away, the interest, the money, the concern goes away.

What we`re dealing with now is the kind of scale of pandemic threat, the potential loss of life globally and for many months, I would argue three years, a trauma that will affect one part of the world after another after another after another and the decisions that were made over the last 25, 30 years by one president after another. And in particular, by the current president in the last three years, have left us with no capacity to respond, just nothing.

It`s -- you know, we`re talking about the aloha state and I`ve had the great fortune of spending a fair amount of time in Hawaii and I was in Molokai and I went to the so-called leper colony where the great Father Damian was the only person willing to care for native Hawaiians suffering from leprosy, a disease that none of them had any natural immunity to and that they suffered devastating impacts from.

Well, back then, we`re talking 19th century, they just toss them out, you know, dump these people. And if they survive, they survive. If they don`t, they don`t. You can excuse them. They didn`t understand the bacteria. They didn`t have science behind them.

But you feel increasingly like we`re being the modern lepers today, that we`re being dumped to go on our own devices. The governors are told you`re on your own. The mayors are told you`re on your own. The hospitals are told you`re on your own. And now we`re being told get a sewing machine and make your own masks, ladies and gentlemen. This is craziness.

VELSHI: These are strange times and strange ways to go through a pandemic. We are still finding our way through it and they are still amazing heroes in all of this, but in fact, it shouldn`t be this way. Senator, thank you for joining us. Senator Mazie Hirono --

HIRONO: Ali, if I can just say --

VELSHI: -- Laurie Garrett and Dr. -- go ahead, senator. I`m sorry. We just have a delay so it`s hard to do that. Sorry, okay. I`m going to wrap it up. Dr. Rishi Desai, thank you for joining us tonight.

Coming up on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic in America`s E.R.`s, we`re going to hear from doctors across the country and talk to a critical care doctor treating patients in Michigan where he says they are for now, keeping their heads above water.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can be any age and that`s the terrifying thing about this. They are huffing and puffing and you know that that person is going to tire out if you don`t do something immediately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some patients are there who start to look better and as we are discussing with them regarding discharge planning, all of a sudden they deteriorate and go into cardiac arrest and die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel it`s my duty to warn you. This virus is very insidious. It`s only a matter of time before it hits your community, before it touches your loved ones and you`re making hard decisions.


VELSHI: Those are all doctors on the frontlines, all describing the dire situation at the hospitals across this country. The dangers for medical professionals are clear. They have insufficient protective gear. They`ve got a lack of medical resources and they`ve got a virus that is still not fully understood.

Now, each state has been forced to acquire protective gear on its own with minimal help from the federal government. There`s a shortage of something else, health care professionals. New Yorkers received a cell phone alert, everybody got one of those alerts on their phone tonight.

It said, "Attention healthcare workers: New York City is seeking licensed healthcare workers to support healthcare facilities in need." Michigan`s governor issued this plea.


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): If you`re a health professional anywhere in America, Michigan needs you. Detroit, Michigan needs you especially. We`re calling on doctors and nurses and respiratory therapist and other health professionals to sign up and help us fight COVID-19 and save lives.


VELSHI: Joining us now is Dr. Paul Bozyk. He is a pulmonary and critical care physician, Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. He has been on the front lines treating coronavirus patients. Dr. Bozyk, tell me what your evaluation is of the situation now.

Michigan is starting to see -- becoming a hot spot for this. We`re starting to see a lot of pressure on Detroit. The streets of Detroit are empty as well as people are observing stay-at-home. What`s the situation where you are?

PAUL BOZYK, PULMONARY SPECIALIST, BEAUMONT HOSPITAL: Eli, thanks for having me. I think I agree with all the physicians that commented earlier opening up to the segment. These are unique sick type of patient that comes in to see us.

There is no question that the surge is coming. The water is rising. As you mentioned -- said earlier, our head is still above that water, but there is no question that the water is rising and the controlled chaos that we`re living in from day to day can get away from us very quickly depending what happens next.

VELSHI: And even if it doesn`t, let`s just look at the numbers in Michigan. You got 12,744 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of this afternoon. You had 479 deaths. That`s a 16 percent increase.

By April 9th, you are projected to have peak hospital use. So there is projection that that`s what it is going to look like. But by April 7th, you`re going to have peak invasive ventilator need. So, that is four days away. Three days away from tomorrow. Do you believe you have the ventilators in place that you`re going to need?

BOZYK: I can tell you that right now, Ali, we do. We are planning for all eventualities. We`ve looked at every single possibility. Right now, we are using our most aggressive ventilators on our very sickest of patients.

We have got plans to swap out for less aggressive ventilators for those that don`t need them. We`re looking into unique ways to provide access (ph) to ventilation to the patient that has a breathing tube through use of things like bypass.

We`re being inventive and we`ve had anesthesia machines on stand by if necessary. We`ve even explored, God forbid, we never have to use, placing multiple patients on a single ventilator that I know our colleagues in New York have, unfortunately, had that experience.

So, as of today, I can tell you that I think that we`re ready and we`ve planned for every possible contingency, but I will tell you, Ali, this is a disease that we make plans three days in advance for and the plan changes tomorrow. So, I`m hoping for the best.

VELSHI: What`s your sense of how it plays out in the rest of the country because we are seeing these -- obviously we`re here in New York where it remains a hot spot, but we`re seeing these other spots popping up around the country, Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans are spots.

But now we`re starting to see other ones in places that are not as obvious because it doesn`t have the international traffic or the airports or, you know, the cosmopolitan nature. It seems to be getting into corners of America we weren`t expecting.

BOZYK: Yes. As long as we don`t see any national evidence that we`re truly flattening the curve, I think every community needs to be prepared for their community to be the next hot spot, and they need to start thinking about how they are going to make their COVID cohort units.

They`re going to start -- need to thinking about what their COVID cohort teams look like. What specialty physicians do you want on each team? Do you have the manpower for those teams? Ali, harkening back to a question that you asked at the beginning, and someone also alluded to, we are very, very short on manpower.

Governor Whitmer is absolutely right. We need all healthcare workers on deck. There is no question about it. This is on of our biggest needs. In fact, Beaumont Royal Oak is the largest hospital in the state of Michigan.

We have the geographic space I think right now for everything that we need to do but we have staff needs and we need respiratory therapists, we need nurses at the bedside, we need runners that can go here to there and bring us the necessary patient care items.

We need CRNAs. There is all sorts of needs in the staffing space that we need to occupy with bodies immediately so we can meet the surge that as you say is coming April 9th and 10th. And I would advice that all communities that are not yet a hot spot, prepare for that eventuality.

VELSHI: Dr. Paul Bozyk, thank you for joining us tonight. Paul Bozyk is a pulmonary specialist and critical care physician at Beaumont Hospital Royal Oaks, Michigan. He`s been seeing about 20 patients a day, all coronavirus patients.

Coming up, the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, but the pain is worsened for some right now by the Trump administration and Republican policies. The former labor secretary of the United States, Robert Reich, joins me after this.



JUANITA FLORES, FURLOUGHED WORKER: We`re already living pay checks, pay checks, already behind in bills. I know a lot of people have said that they can`t do evictions or gas companies aren`t shutting off but that doesn`t mean that the bills aren`t still piling.


VELSHI: Workers need help right now. Today the Labor Department reported the economy lost more than 700,000 jobs in March and the unemployment rate jumped to 4.4 percent from 3.5 percent now that is the largest month to month rise since 1975.

But you know what forget all of those numbers they don`t even begin to show you the full picture of the economic crisis because they don`t include the 10 million Americans who filed for unemployment claims in the last two weeks.

Economists Justin Wolver has wrote in "The New York Times" the jobless rate today is almost certainly higher than any point in the great depression. We think it`s around 13 percent and rising at a speed unmatched in American history.

And now we`re learning that the Trump Administration is actually making it harder for workers to get paid leave under the $2 trillion relief package. "The New York Times" reports "In guidance issued on Wednesday, the Labor Department said that employers at companies with fewer than 50 workers had broad latitude to decline to offer the 12 weeks of paid leave that the law required for workers whose children were home from school or child care because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

In all, more than 75 percent of American workers are at come at companies that qualify for exceptions from exemptions from the law healthcare providers and first responders as well as certain Federal Government employees can also be denied paid leave".

Joining us is Robert Reich she is a Former Labor Secretary under President Clinton. He is currently a Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkley he is the Author of the new book "The system who rigged it and how we fix it"

Secretary Reich, good to talk to you again. Let just talk about this. There is a unique problem in America that even in good times, we have problems in unemployment insurance doesn`t cover necessarily what it should and we don`t have paid sick leave. We have got too low a minimum wage and we don`t have healthcare for many Americans.

So on a good day, this is problematic and there will be no good days for American workers for a few months to come.

ROBERT REICH, FORMER CLINTON LABOR SECRETARY: Exactly right, Ali. On a good day, Americans, many Americans feel that they cannot really get by. Remember, 80 percent of Americans live pay check to pay check. So if there is a problem collecting pay or maintaining a job or getting health care or anything else, a lot of people are completely out of luck.

But what`s happened and not surprising because we do have this pandemic and it is critical that people stay home. That is in fact the way we slow the spread of this virus, but the natural inevitable consequences of that, many, many people are losing their pay.

And if people don`t have paid sick leave, then they are going to either work when they shouldn`t be working and make the pandemic even worse or they`re going to be home and not going to be collecting any kind of pay check and they`re not going to be able to pay bills. It`s an impossible position for so many Americans to be in right now.

VELSHI: You know, the unemployment system is run by the states and in Florida, which was very late to declare a stay-at-home order and it has been late to the whole thing, there was a "POLITICO" article today that it says "Republicans rage as Florida becomes a nightmare for Trump, the unemployment system is collapsing under new demand for unemployment by design.

And the quote goes like this, "It`s an S-Sandwich, I can`t use that word on TV and it was designed that way by Rick Scott said one DeSantis Advisor. It wasn`t about saving money it was about making it harder for people to get benefits or keep benefits so that the unemployment numbers were low to give the Governor something to brag about".

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Joe Gruters was more synced. $77 million, someone should go to jail over that. What does that mean?

REICH: It means that actually that Americans - right this is again, this is pandemic problem, we don`t - not just the pandemic. Americans cannot get very often the unemployment insurance they need partly because the states set the eligibility criteria. And many states, particularly those run by Republicans or Conservatives have set the eligibility criteria for unemployment insurance very, very high.

The threshold is very difficult to meet. Many states say you have got to be in the same job in full time employment in that job for more than two years. Well that means many people who are hard working people who lose their jobs cannot qualify for unemployment insurance.

Now the good thing about the new Coronavirus bill that was just signed into law is that it does provide $600 a week above the threshold, above the amount provided by the state but if you don`t qualify to begin with or if it`s very difficult to get through the phone lines or if the web page of the state unemployment insurance system keeps crashing.

And that`s basically what is happening across this country right now you`re out of luck. Even if you`re entitled to it, you`re out of luck.

VELSHI: Robert, I had a conversation with Bernie Sanders earlier today about a proposal he has got not just to keep employees paid throughout this whole crisis but healthcare at least for the time being because people can get tested for free, they can`t get treated for free if they don`t have insurance. Listen to what he told me.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we have got to do is tell people that if they get sick right now in this terrible economic crisis that the government will cover all of their out-of-pocket expenses. That means if you have no health insurance, you`re going to get Medicare. If you`re under insured, Medicare will pick up the gap.

If you have private insurance with a high deductible or co-payment Medicare will be there to help you, as well. When so many people are losing their jobs and their health insurance, the United States government has got to be there and say guess what? You will have all the healthcare you need for the next six months or whatever.


VELSHI: What do you think of that proposal?

REICH: Well, he`s absolutely right. In fact, what we ought to do and I know that Congress is now preparing another Coronavirus bill. The Democrats and the Republicans separately as we`ve seen before are responding to a crisis that keeps getting larger and larger so they`re just now beginning to think what should be in the next bill?

I would say very strongly what ought to be in the next bill, no corporate bailouts this time, no big bailouts for any companies. What you want is a universal basic income for six months and a universal total healthcare plan.

I don`t care what you call it Medicare for all Affordable Care for all - whatever you want to give the name for, what everybody needs particularly through this crisis is not to worry about how to pay the bills or if again, God forbid you have got to go to a hospital, you don`t have to worry about that, as well. There are enough things to worry about right now without having to worry about those basics.

VELSHI: In most of the developed world, most people don`t have to worry about this. They can just worry about the pandemic and try to stay healthy. Robert Reich good to see you thank you for joining me again tonight, Robert Reich Former Labor Secretary of the United States.

Coming up we`ve got a huge late Friday news dump in the middle of the pandemic. Donald Trump has just fired his Intelligence Community Inspector General who flagged the whistle blower complaint that led to his impeachment. That breaking news is next.


VELSHI: We have breaking news now President Trump has notified Congress that he`s removing the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson who flagged the Ukraine whistleblower complaint. The firing will take effect 30 days from today according to a letter obtained by NBC News. Joining us now by phone is NBC News Correspondent Ken Dilanian. Ken, tell us what this is about?

KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Ali, this looks like the latest in a series of measures that President Trump has taken against anyone that acted against his interest in the impeachment inquiry.

This Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, if you`ll recall, was the person who received that complaint from the anonymous whistleblower but then he wasn`t allowed to hand it over to Congress.

The Director of National Intelligence and his lawyer stopped him from doing that and this Inspector General Michael Atkinson is his name, he is a Career Justice Department Prosecutor he scrupulously followed the rules and he notified Congress that he had this complaint.

But he didn`t tell them what was there until he got legal clearance to do so ultimately it was release to the public and the rest is history it resulted in the impeachment of a President but Atkinson didn`t take a side.

Essentially, he received this complaint he decided that it was an urgent concern and an important thing that Congress should have and then he acted under the guidance of his lawyers. It hard to imagine what he did wrong here but the President is saying in a letter to the heads of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees tonight he has lost confidence in Inspector General Michael Atkinson and that he is using powers as President to remove him from office and that removal will take effect in 30 days.

And Democrats are just furious about it. There are statements from Adam Schiff, Mark Warner, the Ranking Democrat, of Senate Intelligence Committee just absolutely apoplectic about this move, Ali.

VELSHI: So this may well be retribution and it may well be that Michael Atkinson did nothing wrong, however, this is a position that serves the pleasure of the President so the President can do this?

DILANIAN: That`s right. Under the law - but this - the Inspector General are designed to be somewhat independent. They are confirmed by the Senate. This one actually was appointed by Donald Trump in 2018. So we can expect I think some blow back not just from Democrats but perhaps even Republicans.

One complicating factor though is that the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Richard Burr is under fire right now. He is under investigation actually for having dumped all that stock after he got classified briefings on the pandemic.

So he`s essentially a wounded animal and otherwise, he would normally be seen as somebody who would fight this and who would stand up to President Trump potentially because he believes in the integrity of the Intelligence Community and of these independent positions. At the end of the day, Donald Trump does have the legal right to do this, Ali.

VELSHI: What - other than the fact that Michael Atkinson brought this to the attention of Congress, which is what he was supposed to do, is there any basis that Donald Trump can have for say that there was wrongdoing? He doesn`t have to, to get rid of him but why does he believe that Michael Atkinson did wrong except raise this?

DILANIAN: He`s not saying. He`s just simply saying that he had lost confidence in Michael Atkinson. He`s not making an allegation of wrongdoing and I don`t - I`m not aware of any evidence of any wrongdoing by Michael Atkinson.

One can intuit however that the President was not happy that Atkinson alerted Adam Schiff, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee about this classified complaint. He didn`t tell him what was in it but he said it was an important complaint that being with held.

And by doing that, he set in motion the chain of events that open - which we led the complaint to become public and led to the impeachment of Donald Trump and it`s fairly clear that Donald Trump is not happy about that. But that is the allegations of wrongdoing, there just aren`t any, Ali.

VELSHI: Ken Dilanian as always, thank you for your reporting. Ken Dilanian for us. Coming up a Brooklyn nurse`s video diary from inside one of the places hardest hit by Coronavirus is both eyed opening and emotional. She shows you what it is really like to be one of the heroes fighting this virus every day on the front lines. We`re going to show you some of what she shared with us when we come back.


VELSHI: All right. These are firefighters in New York who are applauding the nurses at Elmhurst hospital, which is the epicenter of the epicenter. It`s in Queens, New York. They, like we all are, are immensely grateful for the medical personnel who are risking their lives in the battle against Coronavirus.

We have this breaking news that we`ve been telling you about. It is that the President has fired the Intelligence Community Inspector General, Intel Committee Chief Adam Schiff Democrat of the House of Representatives, joins me now on the phone.

Congressman Schiff, you`ve just heard this news. It`s a Friday night in the middle of a pandemic, and the President has just snuck this one in. He says he`s lost faith in the Inspector General. Is there any reason you believe that he is firing him?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Of course. He`s settling scores. We`re in the middle of a pandemic, and what is this President doing as thousands of people are dying? He is retaliating against people that are on his enemies list and doing it in the dead of night.

This is just another showing of the character or lack of character of this President. But it is a real threat to the independence of the Intelligence Community, which lost the Head of the Community, the DNI, the Acting DNI and his Deputy, the Acting Head of the National Counterterrorism Center was also fired.

Along with his deputy also left the office. So he`s decapitating the leadership of the Intelligence Community in the middle of a national crisis. It`s unconscionable, and of course it sends a message throughout the Federal Government and in particular to other Inspector General that if they do their job as this professional did and Michael Atkinson was a complete professional they too may be fired by a vindictive President.

Of course the sin here, Ali, was that Michael Atkinson revealed to Congress that the administration was withholding a whistleblower complaint, an urgent complaint in violation of the law. And for that now the President is retaliating in the middle of a pandemic. It`s just reprehensible and dangerous.

VELSHI: We believe that - we believe that these employees of the Executive Branch are, to some degree, employees of the Executive Branch. But the Inspector General`s are different. They are sort of meant to be at arm`s length. They`re meant to be the people who keep everybody honest.

As you said, he deemed the complaint that the White House was withholding to be of urgent concern, and the law dictated that he then take that complaint to you as Chairman of the Intel Committee. Is it your understanding that there has at any point been any allegation that Michael Atkinson did anything wrong?

SCHIFF: No, none whatsoever. He did exactly the right thing, and I think that`s the uniform view among all of the other Inspector Generals, in fact, who came to his defense and disagreed vehemently with the Justice Department in the opinion it issued saying that such a complaint could be withheld from Congress.

So all of the Inspector Generals were in the same position, and I think this sends another shock wave through the Intelligence Community. I`ll tell you this also, Ali. I`ve also learned that while the statute requires that Congress get 30 days` notice before the President would remove an Inspector General, he has put the Inspector General immediately on administrative leave, effectively doing an end run around the statute--


SCHIFF: --to immediately remove this consummate professional yet again a flagrant disregard of the law and a President who is so terrified of oversight that he would take this kind of an action in the middle of a crisis.

VELSHI: Congressman, what options do you have in this case?

SCHIFF: Well, you know, we`re certainly going to do our oversight into the circumstances behind his firing. We`re also going to have to change the law for a President like this because apparently the protections for Inspector Generals are not strong enough.

So we`re going to have to include that in our Intelligence Authorization Act. But we are going to have to find ways to hold this President accountable and also to ensure that the Intelligence Community continues to speak the truth to Congress.

Already there has been a dumping down of the information being given to Congress about foreign interference in our elections the fact that the Intelligence Community briefed Congress on that resulted in the firing of a different intelligence official, that being Acting Director McGuire.

So we`re going to have to push back in the Congress. We`re going to have to continue our vigorous oversight. We`re going to have to make sure that we get answers in terms of foreign interference in the election and that we get answers in terms of the Coronavirus and what we know about that and when we knew about that?

So this is the President`s way again of trying to stifle oversight, and Congress is going to have to push back. It will once again test whether there is any in the Republican Party in the House who are willing to do their institutional jobs and speak out and also support our oversight actions.

VELSHI: Congressman, I have 30 seconds left, but you said something. You said it`s a dumping down of the intelligence ration that the administration gets. That`s the problem, right? This isn`t just the President finding people around him to be sycophants. There`s actually a real risk to the country in removing these Inspectors General or removing people from the Intelligence Community.

SCHIFF: Absolutely. I mean if there`s an issue, for example, in the Intelligence Community regarding the Coronavirus, regarding reporting on the Coronavirus or problems with whistleblowers or maybe there is a whistleblower, we simply don`t know.

But if this is an effort to stifle anyone who might criticize or report wrongdoing in the midst of a national emergency, he is doing the country another tremendous disservice.

VELSHI: Congressman Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intel Committee, thank you for joining us on very short notice tonight on this news that the President has relieved Michael Atkinson, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community of his responsibilities effective 30 days from today. That`s the Last Word for tonight.