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unemployment surges TRANSCRIPT: 4/16/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Dara Kass, Laurie Garrett, Dan Kidlee, John Heilemann, Eric Cooper, Steve Schmidt


So, it was secret until just now. What if the federal government is watching your show and intercept what`s going to happen next in this drama?

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": I have a hot tip that the stuff is already on the tarmac and so I can`t tell you what`s going to happen between now and the warehouse, but it`s been sort of dramatic.

O`DONNELL: And you`re not saying which tarmac where, so, OK, great.

MADDOW: Yes. I have to say, I am terrible at keeping secrets. This is why I do TV shows and don`t work for a place that requires me to keep secrets. But, yes, if I knew, I would probably blurt it out. So, I`m telling you everything I got.

O`DONNELL: Rachel, you`ve done a great job of keeping all of my secrets. Thank you very much, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence. Good night.

O`DONNELL: Well, today, Donald Trump was asked about protesters in Ohio who are protesting the Republican governor`s stay-at-home order and Donald Trump said -- these were his words. They seem to be protesters that like me.

And that`s true. There they are in their Trump hats, mouths wide open, breathing on each other shoulder to shoulder. That image was captured by photojournalist Joshua Bickel (ph) for the "Columbus Dispatch."

Steve Schmidt, who spent much of his adulthood trying to elect Republican presidents, wrote this about that picture. "This Joshua Bickel photo is worthy of a Pulitzer. It absolutely and perfectly captures the wackjobbery of Trumpism and the grievance of people who have surrendered any vestige of common sense or normalcy to the altar of freak show politics and the dogmas of political cultism.

Steve Schmidt will join us at the end of this hour.

On a day when Donald Trump`s approval rating continues to sink, and Joe Biden tweeted this picture of what Donald Trump is up against, a united Democratic Party with every Democratic candidate who ran against Joe Biden now endorsing Joe Biden.

Predictions in this presidential campaign are dangerous. If you made a prediction a few months ago about what the number one issue in the presidential campaign would be, you would much now be wrong because COVID- 19 came along to change everything including our politics.

And so, with minimal confidence I offer this prediction. The number one issue for the presidential campaign in the fall and the debates that Donald Trump will probably refuse to participate in will be coronavirus testing.

Five days ago, Joe Biden tweeted this: President Trump needs to do everything in his power to expand the number of testing sites and surge the number of tests. Mass testing is key to reopening the economy and finding a way out of this crisis.

There it is. Mass testing is key to reopening the economy and finding a way out of this crisis and everyone agrees about that. That is the challenge of the presidential campaign and Donald Trump seems terrified of that challenge judging by his performance today.

Donald Trump knows that 99 percent of the people watching his press briefing today and that 99 percent of the people watching this program right now and that 99 percent of the people in America have not been tested for coronavirus. And no one at the White House today was able to tell us when we will be tested.

Donald Trump has already said there is no way we are ever going to test 100 percent of the population but are we going to test 50 percent? Ten percent? No one at the White House dared to say a word about that today even when they were specifically asked about it.

We can thank Bob Costantini of Westwood One News Radio for asking the most important question of the day and clearly the most terrifying question to Donald Trump because that question made Donald Trump shut down the briefing and get everyone out of the room and not take another question.


BOB COSTANTINI, WESTWOOD ONE NEWS RADIO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Do we have an idea of how many millions, tens of millions of tests they`re going to need for them to get through these phases? Any number out there? Tests of any sort.


O`DONNELL: How many tests are we going to need? Simple question. That`s -- there`s not a medical professional who comes on this network who`s willing to not answer that question. They just -- they`re all willing to answer it. And they say it`s millions upon millions upon millions of tests. Tens of millions of tests are necessary.

There is not a medical professional speaking outside of this White House or a serious governor who is not saying today that we`re nowhere close to being able to do the amount of testing we need to make it safe for people to go back to work, to make it safe for students to go back to sleep in their dormitories at college.

Dr. Deborah Birx handled that question for Donald Trump in the briefing and she did not handle that question like a medical professional. She handled it like a lawyer representing Donald Trump, which is to say she handled that question like a lawyer handling a guilty client and she`s simply refused to answer it. And like a good lawyer Dr. Birx did not say I refuse to answer your question. Instead, she delivered a long answer that deflected from the question without ever coming close to answering it. But she did use the word "test" several times so that she could pretend that the answer had something to do with the question.

Here is the beginning of Dr. Birx`s defense of the Trump administration`s failure to test.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Yes, so I mean, you`ve heard me talk about tests for a while from the podium and I think what has happened over the last several weeks is hospitals and clinics that could move to the more point of care test, move to those point of care tests, and what it`s left is an amazing array of capacity that exists in the country for at least a million more tests per week.


O`DONNELL: It was a very simple question. How many millions of tests are we going to need? The answer didn`t even have to be a sentence. It just could have been a number, 100 million, 200 million, 50 million. Whatever the answer is is a lot of million but Dr. Birx rambled on and in deflection telling us about the unit cost per test at some commercial testing companies, but she did eventually make this commitment, if you can call it that, on behalf of the Trump administration.


BIRX: So we`re committed to work with laboratories to answer every one of their issues with the state and local governments. So, it`s more of making sure every governor and every public health official knows exactly where every lab is and where the tests are so we can create with them a real understanding so all these tests can be run. So yes, there is twice the capacity right now.


O`DONNELL: In other words, nothing. The Trump administration is committed to doing absolutely nothing to get you tested. If you get tested, it is because your governor will get you tested, or as we heard last night, if you`re lucky, someone in your state will volunteer to do what Sean Penn has organized in California around Los Angeles, drive-through testing facilities are running in Los Angeles right now thanks to Sean Penn and the Cooperation of the mayor of Los Angeles and the governor of California and no thanks whatsoever to Donald Trump or to anyone working for Donald Trump.

And Donald Trump clearly fears that he is going to be judged on the issue of testing and so what a sane politician would do in a situation like that is not what Donald Trump chooses to do. California Governor Gavin Newsom and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo both believe that they will be judged on their ability to get people tested and so they are working very, very hard to get people tested.

That`s not the Trump approach. Donald Trump believes that if people are going to judge him on testing then he`s just going to lie about testing. He`s not going to do anything about it. He`s just going to lie about it.

And the big lie in today`s White House briefing which pretended to outline guidelines, just guidelines, just suggestions about how governors might or might not decide to reopen certain activities in their states, the big lie in that briefing was the lie of omission, the lie of omission about testing.

Donald Trump and his task force tried to get through their briefing without talking about testing. Which meant it was not a reality-based briefing. When Dr. Birx finished her evasive answer about how many millions of tests we will need, Donald Trump came back to the microphone for a minute to thank everyone involved in the briefing today and rushed everyone out of the room in record time. And this was not one of those two two-hour spectaculars.

As soon as the questioning about testing got too uncomfortable, Donald Trump just shut that thing down. And because Donald Trump works stream of consciousness with no space whatsoever between his mind and his mouth, there are every once in a while those exquisite Trump moments where the truth accidentally slips into that stream of consciousness and comes out that mouth.




O`DONNELL: Let`s just hear that one more time.


TRUMP: I`m not saying anything.


O`DONNELL: "I`m not saying anything."

Stream of consciousness is a very risky way for a politician to work because that can happen. "I`m not saying anything." And that was so true, so true of today`s White House briefing in which Donald Trump said nothing real and once again, left all of the burden and all of the responsibility for government`s response to this pandemic on governors, and so, we turn to one of the people who is in charge of trying to get millions of people tested in his state.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Now we have a chance to be more intelligent frankly about handling our health care system. Testing and tracing, testing and tracing, testing and tracing, and we need the federal government to work with us on that, and then phasing in economic return to the, quote/unquote, new normal, right? Those are all activities that are going on at the same time and that`s our plan to, quote/unquote, unpause New York.


O`DONNELL: Can`t get the testing done without the federal government`s help, without the federal government`s leadership. New York numbers are still moving in the right direction tonight. In the last 24 hours, New York state has suffered 606 deaths.

Today, Governor Cuomo announced a one-month extension of his shutdown policy in New York which he now says will be in place until at least May 15th.


CUOMO: We have to continue doing what we`re doing. So, one month we`ll continue the close down policies.

What happens after then? I don`t know. We will see depending on what the data shows.


O`DONNELL: The United States now has 665,258 reported cases of coronavirus and as of tonight, the United States has suffered 34,283 reported deaths from coronavirus.

The grim numbers of this pandemic are also moving in the right direction in New Orleans. Dr. Najy Masri of Louisiana State University Hospital has been keeping a video diary for us of life and death in the emergency room in New Orleans.


DR. NAJY MASRI, LSU DIRECTOR OF HOSPITALIST SERVICES OCHSNER MEDICAL CENTER: Looking back a week ago, we had about 85 percent of our hospital that was COVID patients. Moving forward now today, we have about 60 percent of our hospital that`s COVID patients. People are still having heart attacks. People are still having strokes.

And remember, with the outpatient clinics being closed, they don`t have access to preventative health. They don`t have access to colonoscopies and the such.

So, we talk about the peak of coming up with COVID-19. There`s going to be a second peak coming. It`s a peak of those people who couldn`t get that preventative health and are going to have those issues with their heart and their strokes and the different things. And we`re going to be there for them just like we are for the COVID patients.


O`DONNELL: Dr. Dara Kass was there for them in the emergency room in New York City. Dr. Kass got infected with coronavirus while treating patients in New York City.

Dr. Kass has now recovered and has gone back to work. Dr. Dara Kass will join us after this break along with Laurie Garrett, who won a Pulitzer Prize covering global pandemics. Laurie Garrett has been studying this subject for years. She is the first person I heard talking about this subject who made me understand the enormity of what we are facing.

When Laurie Garrett speaks, I take notes. She will join our discussion after this break.


O`DONNELL: We have breaking news from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who issued this statement tonight about the guidelines the White House released today.

Testing is the key to opening our country to resume our lives. The White House`s vague and inconsistent document does nothing to make up for the president`s failure to listen to the scientists and produce and distribute national rapid testing.

Joining our discussion now are Dr. Dara Kass, an emergency medicine physician in New York City. She`s also an associate professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University and a Yahoo News medical contributor.

Laurie Garrett is with us, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter covering global pandemics. She is a former senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

And Dr. Cass, you have recovered from coronavirus after treating patients with it. You`ve gone back to work now. We do seem to be seeing the grim statistics in New York. Those still grim. Moving in the right direction.

What is your sense of where we are now in New York City and New York state?

DR. DARA KASS, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: So New York City is seeing the evidence and the work of the people of New York, seeing our numbers go down with hospitalizations and fortunately, finally seeing our number of deaths per day go down but our hospitals are still at basically full capacity. We`re still seeing so many critically ill patients and we`re still trying to take care of every single patient that comes in with the full scope of our practice.

So, although the numbers in New York are encouraging for the treatment of the first wave of people that got infected, probably between two and three weeks ago, we still have a lot of work to do and a lot of patients to take care of.

O`DONNELL: Laurie Garrett, Donald Trump pretty much shut down the briefing and ran out of the room when a serious question about testing finally got asked. The specifics of how many millions of tests do we need in order for the country to be able to get back into some kind of working relationship with jobs, with students.

The point that Joe Biden made, which is the way out of this is a massive amount of testing so we can tell where we are with the pandemic. What was your reaction to the -- to that big omission in the White House presentation today where they basically said testing has nothing to do with us?

LAURIE GARRETT, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING REPORTER: Well, Lawrence, I think they left out all metrics.


GARRETT: It`s not just they didn`t talk about testing. They didn`t give you anything, anything empirical, anything at all.

This report basically was a PowerPoint presentation of a pile of slides stuck in between paper, and the slides told you basically one thing that came through loud and clear -- the federal government is not doing this. You personally are responsible. You employers are responsible. You states are responsible.

Hey, you know, you want to know how many people to test? When to test them? What kind of test, antibody or PCR? What should be the nature of the testing, should you come up with strategic testing where you`re targeting key population groups as indicators or should you just randomly test just everybody in a Walmart parking lot as was the original scheme?

There is nothing in there that answers any of those questions.

O`DONNELL: Laurie, what is the best answer to those questions?

GARRETT: Well, I don`t think we`re ever going to have in this wave of the epidemic at any rate 100 million, 200 million test kits. It`s not going to happen.

And look what just happened in the U.K. Boris Johnson`s government bought 20 million test kits from a Chinese manufacturer and turned out to be 100 percent fraudulent and they just spent a pile of money for 20 million test kits.

There`s a lot of fraud. There`s a lot of unintended error in the testing situation right now. What makes more sense is targeted testing so that you set out a series of specific problems you`re trying to answer and you say if we test this group, we`ll know the answers for this population. This group, this population.

You set up indicators. You`re not going to have 100 million tests. So, for example, we should definitely be testing everyone who`s in a nursing home in the United States of America today. That should be top priority.

We should test anybody that comes in with pneumonia in a hospital in America today. Top priority.

But can we test every single school child in America before they set foot in a classroom? We won`t have those tests, Lawrence. So, we`re going to have to come up with a smarter way to answer the question about how many of those school children in, say, the Bronx are infected.

You have to come up with a carefully scientifically designed test pool and, you know, narrow the search down but a smart search of 5,000 carefully selected individuals that gives you an indicator of what you`re looking at for your whole community.

It`s the only way we`re ever going to get there. There`s never going to be a way every employer can test every single employee with a valid test between now and July. Never going to happen.

O`DONNELL: Dr. Kass, what about testing in New York City hospitals, for example, medical personnel? What do you think the hospitals need in terms of testing and monitoring the medical personnel?

KASS: So, the hospitals have done -- they really tried to ramp up their own testing internally and that`s why some of the tests come back in one day as opposed to the three to five days that happen at commercial labs. The issue a lot of times is the products, the reagents, the swabs. It`s literally a long skinny Q-tip and if you can`t get enough of them you can`t have your health care work force.

The other option is if you have to choose between sick critically ill patients and the health care workforce, who do you choose to test? Because there`s not, although we ramped up a huge number of tests in New York City, we haven`t nearly been able to keep up with the need. And we`re certainly not testing healthcare workers to go back negative before they go back to the workforce.

So, we follow the CDC guidelines and say after seven days if your symptoms are better and you have no fever you can go back to work with a mask. It`s the same way the White House is recommending that non-essential workers go back now. And we know it`s not optimal to keep the disease at bay and stop the spread of infection amongst vulnerable people.

O`DONNELL: And, Dr. Kass, the president said today at the briefing, one of the things he said was there`s no problem with swabs, what you just identified as something you don`t have enough supply of. He said there`s absolutely no problem on the supply of these swabs all over the country. I`ve heard exactly the opposite from all over the country.

GARRETT: I know people waiting on reagents today to test more people tomorrow. So I appreciate what the president hears in his head, but I hear different things and that really is that there`s a limited capacity to test for health care workers, vulnerable people, scaling and, you know, figuring out if children in New York City are infected.

I have a son who had a liver transplant. He goes to a New York City public school. It`s going to take a lot of deliberate testing to figure out if he can go back to school. These are things I think about as a mother, as a physician, as a member of my community, about what would it look like to make my community safe again.

O`DONNELL: Laurie Garrett, I had an administrator at a university in the Northeast say that their plan, their hope is to in the fall test every returning student to that university. You`re saying it`s extremely unlikely they will be able to do that.

GARRETT: We won`t have the test kits, but also, it`s not really going to be terribly helpful to know if John Jones tests positive or negative on Tuesday because John Jones could get infected on Thursday.

You know, the problem is that you`re asking -- we`re all asking the wrong questions. It`s not really going to be possible to say I`m absolutely sure it`s safe for John Jones to come back to university X. As I said, he could test negative on Monday, positive on Thursday. But yes, by the way, he could have been infected both times and you got a false negative on your test.

But what you do need to know as the administrator of a university or a school principal is what`s a random sample show me? What do I think I see in my community that gives me an indicator of whether or not it`s safe to open these doors?

O`DONNELL: So basically, it`s a medical version of polling?

GARRETT: Well, I would call it epidemiology, but you can call it polling.

O`DONNELL: OK, OK. For this hour we`ll call it polling.

Laurie Garrett, thank you once again. Really appreciate it.

Dr. Dara Kass, thank you very much for joining us and thank you for the work you`re doing in New York. We all really appreciate it.

KASS: Thank you.

GARRETT: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, John Heilemann will join us, along with Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan where Trump supporters are now protesting the Democratic governor`s order to stay at home. That`s next.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: 5.2 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the last week and they were the lucky unemployed who managed to make it through the system to get their applications filed. We know that there are many, many more, possibly millions more who have been trying to file and not getting through those over burdened systems.

"The New York Times" reports in the last four weeks, the number of unemployment claims has reached 22 million, roughly the net number of jobs created in a 9.5 year stretch that began after the last recession and ended with the pandemic`s arrival.

This level of job loss has not happened since the great depression of the 1930s and happening much faster now than it happened then. "Washington Post" Economics Correspondent Heather Long reports some of the worst job losses in key swing states Michigan has over 25 percent of workers unemployed. Pennsylvania over 18 percent, Nevada is at 18.5 percent, Ohio is over 15 percent.

Yesterday protesters waving Trump flags and chanting lock her up. Demanded the Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer ease the stay-at-home restrictions in Michigan. Governor Whitmer addressed that tonight with Rachel Maddow.


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMRE (D-MI): The thing that I`m concerned most about and that I think my fellow Governors are, as well is resurgence. People came and converged together in lancing and then they went out back to their homes across the State of Michigan.

The odds are very high that they`re spreading COVID-19 along with it. So it`s that kind of irresponsible action that puts us in this situation where we might have to actually think about extending the stay-at-home orders, which is supposedly what they were protesting.


O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee from Michigan. He is the Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus and a member of the House Weighs Means Committee. John Heilemann National Fairs Analyst for NBC News and MSNBC as well as she is Co-Host of show time`s "The Circus" and the Editor-in-Chief of the "Recount". Congressman Kildee, what is happening in Michigan?

REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): Well, it is cut. I think partly what`s happening is that this crisis is sort of ripped the cover off some of the economic inequities some of the inequities that we`ve seen in society for a long time. 14 percent of Michigan`s population for example is African-American almost 40 percent of deaths are occurring in the African American Community.

What we`re seeing is real disparity in term of impact. And then we see this group of protesters show up at the Capitol trying to get the Governor to dial back on the life-saving measures that she has taken. The President could take a lesson from Governor Whitmer.

She`s willing to make tough decisions that in some circles are unpopular but she knows that they will save - these decisions will save lives. This is really fundamentally a question between people who don`t have the patience of a few weeks that are willing to make the sacrifice of a few weeks of not mowing their lawn or going water skiing, I don`t know why they want to do that when one it`s 38 degrees anyway?

But don`t have the patience. Think about the generations that precede us. Think about the greatest generation, the sacrifice they were willing to make when there was a global threat that required sacrificed for years in order to save something that we held sacred and now we have these people who after a few weeks have run out of patience.

And that means that a few thousand or 10,000 or 100,000 more die, that`s okay with them, they just want to be able to get their smoothie, that`s embarrassing.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, there seems to be some confusion among those protestors. Here they are saying let`s get back to normal and with several of them that I saw in the photographs wearing masks at the same time. So they - the ones with the masks seem to believe something real is happening.

JOHN HEILEMANN, CO-HOST, SHOWTIMES "THE CIRCUS": Yes, Lawrence, you know, I obviously agree with the Congressman on some level that the extremity of what is going on there is kind of ludicrous and some of the behavior of some of these people who are willing - who are making rapport racers here have obviously lost track of reality and are kind of taking into account the publishing health issues in play.

Look, I mean, the unemployment numbers you went through earlier, those numbers are really bad in that part of the country in Michigan and in a lot of the Midwest and lot of other states. There is no doubt that the kind of economic consequences of what is happening are real and dire for a lot of people.

They have huge political implications for the campaign going forward but just in terms of real lives and real people, the reality is there are two crises going on here. One crisis is this public health crisis.

It`s paramount but another crisis is going on and it is a crisis where a lot of people who live paycheck to paycheck have to deal with a huge amount of economic stress and a huge amount of anxiety about when they`re going to be able get back to work?

O`DONNELL: Congressman Kildee, you`re in Flint, Michigan tonight. What is it like in Flint and why aren`t the people of flint out there marching in the streets?

KILDEE: Because I think they know what`s at stake. People of Flint have sadly pretty significant experience with the health crisis. I mean, we have a crisis on top of a crisis here in Flint, the water crisis is not really over yet and now we have this issue on top of it. So people here are feeling the pain doubly and I think they understand that it takes time to deal with these sorts of issues.

But I think it is important to point out the unemployment issue that you just addressed. We are attempting to give people the tools to stay-at-home. This is an economic crisis, no question about it. But it`s in some ways an engineered economic situation in order to save lives.

The idea that 25 percent of Michigan Presidents, the work force is unemployment was in a sense planned in a way so that the unemployment benefit they would receive, $600 supplement would help them pay the bills and take the medical advice that they`re being given to stay-at-home.

The question for Congress is whether we have the resolve to supply the resources to see it through, to see it all the way through to see unemployment benefits carry us until the economy does stand up. To see the SBA loans sufficient both in terms of its breadth and its length of time, to carry us until we can stand the economy back up again.

So shutting down and slowing down the economy is an intentional strategy to give people the financial tools to follow the medical advice that they`re being given. The question for all of us and this is where I`m most worried about the impetuous behavior of the President, the question for all of us; we`re willing to see it through. We have to.

O`DONNELL: And John Heilemann, the President was asked about these protests today and the only thing that seemed to matter to him was that the people he saw protesting like him. That`s really all he had to say about it.

HEILEMANN: Yes, right. I mean, look, the President is obviously only focused on one thing. He sees these unemployment numbers in a bunch of states that he absolutely must win if he`s going to get reelected. We understand what is ahead here, that the President has always - he won by getting an inside straight in 2016.

Winning a couple of states very narrowly, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and that part of the country allowing him to pull off the unusual thing of losing by 3 million popular votes and still winning in the Electoral College. He was going to have to do that again in 2020 and he`s looking at those states.

They are pivotal for him losing any one of them and certainly losing and certainly losing two or three of them mean doom to him certainly in this reelection. So all he`s trying to do right now is try to figure out a way. He looks at the unemployment numbers and says that is my political fate right there and he don`t really seem to care about literally anything else.

O`DONNELL: John and Congressman Dan Kildee, thank you both very much for joining our discussion tonight. We really appreciate it.

KIDLEE: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back the largest number of people in American history now cannot afford food tonight. What would you do if you showed up at your food bank in need of food for your family and 10,000 people were in front of you in line? That happened at the San Antonio Food Bank. The person that runs the food bank will join us next.


O`DONNELL: A Colombia University study released today shows that if unemployment rises to 30 percent as some experts now say is possible then poverty will increase by 50 percent in America. The study says that the projected poverty rate represents an increase of more than 21 million individuals in poverty and would mark the highest recorded rate of poverty since at least 1967.

Today, at a food bank in Dallas, at least 2,000 families lined up in their cars. NBC News Correspondent Garrett Haake spoke with a grandmother after she received food.


GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Is this the first time you`ve come out to this food bank?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I really came for my grandkids. My son is the only one working.

HAAKE: How hard is it to just make ends meet right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s very hard. It`s very hard because he`s behind on his car payment. He`s behind on insurance. No health insurance anymore. It`s difficult. It`s a worry. It`s a worry for sure because you don`t know when it`s going to get back to what it used to be.


O`DONNELL: A week ago the San Antonio Food Bank faced a line of 10,000 cars in one day. That same San Antonio Food Bank will be open for distribution again tomorrow and joining us now is Eric Cooper who runs that San Antonio Food Bank. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. What are you expecting tomorrow?

ERIC COOPER, PRESIDENT & CEO, SAN ANTONIO FOOD BANK: Well, Lawrence, you know, we don`t know fully. We have about 2,000 families that have preregistered for tomorrow`s distribution but this unprecedented demand is being seen across America where one of the 200 food banks that make up the Feeding America network and all of these popup distributions, which most of the time compliment our normal distributions, the food pantries, the churches, smaller non-profits that feed families and community.

These popup distributions have just seen such an explosive growth in the number of families desperate for food. We`re learning about the distribution and just coming to get whatever they can, our distribution tomorrow starts at 10:00 am and I`ve been told there are already cars lined up waiting so they can get food tomorrow.

O`DONNELL: And what about the supply chain for food - for your food bank and other food banks?

COOPER: Lawrence, it`s been under stress. Many of our food banks recover food from farmers and growers, from food manufacturers and retailers even restaurants, hotels and caterers. Right now because of the closure of many restaurants and hotels, we`re not getting that food. Many grocery stores are selling out of food.

So what we used to get is not available and then the demand is surged. We on average here in San Antonio would feed about 60,000 people a week pre- COVID. Now in the COVID-19 crisis, we`re seeing 120,000 people a week and it`s a tough gap for philanthropy to fill.

Food banks will not be able to get enough donations to feed this need and so truly, the opportunity to do some public-private partnerships, the Federal Government, FEMA, USDA, more needs to be done right now if we`re going to feed the lines that are in front of us tomorrow here in San Antonio, Texas.

O`DONNELL: Are you going to run out of food tomorrow?

COOPER: You know we will not. We work every day to continue to bring in food but it`s going out at that same pace. We`re going to take care of all the families that we have registered but unfortunately, we will probably have to turn families away and try to get them food through a different channel or a different distribution.

We right now feel like we`ve got about two to three weeks worth of food in our warehouse that if we continue to operate at the pace and the demand that we`re at, we worry we will run out of food as our peers across America, the distribution in Dallas is similar to what we see in Columbus and Los Angeles and New York.

All of us are under siege and when you think about the Federal Safety Net snap, it truly is the first line of defense against hunger and we need families that are struggling right now to apply for their snap benefits, apply for their WIC benefits if they`re eligible for those and then your food bank is here to help you but I tell you, food banks need help from the community.

Lastly, I would say there`s a critical need for volunteers at many of the food banks across the United States. The best way to help the food bank is making a financial contribution or a donation of food and just getting people involved because we`re really going to need a lot of help if we feed these lines.

O`DONNELL: Eric Cooper, thank you for the work you`re doing and thank you for joining us our discussion tonight.

COOPER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. And when we come back, Steve Schmidt will get tonight`s last word about how the pandemic is exposing "As Steve Schmidt put it" people who surrendered any wastage of common sense or normalcy to the altar of freak show politics and the dogmas of political cult-ism. Steve Schmidt will get tonight`s last word next.


O`DONNELL: At the White House press briefing today, the President said this.


TRUMP: If we see something wrong, we will be expressing ourselves very strongly.


O`DONNELL: But he obviously doesn`t think that this is wrong. Trump supporters risking their lives to scream their outrage at a Republican Governor while breathing all over each other. Those Trump supporters were screaming at Republican Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio because he has issued a stay-at-home order in that state. Donald Trump was asked about the protesters today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --those protesters to listen to local authorities?

TRUMP: I think they`re listening. They listen to me. They seem to be protesters that like me and respect this opinion, and my opinion is the same as just about all of the Governors. They all want to open. Nobody wants to stay shut, but they want to open safely.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Steve Schmidt, Former Republican Strategist who spent most of his adulthood trying to elect Republican Presidents. He is now an MSNBC Political Analyst. Steve, the President was asked about those protesters, and he says, they listen to me. They like me. And then he doesn`t tell them to stop doing that and go home and obey the law as issued by their Governors.

STEVE SCHMIDT, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The behavior is crazy, Lawrence, and it`s absolutely going to get people killed as the behavior has gotten people killed over the month of February where the administration ignored every warning that was issued and created the economic crisis and the public health crisis largely that we face today.

As "The New York Times," as "The Washington Post" have documented in detail in the first draft of history, this didn`t have to be. But those people represent the insanity that has been let loose in our politics over many years now we see the confederate flags flying. We see people putting themselves into harm.

We see there the joker mask, the anarchist mask. I mean this is just whack jobbery mainstreamed into our politics with a lethal cost attached to it, and it`s just unfortunate. And it`s going to get worse when you see the length of the food lines when you talk about unemployment rates that are going to exceed the levels of the great depression.

When you look at the economic calamity that`s coming, 42 percent of the country doesn`t have $400 of savings available in a country that has an Opioids epidemic, a suicide epidemic, a crisis of despair and hopelessness before this.

I think we`re going to see real instability, and this is the first sparks of it. These movements will grow. They`ll prolong this crisis. They`ll prolong the suffering, and they`ll cause death.

O`DONNELL: There is, Steve, one possible inhibitor to these protests, and that is the sickness that could happen as a result of it, the physical sickness, the COVID-19. I mean in past protests of this kind didn`t carry that risk.

SCHMIDT: No, of course not. And the truth is, Lawrence, when we look at how infectious this is, when we look at the effects that other large-scale mass gatherings have had and how many people have gotten sick, we know for sure within a couple of days we`re likely to see a spike, an increase, and when they do the tracing back, we`ll see the increase traced back to these events that are pictured in the photographs.

And people will die from this. When we think about this, this is the epic event of our time. This exceeds by an order of magnitude the attacks on the country on 9/11, the great recession. We see in those signs "I will not comply." We see this traditional American defiance.

But we see it coupled with an embrace of conservatism such as it is or that it`s called today. I don`t recognize it from when I was a practitioner of it. But we look at the fusion of evangelical Christianity, the Franklin Grahams, the Fall Wells. We look at the tea party movement.

We look at this extremism, this defiance, this rejection of science, of truth, the embrace of an alternate reality. The difference is this time it`s going to have deadly consequences, and we`re going to see a lot of it. This is the beginning of a movement. That`s not aberrational what you saw in those photos yesterday. We`ll see more and more of this all over the country.

O`DONNELL: Steve, where are we in the Presidential Campaign? We have a United Democratic Party with all of the previous challengers is Joe Biden endorsing Joe Biden, and then we have the kind of chaos of Trumpism on the other side?

SCHMIDT: Well, in a traditional sense, Lawrence, we saw Trump before all of this entering into the race with the largest cash advantage and the greatest technological advantage of any incumbent President in the history of Presidential politics. I do think this race has been completely overtaken by events, and I think it`s foolish to try to make any predictions about what the outcome is going to be in a state like Texas.

We didn`t imagine six weeks ago that we would see in the State of Texas hours-long lines by automobile of people who were previously employed, hardworking, had never been on government assistance, now having to line up for hours in their cars to feed their families.

We don`t know what the consequences of this are going to be in any state? What we do know is this, is Donald Trump ran on the promise of making America great again. In the early stages of this, it was keeping America brave.

What he has brought with his incompetence, with his indecision, with his indifference is mass suffering, death, and economic collapse. We have tens of thousands of Americans who will lose their lives that didn`t have to.