Mourning in America ad TRANSCRIPT: 5/5/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Ashish Jha, Laurie Garrett, Peter Welch, Oliver Brooks, Rick Wilson

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.

And what I`ve been wondering about is, does the factory normally play music, or was that greeting music for the president of the United States? And if it was, who chose that?

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: For the moment, he`s being shown what the mask protects you from while he and all the men around him are not wearing masks and pointing at each other`s faces. I mean, really?

If it was -- if it was coincidence, it means there`s a god. If it was not a coincidence, it means there`s a very smart would-be deejay in that part of Arizona who deserves all of our thanks.

O`DONNELL: And, Rachel, there`s one other thing in the video I don`t get. I don`t understand why he was wearing the glasses that everybody wears in factories like that. He doesn`t obey any of those rules. He doesn`t wear masks when you`re supposed to wear masks.

Why was he bothering to wear the glasses? I don`t get it.

MADDOW: Maybe he thinks that`s where the infection part goes.

O`DONNELL: Oh, OK. All right.

MADDOW: I don`t -- or maybe he`s comfortable wearing goggles for specialty things. I don`t -- I don`t -- 

O`DONNELL: OK.

MADDOW: I can`t even guess. I shouldn`t speculate.

O`DONNELL: You don`t have to, Rachel. You can go home now.

MADDOW: Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: Good night, Rachel.

MADDOW: Good night.

O`DONNELL: She`s had a tough day.

Every one of these are tough days. And it was a tough day of sorts, but maybe not really for Rick Wilson. Because Rick Wilson was one of the targets of Donald Trump`s tweeted hatred today. Rick Wilson will join us at the end of the hour to show us somewhat he did, along with Kellyanne Conway`s husband, George Conway, to make Donald Trump so very angry at him today.

And Laurie Garrett is the journalist who has taught us more about coronavirus than any other journalist, will join us tonight. She always changes and improves my understanding of where we are in the coronavirus pandemic. She told us that this was coming. She told us this was coming and it was going to be bad long before New York was told it was going to be so bad that everyone was going to have to stay home. Laurie Garrett knew all of that was coming.

Laurie Garrett now says that no one who was thinking about or talking about reopening businesses or schools has a strategy to guide that kind of decision-making. Laurie Garrett will join us later in the hour.

And NYU medical school is now running human trials on a possible vaccine for coronavirus. We`ll have an exclusive report on the NYU vaccine later in this hour. You`ll hear a video interview of a woman who has volunteered for the human trial of that vaccine. That will be later in the hour.

We have two stories tonight to begin with that are actually the same story. The suppression of information about the coronavirus pandemic by Donald Trump and his administration. That`s the one story that these two stories support.

One story is going to create the most important congressional hearing since the impeachment hearings against Donald Trump. We`ll be joined later in this hour by Congressman Peter Welch, who will be participating in that hearing when Dr. Rick Bright testifying about his whistleblower complaint, which was made public today.

Dr. Bright says he was removed from his job and reassigned because he was urgently warning the Trump administration in January that this country was not prepared for the coronavirus pandemic that was coming. Dr. Bright warned his boss, the secretary of Health and Human Services that we were going to face a medical supply crisis. He specified exactly what we urgently needed to do, including a surge in funding for medical supplies and preparations for the coronavirus pandemic and the Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar`s response to that was to block Dr. Bright from being allowed to attend the next meeting about the coronavirus.

And then he eventually, Alex Azar, got rid of him entirely. And now, that`s going to happen for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, going to get rid of them, too. The White House has not denied reporting today that Donald Trump is going to get rid of the coronavirus task force. That`s the other story about the suppression of true information by the Trump administration during this coronavirus pandemic.

And when he was asked today about disbanding the coronavirus task force, Donald Trump said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mike Pence and the task force have done a great job, but we`re looking at a little bit of a different form, and that form is safety and opening, and we`ll have a different group probably set up for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So that`s it. The war is over for the wartime president, as he called himself. He apparently has defeated the coronavirus and now he needs another task force that is not dedicated to stopping the coronavirus, it is dedicated to putting more and more people in danger of infection by getting them back to work without any strategy whatsoever.

Also today, Donald Trump said that Dr. Anthony Fauci will never be allowed to testify to the House of Representatives because it`s controlled by Democrats but Dr. Fauci will be allowed to testify to the Senate once because it`s controlled by Republicans.

Donald Trump didn`t kill his coronavirus task force today. He killed it the day he said this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And when I see the disinfectant which knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number. It will be interesting to check that. For that, you`ll have to use medical doctors, but it sounds interesting to me. But the whole concept of the way the light kills it in one minute, that`s pretty powerful.

Deborah, have you ever heard of the heat and the light relative to certain viruses, yes, but relative to this virus?

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: Not as a treatment. Certainly fever --

TRUMP: Yes.

BIRX: -- is a good thing when you have a fever, it helps your body respond. But not as -- I`ve not seen --

TRUMP: I think it`s a great thing to look at. OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Not as a treatment. That was the best that she could do. Not as a treatment.

That is the presidential campaign moment that America should never forget, and it was a campaign moment, because Donald Trump had turned the White House briefing room into his 2020 version of a campaign rally. Donald Trump believed his command of television cameras in the White House briefing gave him a huge advantage over Joe Biden.

There was no polling evidence of that. The polling indicated that Donald Trump was making the country increasingly uncomfortable and dissatisfied and eventually scared by his job performance. Then came the moment when Donald Trump talked about ingesting disinfectant. He didn`t know he was talking about suicide, because the president`s ignorance is boundless.

But once the news media made it clear, even to Donald Trump watching TV in the White House, how foolish his comment was, even Donald Trump knew that he could never do that again. And so, he stopped the White House briefings.

And for Donald Trump, the whole point of the coronavirus task force was to make it a TV show. And now that the TV show is canceled, he doesn`t need the cast hanging around anymore. You will not miss these briefings.

They were dominated by Donald Trump`s misinformation and lies. There were occasional notes of reality, clearly inserted by Dr. Anthony Fauci. But Dr. Deborah Birx chose another course that made her more popular with Donald Trump. She avoided any phrasing that could ever be interpreted as a possible direct contradiction of Donald Trump.

And she once actually told a television interviewer that Donald Trump was so good at reading all of the briefing materials that she presented to him, when we know that Donald Trump does not read anything. And her very, very worst moment was the moment that you just saw, when the president turns to her and says, have you ever heard of that? And Dr. Birx does not say, absolutely not. That could be suicidal. No one should do anything that you just suggested.

Dr. Birx`s answer to Donald Trump when he said, have you ever heard of that, was "not as a treatment." And so no, we will not miss Donald Trump`s lies. We will not miss Donald Trump`s suicidal prescriptions, and we will not miss Dr. Birx`s refusal to fulfill her duty to warn that what you just heard was insane.

Dr. Birx had that duty as a physician and public health official, to warn people publicly as soon as Donald Trump said that. That what they heard was lethally dangerous.

Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci will no doubt continue to do good work behind closed doors tracking the virus. And you will continue to be fully informed by medical experts who know everything there is to know about this subject. And you see them on this network every day. In a serious White House, the coronavirus task force would be delivering better information for you than the immunologists and researchers, and physicians who appear on this program.

But that`s not where we live now. We live in a country now where the best medical information you can get about what`s happening with this coronavirus is by watching this network. This is the best information available. And that is not what you are getting, from the Trump TV rallies in the White House briefing room.

And that briefing room, you were never getting the job, the treatment that the White House task force was supposed to deliver.

Dr. Erik Blutinger is an emergency physician at Mt. Sinai Queens Hospital.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ERIK BLUTINGER, MOUNT SINAI QUEENS HOSPITAL EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN: I never imagined going into the medical profession thinking that on a given shift I could receive a diagnosis or a medical illness that could eventually kill me and harbor itself internally, so insidiously and quietly. But that is the new battle that we`re facing in coronavirus.

I was crushed emotionally that our hospital system was doing a phenomenal job trying to mobilize resources, and in checking with all of us individually to make sure that we mentally were prepared for the onslaught that was to come. There was really no end in sight at the beginning of this. And that made it much more difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight, Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, and John Heilemann, national affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. He is the co-host of Showtime`s "The Circus" and the editor in chief of "The Recount".

And, Dr. Jha, I want to get your sense of where we are tonight. It seems like New York is on a down slope, but is it -- is it, in fact, the case that the rest of the country, when you look at the country as a whole, we`re at a plateau, we are not actually moving downward?

DR. ASHISH JHA, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE DIRECTOR: So, thanks for having me on, Lawrence. What we have is a tale of two countries. We have New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, parts of other places where the cases are declining -- Ohio, California, where if you put them in aggregate, the number of cases is declining.

And then you have the rest of the country, the second half of the story, where it`s not just flat, it`s actually rising. Well, not everywhere. Some places it is flat, some places it`s low. But aggregate, the rest of the country is increasing. And so, this whole idea that, you know, and that`s why on average it comes out flat, but this whole idea that the country is ready to open up really does not comply with the facts and data on the ground.

O`DONNELL: Doctor, what about regions of the country? Governor Cuomo is talking about possible upstate regions of New York state being allowed more kinds of public activities than the down state region and New York City.

JHA: So, look, I think we can have very localized policies. I don`t think that`s unreasonable if some parts of upstate New York have few or no cases or substantially declining cases. But I think they`re going to have to worry about things like, so what happens when parts of the state open up and people from New York City drive up there? Because people move, and people with instinct.

So, I am -- I`m not opposed to regional focused policies that are driven by data and science. I just think we have to be careful about how far we push that.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, the White House Coronavirus Task Force seems to be disbanded. We will not be subject to those end-of-day two-hour performances anymore, until, I guess, Donald Trump gets too bored and decides to try something else on television.

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, Lawrence.

And I think -- so I appreciated your opening to the show tonight. It`s grim, and I think appropriately grim given where we are and given the extraordinary back-to-back nature of the last few days where we learn about on the one side projections and models and forecasts within the administration that suggests that May and June could be extraordinarily ugly in the United States when it comes to coronavirus and the very next day, the White House announces that it`s shutting down the coronavirus task force.

I agree with you. I think the task force and it`s public relations orientation has been close to useless in terms of getting anything done. And yet, on the political side, to see Donald Trump at this moment having what can only be described as a mission accomplished moment, if that is in fact where we`re going, shutting down the coronavirus task force, basically saying a lot of people are going to get hurt going forward, but we must reopen this economy. The economy is key to him politically.

And at this point, he seems to be essentially saying, I don`t care about public health to the extent I ever cared about it. We`re moving from that. We`re in a renewed phase. I think it`s dangerous for the country but also I think extraordinarily reckless politically for the president if his hope is to get re-elected.

O`DONNELL: John, I think one of the last numbers that Donald Trump in his own imaginary projections offered in the White House briefing room was 50,000. He was saying that he thought they might hold total American deaths to 50,000.

Is it just that Donald Trump doesn`t want to go into that room anymore when the numbers are going up and up, and his administration has some projections that indicate that the death rate could be doubling in June and they could be announcing 3,000 per day?

HEILEMANN: Yes. I think -- I think, you know, Lawrence, we talked about various strategies or tactics that President Trump has tried in the course of 2020 in respect to COVID-19. The first was down playing.

Then we had blame shifting. And now more recently, we`ve been in the moment of goal post shifting, where that 50,000 projection that he gave that one day in the White House was -- we got to 50,000 that week. It was like a Monday that he said it might only be 50,000 deaths and we crossed over the 50,000 threshold within four days when he said that.

And I think, you know, we`ve now seen him ratchet that -- that goal post, push that goal post further and further down the field. It`s now apparently he`s setting 100,000 as the marker. But I think even Donald Trump, who never tires of mendacity, never tires of lying, never tires of innumerateness, I think even Donald Trump who never tires of goal post shifting, I think his arms are getting tired and he`s starting to realize that it`s getting to the point where even by his standards, it`s too ludicrous to continue with this effort and it`s not only ludicrous but politically counterproductive.

O`DONNELL: And, Dr. Jha, let me get your reaction to the apparent closing down of the White House task force. They will continue to do their work behind doors. Is it going to matter they don`t have that public display every day?

JHA: So, Lawrence, I agree with you a lot of what was shared in those two- hour long events was not very useful, but some of it was, especially when Dr. Fauci spoke and Dr. Birx spoke. That was useful information. And the signal to the country of, you know, we`re not doing that anymore I think is really harmful.

  The way I described this is we are -- to use a baseball analogy, we are in the second or third inning of a baseball game. And what it feels like is the manager has decided to leave. And that`s a problem. We need our manager to get us through the game.

O`DONNELL: Dr. Ashish Jha, John Heilemann, thank you both for starting us off tonight. We really appreciate it.

Thank you.

And when we come back, global pandemic expert and journalist Laurie Garrett has been one of the indispensable voices in our coronavirus coverage. She will join us next on what she says is the most important question not being asked, and it affects everything -- testing, tracing, reopening. Laurie Garrett will give us what we should thinking of, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In his last "New York Times" column, Frank Rooney wrote this about Laurie Garrett. She predicted the coronavirus. What does she foresee next?

As the global response focuses on testing, contact tracing and safe reopenings, Laurie Garrett now says that the people in government who are trying to make those decisions about reopening certain businesses and schools and recreational activities are not talking about the most important issue, which is the strategic goal. Is the goal to stop COVID-19 in your city? Is it to stop COVID-19 in your state? Is it to stop COVID-19 in the United States? The world?

We`re hearing a lot of discussion of tactics but no discussion of goals.

Joining us now is Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist covering global pandemics. She`s a former senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Laurie, you make this point about the distinction between tactics and goals. Tactics and what is your ultimate strategy. And it`s the ultimate strategy that you`re not hearing.

LAURIE GARRETT, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING JOURNALIST: Well, anybody who has ever been in the military knows the difference between strategy and tactics. Most people in sports know the difference between strategy and tactics. But somehow, when it comes to national policy, we have completely eliminated that distinction.

So all of the arguments, the discussions, the debates we hear across America, whether it`s angrily storming your state capitol to protest lockdowns or its demands for test, test, test, test. These are all just tactics. They`re not what is your long-term strategy? What is your strategic goal?

And we don`t have a national strategic goal. We have a president`s goal, get re-elected. We have a Wall Street goal, get the economy going again. We have, you know, certain public health institution goals of control the epidemic in my community or in my region.

But the real only goal that matters, the only goal that gets us anywhere as a planet and as individuals is, let`s get rid of this virus. And if the goal is let`s get rid of the virus so it doesn`t become a new permanent feature threatening humanity as HIV did, as Ebola has, as other viruses have emerged in the last 30 years have successfully done, then we need a coordinated, global strategy. And the United States needs a national strategy.

And instead, we`re going precisely in the opposite direction, where all the burden for strategic planning and for judging which tactics best feed which strategic goals is placed on the shoulders of mayors and governors who are weighed down by strapped budgets, by years of inadequate hiring in their public health ranks, by the tremendous hysteria in cities that are overwhelmed, by patient burden. They`re not in the best position to come up with an international strategy or a national or perhaps even a regional strategy.

And so, we`re blindly, you know, testing over here, test, test, test. What kind of test? Tests for what? What are we looking for?

When I test, am I imagining that every single employee walking into my factory will have been tested before entering the door? Am I going to do that every single day, every third day, every fifth day?

You don`t have to go very far before you realize this is chaos. This is not get rid of the virus. This is short-term, come up with a tactic that lets me reopen a school or reopen a business.

But the virus will still be out there, and it will still be coming back in wave after wave in the future. Are you going to shut down and reopen and shut down and reopen and shut down and reopen forever?

O`DONNELL: Laurie, what does the strategy of getting rid of the virus look like?

GARRETT: Well, there`s really only one way to do that. That`s have an effective vaccine that is specifically designed not for use in wealthy countries, but for use in the whole world, which, you know, in my book means one dose, because the complication of tracking everybody down a second time for a booster dose is overwhelming.

In my book, it means it can`t require refrigeration, because a whole lot of the planet doesn`t have electricity, and refrigerated vaccines go bad.

It requires creating a profit motive scheme of some sort that brings the industry to the table without imagining the kind of profit returns they usually want from pharmaceuticals. And that means coming up with agreements with the World Trade Organization and with the trade related intellectual property agreements, and all sorts of instruments of international law.

And then finally, it means mobilizing a global response, internationally led and internationally supported, getting into some of the toughest places on earth, getting the Taliban on board, allowing vaccination in Afghanistan and Pakistan, getting Islamist groups on board in the Middle East, getting all sorts of insurgent groups on board in central America. I mean, you`ve got to have an all-out political and social and legal and business commitment that is led from the highest levels in order to achieve this.

And we can`t even get the darn Security Council to hold a meeting about COVID.

O`DONNELL: Now we know how far off we are from the right strategy.

Laurie Garrett, thank you once again for joining us once again. I`ve been taking notes during everything you were just saying, as usual. I learn every time you join us. Thank you, Laurie.

GARRETT: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And when we come back, Dr. Rick Bright`s written complaint takes us inside what it was like for him trying to tell the truth inside the Trump administration about the Coronavirus pandemic and why he lost his job in the process. That will be the subject of a hearing next week in the House of Representatives, the most important hearing since the impeachment hearings.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Next Thursday we`re going to see the most important congressional hearing since the impeachment hearings against Donald Trump.

Our next guest Congressman Peter Welch will be at that hearing when Dr. Rick Bright testifies about his whistleblower complaint that was made public today which accuses the Trump administration of government wrongdoing including violation of law, rule of regulation, abuse of authority, censorship related to scientific research.

The whistleblower complaint alleges that all of those violations led to substantial and specific danger to public safety. Dr. Bright says he was removed from his job and reassigned because he warned Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Assistant Secretary Robert Kadlec in January that the administration was not ready to fight the Coronavirus.

The complaint says, anticipating the urgency and magnitude of the threat and knowing the lead times needed to develop new drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines. Dr. Bright pressed for urgent access to funding personnel and clinical specimens, including viruses, which he emphasized were all critically necessary to begin development of life saving medicines needed in the likely event that the virus spread outside of Southeast Asia.

Secretary Azar and Dr. Kadlec responded with surprise at Dr. Bright`s dire predictions and urgency and asserted that the United States would be able to contain the virus and keep it out of the United States.

Dr. Bright was later told that, his request for urgent funding at the meeting on January 23rd set off quite a crap storm after the meeting. During our discussion now is Democratic Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont. He`s a member of the Intelligence Oversight Energy and Commerce Committee, which called for an inspector general, the inspector general, to investigate Dr. Bright`s ouster last month.

Congressman Welch, thank you very much for joining us tonight. It is a stunning day when we get this full whistleblower complaint just page upon page upon page of damning indictment of the Trump administration.

REP. PETER WELCH (D_VT): Well, it is. I want to step back for a minute. This virus is incredibly powerful. It`s a threat to all of us. We`ve lost more lives in America than we`ve lost in the Vietnam War. And that`s in two months.

But there`s two approaches to leadership on this. And one, we`re seeing with many of our governors, some Republicans, some Democrats tell people what they need to know and what we all need to do.

The other, which we`re seeing from President Trump is tell people what they want to hear. And that`s where you have the President acting as a pharmacist, telling us what a cure is, telling us that it`s no big deal.

And what happened with Dr. Bright is that he is in the camp of let`s be real. Let`s tell facts. Let`s deal with the truth. That`s very inconvenient when you have a President whose view is, I want to tell people what they want to hear and what President Trump understands about human nature. All of us are terrified about this virus. So, if he goes into the White House podium with the presidential seal and tells us hydro - hydrocholorine. I`m getting the name wrong.

But Dr. Trump apparently gets it right. People want to hear it. And it`s very inconvenient for the President when a very respected person like Dr. Bright says, wait a minute, that`s not right.

O`DONNELL: Yes, the hydroxychloroquine, the antimalaria drug that Dr. Bright was warning about, one of his concerns was that the Trump administration was literally trying to flood New Jersey and New York with this drug after importing it from manufacturers in Pakistan and India that the FDA had never checked in any way. Never been to any of those factories. And so, he was very concerned about the - basically to begin with the quality control and then the fact that he did not believe this should be generally prescribed. He only thought it should be prescribed in rare instances in hospitals by doctors and hospitals.

WELCH: Well, that`s exactly right. And what the President is doing is he`s giving false hope because we want to have a cure. But the President is not doing is what all of us know, all of the public health folks know and he`s done. We have to have testing that should be led by the federal government. We can`t have 50 states and 50 governors coming up with their test. We have to have contact tracing. And that requires that we have like AmeriCorps VISTA, the core of 100,000 people who, if I test positive, those folks contact anybody I`ve been in contact with and they`re tested.

And then we have to have a capacity to isolate people. That`s why it`s been so successful in suppressing this disease in places like Taiwan and South Korea and Singapore. That`s what the President can do. But he`d prefer to come up with a hocus pocus cure. And then anyone who raises the question of dedicated public servants like Dr. Bright, they`re out. And that`s the pattern, of course, of President Trump.

If you`re an inspector general, you`re gone.

O`DONNELL: Congressman, do you expect partial attendance at the hearing next week, you expect it to be just the members who can maybe reach Washington by car?

WELCH: Well, my hope is that they`ll be personal attendants. But also, it`s about time for us to get into the modern age and to do a virtual presence as well. They`re starting to do that in the Senate. So, we`ve got to modernize to the modern situation. But this hearing is extremely important. It is important because the governor is out there and there`s a lot of Republican governors, they`re playing it straight.

They`re treating their constituents like adults. And by the way, our governor - Republican Governor Scott in Vermont is doing that. It`s just the facts. And when people know that you`re leveling with not hocus pocus, then they`re going to cooperate and we`re going to get on top of this. But it`s going to be tough.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Peter Welch, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

WELCH: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, we have some exclusively reported details on the human trial of a Coronavirus vaccine that has begun in New York City. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: NBC`s Tom Costello got an exclusive interview today with a woman who has volunteered for a human trial of a Coronavirus vaccine at New York University`s medical school. Here`s Tom Costello`s report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM COSTELLO, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Researchers at NYU have now started clinical trials on a never before tried genetic vaccine candidate developed by Pfizer, along with a German partner.

Rather than trying to manipulate the live virus itself, this vaccine attempts to reprogram the viruses genetic code. Melissa Honkanen, whose husband is a doctor at NYU, is among the first 12 healthy Americans to receive the injection.

MELISSA HONKANEN, NYU VACCINE TRIAL PARTICIPANT: So many people are being affected by this pandemic. And I figured it would be a great thing to do to help during an unprecedented time.

COSTELLO: Here`s what makes this unique. The vaccine carries the genetic code known as messenger RNA that instructs the cells to make the proteins associated with the Coronavirus, but without making someone sick. The hope is that the immune system then kicks in to create the antibodies to fight off COVID-19. And Pfizer has four genetic vaccine candidates. Dr. Mark Mulligan is running the NYU trial.

DR. MARK MULLIGAN, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES AND IMMUNOLOGY, NYU: It really is a natural thing because this messenger RNA is something the body produces on its own normally. So, it`s kind of a new thing, but it`s really not anything that`s too different than what the body does for itself.

COSTELLO: Because it`s natural. It`s also believed to be safe. But experts point out it`s still experimental and vaccines normally take years to develop.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: We don`t yet have a licensed vaccine for RNA or DNA vaccines, because in the past, they`ve worked very well in laboratory animals. But those immune responses have not translated into human, human immune responses.

COSTELLO: Worldwide, there are now roughly 100 vaccine candidates under review. Researchers at Pfizer believe this genetic code vaccine could be available as soon as September. Melissa Honkanen, a yoga instructor went home hours after receiving the first shot on Monday.

How are you feeling?

HONKANEN: I feel fine. My arms a little sore. I don`t have any headaches. I feel like myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Dr. Oliver Brooks, President of the National Medical Association. He is the former President of the California Immunization Coalition and Chairman of Immunize LA Families. Dr. Brooks, thanks for joining us once again tonight. What`s your reaction to running this human trial at this point at NYU.

DR. OLIVER BROOKS, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: I think it`s excellent. Do note that there are somewhere between 100 or so vaccine trials now ongoing. This is messenger RNA. If this actually comes to market, this will be the first widely distributed messenger RNA vaccine ever. So, it`s very important.

I think it`s important to know that there are all these other trials ongoing. So, it`s a good thing. Laurie Garrett say, we need a strategic plan. So, you look at testing and public health things like wash your hands, social distance and then you look at treatments anywhere from Occitan, Remdesivir.

And now, we have vaccines. So, vaccines are very important. So, whatever comes out of this for good or for bad as it relates to the actual outcomes, it comes to market. It still will give us excellent information in terms of where we are going with vaccines. Ultimately, vaccines are going to be the one thing that really pulls us out of Coronavirus.

O`DONNELL: And what does the final test that tells you that a vaccine works?

BROOKS: That`s a very good question. So, the real test is people that got vaccinated don`t get sick. So, what will happen with this vaccine is they`re doing the phase one and two studies now that 200 people and Germany 360 here. And then later on in the year, they`re looking at maybe July, September around that time. 8000 in the phase three.

What they`ll look for is antibody levels. So, what we want to see is antibody levels that imply protection. So that is generally how you measure it by the antibody levels that the vaccine stimulates.

The question is, we don`t really know what that is in terms of the antibody levels. So, it`ll be ongoing. And once the vaccine comes out, we will then have - I would position it as a phased utilization of the vaccine and then study it as it is given to others.

O`DONNELL: Dr. Oliver Brooks, thank you for joining us once again tonight. We really appreciate it.

BROOKS: Great. Thank you very much, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Our next guest is the man who Donald Trump today called crazed Rick Wilson.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump has been enraged at our next guest, Rick Wilson, since this TV commercial interrupted the President`s evening of watching Fox last night.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s mourning in America. Today, more than 60,000 Americans have died from a deadly virus Donald Trump ignored. With the economy in shambles, more than 26 million Americans are out of work. The worst economy in decades. Trump bailed out Wall Street, but not Main Street.

This afternoon, millions of Americans will apply for unemployment and with their savings run out, many are giving up hope. Millions worry that a loved one won`t survive COVID-19. There`s mourning in America. And under the leadership of Donald Trump, our country is weaker and sicker and poor. And now Americans are asking if we have another four years like this. Will there even be an America?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lincoln project, which is responsible for the content of this advertising.

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O`DONNELL: That commercial so infuriated Donald Trump that he put his crack research team on the case to find out who was responsible for it. And then he tweeted his attacks on those people, including Kellyanne Conway`s husband, George Conway, and our next guest, who Donald Trump called crazed Rick Wilson.

Joining us now. Rick, you`ll forgive me from just using the Trump introduction. Now I`m going to throw in the title of your book. OK. In addition to crazed Rick Wilson, he`s a contributor to The Daily Beast and he is the author of Running Against the Devil, A Plot to Save America from Trump and Democrats from Themselves. Rick, I guess all I can say is congratulations.

RICK WILSON, AUTHOR "EVERYTHING TRUMP TOUCHES DIES": Well, you know, thanks, Lawrence. I will say this. You know, we have known all along what a weak man Donald Trump is, and how mentally infirm he is and how easily he could be set off.

And, you know, now that we found his weak spot, he demonstrated for 12 straight hours in a row that he could be compared to Ronald Reagan, had the truth told about him, and he would absolutely lose his damn mind. And so, we expected this ad to hit. We did not expect him to behave in the completely maniacal way he behaved all day today. But here we are.

O`DONNELL: Well, let`s take a look at some of his reaction. Here`s some of what Donald Trump had to say about it today.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I guess they don`t like me, but let me just tell you, these are losers from day one. Guys like Bill Kristol. He`s 0 and 32. George Conway, you take a look at him, just take a look at that guy. The man`s a stone-cold loser. So, they should not call it the Lincoln project. It`s not fair to Abraham Lincoln, a great president. They should call it the losers project.

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O`DONNELL: For the record, Bill Kristol wasn`t involved, but he tweeted his praise of your work, Rick. And it`s really - Donald Trump, does he just not comprehend that he got so much more attention to your commercial by his public reactions today?

WILSON: The group of us in the Lincoln project, myself, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver, Rich Galen, Jennifer Horn, and others. Well, for years in politics, behind the curtain, we didn`t want our names out there for years and years. But now Donald Trump has decided he`s going to make us front and center because he thinks like a lot of other people, that he used to know where Republicans he`s run into. That we`re going to be intimidated or we`re going to shut up or we`re going to go away or we`re going to stop.

He is entirely mistaken. We will take this fight to him every day. And the more it rattles him, the half, here I am. And it`s rattled him terribly, Lawrence. He has done shook, as they say.

O`DONNELL: And you seem, and George Conway seems to know kind of the map of traps, a mind in term it seems like you guys have your hands right on the buttons to press his buttons, to drive him crazy this way.

WILSON: Well, look, I mean, this took a classic Republican adage, a classic trope of the Republican Party that captured the optimistic uplift in society in 1983 and used it as a great electoral lever for Ronald Reagan. And what we have done is captured the same moment in this country, only its mirror image. And we`re in that mirror image world right now because Donald Trump denied and delayed and deceived the American people about what was coming with COVID-19.

He didn`t prepare us on the medical front. He didn`t prepare us on the economic front. We are here because of him. We have hung this rotten corpse around his neck. And he`s going to drag it around for a few months.

O`DONNELL: Now, George Conway tweeted that if Donald Trump didn`t like this one, he`s really going to hate the next one even more. So, any clues you want to give us about the next one?

WILSON: You know, I think, Lawrence, that I`ll use my old Defense Department phrase. I have nothing for you on that at this time, but I can assure you, it will not be greeted well in the White House. He`ll be up late again rage tweeting.

O`DONNELL: We cannot wait. Rick Wilson, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And crazed is in the eye of the beholder. Thank you, Rick.

WILSON: Thanks, Lawrence. Have a great day.

O`DONNELL: Rick Wilson gets tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END