New York Times TRANSCRIPT: 5/18/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Harvey Fineberg, Nicholas Kristof, Joel Brenner, Amy Klobuchar,Bleu Adams

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

You can keep going and discuss anything else you`d like to recommend in this next hour of TV.

So Amy Klobuchar is here. I guess I`ll -- I mean, what`s there to say about the vice presidency at this point? What should I ask her about that if anything at this point?

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS":  Well, I still believe that the only real question, the most important you`d ask somebody who`s being considered for vice president is, are you qualified and ready to take over the presidency of the United States on zero notice? And if you can get her to say something other than yes and elaborate on the fact that she`s ready and how, you`ll have scored a triple -- you`ll have hit at least a triple.

O`DONNELL:  OK. I`ll see if I can trip her up on that one. Let`s see.

MADDOW:  All right.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL:  I`ll give it a try. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you.

Well, the schoolteacher turned statesman in Northern Ireland, John Hum, once summarized Irish history to me in one sentence when he said the Irish never forget and the English never remember.

We have a story tonight about the Irish never forgetting. Charitable contributions are pouring in from Ireland to help Native American tribes suffering in the coronavirus pandemic and one reason that money is coming from Ireland is pay back. Pay back of a debt incurred 173 years ago when the Choctaw Nation sent help to starving people in Ireland during the Irish famine.

Tonight, the Navajo Nation is suffering the highest per capita infection rate in America, higher than New York. We`ll have that story of pay back for you at the end of this hour.

We begin tonight with insomnia, confusion, paranoia, irritability and hallucinations. Those are just some of the well-known and commonly experienced side effects from the drug that the president of the United States said he is taking today and has been taking for two weeks, but that side effect list doesn`t help us prove that Donald Trump is actually taking the drug since he has exhibited those characteristics for many years. He`s a self-confessed insomniac that never had a good night`s sleep.

And for hallucinations, yes, he invited Obamagate during the period when he claims to be taking this hallucination inducing drug, but he invented fairytales about President Barack Obama`s birth years, years ago.

Here is the reason Donald Trump decided today is the day, today is the day to tell reporters that he is taking hydroxychloroquine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You believe you were retaliated against because you raised concerns about hydroxychloroquine?

DR. RICK BRIGIHT, FORMER DIRECTOR OF BIOMEDICAL ADVANCED RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY:  Yes. I do. I believe my last ditch effort to protect Americans from that drug was the final straw that they used and believed was essential to push me out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  That was Dr. Rick Bright last night on "60 Minutes" with Nora O`Donnell after he testified last week to a House committee that the Trump administration was dangerously pushing hydroxychloroquine into widespread use without supervision and that the Trump administration was trying to rush onto the American market supplies of hydroxychloroquine from factories in foreign countries like Pakistan that have never been inspected by the FDA and certified safe enough to manufacture a drug to American standards for the American market.

It was the source of the drug that troubled Rick Bright the most when Donald Trump claimed today to be taking hydroxychloroquine, it came at the end of a confused paranoid hallucination about Dr. Rick Bright that the president performed for reporters. Donald Trump began by calling Dr. Bright, quote, a phony whistleblower and then Donald Trump rambled through some lies about Dr. Bright, and then to win the point on hydroxychloroquine, Donald Trump decided to say this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I happen to be taking it. I happen to be taking it.

REPORTER:  Hydroxychloroquine?

TRUMP:  I`m taking it, hydroxychloroquine.

REPORTER:  When did you start taking it?

TRUMP:  Right now, yes. Couple of weeks ago started taking it.

REPORTER:  Why, sir?

TRUMP:  Because I think it`s good. I`ve heard a lot of good stories and if it`s not good, I`ll tell you right. I`m not going to get hurt by it. It`s been around for 40 years for malaria, for lupus, for other things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Note to viewers, Donald Trump is a pathological liar. I`ve been supplying that note to viewers on this program since 2011 when Donald Trump first started talking about President Barack Obama`s birth certificate, but especially worth a reminder tonight because people need to be warned when they see the president of the United States say, I`m taking this drug and I think it`s good, people should know that it`s entirely possible that he is not taking that drug.

It is entirely possible that he is claiming to take the drug as a political defense against a scientist who has lodged professional complaints about what the Trump administration tried to do with that drug, that the president wants to insist is safe for everyone, everyone.

If the president started losing weight, that could add some credibility to his claim that he is taking the drug because loss of appetite and weight loss along with diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain are also side effects of this drug and hydroxychloroquine can cause real problems, deadly problems for people with heart issues. It does interact with cholesterol reducing drugs and hydroxychloroquine goes straight into breast milk, so it`s not for everyone.

You know, the Trump White House is feeling pressure when they put out a written statement after the president says something ultra strange on TV and tonight, the physician to the president put out a rare public statement under the subject heading hydroxychloroquine. And that statement does not say that the White House physician prescribed the drug to the president and the statement does not say that the president is actually taking the drug. It just says after numerous discussions, he and I had regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine, we concluded the potential benefit from treatment out weighed the relative risks.

OK. That`s what you concluded and so what? Did you then prescribe the drug? If you did prescribe the drug, in what dose did you prescribe the drug? None of that information is there.

That leaves Nancy Pelosi worried about Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  As far as the president is concerned, he`s our president and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group, morbidly obese they say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  The stock market had a good day today, not because of anything the president said. It was considered a good day for the stock market in the middle of the economic depression America and the world are experiencing and that good day was provoked by the market`s reaction to a development on the vaccine front.

"The New York Times" reported the news this way. The first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in people appears to be safe and able to stimulate an immune response against the infection, the manufacturer Moderna announced on Monday offering a glint of hope to a world desperate for ways to stop the pandemic, a glint of hope.

It`s easy in these times to overreact to a glint of hope, a glint of hope is a tiny amount of hope but it is hope. And this glint of hope comes from a tiny number of people who have received this experimental vaccine eight people, exactly eight people have shown a positive response to this possible vaccine.

The company developing this vaccine is now proceeding to a second phase of tests involving 600 people, and then a third phase in July involving thousands of people. "The Times" reports, if those trials go well, some doses of the vaccine could become available for widespread use by the end of this year or early 2021, Dr. Tal Zaks, Moderna`s chief medical officer, said in an interview. We`re doing our best to make it as many millions as possible.

As of tonight, there are now 1,518,041 confirmed cases of coronavirus and as of tonight, this country has suffered at least, 91,172 confirmed deaths from coronavirus.

And leading off our discussion tonight is Dr. Harvey Feinberg, the former president of the National Academy of Medicine. He is the chair of the Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases which is requested by the White House in response to the coronavirus. Nicholas Kristof is with us. He`s Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for "The New York Times". And John Heilemann, national affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. He`s editor in chief of "The Recount."

And, Dr. Feinberg, let`s start with the glint of hope about this vaccine. What is your reading of the report?

DR. HARVEY FINEBERG, FORMER PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ACADEMY OF MEDICINE:  Lawrence, that`s apt care causation, it is a glint of hope. It`s the very first stage of testing a vaccine and the demonstration that there is a dose that is both effective in neutralizing antibodies and safe for the few individuals who have taken it provides a glint of hope that this could be a vaccine that ultimately will prove to be effective.

O`DONNELL:  And, Dr. Feinberg, I assume when you`re dealing with a sample of eight that those people are chosen at this stage because they are perfectly healthy people. They wouldn`t have any kind of cardiac issues or any -- you wouldn`t have anyone pregnant taking that vaccine at this level of the test. And so, I assume these eight people are not representative of a cross-section of the larger population that has all sorts of complications that they might bring interactively to a vaccine?

FINEBERG:  That`s absolutely correct. And this very first phase of early testing, the individuals involved are typically young, healthy individuals with no known illness that could be affected by an unknown vaccine. These are very special subgroup of our population, not yet at all representative of those who would be the ultimate recipients of a vaccine.

O`DONNELL:  And, Dr. Feinberg, let me get your reaction to what the president said for about two weeks he claims now he claims that he is taking hydroxychloroquine.

FINEBERG: If he`s taking hydroxychloroquine, it is not based upon any clinical evidence of effectiveness. The clinical studies so far that have examined hydroxychloroquine in patients with advanced disease have not been at all promising. It is possible that this drug could be an effective drug if used early or perhaps even as a preventive, but that`s rather challenging to demonstrate and to presume that it is effective is really misplaced confidence.

Vitamin D may be effective. Vitamin C may be effective. Statins that we take for cholesterol may be effective. There are a lot of possibilities.

And this particular drug has no more reason for confidence than any others, and it is not yet established at all that it`s safe and effective as a preventive. In fact, from the 40 years experience using this drug, we can predict that if enough people who have no reason to take it do take it, there will be side effects. There will be complications due to the drug that could have been avoided.

O`DONNELL:  Nick Kristof, I imagine in your travels in malaria zones, you have taken anti-malaria pills. It`s generally a short course. You start a couple of days before you went to malaria zone. You take it throughout that time and take it about a week after you leave that zone. But this notion of just taking this pill every day indefinitely is something no one has ever heard before because no one has done it, and here`s the president announcing, let`s all do it.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  That`s right. And, I mean, when President Trump says that people have been taking chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for 40 years, you know, it`s true many people took chloroquine, I took chloroquine but people moved to other anti-malarials in more recent years.

And, you know, as the FDA warned, it is associated with heart arrhythmia and when you get an obese 70-year-old president with high LDL cholesterol, then it`s not an obvious thing to do. And it`s certainly not the behavior to model for the country. The president should be modeling wearing masks, not modeling taking hydroxychloroquine.

O`DONNELL:  John Heilemann, Rick Bright`s complaints all surround not all but most of them surround hydroxychloroquine and so there he is on "60 Minutes" last night getting pretty big audience, as "60 Minutes" usually does, and the next day, that`s when Donald Trump decides, I`m going to tell everyone that I take it so I`m the living proof that it`s great.

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST:  Yes, I mean, he was watching last night. He was tweeting about "60 Minutes" in close to real- time, Lawrence.

I mean, I was on with Nicolle earlier today when the news broke and my gut at that moment is stronger now than it was then, he`s not taking the drug. I mean, I don`t think we`ll ever know, but the president, as you pointed out for years now, pathological liar, lies about everything, lies about things for no reason.

Here, he has a good reason to lie about this. He`s made a fool of himself talking about medicine throughout this pandemic. Every time he`s opened his mouth about anything medical, the reality, the truth, the fact, the science, the medical community has come out and slapped him around. Sometimes he made a giant fool of himself talking about disinfectants and putting lights inside our bodies.

Other times, in this case, he was rebuked by people when he said this thing was legit at the outset and he`s been rebuked by the data ever since. And now, on "60 Minutes", something he pays attention to because the TV ratings are high, he`s -- this is about his reputation. This is about him telling the most obvious lie and the fact that his doctor has written this letter that doesn`t actually say that he is under this prescription and taking it.

And in fact, dances around it with the kind of language that you read is just, I think, more powerful circumstantial on top of the instinct evidence that he`s just talking about this, he`s not taking the drug and doing it to salvage what is left of, which is almost nothing, of his reputation on this topic.

O`DONNELL:  Yes.

And, Nick Kristof, the White House press office is putting out the word to reporters that, oh, yes, the doctor did prescribe it and Donald Trump is taking it, but the doctor had a chance to put that in writing and he didn`t. And so, this question of, is he really taking this drug, which would be inconceivable with any previous president revealing their on a prescription drug is kind of -- it`s unsolvable, like we`ll really never know is he really taking this pill?

KRISTOF:  Yes, I mean, I`m agnostic on that question. But, you know, look, "The Washington Post" says that Trump so far has made 18,000 false or misleading statements, 18,000. So this may be 18,001. As you say, we`ll never know.

What ultimately is important is the fact that whether he`s taking it or not, he`s modeling behavior to the rest of the country that is dangerous, that can get other people in trouble rather than modeling behavior like mask wearing that could actually save lives.

O`DONNELL:  And, John Heilemann, we saw a Trump supporter at one of these public protests around the country about the way things are shut down kind of chasing a television reporter who wanted to stay socially distant from the protesters and the protester kept saying, I`m taking hydroxychloroquine, I`m taking hydroxychloroquine.

Apparently, in that protester`s mind believing he was there for immune and couldn`t possibly be infected and therefore, the reporter had nothing to worry about. So, it`s more than just mirroring Trump behavior out there, it`s taking it and taking it even further in public places than Donald Trump does.

HEILEMANN:  Of course. You know, and the -- this is one of the many unintended consequences of the president`s idiocy and irresponsibility on this is stuff like that and as this entire pandemic has taken on this all too depressing and all familiar red/blue culture war kind of quality to it, the notion that people who are Trump devotees out there in the country, they are now not just not wearing masks because Trump doesn`t wear a mask, they`re taking this notion that not wearing a mask is a political statement and that if you wear a mask, that you`re a liberal mini (ph) who is falling for this kind of great hoax in the same way as this kind of hydroxychloroquine thing is now going to become an article of faith this is the miracle drug and it`s going to -- we`ll see all kinds of behaviors flowing out of this that have this kind of culture war character.

There is discussion now down in Texas about having the state Republican convention and banning masks at it. Not just saying you don`t have to wear a mask but banning masks at the state Republican convention. It`s that thing that comes out of this behavior by the president.

O`DONNELL:  Dr. Fineberg, quickly before we go, what would you say to Americans tonight who are thinking about taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive? What are the risks they could face?

FINEBERG:  I would say wait for the results of the clinical trials that are underway. At present, if you take this drug, you`re taking an untested, unproved drug that does have side effects that could harm you. That`s what I would tell them.

O`DONNELL:  Dr. Harvey Fineberg, Nick Kristof, John Heilemann, thank you all for starting us out tonight. Really appreciate it.

HEILEMANN:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, Republicans and Democrats are demanding more information into the announced planned firing of the State Department inspector general who was reportedly investigating why the Trump administration bypassed Congress to sell billions of dollars in weapons to Saudi Arabia last year. Former NSA inspector general Joel Brenner will join us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  Fridays are take-out-the-trash day in the White House historically. Friday nights are when White Houses often put out news that they don`t want people paying much attention to as they drift into the weekend where they might avoid news coverage.

And so, late Friday night, President Trump notified Congress of his intention to fire State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. The law requires a 30-day notification of the firing of an inspector general. Today, NBC News learned Steve Linick was conducting an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo`s decision, quote, to green light billions of dollars to armed sales to Saudi Arabia against the will of Congress.

That is in addition to an investigation underway by the inspector general into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife`s use of State Department personnel for personal errands.

Inspector General Steve Linick is the fourth inspector general to be fired or replaced by Donald Trump in the last six weeks. Needless to say, that is a record. T

Democratic leaders say there is a pattern of politically motivated firing of inspectors general.

Today, Donald Trump says he knows nothing, he knows nothing about the person he wants to fire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  I don`t know anything about it. So, I don`t know him. Never heard of him. But they asked me to terminate him.

I have the absolute right as president to terminate. I said, who appointed him? And they said, President Obama. I said, look, I`ll terminate him.

I don`t know what`s going on other than that but you`d have to ask Mike Pompeo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Never heard of him, but I`m firing him, because he was appointed by President Obama, even though as inspector general, he issued an extremely negative report on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton`s failure to use the proper State Department email system while she was secretary of state.

Joining our discussion is Joel Brenner, who served as inspector general of the National Security Agency under President George W. Bush. He was the head of the U.S. counterintelligence in the Office of Director of Intelligence from 2006 to 2009. He is a senior research fellow at MIT Center for International Studies.

Thank you very much for joining us once again tonight on another inspector general story. We`ve really never seen anything like this. This sequence of just firing every inspector general that takes any kind of step in Donald Trump`s way. But this response by the president we haven`t seen, which is I have no idea who this is. I never heard of him.

What is your reaction to the reporting on this intent to fire?

JOEL BRENNER, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL:  What fairytales are coming out of the White House now? You know, it`s not only that in each of these cases the inspector general has done exactly what he or she was supposed to do, which was to serve in a non-partisan way and to report honestly about shenanigans going on in the executive branch.

What your listeners really need to understand here, Lawrence, is that the president is not just attacking several I.G.s. He`s attacking the entire institution of inspectors general. He is attacking the idea that the Congress has the power under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution to enact laws necessary and proper to see that the laws are carried out. That important clause not only applies to the Congress` ability to see that it`s own functions are carried out but also see that the functions all across the government are properly carried out.

And that`s why the statute, which is now 42 years old, provides for persons that are without regard to political affiliation and solely on the basis of integrity and demonstrated ability and certain relevant fields.

What the president obviously believes and said on other occasions is that everybody in the government owes him personal loyalty. Personal loyalty is not one of those requirements that the statute sets forth, quite the contrary. And the president is really saying to the Congress, you can`t put somebody in the executive branch who I can`t completely control and will tell you anything that I don`t want you to know about.

And that`s why people, regardless of whether they like this president, regardless of whether they are Republicans or Democrats ought to be concerned about this because whoever`s ox is being gored now, will be the other guy`s ox who is at risk later on.

Do you want a government that operates to the rule of law or don`t you? And if you do, you need to be concerned about what`s going on right now. Because it`s -- we`ve never seen this before and it`s bad.

O`DONNELL:  And needless to say, if there is a new president inaugurated on January 20th, if Joe Biden is the next president, these things are going to be investigated. If Mike Pompeo thinks he`ll get away with whatever he was being investigated for, it`s not -- 12 months from now, you could be getting an inspector general report that is full and complete on exactly what these matters are about and very condemning of Secretary Pompeo.

BRENNER:  Yeah, when you fire an I.G., you don`t bury an issue, you put a spotlight on it. You would have thought Secretary Pompeo would have understood that..

This issue of what looks like - yes, we haven`t seen the evidence yet, but as reported by the Post may be a new version of Iran-Contra.

If we see something like that again, it`s not going to disappear by firing the IG. Not only is the evidence going to continue to get compiled by the IG`s office, but there will be a Congressional investigation for sure.

So this issue isn`t going to go away. But what - that`s why I say, it`s not just a question of the particular issue that`s involved here, Lawrence, it`s the status of this institution, which was put in place after Watergate because we were at that time in the `70s dealing with a President who thought that if he thought something was legal, President Nixon, that it had to be legal.

And we saw the results of that. Congress didn`t want it - it wasn`t just Democrats who wanted it, it was the whole Congress wanted it regardless of what party they were, and that`s what`s at stake right now and it`s quite serious.

But I don`t think, if you look at - put it a different way - we have the Congress` institutional prerogatives at stake here and we have a Senate majority that is unwilling to stick up for its institutional prerogatives. I`ve said before, I mean, the Senate majority are acting like lap dogs asleep underneath the President`s sofa.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Well, I guess I got to say, at least Mitt Romney has objected to it, at least there is one Republican. Former Inspector General Joel Brenner, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We want to hear from you again on this. We really appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

BRENNER: You`re welcome.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, as Rachel and I discussed, Senator Amy Klobuchar will join us, and I`m going to try that question that Rachel suggested about the Vice Presidency. We`ll see if we can trip up Senator Klobuchar on that tough question. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): The Senate had their opportunity during the impeachment trial to hold Donald Trump accountable and perhaps avoid a lot of that - what we`re seeing right now. But they either didn`t have the political will, the courage or the backbone to hold him accountable, and so here we are. Yet another watchdog has been fired for doing his job, faithfully performing and executing the duties of his job, which is simply disgraceful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Congressman Val Demings with Ari Melber earlier this evening. And joining our discussion now is Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota. Senator Klobuchar, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: I want to get your reaction to this announced intent to fire the State Department Inspector General.

KLOBUCHAR: It literally made me sick to my stomach, because - and furious. Lawrence, you have a situation, whereas your last guest and former Inspector General pointed out, he`s now done this, this is the fourth person.

The Inspector General for Health and Human Services, for the intelligence agency, the person who should have been the Inspector of General for all of the pandemic work, and now of all things, the State Department right at the time when he is doing a critical investigation regarding the arms sales to Saudi Arabia, something for which there was strong bipartisan support against.

And so, to me, this is the rule of law and I cannot divorce what`s happening with the pandemic, with the basic idea that there is simply a bigger spotlight on Donald Trump`s flaunting of the rule of law. That is what`s happening. That`s what the Congresswoman was referring to.

And I think it is on all of us, not just the Democrats in the Senate, and I`m glad that we saw Mitt Romney speak out, and recently Chuck Grassley. But we need to see more and there must be an investigation, as Elliott Angel and Bob Menendez have called for. There must be an investigation of this. This cannot continue. He cannot continue to flaunt the rule of law.

O`DONNELL: Well, certainly the House would be able to conduct some kind of investigation, but with the Republicans controlling the Committees and the Senate, it`s not clear what`s going to happen there.

If Mitt Romney had enough seniority to be Chairman of Foreign Relations, I think we would see an investigation, because here is what he said about it. This was as quickly he got this out on Saturday saying the firings of multiple Inspector General is unprecedented. Doing so without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose. It is a threat to accountable Democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance of power.

It`s hard to believe, Senator Klobuchar, that there aren`t dozens more such statements from Republican Senators, but that`s the world we now live in.

KLOBUCHAR: Well, exactly. They cannot go around carrying copies of the constitution and talking about the rule of law and their respect for the rule of law, if they allow another Friday night massacre.

They cannot allow this to continue. And we just keep pushing them, and I think it`s an argument for this coming election why it`s not only important to make sure we have someone of decency in Joe Biden in the White House, but why it is important to take back the Senate so that the Senate is an oversight body that it`s supposed to be, so that we do our jobs instead of, as Mitch McConnell had us do this week, vote on judges and judges only.

Are we taking on the package that we just saw from the House? No, we`re not. Are we doing something about helping the state, so they don`t go into bankruptcy as the President has suggested? No, we`re not.

In fact, the Head of the Judiciary Committee has suggested that he`s going to have a hearing on the relationship between President Obama`s administration and Russia. President Obama, that is what they`re doing. And so, this lack of competence and this lack of compassion isn`t just in the White House right now. It`s come over and poisoned the United States Senate.

O`DONNELL: Senator Klobuchar, could you please stay with us across a commercial break, because I have a really tough question about - I`m not going to tell you what it`s about, but Rachel suggested it to me at the beginning of this hour.

KLOBUCHAR: You think I maybe didn`t hear what that was? I might.

O`DONNELL: Geez.

KLOBUCHAR: I mean, it was on it - but that`s okay.

O`DONNELL: All right. OK, well, you have some time to think about it.

KLOBUCHAR: I`ll pretend I didn`t hear it.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back with Senator Klobuchar after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: And Senator Amy Klobuchar is back with us. And Senator Klobuchar, as we all know, Joe Biden has said he`s going to choose a woman as his running mate. We all assume you`re on the shortlist, and Rachel suggested that I ask you this very difficult question, which is, would you be ready to take over the Presidency if called upon instantaneously?

KLOBUCHAR: I think many people would be ready to do that. But the person that I want to see as President is Joe Biden. And Rachel, in fact, was involved in the debate itself, where she asked me many, many questions. I think I did ten national debates. I made my case.

But the person who came out of that primary with my support in the end was Joe Biden. And I think what we should be asking ourselves, Lawrence, is how will he be different than Donald Trump, and how will he take on the challenges of the country in a much more compassionate and competent way?

The first thing is he loves people. He loves this country. He`s going to care what happens to those nurses on the frontline and to the grocery store workers and to the truck drivers who are out there and the first responders.

He`s going to have a plan, not just for the short term, which we`re trying to push right now to help the states and to get our businesses open in a smart way, but also for the long term. Listen to what Jerome Powell today said or this weekend, the head of the Federal Reserve, he said that it`s going to take a long time to get ourselves back.

And we know that, so we need leadership that thinks for the long term and someone that actually is willing to take on those issues of job training and making sure we`ve got a national service plan and making sure our non- profit sector and our businesses and our people are back to work and a national testing strategy.

That`s not just something you do in a day. That`s something you do with a cabinet, that`s something you do with a team, and that`s something that you do immediately that you get into office, and he can hit the ground running in those first 100 days that are going to be so critical. So, see, I had a long time to think of the answer to your question.

O`DONNELL: Yes, you did. So Chairman Powell, and it`s so striking what he said because he`s a conservative Chairman of the Federal Reserve said something we`ve never heard from a Fed Chair, and he is saying that already the government, Congress, and Fed has pumped more money into the economy than ever in history, you`ve delivered more money to workers to companies than ever in history.

But he`s saying it might not be enough and you are going to have to do more, and his bottom line was this very simple three-word sentence that you`ve never heard from a Fed Chair, keep families solvent, keep money going to families. How do you do that?

KLOBUCHAR: What he suggested was bold action, because he`s basically saying they have done what they can do and will continue to do that at the Fed. But they have limited powers and it`s our job to make sure, number one, that unemployment remains strong and that we understand the states can`t do it all.

That number two, we keep supporting our businesses, particularly our small businesses going into this. That number three, I will say that an interesting pair of Bernie Sanders and Mark Warner are leading a bill, I`m one of the co-sponsors, to make sure that we are helping people and paying people so that they keep working at their jobs, so that they keep being part of the work force in those jobs and in those workplaces.

So there is so much more we can do in terms of making sure that our economy just gradually comes back in the right way, but that also making sure that people just don`t go bankrupt all over the place.

We`re already seeing some of it, but we can`t let everyone in the country go bankrupt and we can`t let our states go bankrupt. So, we have a job to do here. And instead, as I said, what`s Mitch McConnell doing? Four judges this week. Where is the pandemic bill? They passed it in the House, why aren`t we starting hearings on it? Because, he`s too busy with his own agenda.

O`DONNELL: Senator Amy Klobuchar. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

KLOBUCHAR: Well, thank you, Lawrence. It`s great to be on.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. And when we come back, we`ll get a report on the Navajo Nation, which now has the highest - the highest per capita rate of coronavirus infection in America, higher than New York. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: On a walk in Northern Ireland years ago, the great statesman and peacemaker, John Hume summarized Irish history for me in one sentence, when he told me, the Irish never forget and the English never remember.

The long memory of the Irish people is at work once again tonight, as contributions have been pouring in from Ireland to the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund. Many of the Irish donors specifically mentioned the donation made by the Choctaw Nation to a similar fund in 1847 that was set up to help feed the starving people of Ireland in the midst of what was called the Great Famine.

The Irish Times reports Cassandra Begay, a member of the Navajo Nation and one of the team organizing the fundraiser, burst into tears as she told The Irish Times of seeing the donations flood in.

"We noticed that we were getting a lot of donations from Ireland, so we were wondering why. Sorry, I get emotional talking about this part," Ms. Begay broke off. "And I learned about what the Choctaw did for the Irish people, and it was so beautiful."

The Navajo Nation, which has one of the strictest stay-at-home orders, now has surpassed New York and New Jersey for the highest per capita infection rate in America. There are now 4,071 confirmed coronavirus cases and 142 confirmed coronavirus deaths in the Navajo Nation, which has a population of 173,000 people and includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.

The total land area of the Navajo Nation is about the size of West Virginia. The international group Doctors Without Borders has sent a team of nine medical professionals to the Navajo Nation.

The first Congressional district in Arizona is a huge landmass that includes some of the Navajo Nation and is represented by Irish-American Congressman Tom O`Halleran. In the last week`s hearing, when whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright testified about the Trump administration`s failures in dealing with the coronavirus, Congressman O`Halleran said this about the Navajo Nation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TOM O`HALLERAN (D-AZ): This fallacy that only urban areas are impacted is - and that it can`t spread very fast, 16 people died yesterday. And in fact, on a per capita basis, this currently has more cases than any state in the country, and yet this hotspot is still not being addressed in the appropriate way. More resources are needed, and they`re needed now, and they were needed more than a month ago, when we started trying to get this done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Bleu Adams, a Navajo business owner. She`s the co-founder of the volunteer group Protect Native Elders, which is distributing relief to native communities. Tell us what the situation is that you are finding, as you tour these reservations and the places where this suffering is occurring.

BLEU ADAMS, CO-FOUNDER, PROTECT NATIVE ELDERS: First of all, thank you for inviting me to the program. I would like to speak on behalf, but not necessarily for my community. What we`re finding is just a terrible need for support and advocacy among our communities.

What we really want people to understand is the reason why Covid is spreading at an alarming rate and the death rates are so high is just the lack of infrastructure regarding access to electricity, access to water, and also broadband internet. We`re having a hard time disseminating information, because the cell service isn`t the greatest, and I think broadband saturation is only at 8%.

O`DONNELL: And what about communicating all the necessary precautions? Without broadband, I imagine that just getting the proper precautions described to enough people is a challenge.

ADAMS: Absolutely, absolutely. But we are trying to come up with innovative solutions. Recently, we partnered with Navajo Nation Shopping Centers, which has the leases for most of the grocery stores, and that`s one of the biggest hubs for communities. And us partnering with them allows us to hand out small bags with hand sanitizer, fabric masks, and also include information on how to keep themselves safe and healthy, and how to use the sanitizer correctly.

O`DONNELL: What are your biggest needs now?

ADAMS: Really, my group is really focused on the hand sanitizer. Because we have a lot of community members that don`t have running water, it makes it extremely difficult to wash hands repeatedly, when they`re already rationing their water. So hand sanitizer is one of our largest needs. It`s really hard to come by, and it`s getting very expensive.

And then, advocacy of course, allies at the federal level that can help maybe with the water rights. We have issues with our water rights, so advocacy, education, you can educate yourself. There are so many grassroots organizations on the ground working to help combat the coronavirus, but really access to water and hand sanitizer are our greatest needs at this moment.

O`DONNELL: Bleu Adams, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We`d like to have you come back and tell us what progress you`re making. Thank you very much.

ADAMS: Absolutely, and thank you.

O`DONNELL: Bleu Adams gets tonight`s last word on behalf of the Navajo Nation. "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams starts now.

 

 

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