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14TH Night of Protests TRANSCRIPT: 6/8/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Joyce Beatty, DeRay McKesson, Ashish Jha


It`s been extraordinary to see how quickly there has been a governing response to these protests. In Minneapolis, for example, they`re talking about just disbanding this police force and starting over. We have this big piece of legislation, comprehensive piece of legislation introduced by Democrats on the House of Representatives today.

And I don`t think we have ever seen a legislative response to an event like this and a protest, a series of protests like this that has been so quick and so specific and in fact so guided by the protest demands themselves.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Guided by them, but I think also it`s a sort of product of people doing the work all of this time, like there`s been protest movements and there`s been outrage and upset and, you know, pleas for reform and transformation in incidents like this in the past. And even though it didn`t necessarily feel like those things led to the kind of change and the kind of proposals that we`re seeing right now, all the work that people did to prepare for this moment, prepare for this moment so that when the time came that there was the will to get it done, we`d know what to do, it is paying off now. I mean, the preparation and the hard work that`s been done is now sort of coming to flower, and it`s impressive to see.

O`DONNELL: When government asks for patience, Rachel, it doesn`t mean hours or weeks. When government asks for patience, it means decades, and there have been decades of work and experience going into what is now becoming the governing reaction to this.

MADDOW: That`s right. That`s exactly right.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Well, congressional Democrats made history today by introducing the most thorough and potentially effective federal legislation in history, aimed at stopping police abuse of citizens, including unjustifiable killing by police.

And this began a long time ago. The legislative crusade that we`re now seeing pushed today. It was 150 years ago that Congress began, just began trying to put reasonable federal limits on police conduct. In 1871, Congress made it possible to sue police officers for, quote, the deprivation of any rights, privileges or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution.

And though it was then theoretically possible to bring a federal civil rights lawsuit against police officers since 1871, it was virtually impossible to procedurally advance such a case and eventually actually win such a lawsuit. And in fact, it took over 100 years for that theoretical right to sue police officers to even begin to have any practical meaning.

One of the first, if not the first, successful civil rights lawsuits against police officers for wrongful death occurred in the 1970s when the family of James Bowden sued Boston police officers in federal court for shooting James Bowden, who was unarmed, in the back and the back of the head. I tell the story of that history-making case in my first book "Deadly Force" which was published in 1983.

And that case then showed everything that was wrong about trying to police the police. Most of which is still wrong today and most of which is addressed in the new legislation introduced today in Congress. The police officers who shot James Bowden in the back, in the back of the head, were never disciplined by the Boston police department. Even though an all white federal jury in court found that they had absolutely no justification for firing those guns.

The city of Boston refused to pay the judgment awarded by that jury for years and years until political pressure was brought to city hall by leaders of the black community, and there was never any form of criminal investigation of those two Boston police officers. And the Bowden case was never used as a road map of what had to be fixed in American policing. It took 40 more years of unarmed black men and women being killed by police, shot in the back, shot in their homes, forty more years of black bodies lying on the pavement in broad daylight in places like Ferguson, Missouri for hours on end while a community watches knowing that capital punishment just came to their street in the person of a man with a badge playing the role of prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner all at once.

It took 40 years and the invention of video cameras that fit in everyone`s pockets. Video cameras have done more to discipline police officers than all of the internal affairs investigators in the history of police work combined. And video has slowly, very slowly, educated white America about this crisis. And thanks to 10 minutes of video recorded by a 17-year-old girl that shows George Floyd saying "I can`t breathe" and drawing his last breaths under the knee of a police officer, millions of people have taken to the streets around the world to march for change.

And the response from governments so far has been unlike anything we have ever seen before. The Minneapolis City Council wants to dismantle their police department and just start over again. The Minneapolis city council wants to make any form of chokehold by police illegal and require police officers to intervene to prevent abuse by other police officers and immediately report it or become criminally liable for misconduct themselves if they don`t take such action.

And yesterday, a Republican United States senator took his place in this fast-moving history by joining the marchers in Washington and saying the words "Black Lives Matter." And today, Democrats in Congress led by the Congressional Black Caucus have introduced the justice in policing act. It changes language in federal law so that federal civil rights prosecutions of police officers do not have to clear extraordinary legal hurdles. And it would modify that federal law that I referred to that was passed in 1871 to not just enable individuals to sue police officers but to finally make it legally possible to enforce juries` judgments in federal civil rights lawsuits.

The bill would create a nationwide ban on the use of chokeholds by police, police officers. It would require all federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras and it would use federal funding to ensure the use of body cameras by local police. Most comprehensive legislation like this when it is carefully assembled in this way is the product of a series of congressional fact-finding hearings and policy hearings in several different committees and subcommittees that are carefully scheduled to build legislative momentum for the moment when the big comprehensive bill, the product of all that work, is unveiled.

And the scheduling of those hearings is crucial to building that momentum. But the reason this bill has suddenly come to the front of the legislative agenda in the House of Representatives is not because of anything set in a congressional hearing. It`s because of what everyone in Congress has heard and what we have all heard and what the whole world has heard George Floyd say with that police knee on his neck, "I can`t breathe." He wasn`t the first unarmed black man who we`ve all heard say that on video. This moment has been a long, very long time coming.

Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio. She is the vice chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Congresswoman Beatty, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

I know a lot of work went into assembling what is this bill over long periods of time, as Rachel and I were just discussing, but it`s hard to believe that you would have had that day today in Congress, that this would have been the day when the House Democrats decided it`s time to present this bill and present it in as comprehensive a fashion as you did.

How long did it take between the events of what happened in Minneapolis to get to the point where you all agreed it was time for this legislation?

REP. JOYCE BEATTY (D-OH): I think it was the culminating fact. I can tell you, Lawrence, we have been working on pieces of legislation well before the George Floyd, well before Breonna Taylor, well before Ahmaud Arbery. This is something we have been watching.

And I think when America has spoken, when you look at all the protesters, when you look at everything, we`re here at this moment in time and this comprehensive, bold legislation is something that`s needed. When you`re looking across America and you`re looking at the number of people who are saying enough is enough, what affects any one of us directly affects all of us indirectly.

So we`re doing all those things that you just mentioned. We`re putting the no chokehold. We`re putting the ban on no-knock warrants. We`re making sure that all police officers have body cameras, that there is a dashboard camera in all of the police cars.

And we`re not putting anymore monies into the police departments. We`re making them repurpose the dollars that they have for de-escalation training, for cultural training because here`s what must happen. We must change the practices, the protocols in our police departments at the state, the local and every level, and that`s our role in federal government.

When we have watched what`s happened across America, this has been a long time coming. And what I`d like to say, Lawrence, is today, we`re breathing for George Floyd.

O`DONNELL: I`d like to listen to something that Joe Biden said about funding for police. Let`s listen to that.


NORAH O`DONNELL, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: You`ve seen the Black Lives Matter painted on that street just outside the White House. Some demonstrators added: equals defund the police. Do you support defunding the police?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I don`t support defunding the police. I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness and, in fact, are able to demonstrate they can protect the community and everybody in the community.


O`DONNELL: What was your reaction to that?

BEATTY: I actually support what Joe Biden just said because I think our role is to make the effective changes that we need to make in the police department. And that`s what this legislation does.

It starts at the very beginning. And it mandates that these are the things that we must put in place, and we`re going to hold back those funding. No new dollars will go into the police department. We`re going to make sure that they repurpose their dollars because when you look at all the federal cuts that we`re making now in the midst of COVID-19, how can we put more money in there when we`re cutting monies for SNAP and for housing and for children?

So I think this is a bold step. And I think that we have America on our side because this is also happening because Black Lives Matter. When you look at the people who are protesting across this nation, it`s time for us to all come together and to listen to them. When I think about it was 75 years ago when Rosa Parks made a change in this nation that we thought we wouldn`t see, when I think about 1964 and 1965, 55 and 56 years ago when we were marching and protesting.

I served with the Honorable John Lewis and when he got out there and he was protesting and fighting some 55 years ago for civil rights, for our voting rights, this is in that same vein that we`re asking for our police rights. Thus, justice in policing.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

BEATTY: Thank you so much.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Joining our discussion now, Jelani Cobb, staff writer for "The New Yorker" and professor of journalism at Columbia University. He`s an MSNBC political analyst. And Marq Claxton is with us. He`s a retired New York City Police Detective and the director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance.

And, Jelani, let me begin with you on this question of defunding the police. We heard in Norah O`Donnell`s question do you support defunding the police, we heard Joe Biden say I don`t support defunding the police. Then he went on to talk about budget cuts to the police if they don`t conform with these federal requirements that he would want to impose.

So, are we in a semantics space here on this phrase, defund police, or is there something more going on?

JELANI COBB, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think so. And I`ve been thinking that for a minute because, you know, what Biden is talking about is a very tried and true strategy going back to the civil rights movement where the federal legislation, as you well know, to prevent discrimination was to withhold federal dollars from any institution that discriminated on the basis of race.

That`s the way they got around the impact of private institutions being able to do what they wanted to do. That`s the way he`s coming from on this. But when people are talking about defunding the police, I think that they`re kind of on the face of it thinking there will be police officers not able to get a new squad car or going around and not able to have the new equipment that they need in order to do the job effectively.

That`s not what people are talking about. The fact of the matter is -- and quite frankly having reported on police for a good while now, there are a lot of officers who, when you sit down and talk with them, will admit that the police are being asked to do too many things. And many of these are things they`re not well equipped to do in the first place.

The classic example of this is respond to people in mental health crisis. And a large number of the unarmed people who were shot by police are people who are in mental health crisis.

So perhaps you should not be funding police at the rate that you`re funding them and perhaps be funding other outlets, other institutions that could more effectively handle those kinds of problems.

O`DONNELL: Marq Claxton, of all the reforms you`ve been reading about from Minneapolis City Council to the Congress, what do you think is the most effective, or what are the top few most effective of these reforms?

MARQ CLAXTON, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE DIRECTOR: I think the reforms suggested are ideas that deal with qualified immunity and something you just touched on, the ability of individuals, of the citizens, to seek redress against police agencies or individual police officers who engage in criminal unlawful conduct. I think that`s hugely significant. We have oftentimes said that there will be no significant change or reform, if you will, until there is significant punishment for those who violate the law. So I think that aspect of the proposed legislation is hugely significant.

And we just have to be mindful that much of the ideas in this current legislation came from policing reform package in the previous administration that was kind of shelved, that was shelved early on in this administration. So, there are some really significant ideas upgraded (AUDIO GAP) due to circumstances that we find ourselves in right now.

O`DONNELL: Jelani Cobb, as we look at the live shots of the protests that are going on coast to coast, Seattle to New York, at the moment, I want you to reflect on what we`ve seen in the last week of protest because it`s like -- and this is true almost whenever you go into police world. You can find things to be optimistic about, and you can find things to be pessimistic about at exactly the same time and it`s hard to weigh them.

For example, we have seen police officers join with protesters, take a knee. We`ve seen some dancing police officers trying to, you know, relieve the pressure with the crowd. And then we have seen on video from coast to coast horrific abuse by police in New York City, in Buffalo, in many different jurisdictions around the country abusing completely peaceful protesters as the president did in Washington, D.C., and when you try to sort out what is the picture of American police work we should get from the police response to the protests, how do we sort that out?

COBB: So, you know, I think the issue is not that there are some police who are taking a knee and some police who are joining or dancing with demonstrators and other police who have been behaving, you know, very aggressively and frankly very violently toward nonviolent protesters. The issue is that it remains someone`s prerogative to determine whether they have behaved in either of those ways.

So it is not a question of which side of the coin police land on. It`s that the institution has enough power to simply say we`ll be nice or we won`t be nice. There is no national standard for how police are expected to behave across the 17,000 different law enforcement units in this country and departments in this country. And so that`s where I think the fundamental issue here is. We have an institution that is really unchecked in any regard.

The last thing I will say about this really quickly is that it`s strange that we`ve had this kind of antagonism toward police reform from conservatives who are typically concerned about government having too much power. Well, here we have the part of government that literally has the power to kill people, and they are not typically in favor of saying we need to put restraints or at least establish national standards for the ways in which these people have to interact with the public.

O`DONNELL: Jelani Cobb, Marq Claxton, thank you for joining our discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.

And when we come back, DeRay McKesson will join us on the 14th night of protests to talk about the remarkable endurance of these demonstrations and what they have achieved and over the last several years, what they`re achieving now. DeRay McKesson has been at the front of these protests for years now.


O`DONNELL: We`re watching the 14th straight day and night of protests around the country tonight. Today, thousands of protesters marched in the streets of New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Chicago. We are also seeing protests in some very small rural areas like Garden City, Kansas. Thousands took to the streets in Starkville, Mississippi, on Saturday. And this march in Alpine, Texas, surprised a local reporter who called it possibly the largest protest he`s ever seen in that region.

This weekend, Republican Senator Mitt Romney joined protesters on the streets of Washington, D.C., and surely shocked his Republican colleagues by saying this.


REPORTER: Hey, Senator. Why is it important for you to be out here today?

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): We need a voice against racism. We need many voices against racism and against brutality. We need to stand up and say that black lives matter.


O`DONNELL: Today in George Floyd`s hometown of Houston, Texas, thousands of mourners waited in long lines to pay their respects to George Floyd at a public viewing of George Floyd`s casket and George Floyd`s Houston high school held a candlelight vigil tonight.

Let`s begin with MSNBC`s Jacob Soboroff, who is covering the protests in Los Angeles.

Jacob, what`s the situation tonight?

JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Lawrence, this is just the remnants of one of, you know, what feels like protests popping up all the time all throughout the city of Los Angeles.

It was hard to miss what happened here yesterday. 100,000 people, according to the organizers, Black Lives Matter, marching down Hollywood Boulevard through the symbolic heart of the city of Los Angeles and not only doing so in solidarity after the killing of George Floyd but doing so for specific policy aims, defunding the Los Angeles Police Department and firing Jackie Lacey, the district attorney here in the city of Los Angeles.

And now the challenge is take those people from the streets and move it into action in this building right here, Los Angeles city hall, where the mayor and the city council have committed to taking $150 million to $250 million out of the police department budget but activists down here say that is not enough for them, there are so many issues in civil society, they need money and that predominantly affect African-Americans like the homelessness crisis.

You can see it right here in the city of Los Angeles. Like the education crisis. Like the healthcare crisis. COVID-19 is still a huge problem here in Los Angeles. So until that money comes up, until Black Lives Matter and the other organizations in the coalition get a seat at the table, this is going to continue out here, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Jacob Soboroff reporting from Los Angeles -- thank you very much, Jacob. Really appreciate it.

We now turn to MSNBC`s Joe Fryer in Houston, Texas, where the funeral service for George Floyd will be held tomorrow.

Joe, what is the situation there tonight at this hour?

JOE FRYER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT & ANCHOR: Well, Lawrence, a candlelight vigil wrapped up here just a few moments ago. This is Jack Yates High School where George Floyd graduated from in 1993. Hundreds of people showed up here wearing crimson and gold, the school colors.

He was remembered as a star athlete here who played basketball and football. In fact, members of his football team that went to the state championship game in Texas in the early `90s, they took the stage, along with George Floyd`s brothers, who spoke to the crowd and talked about the importance of voting and the importance of going to local city council meetings and talking with state legislators. That it`s about more than just the presidency.

Now, this was the end of a long emotional day that started half an hour ago, half an hour from here at the visitation of George Floyd. It lasted six hours. Thousands of people showed up. They had to wear masks and gloves and keep a safe social distance. I spoke with some of them who say they didn`t even know George Floyd but they came to show support for his family and to show support for the movement.

Of course, former Vice President Joe Biden was in Houston today. He met privately with Floyd`s family. Their attorney says that Biden met with them for a little more than an hour. Apparently he recorded a video that will be played at the funeral tomorrow. He is not going to be there in person because of the Secret Service and not wanting to cause a distraction.

We know that the funeral will take place tomorrow. The Reverend Al Sharpton will be delivering the eulogy. A number of dignitaries are going to be there, including members of Congress and the mayor of Houston. And then, George Floyd will be laid to rest next to his mother, who passed away a couple years ago. Of course, it was his mother`s name he was calling out for in the final minutes of his life -- Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Joe Fryer, thank you for that report tonight from Houston. Really appreciate it.

And joining us now is DeRay McKesson. He`s co-founder of Campaign Zero and host of "Pod Save the People."

DeRay, I really wanted to hear from you tonight because you have been advancing not just the slogan that black lives matter but the importance of it, its meaning in this country. It has now entered the language in a way and at a level that it never has before. What was it like for you yesterday to watch Mitt Romney in a march against police abuse say the words "Black Lives Matter"?

DERAY MCKESSON, CO-FOUNDER, CAMPAIGN ZERO: Surprised by that (INAUDIBLE) seeing (INAUDIBLE) I was shocked. I`ll say that we have seen this before, right? We`ve seen a lot, (INAUDIBLE) and we haven`t actually (INAUDIBLE) turned (INAUDIBLE) this into action.

Think about what it mean to actually kill more of people or not less (inaudible). What does that look like between 2019 COVID quarantine lockdown changed nothing about the numbers? So when I see Mitt Romney, I`m interested to see what will he fight for this in congress, will he fight for this in his home state or this will be another (inaudible) public official making another set of platitudes to the public?

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: And what about the way these protests have spread to these very small towns. I don`t think that`s something we have seen before. I have heard reports from little places in Massachusetts where I have friends and other places around the country, tiny places where they have never seen any gathering of any protesters before, and sometimes it`s six. Sometimes it`s a dozen or two dozen. But what does that tell us about what`s happening with this particular protest and its strength?

MCKESSON: Yes. So I think that, you know, the good thing is that it`s spreading to suburban and rural communities. When we look at the data from 2014 to today, and there has been a decrease in police killings in cities, but an increase in rural and suburban communities. So the problem has always been enrolled in these suburban communities. The camera hasn`t always been there. So it is good, actually, that the protests are spreading to these places because police officers are actually increasing in those communities.

So when we look at the overall trend line, though it is decreasing about 20% to 2014, the net increases in suburban and in rural communities have completely erased the public. So it is good people are not focusing on L.A. and the New York, right? It is good that people are thinking about Western Maryland, that they came out of South Bend, Indiana they are thinking about places that aren`t just the top 16 biggest cities in the country or the top 20 biggest cities about this issue because those are where the news often goes. Those are where the camera goes, but the problem is everywhere. You know in 2019 there was only 27 days when offsetting to kill somebody, so there is also a pretty consistent trauma in communities.

O`DONNELL: And DeRay what is your reaction to some of the legislative proposals, the governing proposals for Minneapolis City council to congress? Which of them do you think are the most effective if they are implemented?

MCKESSON: Yes. I think Minneapolis is a really gold star right now. I think the understanding the police Chicago will be interesting, I`m hopeful that they will create new mechanisms in the city for safety. I used to live in Minneapolis. I know the city has a deep problem with racism. And remember that Minneapolis black persons are 13 times more likely to be killed (inaudible) right person, the highest racism disparity and police violence in any place across the country. When we think about that, too, you know, we`re hopeful it isn`t a commission that lasts seven months and then keeps going and you know, like that can`t be what happened. I think about federal legislation it is a good first start I think there is some good things in the bill. But we don`t need to give any more money to police departments and it seems like part of the bill will increase funding to police departments.

Police departments are already heavily funded across the country. You know, when we think about this moment, we believe that experts should do what experts do. We should make sure that who responds to mental health crisis and that`s a health expert, not a police officer. Who respond to homelessness, not a police officer, a social worker? Like, how do we off load these responsibilities currently and the resources primarily, that has to be a part of the strategy. I`m interested to see congress step up and finally do something that`s transformative because I`ll tell you, Lawrence, not much changed since 2014, right? 2014 to today the police killed more people, not less. So the solutions they told us were solutions, body cameras, training, those things didn`t matter.

O`DONNELL: DeRay Mckesson, thank you very much for joining us DeRay. I really want to hear from you on this subject, we feel very lucky to have you joining us, very important. And we want you to keep coming back. Thank you very much, DeRay.

And when we come back, every protester in America now has had to make a decision about how much COVID-19 risk to take while protesting in a country that is still in the middle of the pandemic. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: A study from the University of California Berkeley published today found that shutdown orders implemented in early April prevented 60 million new coronavirus cases in the United States and over 500 million worldwide. As of tonight, there are 1,962,782 reported cases of coronavirus in the United States, and there are 111,635 reported deaths from coronavirus in the United States. 20 states that began their phase one reopenings before mid May have reported increases in reported cases of coronavirus over the last 14 days. Among them, Arizona has registered one of the largest increases in cases of coronavirus and recorded a new high for the number of coronavirus hospitalizations.

The Arizona Daily Star reports the Health Departments data showcases increasing at a faster rate than diagnostic testing. Florida has reported more than 1,000 new reported cases of coronavirus each day in the last six days in a row. And today Texas and North Carolina both reported new record highs for the number of hospitalizations related to COVID-19. In New York it has been 100 days since the first coronavirus case was confirmed. Yesterday in New York State 702 new cases of coronavirus. And today New York City began opening parts of the city under their phase one plan. 400,000 people are now allowed to return to work in construction, manufacturing and retail jobs. Today New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo said this.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): If you were at a protest, I understand your point. I`m with you. We also have this situation with the coronavirus. Act responsibly. Get a test. Get a test. Act as if you have been exposed.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is the Dr. Ashish Jha. He`s the Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. And Dr. Jha, what about Andrew Cuomo`s recommendation, if you have been at a large protest or a protest, you should now get tested.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes, good evening, Lawrence. And thanks for having me on. So I agree with that. Obviously we`re worried, all of us are, that the protests are going to fuel new infections. And one of the best things people can do beyond wearing masks and using hand sanitizers and trying to stay in small groups is getting tested before and after the protests.

O`DONNELL: Now what would you say to someone like Mitt Romney, who is in his 70s, he is a man of obviously great physical health and not even going to say for a man of his age. Looks like a man of 35. And he decided yesterday, he wants to go out to that march in Washington. He put on a mask. He went out to that march. What would you say to him before that? Would you recommend against him doing that?

JHA: You know these are complicated decisions, Lawrence. People are choosing between things that obviously increase their risk a little or a lot, depending on how you behave. But definitely increase the risk. Again, speaking up for in justice and that is also a long standing tradition in our country. So if I were in his position, I would say to him, if this is something you feel strongly about, wear the mask, try to stay distance from other folks, use hand sanitizer and keep your hand clean, and don`t spend too much time out there, don`t do this per days especially for someone like him who is at a higher risk.

O`DONNELL: And where do you see us tonight? Where do you see the United States tonight in our curve of this pandemic?

JHA: This is a difficult one right, because we really have a tale of a couple of different countries in one. The places that were at the hardest hit, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut continue to make really good progress, cases declining substantially. But as you said in your introduction just before the segment, we do have a large chunks in the country, the Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, other places California, where cases are rising. And that really worries me because, as we continue into the summer months and especially as we look out into the fall, we have a lot of cases of this disease and in many places it`s heading in the wrong direction.

O`DONNELL: As we go forward, what is your recommendation on testing? Are we at the point where everyone who can be tested should get tested or should we still be more concerned with people who have symptoms and those of us who don`t have symptoms just waiting? Is there a moment where we should all just get tested?

JHA: Yes. So this has of course been the incredible frustration of this entire response, is the failure of the federal government to get this going. We are up to about 400,000 tests a day, that`s good. That`s progress from where we were a couple of months ago, but far from where we need to be. And so what I`d like to get to as a point in the country where everybody with even the mildest symptoms is getting tested, their contacts are getting tested, high risk places like nursing homes, hospital, meat plants, et cetera are getting tested and we still should have test leftover for schools and colleges when they open up. We are nowhere near that and I am not convinced that our Federal Government is going to get us there.

O`DONNELL: Dr. Ashish Jha thank you very much for joining our discussion tonight. We really appreciate it.

JHA: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, several new polls now showing Joe Biden has a strong lead over Donald Trump and that his lead is a stronger lead than Hillary Clinton had at this point in the calendar four years ago. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: The latest NBC News Wall Street Journal national poll gives Joe Biden a seven point lead over Donald Trump, 49% to 42%. It is among the polls released over the last week showing Joe Biden leading Donald Trump; all of them outside the margins of error.

Among those gains for Joe Biden, female voters, that`s a big one. Joe Biden has a 21 point lead over Donald Trump among female voters now. That is an eight point gain over what Hillary Clinton had in 2016. She won female voters by 13 points and got 3 million more votes than Donald Trump but did not win the Electoral College.

And so to win the Electoral College, Joe Biden has to do better than Hillary Clinton on those numbers and that`s what the polls are currently showing you, according to RealClearPolitics Hillary Clinton average between 43% and 48% of support in the run up for 2016 Presidential Election. "The Washington Post" reports Biden`s average lead by contrast is consistent and often larger than Clinton`s ever was. He is right at 50% and his average lead is 8 points. Last week saw a parade of military leaders, including former Marine Corps general James Mattis who was Donald Trump`s first secretary of defense taking strong stands, public stands, against Donald Trump. Some are specifically endorsing Joe Biden, including former Secretary of State and Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell.


GEN. COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: We`re not a country of just the President. We have a congress. We have a supreme court. But most of all, we have the people of the United States, the ones who vote, the ones who vote him in and the ones who vote him out. I`m very close to Joe Biden on a social matter and on a political matter. I`ve worked with him for 35, 40 years, and he is now the candidate, and I will be voting for him.


O`DONNELL: After this break, Former Republican Strategist, Steve Schmidt will get tonight`s last word on Biden versus Trump.


O`DONNELL: Joe Biden described his visit today with George Floyd`s grieving family.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s hard enough to grieve, but it`s much harder to do it in public. It`s much harder with the whole world watching. They`re an incredible family. His little daughter was there, the one who said her daddy`s going to change the world, and I think her daddy is going to change the world. I think what`s happened here is one of those great inflection points in American history for real in terms of civil liberties, civil rights, and just treating people with dignity.


O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Steve Schmidt. He`s a former Republican Strategist and an MSNBC Political Analyst. Steve, as we all know and as you know better than most of us since you`ve been in there inside a presidential campaign, the campaigns don`t get to decide what the campaign is about. Things happen. News happens. Things happen that change the nature of a campaign. What has the current situation in America where polling showing vast majorities thinking that the country is out of control - what has it done to the way the country`s looking at Joe Biden and the way the country is looking at Donald Trump?

STEVE SCHMIDT, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Good evening, Lawrence. I think that there`s a sense amongst the American people that we`re living in truly historic times, and we are, and that never in all the course of human history have we ever had an American leader who has performed as incompetently and ineptly as has Donald Trump during the course of this pandemic. And as a result, we have a shattered economy.

The United States is the epicenter of coronavirus disease and death. We are over 100,000 dead and we`ll have many more before this is over. And of course the 40 million people out of work. In no other country has the economic consequences been what they are in the United States. We`ve seen a President incite violence. We`ve seen a President hide in his bunker. We`ve seen a President order violence against peaceful protesters outside the White House exercising their constitutionally protected rights to speech, to assembly, to petition the government.

And the American people have seen this clinic of ineptitude play out now for months. We`ve seen a President up there when tens of thousands of Americans are dead talking about his TV ratings. We`ve seen him recommend the injection of household disinfectants to deal with coronavirus. From bottom to top, from right to left, wherever you look, I think the American people are saying four years is enough, and we need to go in a different direction in November.

And as a result, Joe Biden is rising in the polls. So and they also saw the American people last week, Joe Biden, I think, perfect as a President is supposed to in a time of great crisis. He gave a hell of a speech last week. He was out from Wilmington, and I think the American people saw the measure of a man. In the end, Lawrence, it`s going to come down to this. We have a moral man, Joe Biden, versus an immoral and amoral man, Donald Trump. We have an honest man, Joe Biden, versus a deeply corrupt man, Donald Trump.

We have a competent man, Joe Biden, versus an incompetent man in Donald Trump. We have a respected international statesman in Joe Biden versus an international laughingstock in Donald Trump. And that`s the question the American people are going to have to decide, continuing precipitous decline with Trump or a season of American renewal with Vice President, Biden.

O`DONNELL: Steve, when you`re sitting in the middle of a presidential campaign as you`ve been many times and you see these polls rolling in, with the low, which is the NBC poll - the low of a seven point lead and the high of a CNN poll with a 14 point lead for Joe Biden all at the same time, what are the - how do the campaigns react to those numbers when they see them and they see those variations?

SCHMIDT: Well, the way that the campaigns are looking at this now is they`re looking at the average of all of the polls. So you`re looking at an 8%, 9% lead for Biden by the average, but you`re looking at decimation inside Trump`s internal numbers on all of the questions of leadership, on decency, on being up to and fit for the job of being president. He`s just lost the confidence of the American people during this season of ineptitude and incompetence in his performance. And you see that throughout the poll.

Now, when you look at the state polls and you look at the trajectory of some of the Senate races, if you`re a republican, you`re starting to tremble. These numbers are very, very ominous at this hour. And so you could see in the coming months more and more of these republicans starting to jump off the ship like fleeing rats. But, you know, at the end they`ve lashed their masts to the S.S. Trump, and the S.S. Trump is foundering in heavy seas. That`s what the poll number says.

O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt gets tonight`s last word. Thank you, Steve. Thank you for joining us.

SCHMIDT: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.