LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening.
You know, I was settling into the chair here. I got the ear piece in just in time to hear you say Donald Trump slammed his big, fat -- and I thought, where is this going? And then it was beautiful door and then I -- and then I understood what you were talking about.
And very, very, very important point, and I`m so glad that you covered that tonight. Very, very important story.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Thank you, sir. Have a good evening.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Ali. Thank you.
Well, they did it again. Once again, the White House press corps asked Donald Trump the questions that he wanted to be asked today. Instead of asking him about the most grotesque dereliction of duty in his presidency, his refusal to do anything about intelligence reports that Russia has been paying a bounty for the killing of American soldiers in Afghanistan, nine questions. Reporters got in nine questions this time, and not one of them was about Vladimir Putin paying to kill American soldiers, not one.
And so, it had been 18 days since "The New York Times" broke that story about Russia paying to kill soldiers, and Donald Trump has managed to avoid getting a single uncomfortable question about it from White House reporters.
We will be joined tonight by a former CIA official who served in the clandestine service for 34 years, including during the Trump presidency. He was a counterterrorism chief for the region that includes Afghanistan, and he now says that he is sure that Donald Trump knew what Russia was doing.
And when Donald Trump did take questions today at the end of a photo op about law enforcement, the very first question was, as if on cue, about Dr. Anthony Fauci. Of course, it was about Dr. Fauci. The Trump White House had spent the weekend trying to undermine Dr. Fauci by pointing out that he has changed his mind about some aspects of the coronavirus as the scientific evidence has developed and expanded our knowledge of the virus. That is, of course, what scientists do, change their minds based on changing evidence. But no one in the Trump White House seems to know that.
The only reason Donald Trump opened himself to questions for 13 minutes and 30 seconds today was so that he could say I don`t agree with Dr. Fauci, who is now the only credible voice on the Trump coronavirus task force.
The very first question to Donald Trump today was, are you, quote, at a good place with Dr. Fauci? Do you still appreciate his advice? To which Donald Trump replied, well, I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci. I have had for a long time, right from the beginning. I find him to be a very nice person. I don`t always agree with him.
Donald Trump cannot fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is a protected civil servant. So Donald Trump has done everything he can do publicly to silence Dr. Fauci who technically cannot do national television interviews without permission, just like other government employees.
And, so, here is what Donald Trump does not want you to hear today. Here is Dr. Fauci speaking today in an interview with Stanford Medical School saying the reason the coronavirus is raging in the United States is because we did not shut down the country the right way and the states that followed Donald Trump`s advice and threw caution to the wind, that`s the phrase he used, threw caution to the wind, are now suffering the worst.
Now here from Dr. Fauci is exactly what Donald Trump does not want you to hear tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LLOYD MINOR, STANFORD MEDICINE DEAN: Let`s start with a level set on where we are right now. We`re all concerned about the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases. What are your thoughts about how we navigate this surge? And what are your predictions about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it`s going to evolve in our country and the world in the months ahead?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: OK. Good question. If you put aside for a moment, and we`ll get back to that, the issue of how things could be completely turned around when we get a safe and effective vaccine and talk about now today in the absence of a vaccine, what is going on, what could we foresee in the immediate future, it is very clear, and we know this from countries throughout the world, that if you physically separate people to the point of not allowing the virus to transmit and the only way to do that is by draconian means of essentially shutting down a country, we know that we can do that if we shut down.
The Europeans have done it. People in Asia have done it. We did not shut down entirely, and that`s the reason why when we went up, we started to come down and then we plateaued at a level that was really quite high, about 20,000 infections a day.
Then as we started to reopen, we`re seeing the surges that we`re seeing today as we speak. In California, your own state, in Arizona, in Texas, in Florida and in several other states so that when we try to reopen, if you are not handling the surge, what you are seeing is what you are seeing right now. So, we need to drop back a few yards and say, OK, we can`t stay shut down forever. Economically and the secondary unintended consequences on health, on a variety of other things make it completely non-tenable for us to stay completely shut down for a very prolonged period of time.
So you`ve got to shut down, but then you have to gradually open. And we made a set of guidelines a few months ago which had good what you call check points. We had situations where you do entry and you would have phase one, phase two, phase three. Unfortunately, it did not work very well for us in an attempt to do that, just assess the increase that we`ve seen.
So, we can get a handle on that. I`m really confident we can if we step back. You don`t necessarily need to shut down again. But pull back a bit, and then proceed in a very prudent way, observing the guidelines of going from step to step. All you needed to do was look at the films on TV of people in some states who went from shut down to complete throwing caution to the wind.
Bars that were crowded, people without masks. There are things you can do now, physical distance, wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, washing hands. Those things, as simple as they are, can turn it around. And I think we can do that. And that`s what we`ve got to do looking forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Dr. Fauci said today that we learned new things every week about coronavirus, and that`s why he sounds much more worried about it now than he did in January when we knew much less about it, because the scientific research in coronavirus had not yet really begun in January.
When Donald Trump was asked today what he would tell parents who were worried about sending their kids back to school after a schoolteacher in Arizona died from coronavirus, Donald Trump refused to answer that question and then he said, quote: Schools should be opened. Schools should be reopened.
Today, Dr. Fauci added brain damage to the list of parental worries about kids who go back to school.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: The other thing we want to know is what is the full extent of the clinical manifestations? We learn things every week like this bizarre inflammatory syndrome, multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children. That`s really important. MIS-C, it`s called.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That syndrome causes neurological damage in some children.
Donald Trump doesn`t want to hear that, and he doesn`t want any parent of school aged children in America to hear that, and he doesn`t want you to hear that. Donald Trump cannot give you the name of a single public school student in America, not one. He doesn`t know one. He wants them all to go back to school and sit in their classrooms shoulder to shoulder because he doesn`t care how many children in America get neurological damage or die from the coronavirus.
Donald Trump`s secretary of education does not know the name of a single public school student, and she also knows nothing about education. And she also doesn`t care what happens to public school children during this pandemic.
But Arne Duncan does care. Arne Duncan was President Barack Obama`s secretary of education. He knows that the president of the United States has absolutely no authority to force any school in America to reopen, not one. And not one school in America will reopen because Donald Trump wants them to.
That`s the most important thing to keep in mind whenever you hear Donald Trump talk about schools reopening. He has the same amount of power over that as you do, none.
The other thing to keep in mind is that Donald Trump has been publicly diagnosed as a sociopath by a group of esteemed health professionals and by his niece, Mary Trump, who is a clinical psychologist, who has written a book telling us that Donald Trump is incapable of caring about the life or death of anyone who attends or works in a public school.
Here is former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNE DUNCAN, FORMER SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: There is nobody count high enough for the president to actually pay attention to science. We could lose another 10,000, we could lose another 50,000, we could lose another 100,000. Nothing would compel him to listen to Dr. Fauci and others who are fighting to save lives.
And schools are not going to put teachers, principals, their children or their children`s families in a position of risk that`s far too high.
Do not pay attention to Trump. Don`t be scared of his bluffs. He does not care whether you live or die. Pay attention to those local people who live in your community. Please listen to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, the United States reported 60,537 new cases of coronavirus. And as of tonight, there are 3,365,159 confirmed cases of coronavirus in this country. And as of tonight, we have suffered 136,319 deaths from coronavirus in the United States.
Leading off our discussion tonight are Dr. Lara Shekerdemian. She`s the chief of critical care at Texas Children`s Hospital in Houston.
Also with us, Laurie Garrett, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter covering global pandemic. She is also an MSNBC science contributor.
And, Laurie, let me just start with you with what we heard from Dr. Fauci today about the failure to shut down in the first place and then if completely and in the right way and then throwing caution to the wind.
What do you make of his interpretation of where we stand tonight?
LAURIE GARRETT, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING REPORTER: Good evening, Lawrence.
Yes, Dr. Fauci`s statements were really important. I think the key thing that comes through is increasing awareness of a few things that we didn`t fully appreciate two, three months ago when we were struggling here in New York City. First of all, that about half of all transmission is from people who have no symptoms at all, have no idea they`re infected. They may be anywhere from 10 years old to 60 years old and on up, and they just -- you don`t know to protect yourself from them because they don`t have any symptoms.
The second is an increasing awareness that this virus is airborne, 239 scientists co-signed a letter to WHO begging them to please state emphatically that this is a virus spread through the air. And in particular that you inhale it through your nose and you exhale it through your mouth. And, so, if you don`t cover both nose and mouth fully, you are not protecting yourself and, more importantly, you`re not protecting others.
As these things have come forward, combined with what it means when a society goes partially under lockdown and then lets go, lets the cap off the bottle shows that we can`t sustain the lockdown position, social distancing, appropriate mitigation if we didn`t do it properly to begin with.
And where we are now is talking about opening schools in communities where, you know, it`s record numbers, 15,000 new cases in one day in Florida. And similarly high record breaking numbers in Arizona, in Texas, in Oklahoma, all over the country. This is not a time to be reopening schools and it`s certainly not a time to relax any of our mitigation efforts.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Shekerdemian, let me ask you the question that parents would ask about kids going back to school, especially in Texas where you are. And that is a simple question that doctors get asked all the time about all sorts of things.
What`s the worst that could happen?
DR. LARA SHEKERDEMIAN, TEXAS CHILDREN`S HOSPITAL CHIEF OF CRITICAL CARE: I mean, it`s a very good question, and we are asked it all the time. We are, right now, in Texas, we have seen a very big uptick in coronavirus cases that impacts the children locally in our hospital and our community. The worst that can happen, obviously, is that this continues to increase and to a scale beyond where we are today.
It is a very difficult balance. Every parent wants their child to return to some new or whatever that is going to be in the coming months. But at the same time, nobody wants to take a gamble and take risks unnecessarily. That`s the situation right now.
O`DONNELL: Laurie Garrett, Dr. Fauci is raising the possibility that among -- that among the worst case scenarios is neurological damage to children in a syndrome that is unique to children who are suffering this.
GARRETT: Yes. Well, it is one of the more recently discovered horrible clinical effects that it was popularly referred to as Kawasaki syndrome, but it`s unique to this virus in its current permutation. And, yes, these children suffer terribly.
The other thing that just came to light this last week is a study of multiple autopsies of people here in New York who died of COVID. And regardless of age, including children, their bodies are completely riddled with blood clots. Blood clots, Lawrence, in the livers, in the lungs, all over their entire bodies, blood clots.
This is increasingly looking like a virus that is as much a cardiovascular disease as it is a respiratory disease and as much a neurological disease as it is an immunological disease. It is so much more complex in the damage it does to the human body than say influenza or a lot of viruses we`re more familiar with that it`s very easy for any clinician to feel completely overwhelmed by trying to understand what is going on in any single patient, much less doctors now in overwhelmed states like Florida where they may have 15, 20 patients under their care at a given moment. It`s terrible. It`s terrible.
O`DONNELL: Doctor, what is the situation in Texas tonight and in Houston where you are?
SHEKERDEMIAN: Well, I work in Texas children`s hospital, and obviously it`s a children`s hospital. Fortunately now we`re not seeing the same impact of the coronavirus in children as we have seen in adults. Nonetheless, in the last few weeks, our volumes and our numbers of patients of children have gone up a lot. We have expanded our COVID capacity so we are trying our best to keep ahead of the COVID beds for children.
And as many people have seen in the media recently, we have started to take adults with or without COVID disease at Texas Children to help our adult counterparts in the medical center in particular. Right now, we`re under the (INAUDIBLE) and we have the ability to surge beyond where we are now, but we have seen a significant uptick in the last few weeks.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Lara Shekerdemian and Laurie Garrett, thank you both for starting off our discussion tonight. We really appreciate it. Thank you.
And when we come back, it is official, Donald Trump is more corrupt, a more corrupt president than Richard Nixon because on Friday, Donald Trump did something that Richard Nixon refused to do. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: On Friday night, Donald Trump crossed a line that even Richard Nixon refused to cross. Richard Nixon`s White House tapes show that he thought about pardoning his associates and members of his administration charged with crimes in the investigation that eventually forced President Nixon to resign. But Richard Nixon pardoned no one who was involved in that criminal conspiracy that brought him down because Richard Nixon thought pardoning someone close to him who had possible criminal information about him would be just too much, too much for Richard Nixon.
Richard Nixon was right to fear that he would have been impeached for issuing such a pardon, but Donald Trump is no Richard Nixon. Donald Trump is much more corrupt than Richard Nixon.
So, on Friday night, Donald Trump pardoned his long-time associate Roger Stone after Roger Stone said publicly that he had criminal information about Donald Trump that he was withholding.
Here is the way Roger said that in an exclusive interview with Howard Fineman on Friday which Howard Fineman delivered urgently in a tweet, just after 4:00 p.m. on Friday. Howard Fineman said: Roger Stone says he doesn`t want a pardon which implies guilt but a commutation and says he thinks Trump will give it to him. He knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably, but I didn`t.
Turn on him means testify against Donald Trump with federal criminal prosecutors. Roger Stone says doing that would have eased the situation considerably. The only way that could ease the situation is if he was able to deliver to prosecutors accurate, provable, criminal information about Donald Trump, and Roger Stone refused to do that.
Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania. She`s a member of the House Judiciary Committee. She was in the room last week when former top prosecutor from the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, gave his closed door testimony about being forced out of that job.
Congresswoman Dean, first your reaction to the -- where we are on the Roger Stone pardon and with Roger Stone tonight doing his first interview with Sean Hannity, accusing everyone else in the courtroom with him when he was found guilty of violating their oaths. He accused the prosecutors of being politically motivated. He accused the judge of being biased.
He said the jury was stacked, meaning the jury all violated their oaths to be impartial. He slandered the forewoman very specifically.
REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): I lost --
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman, if you can hear me.
DENA: I was getting the question and I have nothing now.
O`DONNELL: OK. So, Congresswoman Dean apparently can`t hear me at this point at all. We`re going to take a break here and see if we can reestablish that connection and we`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: And we`re back with Congresswoman Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania. We believe the audio is working.
So let`s just begin with your reaction to the Roger Stone commutation of his sentence.
DEAN: Well, it is one more massive layering of corruption by this administration. It`s an identification of, sadly, what we in America have come to know with this administration and this Department of Justice, that there are separate systems of justice, those for the friends and cronies who protect a corrupt president and those for the rest of us.
It`s a very disappointing, dark day in our country`s history, and I`m looking forward to the day when we hold all of these people accountable.
O`DONNELL: The -- Roger Stone tonight appearing with Sean Hannity basically slandered everyone who was in the courtroom with him. He said that the jury was basically rigged, they violated their oath. He slandered the judge saying the judge violated her oath as did the prosecutors because the only person apparently who`s telling the truth is Roger Stone.
REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Then he was convicted and of course Mr. Hannity`s credibility is at an all-time low. I heard some of his program, this evening. Roger Stone was convicted, convicted of lying to prosecutors, of threatening witnesses, of withholding documents, of covering for a President who is corrupt.
And you`ll notice with all of the cases that you and I might talk about tonight, there`s something in common and that is that all roads seem to lead to Putin and corruption and cover up. What is this President afraid of? Why does he reward corrupt crooked friends of his? Why does he punish those who will not protection him as in - as in the case of Mr. Cohen? Is this is a very sad day and - and you started this by saying think of the deaths.
We are in a pandemic and yet, this President is focused on trying to keep a crony out of 40 months prison time. 136,000 Americans are dead from coronavirus. What is this President focused on?
O`DONNELL: What can you tell us about Geoffrey Berman`s testimony, who`s the former U.S. attorney in Manhattan, who gave closed door testimony to the Judiciary Committee where he described for you I guess in some detail, how he was ousted from that job by Attorney General William Barr?
DEAN: Well I was very impressed. I want to be there in person for the interview. The transcribed interview which I believe has been released so you`ve had the chance to take a look at it. I was impressed by two things. Number one, it was proof of Barr`s bungled firing of Mr. Berman on a Friday night on June 19.
One more Friday night attempt to take somebody out who might be of damage to this President who might actually be investigating the corruption of an administration like we`ve never seen before.
So on the one side you saw and heard the very palpable evidence of Barr trying to entice Mr. Berman to resign from his position. He was nothing out of it and that`s what he said to us in great earnestness. He limited his testimony you will see from the transcription, to just those couple of days, he made no attempt, Mr. Berman that is, to identify the motivation of AG Barr but we do know that what he was worried about was if he got fired and then they replaced him or they asked him to resign actually, then they replaced him with some outsider that will be a distraction and delay in the important investigations, some of them including this administration`s corruption.
So Mr. Berman got the better of that and would not have that happen and his first deputy now stands in his place. We saw a man of great honor, of no political - he is a Republican I believe in his past, appointed as a Republican but he showed no politics, no fear, no favor.
He just wanted to do his job and protect the investigations.
O`DONNELL: I have been in awe of how he played those 24 hours and somehow got to install the successor that he wanted in that position, instead of the person that Attorney General Barr and Donald Trump wanted. Did - did he explain to you how he managed to make that happen?
DEAN: Well, it was interesting because he ran through the scenario. There was a lunch at the Pierre hotel on Friday, the 19 where Mr. Berman said there were sandwiches and nobody ate lunch, where AG Barr trying to entice him, was the word he used, entice him to resign.
Maybe you`d consider, he suggested being Chief of the Civil Division and be a great lump for your resume and he said - Mr. Berman said no, of course not. I love my work. I really like to work with my colleagues and we have important investigations to complete. They had agreed to speak later in the day. They spoke apparently at 7:00 PM and at that point AG Barr asked him well, maybe you`d like to be Chair of the SEC.
If you remember Mr. Clayton, the Chairman of the SEC was also in front of my other committee, a bizarre set of circumstances in front of the financial services and again Mr. Berman said no, let`s speak on Monday. AG Barr said no, we`ll speak tomorrow.
But instead of course at 9:15 at night, the Attorney General put out a press release misleading the American public for about the fifteenth time that I can even think of, suggesting - telling the American public that Berman had resigned and he didn`t. Mr. Berman got the better of that corruption by this Attorney General.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Madelaine Dean, thank you very much for joining us tonight and I`m sorry about that audio difficulty. We really appreciate you joining us.
DEAN: I`m pleased to be with you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Our next guest spent 34 years in the CIA working in the clandestine service and was in charge of obtaining intelligence in Afghanistan. He has written an Op-Ed piece published in today`s New York Times entitled, `I was a counter terrorism chief. Trump knew what Russia was doing.`
Douglas London writes, "Bounty is not a term, intelligence professionals would likely use. It can therefore be semantically true that the President never received a briefing on Russian bounties. But the White House does not deny news reports that the President`s daily brief on February 27 included information from our intelligence agencies in clinical terms that Russians were offering financial incentives to encourage Taliban attacks against U.S. and coalition troops."
Joining us now is Douglas London, a former CIA senior operations officer and Chief of Counterterrorism in the south and southwest Asia. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. What is your reaction to this story as it stands tonight?
We are now about 18 days into the public discussion of it, without Donald Trump ever telling us what he knew or what he was told about this.
DOUGLAS LONDON, FMR CIA COUNTERTERRORISM CHIEF: I wouldn`t necessarily expect the President to be forthcoming. It`s not really been something he`s demonstrated particularly in terms of intelligence. I was pleased to see General Nicholson who formerly commanded U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2017 and 2018, likewise posted an Op-ed tonight in which he likewise acknowledged that prior to departure in 2018, he did see intelligence concerning Russian provision of small arms, ammunition and finance to the Taliban and to use in its operations.
So I believe the President will probably continue to try to redirect the message and try to realign it with his issues to more fundamentally been speaking to such things as leaking, leakage and such like that and we`ll probably wait till the next change in the news cycle to hope it goes away.
O`DONNELL: You served in the CIA into the year 2018. That would be during the Trump presidency. At your end of operations, did you feel any difference with that under the Trump administration and the previous administrations you served in?
LONDON: There was a difference in the dynamics between the President and the Intelligence community. I believe most Presidents even when they may not necessarily have the best opinion of the CIA in particular or the Intelligence Community, really at large are more open to at least hearing out what the input is and what the perspectives are and tends to surround themselves with those that have some expertise in national security intelligence affairs.
Usually folks such as their National Security Adviser or Secretary of State and folks from the National Security Council. This President just had a different dynamic when it came to intelligence. He was hard to brief. He was hard to get to him to pay attention to any particular topic and really those topics which didn`t align with his preconceived views or his agenda, he tended to be rather dismissive and would likewise sort of redirect the conversation with the community or deflect the matter entirely.
O`DONNELL: Do you believe as of tonight that President Trump did know what the intelligence reports were about Russian activity in Afghanistan, including possibly paying to kill American soldiers?
LONDON: It`s without doubt that this President was kept informed. He was regularly briefed on these issues and if you recall, President had to make a consequential decision in February to allow Secretary of State Pompeo to sign the 29 February agreement with the Taliban to assert a withdrawal.
Now according to the press, the President`s daily brief that contained information which specifically spoke to Russian incentives and financing to the Taliban for the purpose of operations against U.S. forces was in that brief on the 27th of February so it`s been integrated into his information on Afghanistan and - and our path forward, regardless of whether it was dealing in specific with the issue of withdrawal or those compelling factors that required a U.S. presence such as counterterrorism which tends to be at the center.
But the President being aware of intelligence doesn`t necessarily mean he embraces for the purposes of decision making and really intelligence is about informed decision-making. He`s the boss, what he does, you know Intelligence community, the military, diplomatic - we`re going to comply with.
But at the time of the agreement with the Taliban, you`ll recall, we had just recently had another American kidnapped by the Taliban, Mark Frerichs, who was a civilian contractor, just weeks before we signed. He had an intelligence that was again recapitulated by the Pentagon in a report of July 1 and in United Nations for the Security Council of May to which we were a party that spoke to cooperation between Taliban and Al-Qaeda remaining quite - and remaining quite an issue and an area of concern.
And his own commander, Central Command General McKenzie spoke just recently in June that the Taliban still hadn`t met the conditions for withdrawal as it relates to cooperation with Al-Qaeda so the President gets the intelligence, he`s aware of the information, that he really takes it on board is really been a problem for us in the community.
O`DONNELL: Former CIA official Douglas London, thank you very much for joining our discussion tonight. We really appreciate it.
LONDON: Thank you Sir.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, Joe Biden is now leading Donald Trump in a state that a Democrats running for President has not won in over 40 years. The Biden polling momentum as Democrats and Republicans focusing on the Democrats` strategy for winning back the United States Senate. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: 44 years. It has been 44 years since a Democratic Presidential candidate won the state of Texas. Jimmy Carter was the last Democrat to do that in 1976. A new poll from The Dallas Morning News shows Joe Biden with a 5 point lead in Texas, a state that Donald Trump won by nine points in 2016.
Joe Biden`s strong polling numbers around the country including in Republican states are giving new momentum to Democrats` strategies in down ballot races including House races and Senate races. Here`s the Lincoln Project`s latest ad, aimed at flipping the Senate to Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`ll beg you to forget their votes to exonerate Trump from his crimes. Ask you to forgive their silence, their cowardice and their betrayals as Trump wrecked this nation. Every time they had a choice between America and Trump, they chose Trump. Every time they were called to the service of this nation and their sacred oath, they chose Trump. Every time. Learn their names. Remember their actions. And never ever trust them again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now Former Senator Claire McCaskill. She`s a former Democratic senator from Missouri and an MSNBC political analyst and I have a feeling Claire McCaskill likes these poll numbers tonight but you know, whenever I see these poll numbers, all I can think of is 1988, Michael Dukakis having an 18 point lead in polls in July and losing in November.
What do you - what`s your reading of where the campaign is tonight?
CLAIRE MCCASKILL, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR AND MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first Lawrence, you`re right. The biggest mistake we can make is think that this is somehow a done deal, that the cake is baked. We have a long way to go. It may just be you know, a few months but it still is a long way in political campaigns to go.
So nobody should take anything for granted and they`re going to try to suppress our vote so we`ve got to be very vigilant about this but make no mistake about it. This President`s lies, his incompetence, his personality his debasement of the office is creating new swing states. If somebody would have told me in December of 2018 that in two years, Texas and Iowa would be swing states, I`d say no, no. We`re going to be really fighting just to hold on to Michigan.
We`re going to be fighting just to try to hold on to Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. I mean we - look, we look really good in Arizona. This is not a state we could ever rely on before so clearly the stands are shifting. We just can`t take anything for granted.
O`DONNELL: I want to take a look at an ad that shows us just how different this campaign is from really any Presidential campaign we`ve ever seen and this is a vote vets ad against Donald Trump and it just contains - it`s just a concept as an ad that was impossible prior to Donald Trump. Let`s watch this.
O`DONNELL: Claire, we`ve never seen an ad like that ending - ending with traitor for the President of the United States but that`s where the - the evidence is. That`s an evidence based ad.
MCCASKILL: It`s an evidence based ad. It is been almost what three weeks since we learned that Putin was putting a bounty on our American military and theater and there`s still not been a word, not a word from this President.
You know calling it out, saying that it is wrong, even mentioning it in a context that would appear to be supportive of the troops. So this ad is fair, particularly from the veterans` perspective, the men and women who lost lives over there, their families and those who have been wounded and had their lives changed because of explosions of the Taliban and knowing now that there are bounties on their heads.
This is a powerful ad but it`s a fair ad and I got to tell you, what`s really amazing to me is the silence of the Republican senators, whether it`s on the criminal enterprise known as a Roger Stone commutation or whether it`s bounties on our soldiers, the silence is deafening, Lawrence.
I am shocked that you`re not hearing from Republican senators, especially those that are in swing states where they have to win independent voters and they`re not going to win independent voters with this silent act and being complicit in the criminal enterprises of Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: Claire, you know these senators and from - from where I`m sitting, these Republican senators live in fear of the Trump voter, the committed Trump voter and so that makes them, that locks them in place in this inability to reach out to an independent voter.
MCCASKILL: It`s really a mistake I think. First of all, the Republican Party is shrinking. The people who identified as Republicans is getting smaller during his presidency. So the part of the electorate that our independence is getting larger and larger, I know something about those voters.
We have those voters in Missouri who vote for Republicans once cycle and a Democrat, the next or a Republican at the top of the ballot and a Democrat at the bottom of the ballot. You know these senators need to speak out about especially the Roger Stone commutation and bounties on American soldiers.
And I look at that Armed Services Committee and those senators I know so well. You know, shame on Lindsey Graham. He`s turned into a slug. Shame on Tom Cotton, grandstanding but failing to hold this President accountable on these failures.
And you know, people Lamar Alexander, where is he on the commutation of Roger Stone? He`s retiring for God`s sakes. Why isn`t he is speaking out? It`s a terrible indictment of the Republican Party right now.
O`DONNELL: Senator Claire McCaskill, thank you very much for joining our discussions and I really appreciate it.
MCCASKILL: You bet.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. And when we come back, data scientist Rebekah Jones was fired by the state of Florida after refusing to manipulate coronavirus data. Now Florida is the new epicenter of the coronavirus in the United States and Rebekah Jones joins us next.
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DR. LILIAN M. ABBO, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI HEALTH SYSTEM: We really need your help. Miami is now the epicenter of the pandemic. What we were seeing in Wuhan, six months ago, five months ago, now we are there.
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O`DONNELL: Florida has now set the record for the largest number of coronavirus cases reported in a single day in any state. 15,300 cases reported yesterday. Rebekah Jones built Florida`s coronavirus data portal but she says she was fired by the state of Florida on May 18 after refusing to manipulate data to make it seem as if certain Florida counties had met the criteria to reopen.
She has been tracking the coronavirus data on her own since then and in a recent article about Florida`s coronavirus data problem, she wrote, "Data is only as trusted as its keeper." And joining us now is the keeper of Florida data, Rebekah Jones, the former manager of data and surveillance for Covid-19 at the Florida Department of Health.
Thank you very much for joining us again tonight, Rebekah. What - what is the situation with the - with the state of Florida`s publicly available data? Is it still as flawed to put it mildly as it was when you were fired?
REBEKAH JONES, FMR. MANAGER, DATA & SURVEILLANCE; FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: It`s much, much worse than it was when I was fired unfortunately. They`ve dumped antigen tests into the percent positivity but not separated them. They`ve restricted some data. They haven`t added anything new, at least not for the Department of Health so things unfortunately have only gotten worse.
O`DONNELL: So is the actual coronavirus situation in Florida worse than the statistical picture we are reporting about it?
JONES: Absolutely. The AHCA data which is the Agency for Healthcare Administration, a different agency in Florida started releasing hospitalization data, Friday. By Saturday, I had it up on my new dashboard at floridacovidaction.com and it showed that in many counties there are currently more people hospitalized right now than DOH has been reporting have been hospitalized ever.
O`DONNELL: So it`s not even close and what - what about the actual infection rates? When - when we see a report that they had over 15,000 in one day, is that a reasonably accurate number?
JONES: We always know that testing is limited by mobility, geography, access to health insurance and doctors, all kinds of factors. So on any given day, we`re not testing a fair share of population and it`s not distributed equally among the population and there`s also a capacity, a limit to how many tests the state can run today and I think they`ve run up against that limit.
O`DONNELL: Is - has Florida done anything to prepare for the reopening of schools that the governor is urging?
JONES: My understanding at this point is that the state is allowing counties to take whatever measures they feel are necessary, individually in individual school districts. That`s not state leadership. That is just passing the buck.
O`DONNELL: Rebekah Jones, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. We`re going to want to hear more from you as the situation in Florida has gotten much, much worse as I think you told us it would. Again, thank you Rebekah Jones for joining us, really appreciate it.
JONES: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.
BRAIN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1271 of the Trump administration. 113 days to go until our Presidential election.