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ODNI reports TRANSCRIPT: 8/7/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Adam Schiff, Austin Goolsbee, Ritchie Torres, Nancy Shively

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That`s going to do it for us tonight. Thanks for  being with us tonight and all this week. I`ll see you again on Monday. Now  it`s time for "The Last Word" where the great Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence  tonight. Good evening, Ali. 

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, the conversation you just had was  remarkable -- 2020 in America, the richest country in the world and in the  Rio Grande Valley, we are seeing the level of deaths six months after the  first death in America. 

Yesterday I was speaking to Beto O`Rourke about El Paso, and it was a  similar situation -- refrigerated trucks for morgues. It`s not something  that, you know, six months in after the warnings that you`ve provided on  T.V. and the warnings we`ve all had that we should still have to be  experiencing, but it`s still happening down there so thank you for covering  that. 

MADDOW: Well, appreciate it. I mean, to hear the mayor of Rio Grande City  say the way they`ve gotten out of this is by tapping the VA hospital in San  Antonio. I mean, I didn`t just want to let that slip by either. I mean, the  VA facilities being used for non-veteran patients, that`s supposed to be  the emergency brake in terms of American health care, and they have had to  pull that and transfer those patients to that VA facility. Just remarkable  stuff. 

VELSHI: It is remarkable. Rachel, thank you and have yourself a great  weekend. We`ll see you Monday. 

MADDOW: You too.

VELSHI: Russia is doing it again. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it best,  with Donald Trump all roads lead to Putin. It`s the one consistent thread  of the Trump candidacy and his presidency. At no point has Donald Trump  been willing to stand up to Vladimir Putin. Special Counsel Robert  Mueller`s report found that Russia attacked the 2016 election in order to  help Donald Trump win the presidency and that the Trump campaign welcomed  that help. 

Today, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the ODNI,  confirmed that Russia is once again interfering in our election to help  Donald Trump win in 2020. 

"We assess that Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate  former Vice President Biden. Pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy  Derkach is spreading claims about corruption, including through publicizing  leaked phone calls to undermine former Vice President Biden`s candidacy and  the Democratic Party. Some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost  President Trump`s candidacy on social media and Russian television."

The assessments also warned of threats by China and Iran, but in less  specific terms, indicating that China prefers that President Trump, whom  Beijing sees as unpredictable, does not win the re-election. And that Iran  seeks to undermine U.S. Democratic institutions, President Trump and to  divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections. 

Now, this announcement comes after lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy  Pelosi and Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, who is going to join  me in just a moment, sounded alarms about the threat of foreign  interference in the 2020 election and pressured the intel community to  release more information to the public. 

Today in a joint statement, they made sure to note that Russia is the only  foreign actor taking active measures to harm our democracy saying,  "Unfortunately, today`s statement still treats three actors of differing  intent and capability as equal threats to our democratic elections. 

We have been clear with the intelligence community that the American people  must be provided with specific information that would allow voters to  appraise for themselves the respective threats posed by these foreign  actors and distinguish these actors` different and unequal aims, current  actions and capabilities." 

Different and unequal aims. NBC News just reported on a new and extensive  social media disinformation campaign based in a former eastern bloc  country. Facebook removed hundreds of accounts on Thursday from a foreign  troll farm posting as African Americans in support of Donald Trump and  QAnon supporters. 

The foreign pro-Trump troll farm was based in Romania and pushed content on  Instagram under names like BlackPeoleVoteforTrump and on Facebook under We  Love Our President. The accounts sound similar to the kind of cyber-attacks  being run by Russian military intelligence to help Donald Trump in 2016. 

And then U.S. intelligence officials have spent the last few weeks briefing  members of Congress about foreign attacks on our elections. Republican  allies of the president have been using Russian disinformation to lead a  bogus investigation into Joe Biden, literally taking material from this guy  I just talked about, Andriy Derkach in the Ukraine who was named in the  ODNI statement. Here`s House Intelligence Committee member Eric Swalwell  earlier today.


REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): You have in public reporting acknowledgments by  this pro-Russia individual, Andriy Derkach, that he is sending information  and materials to the Senate, hacked and leaked documents to the Senate to  denigrate, to teardown Joe Biden. 

And Ron Johnson and Lindsey Graham are all too willing to use it in their  naked ambition to keep Donald Trump in power. And so the concern here is  the U.S. persons are being used to facilitate this Russia influence  operation. 


VELSHI: The confirmation from the intelligence community today that Russia  is actively working to get Donald Trump re-elected is one possible  explanation as to why Donald Trump refuses to confront Vladimir Putin about  whether Russia paid bounties to the Taliban for killing of U.S. troops in  Afghanistan. 

Donald Trump has repeatedly called the Russia bounty story a hoax and  claims that the intel was not credible, which is strange because it was  credible enough for Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, to bring it up  with Russia. 

"The New York Times" reports that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went  against Donald Trump and warned the Russian foreign minister about the  bounty program during a call on July 13th. 

Mr. Pompeo and the State Department "have been careful not to reveal any  details of actions he might have taken based on the intelligence over the  bounties. That`s perhaps because both the classified material and to avoid  potential fury from Mr. Trump who has strongly dismissed reports of the  intelligence and has tried to cultivate a friendship with President Vladimir Putin of Russia."

Now, Donald Trump being helped by foreign attacks on our elections to win  the presidency and then to stay in the presidency is no surprise to anyone.  It was the focus of the Mueller investigation. It was the basis for Donald  Trump being impeached. 

There have been efforts to check this president. After Donald Trump refused  to be interviewed by the Mueller investigators, House Democrats subpoenaed  the White House counsel, Don McGahn, to get his testimony in relation to  the instances of obstruction of justice by Donald Trump, detailed in volume  two of the Mueller report. 

And that was last spring. Only today did the full D.C. Circuit Court ruled  that the house can sue to force former White House Counsel Don McGahn to  comply with the congressional subpoena that was issued to him last year. 

It is not clear when that would come to pass. It is unlikely that it would  happen before Election Day, which is 88 days from today. Now, tonight  Donald Trump had a press conference where he was asked about foreign  interference in our election. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you plan to do about that interference, sir? 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we`re going to look at  it very closely. You`re telling me that this came out a little while ago  and I`ve heard that it came out. It came out just a little while ago and  we`re going to look at that very closely. 

But you started off with Russia. Why don`t you start off with China? Do you  think China is maybe a bigger threat? I mean, I think maybe it is. I mean,  you`ll have to figure it out. But we`re going to watch all of them. We have  to be careful. The biggest risk that we have is mail-in ballots because  with the mail-in ballots called universal mail-in ballots, it is a much  easier thing for a foreign power.


VELSHI: That`s another lie, just to be clear. The biggest risk we face is  not mail-in ballots. Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff  from California. He is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and  he was an impeachment manager during Donald Trump`s impeachment trial in  the Senate. 

Congressman, good to see you. Thank you for being with us. This reminds me  a bit of Donald Trump talking about the 400-pound guy in the basement who  may have been involved in hacking elections. The misdirection or the  redirection to China and Iran, in your evaluation, they`re not non-events  but they`re nowhere close to the efforts that the Russians are engaging in. 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): This is a point that we have been making with the  intelligence community, which is they need to distinguish for the American  people who is doing what. These three actors are not the same in terms of  their intentions, in terms of their actions, in terms of their  capabilities. 

But, you know, clearly the administration is trying to push out this line  that China is the only concern. But if you look carefully at the statement  that the ODNI issued today, it says China has a preference, but Russia is  engaged in actions. 

And I think that the intelligence community needs to be more explicit about  this and it can do so without compromising sources and methods. But clearly  the president wishes to, you know, blind himself and blind the country to  what Russia is doing.

And indeed at that same press conference today when he was confronted with  the intelligence community saying Russia is interfering to denigrate his  opponent, he expressed disbelief and said he doesn`t care what anybody  says. 

VELSHI: Yes. Well, he hasn`t cared the whole time. A couple of nights ago I  spoke with Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut who had had one of those  briefings, one of those in-camera briefings to which you are entitled, and  he came out, and again, was not able to share that classified information  but feels that that information should be declassified and shared with  Americans in the interest of national security, in the interest of our  elections. 

What`s your view on the fact that you have been getting this information  for a few weeks? It is apparently very alarming information.

SCHIFF: Well, it is. And, you know, when the president says, you know, this  is new information, the information is not new. All that`s new is that the  office of the director made it public. 

But unless the president is not being briefed on this and not reading his  briefing materials and it`s certainly possible that his briefers are  unwilling to confront him with Russian interference, with Russian bounties,  they`re just not willing to tell them because as he said today, he doesn`t  care what anybody says.

He is not going to think or believe ill of his friend Vladimir Putin. And  the result is that our elections go unprotected, that our troops may go  less protected than they should be because the commander-in-chief doesn`t  take it seriously. 

There is no reason why the intelligence community can`t be more  forthcoming, except it would displease Donald Trump. And that`s simply not  a good enough answer. 

VELSHI: Has the Office of the Director of National Intelligence been  politicized under this president? That was obviously the biggest fear about  this. That that office needs to be run by experts and needs to not be  political, and it is not today actually run by an expert and it sounds like  its political. 

SCHIFF: Well, look, you know, the low end for the intelligence community I  think in recent memory was the appointment of Ric Grenell who had none of  the experience necessary for that job and who essentially a political hack  for the president and turned that top intelligence office into a political  office to carry water for the president. 

Happily, he`s gone. Whether Radcliff will continue that tradition or will  have the independence from the president to fill that role, it is too early  to tell, but it is concerning that we have had to essentially pull teeth to  get the intelligence community to issue the statement it did today, and we  still want them to share more with the American people, both because the  American people have a right to know. 

These agencies are gathering this intelligence for policymakers and to  protect the country and the public, but also, Ali, because it is a  deterrent for the Russians. 

If you don`t call them out, if you simply equate what the Russians are  doing, with what China may be doing or Iran may be doing or North Korea and  you fail to distinguish, then you are basically giving the Russians a green  light because they know they won`t be held accountable. 

VELSHI: What`s going on with your colleagues in the Senate, Senator Ron  Johnson of Wisconsin, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who seem to be going  down this weird rabbit hole of this Ukrainian legislator who is releasing  audio and phone calls and sort of trying to change the focus on to Joe  Biden again? I mean, these two gentlemen are smarter than to fall for this  stuff, but they seem to be falling for this stuff. 

SCHIFF: Well, look, you know, it`s been the case and this was certainly too  in the House Intelligence Committee with Devin Nunes and many of the  Republican members that they were more than willing to push a Kremlin  narrative about Ukraine interfering in the U.S. election in 2016 instead of  Russia. 

That was the whole bogus CrowdStrike theory that the president was also  pushing. But, you know, they`re at it still and in the Senate as well,  pushing out information, false information, to try to denigrate Joe Biden. 

This is very much in line with what the Kremlin is trying to do. It`s very  much in line with what the intelligence community acknowledged that Derkach  is trying to do. And indeed, Derkach has said that he is sending materials  to these very members of the House and Senate.

I think this statement puts them all on notice that if they continue to  pursue this, they`re effectively pursuing a narrative that may have its  origins in the Kremlin. 

VELSHI: And I just want to underscore this. The Office of the Director of  National Intelligence, which you and I have discussed, may be more  political than it`s ever been before, actually named Andrit Derkach as a  source of this information.

And these two senators are using Andriy Derkach`s information to conduct  hearings into Joe Biden`s activities in Ukraine. So they`re being told,  they have been put on notice you are using bad information and government  resources to investigate this. 

SCHIFF: Well, you know, look, I think at least some of the senators have  denied getting information from Derkach. But Derkach has said that he has  sent them information. And in the House Intelligence Committee, we have a  receipt at the Committee of Materials that were sent by the same players  for Mr. Nunes. 

So, I don`t think there is any question that these actors are pushing out  this information. I also think that it`s now clear from the director`s  statement today that Derkach is part of what they`re describing and that  members are now on notice.

And I would hope that all the members, Democrats and Republicans would be  very careful about being part of anything that may be tied to a Kremlin  disinformation campaign. 

VELSHI: Chairman Schiff, I do want to ask you about the other comment the  president made when he was asked at the press conference about this Russia  information. He also pivoted to the most dangerous thing we face in this  country in our elections is mail-in voting. 

That`s simply not true, but he is again using this specific allegation  about Russian interference to somehow tie it to, if you are worried about  interference by people, what you should be worrying about is mail-in  ballots. 

You are the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. You don`t have to tell  me anything that`s going to make you have to kill me because it`s secret,  but do you have any evidence that that`s true, what the president said  about mail-in voting being subject to foreign interference? 

SCHIFF: You know, no. I mean, the president has been trying to delegitimize  the votes of millions of people who during a pandemic will of necessity be  voting by mail because he is terrified of losing and he wants to try to  discredit the results. 

What I do -- what I am concerned about is we saw in 2016 the Russians are  more than happy to amplify disinformation, particularly when it helps  Donald Trump. And so what we have to be on the lookout for is, are the  Russians going to amplify the president`s false claims about absentee  voting.

And should he challenge the results after the election, are the Russians  going to then also intervene to sow additional chaos in the United States?  That would be very consistent with their trade perhaps and of course, the  president is doing nothing but inviting that kind of interference by today,  you know, disclaiming any belief in what he is being told and also  discrediting the legitimate votes of millions of Americans. 

VELSHI: Congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence  Committee, thank you for joining us, sir. It is always good to see you  here. Thank you. 

Coming up today, we got the new national unemployment rate for the month of  July. It`s 10.2 percent, still the highest since the Great Depression. And  only Donald Trump could see today`s numbers and say it`s great. That`s  next. 


VELSHI: With more than 150,000 Americans dead from coronavirus, Donald  Trump said it is what it is. With more than 30 million unemployed, Donald  Trump says, great. With so much pain and suffering and even more now that  Republicans have failed to make a deal on an extra $600 unemployment  insurance benefit, Donald Trump tweeted, "Great Jobs Numbers!"

And what amounted to a last-minute campaign speech from his golf club in  Bedminster, New Jersey, Donald Trump said about the jobs report this. 


TRUMP: That`s big stuff. That`s big news and great news. We`re getting them  even in a pandemic, which is disappearing. It is going to disappear.


VELSHI: The pandemic is not disappearing. Today, the United States got  closer to reporting five million cases of the coronavirus. The United  States has suffered 161,657 deaths from the coronavirus. That 1,333 deaths  reported just today. It`s not disappearing. 

And here is the reality about today`s job`s numbers. The unemployment rate  dropped in July to 10.2 percent. Still, the highest since the Great  Recession. The unemployment rate for Hispanic workers 2.7 percent higher.  For black workers, it`s 4.4 percent higher -- 1.8 million jobs were added  in July, but the cumulative number of those employed is still the lowest  since the Great Recession. 

Stock markets are actually near record highs right now. The S&P 500 is  within striking distance of its all-time high. When I started my career as  a financial reporter, the markets were a better barometer of the economy.  They`re not now because economic policies in this country are rigged in  favor of the wealthy.

That`s the bigger problem that has sealed the economic fate of generations  of Americans particularly black and brown Americans. Let me lay out for you  how this works. Stocks are high for two reasons right now. 

First, investing in stocks became the only game in town when the Federal  Reserve made it easier to borrow money by slashing interest rates. And  lower interest rates made buying real estate the best deal it`s been in  over a decade for those who can afford it. So money begets money. The rich  get richer.

Meanwhile, congressional negotiations for a coronavirus relief bill  collapsed today. The $600 in enhanced unemployment benefits expired last  Friday. The federal moratorium on evictions expired two weeks ago. More  local bans (ph) on evictions are set to expire in the coming days. 

At least 5.4 million people have lost their health insurance because of the  pandemic. But Donald Trump is now currently, as we speak, trying again to  gut the Affordable Care Act. I`m a capitalist, but it doesn`t have to be  this way. 

Americans have been made to fear policies that redistribute wealth. But  think about it, the American system has redistributed wealth from the poor  to the rich for a long time. The poor work for low wages. The rich profit  from it. 

If the rich can`t benefit from workers who are willing to be paid low  enough wages to make cheap products, those jobs move elsewhere where people  who can work for less will do them. The poor people will lose their jobs in  America, then lose their health care and their homes. 

The rich people buy those homes using money that they borrow at near zero  interest rates. The rich keep getting richer. It is the American way for  redistributing wealth. It doesn`t have to be that way though. 

Joining me now, Austin Goolsbee, the former chairman of the Council of  Economic Advisors for President Obama. He is currently a professor of  economics at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago and  knows a lot about these things because he was an adviser to the president  during the last election. 

Austin, it is kind of remarkable -- I am staring here. I have charts of the  S&P 500 next to me all the time. It is kind of amazing. We`re almost at  record highs in the stock market. House prices are up because wealthy  people are getting 30-year mortgages at under 3 percent or paying cash for  distressed properties and people are on the streets, people are without  jobs, people are losing their unemployment. 

AUSTIN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OFECONOMIC ADVISERS: I mean, it`s  crazy. You have been a financial journalist 25 years. I feel like we have  been talking about this for 19 of those 25 years. 


GOOLSBEE: And we always said when we have talked that the stock market is  not the economy. It is a barometer of some things, but it is not the  economy. And nowhere has that been made more plain than in the last six  months in the United States. 

When we had a monthly job number where we lost 22 million jobs in a single  month and the stock market went up, you know, you got to wonder either the  market believes that this is going to be a short run phenomenon, that COVID  would be a short-run shock and they can get back to regular business soon  and I hope they`re right, or else, they`re kind of in la la land. And right  now we`re all hoping it`s the first and not the second. 

VELSHI: I want to talk to you about something that Kevin Hassett said. He  held the same position you had held in the Trump administration. He talks  about something that we have been hearing in Republican circles a lot, the  $600 that has been added to the state unemployment rolls (ph), the federal  unemployment stuff that`s run out. 

He says it encourages people to stay home. And we have heard that from some  business owners, particularly restaurant owners who say they can`t get  their staff back because they make more on unemployment than they do  working. 

Now, in one level, that`s a problem with wages, right, when unemployment  pays you more than work, that`s got something to do with wages. But how do  we address that issue? How do you address that allegation by Republicans? 

GOOLSBEE: I mean, how I address that allegation right now, we`re not  talking about in normal times. We`re not even talking about during normal  recessions. When things like what`s the replacement rate on unemployment  versus going to work make a difference. 

We`re talking about a pandemic and what I would say is there are now five  significant economic research studies of this exact question. How much has  enhanced unemployment reduced the willingness of people to work? And all  five of those studies show quite convincingly that the answer is nothing,  that`s not true in the data. 

And if you look at last month or the month before or the month before that,  the three months that we have had strong job creation, it has been  concentrated exactly among the people that this theory says should not be  going to work. It`s just not true. 

And, so, I said it that it`s kind of offensive and I do think it is  offensive for the White House at a time when the data show that there are  literally five out of work people searching for jobs for every job vacancy  there is, the highest ratio that we have ever had in the data.

At a time like that to say you people are unemployed because you`re  choosing to, is outrageous. It`s that not true at all. If only for the fact  that five million people lost their health insurance when they lost their  jobs and oh, by the way, there is a pandemic raging out of control. So  they`re desperately trying to get a job back so that they will not lose  their health insurance. 

VELSHI: Yes. I think most people choose work. They like the work. They  certainly, in this country, like the benefits from work. 


VELSHI: Let me ask you about this other issue. Mitch McConnell says he`s  got about 20 people in his caucus who say enough is enough. This is hurting  us from a debt perspective, all this money is adding up to debt and, you  know, they`re not really prepared to spend a good deal more on unemployed  people. 

We have endless money available for corporations as we have just proved.  And I think the Federal Reserve did the right thing by making sure  corporations can get money so we don`t end up in a credit freeze like we  were in 2008 and companies have to layoff yet more people. 

But the bottom line is we`re cool with money for corporations, which has  made the stock market as frothy as it is right now. We can`t seem to do  that for regular people. When it comes to regular people, the concern is  about debt. 

When it comes to tax cuts for wealthy and the corporations, the concern  doesn`t seem to be about debt. When it comes to wars, the concern doesn`t  seem to be about debt. But when it comes to poor people getting a few  hundred bucks a week, they can`t let the deck get out of control. 

GOOLSBEE: That`s certainly your attitude and it`s not just poor people.  Tens of millions of people lost their jobs from the middle class, lower  middle class, low income people, anybody who can`t do their job from home  has suffered the greatest during this crisis. 

And the juxtaposition that you raised, I think, is the right one that  before COVID we had $2 trillion in a windfall tax give away to big  corporations in the Trump tax plan. And now we have a $5 trillion fed  lending facility for big business. 

We`ve got hundreds of billions of dollars for small businesses. The  president says he`s going to by executive order, change the tax policy to  cut the payroll tax to employers. And when you say what about the people  who are actually suffering, they`re saying, well, we want to make sure that  we don`t give them the wrong incentive and we don`t have the money to do  that. I`m puzzled by that. 

VELSHI: Right. 

GOOLSBEE: Because if you just look at the raw political calculus, it seems  insane to me. I mean, I`m an economist, so don`t ask my messaging advice.  But it does seem kind of odd when there are perhaps more unemployed people,  out of work people, than at any -- in any year in American history that you  would be saying, no, you are not deserving and that somehow the people that  are deserving are the people who already got $2 trillion of tax cuts and $5  trillion of lending facility. That`s who we need to give more tax breaks  to.

I just don`t get it. I don`t see how that`s a winning argument. 

VELSHI: Austan, good to see you my friend. Thank you. Here`s to another 19  years of conversations like this.

GOOLSBEE: Always a pleasure.


VELSHI: The former chairman of the council of economic advisers.

The pain that so many Americans are feeling is not reflected, as we said,  in the stock market. America is an unequal country. And the pandemic has  hit unequally health-wise and jobs wise.

Coming up next, I will talk with Ritchie Torres. He`s a New York City  council member, who`s poised to become the next Democratic congressman  representing the Bronx, about what`s happening in his neighborhood. 


VELSHI: We now have a better visual understanding of the economic impact of  the pandemic at the neighborhood level. New data show a stunning divide  between wealthy neighborhoods and low-income neighborhoods even if they are  just a few miles apart like the Bronx and the Upper East Side in New York.

Look at these two maps of New York. The darker colors are the higher  unemployment level. Now, on the left is unemployment in New York City in  February. That`s Manhattan. You`ve got Queens. You`ve got the Bronx. You`ve  got Brooklyn.

On the right it`s unemployment in June. You could see that the Upper East  Side of Manhattan, if you can recognize that, unemployment doesn`t go past  10 percent. But in parts of the Bronx, unemployment triples to 30 percent  or higher. Same subway line, by the way.

While the Upper East Side is facing only modern drops in employment, the  Bronx a few miles away is experiencing levels of unemployment that have not  been seen since the Great Depression.

The population in the Bronx is 44 percent black and 56 percent Hispanic or  Latino. This is a compelling reminder that black and Hispanic workers and  their small businesses are suffering the most. These are the essential  workers who are dying at a disproportionate rate from coronavirus.

Joining me now to talk about this is Councilman Ritchie Torres. Councilman  Torres, you have just won the Democratic Party primary for New York`s 15th  congressional district. You will be on the ballot for that in November. So  you are likely headed to Congress.

And this picture of economic disparity, which by the way, has always been  the case between the Upper East Side and the Bronx has now exacerbated. It  is now very, very clear that living in the Bronx is like living in a  developed country -- a developing country, I mean. 

RITCHIE TORRES, NEW YORK COUNCILMAN: Look, when New York City gets a cold,  the Bronx gets the flu. The Bronx has an employment rate as high as 30  percent, which is comparable to the joblessness in the Great Depression.  And the Bronx are 355,000 unemployed people which has a population larger  than that of most large cities in the United States.

And the Bronx is heavily represented in low wage sectors -- food,  restaurants, hospitality -- all of which have been hit hardest by the  pandemic. And unlike white collar work, none of them lend themselves to  telecommuting. 

VELSHI: Let`s talk a little bit about small businesses. When one drives  into the Bronx, who goes into the Bronx, one thing you really recognize is  it`s a small business place. Most of the main streets are lined, you know,  increasingly you see a lot of these national chains, but they are small  businesses.

"The New York Times" has a story that`s talking about how black businesses  are hit the hardest in the New York area. I just want to put this map up on  the screen. "In the Bronx, there are most small businesses have less than  two weeks of cash."

That`s kind of remarkable. They don`t have options. They`re going to be out  of business. They are the businesses that pay your taxes. They are the  businesses that employ people. 

TORRES: Look, not only has the Bronx seen the most economic struggle, it  has gotten the least economic support. I mean as that "Times" piece noted,  New York City had a $20 million small business assistance program.  Manhattan received 57 percent of the assistance, whereas only 2 percent  went to the Bronx. And we have seen comparable disparities when it comes to  the federal government`s PPP program. 

VELSHI: Let me ask you about school. The governor of New York has now said  that school districts are afraid to make their own decisions about how they  operate come September. On one hand, you have got people who are suffering  disproportionately high rates of infection and death in places like the  Bronx.

And then on the other hand, you have students who, because of family  income, are less likely to be able to successfully study online from home  in some places because they don`t have adequate Wi-Fi. 

TORRES: It`s a common complaint in my district whether it`s public housing  or shelters, just the lack of Internet access triples the ability of  children to learn from home. So the shutdown of our schools has had a  disproportionately destabilizing impact on low-income communities of color  especially in places like the Bronx. It is comparable to the loss of learning in the summer. And I worry that  it`s going to have long-term consequences for the future of our children. 

VELSHI: What do you need the most in the Bronx right now and if you get to  Congress at the end of the year, what are you most going to want to address  that is going to help the people of your district but really the people of  your district are just a microcosm of the wealth inequality that we see in  America.

The Bronx is remarkable because you can get on a subway on the Upper East  Side and be in the Bronx in a few minutes and you have gone from probably  the nation`s -- one of the nation`s richest zip codes to some of the  nation`s lowest in terms of income. 

TORRES: Look, we need jobs first and foremost. But in the absence of jobs,  we need an extension of supplemental unemployment insurance. By allowing  the supplemental unemployment insurance to expire, Donald Trump and Mitch  McConnell are essentially telling the people of the Bronx to drop dead. And  that`s a disgrace, these so-called public servants are doing a public  disservice to the poorest people in America. 

VELSHI: One of the points that you have made is that people in your  district don`t have the privilege that a lot of people have of  telecommuting, working from home. We have been talking to people in the Rio  Grande Valley and in Hidalgo and places like that, same situation.

They sometimes live in situations at home where there are a number of  people living in one household under one roof and they don`t have jobs that  allow them the privilege of telecommuting. They tend to be service workers. 

TORRES: That`s exactly right. Without a re-opening, full re-opening of the  economy, low-income communities of color are going to continue to be  without a livelihood. And without jobs, without unemployment insurance, we  are condemning people in the Bronx to starvation and destitution.

You know, as an elected official, much of my time is spent inducting food  distributions for people in need who through no fault of their own have  seen their livelihoods utterly decimated by the pandemic. There`s a  desperate need for an infusion of support of both businesses and the  residents of the Bronx from Washington D.C.

VELSHI: Representative Torres, good to see you. Thank you for being with us  again on this show. You are the Democratic nominee for New York`s 15th  congressional district, which is the central Bronx. We look forward to  talking to you again.

Coming up who are the Republicans who voted for Trump in 2016 but are  voting for Joe Biden this time? We`re going to introduce you to some of  them next. 


VELSHI: We`re 88 days away from election day and NBC News` first  battleground map shows Joe Biden with 334 electoral votes to President  Trump`s 125. Some Republican voters are questioning Donald Trump`s ability  to lead given his response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Republican Voters against Trump -- a group created by Bill Kristol and  other Never-Trump Republicans has collected over 500 videos of Republicans,  many of whom voted for Trump in 2016, all of whom plan to vote against him  in November.

Here are some 2016 Trump voters explaining why this fall they`re voting for  Joe Biden. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I admit it. I voted for Trump in 2016. After three and a  half years, I decided to start watching the COVID-19 press conferences. My  son has diabetes, and it`s very important that we get good information. And  we just didn`t get information at all. We got lies, hate. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn`t realize he was a con artist and I`m so ashamed  that I voted for him. And I`m sorry. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will be voting for Joe Biden and any Democrat on any  ticket. I find myself every day almost in tears with my fear of what this  man has already done to our country and what he`s going to do if he gets  four more years. 


VELSHI: A clear majority of the country is fed up with Donald Trump`s lies  and mishandling of the coronavirus response. A recent Morning Consult poll  shows 59 percent of voters disapprove of Donald Trump`s handling of the  coronavirus pandemic.

Donald Trump lost the confidence of the American people, who have been  living with this pandemic for nearly six months now because he constantly  underestimated the virus and undermined the advice of experts who were  trying to help contain it. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you have 15 people and  the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. That`s  a pretty good job we have done. 

It is going to disappear. One day it is like a miracle. It will disappear. 

You have to be calm. It will go away. 

With the masks, it is going to be really a voluntary thing. You can do it.  You don`t have to do it. I`m choosing not to do it. 

We show cases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless. 

We`ll have a vaccine very soon. I hope long before the end of the year. 


VELSHI: Oklahoma public schoolteacher and lifelong Republican Nancy Shively  is one of the Americans who does not approve of Trump`s handling of the  coronavirus. She is now a former Trump voter who will be voting for Joe  Biden for president.

In an op-ed for "USA Today" Nancy Shively writes, quote, "I am a special  education teacher and a lifelong Republican who reluctantly voted for  Donald Trump in 2016 as the less bad of two bad choices. When the pandemic  hit, the incompetence of the man for whom I had voted and the complicity of  everyone around him forced me to admit that I could no longer maintain any  kind of self-respect as a Republican.

So even though I had voted Republican in every presidential election since  1976, I changed my voter registration to Independent and I will be voting  for Joe Biden in November. Nevertheless, I am still haunted because deep  down I fear that with this 2016 vote I may have signed my own death  warrant," end quote.

Nancy Shively is over 60 years old. She suffers from two auto immune  diseases. She works primarily with second and third graders and has been  terrified at the prospect of Donald Trump pushing to reopen schools.

Nancy made the difficult decision to resign from her school district due to  safety concerns about returning during the coronavirus pandemic. She  writes, quote, "Teaching is a calling, and Oklahoma teachers are as tough  as they come. Some have sheltered their students as a tornado ripped the  school building from over their heads. Most of us would do anything to help  our students succeed.

Now the man I gambled on to be president is asking us to risk our health  and our very lives. The odds are most definitely not in our favor."

When we come back, Nancy Shively gets tonight`s LAST WORD. 


VELSHI: "Open the schools" -- that`s the message Donald Trump has been  sending to teachers, parents and students across the country as coronavirus  cases and deaths continue to climb.

Lifelong Republican voter Nancy Shively, a special education teacher in  Oklahoma, has had enough of Donald Trump`s lack of leadership during this  crisis. In an op-ed for "USA Today", Nancy writes, "I was a reluctant Trump  voter. Coronavirus is the end of my Republican identity."

Joining us now is Nancy Shively. She voted for Donald Trump in 2016. She  now supports Joe Biden.

Nancy, thank you for being with us. Was it the schools thing that was the  last straw for you? 

NANCY SHIVELY, FORMER TRUMP VOTER NOW SUPPORTING JOE BIDEN: It was the  pandemic that was the last straw for me. Like I said, I reluctantly voted  for him in 2016, and worst mistake of my life. And I just -- I wasn`t  paying attention as closely as I should have. 

And I just -- I wasn`t paying attention as closely as I should have. I  should -- you know, I should not have ever cast a vote for him, but I did,  so now I`m just trying to take responsibility for that and hopefully  encourage other people to change their minds also. 

VELSHI: Do you think people will -- you know, I run into a lot of people,  and it`s not just Trump supporters, but it`s a lot of people who make a  political decision, cast a ballot, talk about it, and then have a hard time  coming around to the idea that their decision wasn`t correct.

And one of the problems in this country is that you`ve got all sorts of  media that can reinforce the bubble in which people exist. Do you think  there are a lot of people out there like you who realize that he was a  mistake? 

SHIVELY: Oh, yes. There are a lot of people like me, and it`s very  embarrassing to admit to anybody that you made a huge mistake like that. It  took me months before I could tell my daughters that I had voted for him,  and they were very properly horrified when I told them.

So, you know, the only thing you can do with a mistake like that is try to  redeem it. So yes, there`s lots -- 

VELSHI: Well, we`ve got 88 days to do that. We have a much shorter period  of time to deal with the school issue.

You mentioned your daughters. You`ve got six grandchildren in the Oklahoma  area, and they`re going to be doing school differently. Tell me what it`s  looking like for them. 

SHIVELY: Well, two of my grandsons are going to do online school. And then  I`ve got four more grandchildren. Two of them are not yet school age, so  they`ll be in day care. But I also have two that are going to be, I think,  second and first grade. So they`re still really young, and their mom is a  teacher too. So yes, they`ll be in public school. 

VELSHI: Talk to me about teachers. Talk to me about teachers. Talk to me  about people like you, special ed teachers. You`ve resigned your job  because you`re very worried about it.

But there are a whole bunch of people who are not going to have control  over their immediate environment because schools are in different shape  across the country. Some of them don`t have adequate ventilation. Some of  them don`t have adequate water. Some of them don`t have adequate space.

How do you -- how are people you`re talking to, teachers you`re talking to,  thinking about this mandate in some places to go back and teach in person? 

SHIVELY: Well, there`s a lot of teachers that have underlying medical  conditions that they can`t leave the profession. They have to stay in the  profession.

And so what prompted me to write the op-ed was a comment made by one of my  colleagues and she`s a younger woman. She has underlying health conditions,  and she said, well, I guess I`ll just up my life insurance and hope for the  best. And I thought, that`s -- that`s wrong. 


SHIVELY: That`s just so wrong. And it made me angry. And so yes, so that`s  what got me started writing the op-ed. And she`s not the only one. There`s  lots of teachers that are the same way, and our district is going back to  school in person next week. And the younger kids are not going to be  required to wear masks in their classrooms. They`ll have to wear them when  they`re out of the classrooms. 

but they`re going to be having lunch in the cafeteria like they always  have. And I just -- it just doesn`t feel safe to me. So, you know, we`ve  had this -- the virus is very predictable, you know. We`ve had -- 


SHIVELY: The states -- well, we`ve had this cascading failure of leadership  starting with the President. And then it flows down to our governor, who  wants to do everything the President does, so he won`t issue any kind of a  mask mandate or anything like that.

So it gets kicked down then to the state school board, and then they kicked  it down to the local school boards. And the one place it has to stop is  with teachers and children in the schools.


SHIVELY: And I`m just not willing to take the consequences of all that  failed leadership with my life. 

VELSHI: That`s right.

Nancy, thank you for writing the op-ed and sharing your views. And thank  you for your decades of service to our nation`s children. We all count on  people like you to make them the next generation, who possibly will make  better decisions, likely will make better decisions than we have.

Nancy Shively gets tonight`s LAST WORD.

I`ll see you tomorrow and every weekend morning starting at 8:00 a.m.  Eastern right here on MSNBC. And of course, we`ll be covering the tough  questions around reopening schools in the next month.

In order to provide you with the best information possible I`d like to know  how you`re preparing for your kids` return to school. Send me your stories,  your photos, your videos to my email at I hope you`ll  join us.

"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" begins right now.