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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, September 24, 2020

Guests: Maya Wiley, Joyce Vance, David Plouffe, Aileen Marty

Summary

President Donald Trump sows doubt about election with early voting underway in several states. White House tries to defend Trump election attacks. FBI director contradicts on voter fraud. Protests continue in Louisville after no direct charges for police in Breonna Taylor case. Trump claims vaccine will defeat virus as Fauci urges caution. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she's not surprised by President Trump's comments about whether he would accept a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the election.

Transcript

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Protests are underway for a second night in Louisville after a grand jury declined to directly charge three police officers in the death of Breonna Taylor. We're keeping an eye on the situation we'll bring you any breaking developments either in Louisville or across the country where there are other protests taking place.

Today is day 1,344 of the Trump administration with 40 days to go until the Presidential Election. Five days now until the first presidential debate.

And just moments ago, the nation surpassed 7 million confirmed coronavirus cases.

The President is in the midst of an election firestorm of his own making, ignited by his public dismissal of one of the cornerstones of American democracy, the peaceful transition of power. He's refused to promise that he'll carry it out if he loses raising fears of a constitutional crisis.

Tonight, Trump held his third rally of the week in Jacksonville, Florida, but avoided the issue sticking to generally encouraging his supporters to get to the polls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Get your friends, get your family, get your neighbors, get your co-workers and get out and vote. We have to win this election, most important election we've ever had. Early voting has already begun. Don't wait, vote. It's safe, go out and vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: He also didn't bring up highest (ph), frequent and baseless assertions that mail ballots are rife with fraud and will cost him the election. But after the rally, he tweeted, "Cheating on unsolicited ballots by political hacks or anyone else is against the law. We are closely watching."

The controversy over Trump's comments on the transfer of power erupted yesterday when he answered this question during a pre-press briefing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Win, lose or draw in this election, will you commit here today for a peaceful transferal of power after the election? And there is been rioting a little, there's been writing in many cities across this country, read in your so called red and blue states. Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transferal of power after the election?

TRUMP: Well, we're going to have to see what happens. You know that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster. And --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand that but people are rioting. Do you commit to making sure that there's a peaceful transferal of power?

TRUMP: We want to have get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very trans -- we'll have a very peaceful. There won't be a transfer. Frankly, there'll be a continuation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: There will be a continuation. Today before Donald Trump left the White House for Florida he dug in on his position and cast doubt on the integrity of the November election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We want to make sure the election is honest. And I'm not sure that it can be. I don't I don't know that it can be with this whole situation unsolicited ballots, they're unsolicited millions things sent to everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: The White House tried to back up the boss today the chief of staff and the press secretary speaking simultaneously although not quite the same tune.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: -- governing works.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I'm asking a very direct and very simple question. If the President loses this election, will this White House, will this President assure us that there will be a peaceful transfer of power? It's a very simple question. We've been doing it since 1800.

MCENANY: The President will accept the results of a free and fair election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just to understand this clearly, are the results legitimate only if the President wins?

MCENANY: The President will accept the results of a free and fair election. He will accept the will of the American people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, for clarity, if he loses and it's free and fair, he will accept that?

MCENANY: I've answered your question.

MARK MEADOWS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: If every ballot is counted, and if it's a fair election, we have a history of a peaceful transition of power. Here's the other thing that we do know and bluntly is that we're continuing to see a perversion of the electoral process with mail-in ballots that are unsolicited.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: That was a view from Pennsylvania Avenue. But on Capitol Hill, Republicans made an effort to distance themselves from Trump's comments without criticizing him. And while also reassuring voters. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, an unwavering Trump ally who's working hard to fill the Supreme Court vacancy today posted this message, "The winner of the November 3 election will be inaugurated on January 20. There will be an orderly transition, just as there has been every four years since 1792."

And today, while under oath at a Senate hearing, Trump's FBI Director contradicted Trump on the issue of fraud and voting by mail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is voting by mail secure?

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: We have not seen historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election. And whether it's by mail or otherwise, we've --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Now, in Michigan one of the states where early voting is underway the idea of Trump refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses to Joe Biden did not go over well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How could he not if you're voted out there you got to just walk out. You know, I mean you can't just fight it. What's that -- that's a child. You know, I mean he's acting like a child.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did hearing that affect your decision to come vote in person as opposed to by mail or some other way?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's a sport child. He does things to get attention and to distract you from other thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Meanwhile, Politico reports that even if Trump isn't planning to leave office, his staff is well into planning a potential transition. Amid all of this, Trump did take time this morning to pay his respects to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she lay in repose at the Supreme Court. The reception he received from the crowd was not warm.

Vote him out is what the crowd was chanting. Later, the President seemed to try to dismiss what he heard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did you feel about some of the chanting that was going on outside the Supreme Court, "Vote you out: and fulfill -- "Uphold her wish?"

TRUMP: Well, I think that was just a political chant. I could -- we could hardly hear it from where we were. Somebody said there was some chanting but they were right next to the media, but we really could hardly hear too much. We heard a sound but it wasn't very strong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Tomorrow, Joe Biden will pay his respects to Ginsburg she lives in state at the United States Capitol. She will be the first woman to be granted that honor.

Here for our leadoff discussion on a Thursday night, Shannon Pettypiece, Senior White House Reporter for NBC News Digital, Maya Wiley, former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and a veteran of the New York City mayor's office now with the new school here in New York and former U.S. Attorney for Alabama, Joyce Vance, who spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor. Good evening to all of you.

Shannon, let me just start with you because I just want to go back roughly a month to Donald Trump and the examples that he has given us about why this is not going to be a legitimate election talking about mail-in balloting, and to bring us up to speed with where we are today. Let's all listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The only way we're going to lose this election is if the election is rigged. Remember that.

What's going on with balloting will prove to be one of the great catastrophes in the history of our country.

The problem they have with a ballot is the people sending the ballots and the people counting the ballots and who are they sending them to? Where are they being sent?

Those paper ballots, you've talked about, a bad thing.

Counterfeit him for, Jim, do whatever you want. It's a very serious problem.

Fake ballots, millions and millions of ballots, cheating with those ballots, all of those unsolicited ballots, those millions of ballots.

Which is a scam, sending ballots this is going to be the scam of all time.

They're trying to make our numbers look bad. There's fraud, there's missing ballots.

There's going to be fraud. It's a disaster.

What they're doing is a hoax with the ballots.

One of the great embarrassments in the history of our country, they're setting it up for chaos.

What they're doing is trying to sow confusion and everything else.

I think it's going to be a terrible time for this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Shannon, what's going on here? Is it the polling that indicates the President that he is trailing in this election and the -- and either he's trying to distract from that or he's trying to motivate his people to get out or, what is he doing?

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC NEWS.COM SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, you know, Ali, you in back about a month. If you go back a little bit further than that, you know, two or three months, the President was talking about all mail-in balloting, absentee balloting, any ballots sent in through the mail, he was saying were susceptible to fraud.

Then his advisors senators who are in tough Senate races, governors started telling him listen, we really need people to be mailing in their votes or they're just not going to vote for us. We're heavily reliant on people voting by mail. So then he shifted his argument and the White House shifted their argument to talking about universal mail-in ballots. That's where everyone in a state is every registered voter I should say in a state is sent a ballot in the mail. You don't have to request it you automatically get it.

Well, only nine states in the District of Columbia are expected to do that. And only one of those states Nevada is even remotely a swing state. The other states, California, Oregon, Washington, New Jersey, the President is expected to lose by double digits like he did in 2016.

So he is raising an issue with a form of voting that is taking place in heavily democratic states where he has no contest. However, the White House continues to try and mush the two together. And while they talk about universal mail-in balloting, in the same breath, they are talking about Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and raising some sort of bizarre unsubstantiated claims today about, you know, random ballots being discarded or found in a river, the President said.

So comparing the two so people at home would think that in Pennsylvania, millions of people are getting ballots. And so if the race is close there, it has something to do with this idea of every registered voter getting a ballot in the mail. So it's an -- I mean, it's an interesting needle, they're trying to thread between raising issue with the type of voting that's not going to have an effect on the President's results, and then trying to put that on top of states that just have regular absentee voting like we've had for decades and a lot of places.

VELSHI: And Maya, in doing that, he's now added this component of not perhaps legitimizing the outcome of the election and then not necessarily leaving office. And Senator Bernie Sanders was on with Rachel in the last night at the nine o'clock hour. Let's listen to what he told her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: I am worried and had been worried for a long time, that we have a president who will refuse to leave office if he loses the election. And what I believe we have got to do is listen carefully to what he says. I know there are people out there is oh, Trump's crazy, he says this. He says that, don't take him seriously. Take him seriously.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: And I think, Maya, most of us can agree with Bernie Sanders on this one. Listen to what he says because he often follows through. What are you supposed to do with this information? How are you processing the information? We're Donald Trump has been delegitimizing the election for well over a month now and now says, maybe I won't leave office?

MAYA WILEY, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: So, I've process it in a couple of ways. First of all, I process it as a sign that Donald Trump feels very vulnerable, in terms of his reelection bid, so vulnerable that what we also thought tonight, Jacksonville was some -- his usual lies and misrepresentations, including about ethanol in Iowa. Why was he talking about ethanol in Iowa? Because he is worried about losing Iowa.

So what he has to do then is try to tell the American public not to believe they're lying, right? This is something that's not new for Donald Trump. And I think this is the point about mail-in balloting. And we should make this very clear. We only have good data about the reliability of mail-in balloting for the most part. We have five days that have been doing mail-in balloting before 2020, as of right, meaning you just get a ballot in the mail and you vote by mail. So it is simply not true. But it is because he believes he will lose that he's hedging his bets and threatening and I absolutely agree with Bernie Sanders, because Maya Angelou said it best, if someone tells you who they are, believe them the first time he's telling us.

VELSHI: Joyce, one of the things that I think we are getting close to wanting to hear although it seems strange to even say these things is -- do we want to hear from the Attorney General from the Department of Homeland Security from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and people like that, to understand what role they will play if Donald Trump doesn't do the thing that the Constitution requires of him to do if he loses the election. To whom now do we turn for guidance and for direction?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: So Trump has said something incredibly dangerous. It's the opposite of the basis of our country where every four years since George Washington left power, we've had this peaceful turnover of power. It's really one of the jewels in the crown of our democracy.

And I think your question is the right question to ask. It's absolutely incumbent upon the press to reach out to everyone from Mike Pence on down who forms this President's cabinet and to ask them, do you support a peaceful transfer of power?

And here's the problem and we heard it in your comments in the opening, I think from Mark Meadows, the Chief of Staff, and perhaps from others. They want to cage this and say well, only if the election is free and fair, will we agree to a turnover of power.

And the problem is that Donald Trump is setting up a fake narrative that the election will be unfair. I mean, he has a remarkable crystal ball. Here, we are still several weeks out, and he already knows that the election is going to be unfair, even when his own FBI director has said historically, there's no nationwide fraud of the type. The President, by the way is alleging that would indicate that the results of an election would be suspect. So the entire problem here demands consistent statements from everyone in the Republican leadership.

VELSHI: I for one, as a citizen would like to hear those statements every day from everybody who will be involved in the peaceful transition of power, which is a cornerstone of our democracy.

Maya Wiley, you've been involved during your career in policing and civilian supervision of policing. We have demonstrations again in Louisville, and tonight we heard Donald Trump say this about protesters. Let's listen in for a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The Democratic Party's war on cops, is putting the lives of innocent police officers in danger. Last night, as you know, two police officers were shot in Louisville, Kentucky. Every year dozens of courageous police officers lay down their lives for people that they never met, people that they don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: And a lot of that is not wrong, we're glad to hear that the two officers shot in Louisville, Kentucky. They were not -- it was not life threatening. They seem to be on their way to being mended. And we definitely hear police getting shot for just doing their jobs. What's missing in this conversation right now because the city of Louisville settled with Breonna Taylor's family, acknowledging that there were policing shortcomings that led to her death, to lay people like me that indictment was very, very strange, someone got indicted for wildly shooting into a neighbor's apartment, but no one is being held responsible whatsoever for an innocent woman's death at the hands of police. What's missing here?

WILEY: You know, what's missing here, Ali, is a recognition that demonstrators are trying to point our attention to, which is that the system is broken, because it is working as it is designed to work. And that's what we have to understand.

Breonna Taylor is dead, because she dumped a boyfriend, who apparently may have had problems with the law, but has no criminal record of her own, and that she died in her apartment, shot in her apartment. And that is something that we have to ask ourselves. What are we doing there?

What demonstrators are saying is there is no consequence to the loss of black lives at the hands of police. And that is in and of itself in injustice, a settlement there's no restitution paid by the officers, there is important components in the settlement I don't want to suggest that the settlement doesn't have value. It's just the point about justice, is that just because you wear a badge, doesn't mean you can hide behind it. When you kill someone, you should have taken greater precautions to protect. And what black folks and all kinds of Americans of all races, all classes, all stripes are saying is something really is broken because it is working the way it was designed. And we should change that.

VELSHI: Joyce, you and I have talked a lot about the suppression of first amendment rights by this president, the amount that he takes joy in talking about suppressing reporters right in Louisville, three journalists were arrested last night, two from the Daily Caller, a conservative outlet that is usually very, very supportive of the President, and in particular of police in these uprisings. But they were arrested and held after identifying themselves as press and after the Daily Caller spoke to the Louisville Metro Police Department and told them that they were police.

Now the fact that they're friendly to Donald Trump and friendly to police shouldn't have a bearing on this matter. The fifth and -- first amendment applies to us all equally. But there does seem to be something afoot in this administration that is making its way down to local police, about disrespecting and dishonoring the press, that's dangerous for society.

VANCE: The tongue gets set at the top on this and it's always been a certainty that the White House, you know, that's not to say that in every administration there's been 105% support for the press. Obviously there are always issues have given take. But there's a fundamental commitment to the First Amendment. And the problem that we're seeing now filtering to cities, we have arrests in Birmingham during BLM rallies where we had reporters arrested that tells you that it's spread all across the country. It is because of this tolerance, if not encouragement that the President offers for viewing the press as the enemies.

And we need to remember that the free press is all that stands between us and a government that shrouded completely so that it can do whatever it wants to do without having any sort of light shined on its procedures. You know, Justice Brandeis used to love to say that sunlight is the best disinfectant, the press, they're the people that bring the disinfectant to our society. So losing that would be a terrible discouragement to the Constitution.

VELSHI: And important for Americans to remember, it's not about the press you like it. It's not about people who write the things you like. The First Amendment is for all of us.

Thank you to all three of you this evening, Shannon Pettypiece, Maya Wiley and Joyce Vance.

Coming up, with five days to go into the first debate, Campaign Veteran David Plouffe gives us his take on just how consequential that face-off is going to be.

And later we'll ask a retired four star general who fought for our democracy about the President's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. The 11th Hour just getting started on a Thursday night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Somebody said, oh, he won't do well at the debate. I said I think you're wrong. You'll do fine. He's going to do fine. They'll give him a big shot or something and he'll go out there. They have a lot of energy. He'll have energy. He'll be like Superman for about 15 minutes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Five days out from the first presidential debate, Trump seems to be downplaying expectations. Politico is reporting this week, "Some of the President's supporters are already bracing for a humiliating loss."

New polling released by Fox News shows former Vice President Joe Biden leading in three key swing states. Trump is trailing in Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania where the President has been spending a lot of time.

Tonight David Plouffe, former Obama Campaign Manager and Senior Adviser to President Obama, he is also on the Board of Directors of the Obama Foundation. His latest book is, A Citizen's Guide to Beating Donald Trump.

David, I want to talk to you about the debate. But I want to talk to you about this business about not committing to a peaceful transfer of power. I can never gauge for myself because I'm so in it. What's newly outrageous or aware on the outrage rank, something sits. But this one stirred something in me as a citizen, not as a journalist. I'm an immigrant to this country. And I held that thing, the peaceful transfer of power to be a thing that sets most modern democracies apart and certainly America apart.

DAVID PLOUFFE, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, it got to me too early. I think, you know, this is a threat to the entire enterprise. You have a sitting United States President threatening to ignore the results of an election. And two, if you read The Atlantic article that came out yesterday as well, you know, things like establishing rival Electoral College slates going to state legislators.

Now, I think a lot of that, listen, the strategy behind this, I think, is to suppress the vote. Trump, in his campaign, are trying to make it seem to Democratic voters who may be on the fence about voting, that maybe the election won't count. So I don't think that's going to be successful. I also think he's setting up if he loses, you know, he kind of wants to be the president of

QAnon and Exile, you know, someone who was wrongfully defeated. So listen, if Joe Biden win this election by one vote, or one state, he is going to be the next president, the United States. But I think the message that we need to send, you know, not just Democrats, Independents, Republicans who care about their country, is a stinging defeat to Donald Trump in his enablers, because I think we really can get numb to this. The lies, the racism, I mean, it's hard to even say that but every day, he's out there being racist, being misogynist, lying, threatening the press. But this now has crossed the line. And I actually think it is going to hurt him in the election. Because I think there may be 25% of the people in the country who would be fine if we ignore the election results, but the other 75%, including a lot of Republicans do consider this to be the most chairs thing in our country. Is that going back to George Washington, we have a peaceful transfer of the presidency.

VELSHI: David, let's talk about the debate. Donald Trump has from a very early point in this campaign long before Joe Biden was the candidate talked about sleepy Joe and discussed his mental state and things like that. He's been managing expectations that that people might be surprised by on debate night?

PLOUFFE: Well, I think so. I mean, the bar there's low for Biden. Let's be clear, there are voters in Florida, in Wisconsin and Arizona, whether they are truly still swing voters and really haven't checked into the race, or voters who may be Democrats, but not sure they're going to register a vote. And they haven't really seen Biden. What they might hear some of this stuff, is Biden really up to this? Can he handle Trump? Can he handle the presidency? And they're not watching all his interviews. And I think Biden's been pretty crystal last few weeks. So Biden, I think, has a low bar to cross.

But the pressure here is on Trump. Joe Biden has had a significant and stable lead all the way going back to pre-pandemic, the polls you just showed show Biden over 50% in swing votes. Trump has to pull the vote away from Biden, that is just a mathematical reality. So Trump is the one who has all the pressure on him. He has to disrupt the race next Monday -- next Tuesday. And if he doesn't, I'm not going to suggest that the next three debates aren't important. But if Biden does well, next week and Trump underperforms or doesn't shake up the race, which is what he has to do, I think you're going to see some people tune out the rest of the debate. So next Tuesday is the most important date for the remainder of the campaign.

VELSHI: That's saying something from you David Plouffe, good to see you as always. Thank you, David Plouffe.

Coming up, you never -- you never know Florida was once a coronavirus hotspot by looking at these pictures from tonight's Trump rally in Jacksonville. We're going to ask the doctor who treats COVID patients about that and get a medical update from the sunshine state when the 11th Hour continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The vaccine will be safe and it will be effective. It will defeat the virus and it will end the pandemic.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: When a vaccine comes, we look at it as an important tool to supplement the public health measures that we do. But it is not going to eliminate the need to be prudent and careful with our public health measures.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: The president at odds with the experts yet again today over whether a vaccine could actually end the pandemic and as we've officially topped 7 million confirmed cases tonight in the United States. We're still learning more about the risks with this virus.

New data from the CDC says young adults infected by coronavirus set off surges that have sickened older Americans. As the New York Times notes quote from June through August the incidence of COVID-19 was highest among young -- among adults aged 20 to 29 years old, young adults accounted for more than 20 percent of all confirmed cases this week.

After a marathon meeting the fourth largest school district in the country, Miami Dade voted to push back in person school reopenings until next month.

For more on this, let's bring in Dr. Aileen Marty. She's a professor of Infectious Diseases at Florida International University in Miami. She's a former Navy officer. She's worked on global medicine with the World Health Organization.

Dr. Marty, thank you for being with us. This week alone has seen some remarkable milestones. 7 million cases crossed in the United States confirmed cases. 200,000 deaths which unfortunately, is quite in line with some of the better projections that we've had about the way things are going and we still have places in the United States where cases are increasing and we are still losing somewhere around 1000 people a day. More than seven months into this.

This is just -- there's no other way to look at this compared to other countries than a public health failure.

DR. AILEEN MARTY, FLORIDA INTL. UNIVERSITY INFECTIOUS DISESE PROFESSOR: I can't disagree with you. It is tragic to know that we have 22 percent of the cases and we constitute 4 percent of the world's population.

In Florida, we at the end of June, we had about -- June 22, we had about 100,000 cases now we're almost at 700,000 cases. We're doing a lot better. We put in a lot of measures, we made a lot of changes in our behavior in mass mandates, and so forth in particular counties where it was necessary to do so.

And our numbers have come down dramatically, we're no longer at 20 percent positive rates in our testing, we're now hovering around 5 percent over the last few days, in fact, we're a little bit below 5 percent, which is good.

So most of the criteria that we had looked at for community criteria in order to reopen schools, which is one of the things that we're very concerned about now have been met with just a couple of lagging indicators.

VELSHI: So that the science can help us get through this. And there are a lot of people who think schools are not a bad idea, because we can monitor them very closely. We can act if something goes wrong. But we have to do so with the understanding that we may not know enough about how the spreads.

Meanwhile, the President's advisor in this Dr. Scott Atlas, seems to be just sort of putting out there the idea that there's no danger with kids, either to them or to the people they're going to infect. We know this not to be true.

MARTY: Well, you've named an individual that I don't understand why he's a member of the team at all, because he's not an infectious disease doctor, he's not an epidemiologist. He has no particular background in this field. So -- And I've read the letter from his colleagues at Stanford Medicine, that are quite upset by the disgraceful types of comments that he has made.

VELSHI: Let's talk about what's happening tonight in Florida in Jacksonville, but 350 miles, I guess, from where you are the President held a rally tightly packed, like so many of his rallies, many without masks. We're looking at images of it right now, literally, I mean, you'd be hard pressed to find masks in there. What goes through your mind when you see this kind of behavior?

MARTY: I see trouble. I see that there is there's people putting themselves in harm's way. And I think that it is the responsibility of the leaders to make sure that people act in ways that do not increase the spread of a dangerous and very easy to spread virus.

VELSHI: You are -- you teach infectious diseases. People I know like you or virologists or immunologist, this is not terribly sexy work most of the time. But you understand that solving these problems is protocols, rules, things that have been tried before and putting it forward.

Why are we in the position that we are in right now where we are now in a position to doubt what our officials tell us? We don't even know when the FDA tells us something or the CDC tells us something, whether there's been political involvement in that I would like to know as an American, that this information is untainted.

MARTY: I've had the privilege to work most of my adult life for the federal government. I have worked for the Department of Defense, as you mentioned early on, I work for the Department of Homeland Security for DHHS in various capacities. And I can assure you that we have some of the finest scientists working in the federal government who are trying every day to do the right thing and to and to provide us with the right science.

I've never before seen the kind of political pressure on our federal agencies in something that is so vital and so important to our health, as I've seen in the last few months. And quite frankly, it puts us in a very awkward position, it puts all of us in a very awkward position. Because when information is posted to a webpage that belongs to one of these agencies that we rely on to give us good solid data.

And those of us who've been studying the science and know the risks and review all the work that's going on and see our own patients realize is not workable and is not practical. And then we have to go to the people that are the decision makers in our units and explain to them why we have to go above and beyond what the CDC is recommending. And why it's an extremely unfortunate thing for us.

VELSHI: Yes. Yes.

MARTY: But it's also horrible for the United States and for all the citizens because when people don't know what to rely on, they stop thinking, they stop acting in a way that's based on critical thinking and instead base their judgments on emotion and when people base their judgment and emotions they're very easily swayed by individuals who don't necessarily have their best interests at heart.

VELSHI: That's right. The number of texts and emails I've gotten from people with no medical training whatsoever, sending me information on what we really need to do when in fact that information should be readily available to all Americans from sources like you and the people like you who work in government. Dr. Eileen Marty, thank you for the work that you do. Dr. Eileen Marty is a professor of Infectious Diseases at Florida International University in Miami.

Coming up, more on the President's take on the transition of power with a man who dedicated his life to defending democracy. We're going to hear from General Barry McCaffrey when "The 11th Hour" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA) HOUSE SPEAKER: But I remind him, you are not in North Korea. You are not in Turkey. You are not in Russia, Mr. President. And by the way, you are not in Saudi Arabia. You are in the United States of America. It is a democracy. So why don't you just try for a moment to honor your oath of office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today when asked about the president not committing to a peaceful transfer of power, should he lose the election. The New York Times points out quote, Trump for his part does not seem to mind all the criticism and appears intent on sowing doubt about the legitimacy of an election. He is in danger of losing, end quote

With us talk about this, General Barry McCaffrey, a decorated combat veteran of Vietnam, of Iraq, of a whole lot of places. In fact, that was you know, you and I, General McCaffrey have talked for years but I was looking up all the places you've been in the world, all the places that our forces were because of unstable governments because of governments that didn't accept the voice of the people.

And I worry today that we have introduced this into our lexicon here in the United States for the first time in our democratic history. The idea that we will delegitimize our own election and then the President will not be willing to move off.

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: Well, we've seen it before in 1860, with the Jefferson Davis. But literally in modern times, you're entirely correct. There's no president of the United States dared to call into question the underlying principles of democracy free and fair election.

So it's a very dangerous situation. And by the way, when you're trying to understand what someone will do in the future, you should take into account their words, what are they saying and what are they writing. So I think we ought to take Mr. Trump at face value and listen to what he's saying and writing and be extremely concerned.

The other side of that equation, though, clearly is we have institutions that will protect us that won't buckle, we saw the FBI director talk frankly to Congress, well, we have some very, I think, strong minded people in government. They're going to have to speak up and in the coming month.

VELSHI: So this is what I want to ask you about general, because we have a lot of political commentators on the show. And then we have people like you decorated soldiers. We have military people with, you know, you have worked for government and in the military.

At this point, who are the voices we need to hear from who represent the institutions that you assure us will protect us? Are we looking for the Attorney General for the Defense Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security Secretary? Who needs to tell us don't worry about all this stuff? We'll make sure this goes the way it's supposed to go?

MCCAFFREY: Well, I think we have to have a lot of trust in the civil service. Professionals throughout government, we ought to have a great deal of confidence in the armed forces to obey the Constitution. We have to trust that the FBI and federal law enforcement will obey the law.

Having said that, you know, it's clear to me that, to my astonishment, some of these Republicans who I know and admire have remain mute in the face of what, in my judgment, is a rogue presidency, filled with illegalities, with disregard of the Constitution, of taking money that hadn't been appropriated by Congress of not standing up to our enemies, Mr. Putin delegitimizing the vote. We have hundreds of thousands of armed forces troops and their families who will vote by mail.

So again, it's a very, I think, threatening situation. And the Republicans in the Congress should now speak up strongly to stand behind the law. I think we ought to count on the Supreme Court to be professional and to obey the law and the media had better stay aggressive and observant.

VELSHI: There's a message to all of us that we accept. General Barry McCaffrey, thank you sir for being with us as always. Coming up, how and America first approach to a COVID-19 vaccine whenever there is one could end up doing more damage than good when "The 11th Hour" continues.

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VELSHI: Donald Trump is not the only world leader in eager pursuit of a vaccine for coronavirus. Other countries around the world are also rushing to develop their own. The fractured effort could leave poorer nations without one and that could have a worldwide impact. As NBC News correspondent Carl Nasman reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARL NASMAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nations around the world are on a vaccine shopping spree buying up access to doses even before they complete scientific trials. And it's wealthy countries like the United States doing most of the buying.

The U.S. already securing exclusive rights to at least 1.6 billion doses of several promising vaccine candidates, if all of them prove safe and effective. That's enough to give every American nearly five shots.

(on camera): Several other countries including the U.K. and the European Union, also walking in early access to vaccines from various drug makers, including nearly half the future supply of a vaccine being developed right here at the University of Oxford.

(voice-over): The World Health Organization calling this behavior vaccine nationalism.

TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WHO DIRECTOR GENERAL: The first priority must be to vaccinate some people in all countries, rather than all people in some countries.

NASMAN: This entire crisis has been a global tug of war, wealthy countries stockpiling scarce resources like ventilators and face masks. Now with a future vaccine expected to be in short supply countries that can't pay up front, already in danger of being stuck at the back of the line.

The head of the Africa CDC, John Nkengasong is concerned a vaccine won't arrive in Africa at the same time as the U.S. or Europe. That's exactly what happened during the swine flu pandemic in 2009. And in the 90s, life saving HIV/AIDS anti-retroviral drugs are widely available in the U.S. nearly a decade before Africa.

DR. JOHN NKENGASONG, AFRICA CDC DIRECTOR: It would take us to forget the history of what the continent went through.

UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: Is this the best kept secret in global health.

NASMAN: To ensure equal access this time, the WHO was teaming up with a group called GAVI for an ambitious plan to deliver 2 billion doses of vaccines around the world by the end of next year.

DR. SETH BERKLEY, CEO OF GAVI: So the idea here is can we provide vaccines to developed and developing countries at the same time and try to make sure that you cover the key groups that need it the most.

NASMAN: More than 150 countries have joined the collaboration called KOVAX. rich and poor nations pooling resources to buy multiple vaccine candidates and share the most effective ones.

The U.S. is going at alone, a Trump administration spokesperson saying quote, we will not be constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China.

Public health experts fear the decision to put America first could lead the U.S. and the rest of the world at even greater risk. Carl Nasman, NBC News, Oxford, England.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELSHI: Our thanks to Carl Nasman. Coming up, maybe 2020 isn't all that bad. When "The 11th Hour" continues.

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VELSHI: The last thing before we go tonight is about this year we are living through the year 2020 Anno Domini will -- without a doubt become an object of fascination for future historians. A pandemic political strife, a recession, societal unrest and much more have led people to turn to gallows humor a lot this year.

Twitter is filled day in and day out with gifs like this one. This is fine cartoon of the dog with a cup of coffee and a burning room which is seven years old and more popular than ever. The phrase dumpster fire has been used so much it's finally been made into an action bigger which is already sold out everywhere you try to find it online.

There are also those joking we think about something from the void of space, just getting it all over with from bumper stickers to yard signs. You don't have to look too hard to find giant asteroid 2020 merge out there, and it turns out, but that one has some potential.

NASA says today September 24, an asteroid the size of a school bus sailed past us at a distance of about 13,000 miles above the Earth's surface that's closer by the way than some satellites that are orbiting Earth but not to fear. They also add that even if it had been on a collision course, it would almost certainly have broken up once it entered the Earth's atmosphere.

So for now, NASA says we're in the clear. Congratulations or condolences, whatever the case may be for you. But the bus sized asteroid mist hitting earth today. You may carry on.

And that is our broadcast for tonight. On behalf of all of my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.

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

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