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Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Are supposed to have today off a long planned day off today. But I am here because what's going on here is a big deal and there's nowhere I'd rather be than here with you trying to figure it all out. Hope Hicks, close aide to the president, apparently got her positive coronaviruses result yesterday morning, but the White House told no one about it. We only learned of Hope Hicks testing positive from some intrepid reporting by Jennifer Jacobs at Bloomberg News last night.
In the meantime, again, telling no one what they knew about Hicks testing positive. The president, who had been in close contact with Hope Hicks, nevertheless traveled to a fundraiser at his New Jersey golf club as if everything was fine and attended this event last night with upwards of one hundred people. Even though he had been in close contact with someone who had tested positive yesterday morning, he had been in really close contact with her in enclosed spaces for significant periods of time.
Inside the president's plane, inside the president's helicopter. The president, the first lady and Topix were all at Tuesday night's debate in Cleveland, where the host of that debate, the Cleveland Clinic, required that all guests in the debate hall wear masks. The president's guests nevertheless refused to. NBC News is Marianna Sotomayor was in the hall. She reported seeing a Cleveland Clinic doctor literally wearing a white coat approach. The Trump family and Trump's guests reminding them to wear a mask, even offering the masks.
But the Trump family and Trump guests did not wear them. And then, of course, at that debate, the president mocked his Democratic opponent for his mask wearing. When needed, when needed, I were a. OK, let me ask, I don't have I don't wear mouth like him. Every time you see him, he's got a mask. He could be speaking two hundred feet away from it. He shows up with a big his mask I've ever seen.
That was Tuesday, a couple of days before that, the president hosted a big gathering in the Rose Garden at the White House to announce his nomination of Amy Barrett to the United States Supreme Court. And as you see in the footage from that, yes, the gathering was outside, but pretty much no one was wearing a mask. Everybody was packed in really tight. At least five people at that event, including the president, have since tested positive.
The five who have tested positive include Republican US Senator Mike Lee of Utah. You can see him in footage from that event, no mask. He has his mask in his hand, helpfully giving up big hugs. Senator Lee has now tested positive for the virus. Everybody else in this footage with him has got to be unnerved by that. Hopefully, they've all been tested. Hopefully they're all quarantining. The behavior of this event and the number of people at that event who have tested positive so far has led to some speculation that that Rose Garden event specifically might have been its own super spreader viral disaster, watching the Marcellus mingling and hugging and close talking.
You'd think there was no pandemic at all, or at least that you were in some alternate universe where everybody pretended there wasn't one, because for some reason they thought they were safe. Journalists are now trying to do our own version of contact tracing since the White House doesn't appear to be doing it. Journalists have been reconstructing the movements and interactions of the president and his staff to try to figure out who else might have been exposed. Meanwhile, state health officials in places where the president has recently held rallies and events are advising anyone who attended any of those events that they should seek testing because they may have been exposed to coronavirus from the president and his team.
The Cleveland Clinic, which hosted Tuesday's debate, is now reaching out to everyone who was at that debate offering testing. This is the headline today in the local paper in Cleveland. President Trump, First Lady and Hope Hicks may have spread coronavirus at Cleveland presidential debate. It's just remarkable time. Let's let's let us start tonight, I think, just by sort of skipping right to the end, let's just cut right to the chase. There is not reason to expect that the president is going to die from covid-19.
A fraction of people who get infected with the coronavirus become ill. The president has become ill. A fraction of those become those who become ill have to be hospitalized. The president has now been hospitalized. But even among covid patients who have to be hospitalized, even among men who are older, who are obese, who have existing comorbidities, there is still a wide variety of possible outcomes, even for patients who are sick with covid-19 who are in the hospital.
And, you know, the president was well enough to walk on his own steam to and from the helicopter that took him to the hospital tonight. He was well enough to speak and seem mostly like himself in an 18 second video that he posted from the White House, thanking people for their well wishes. We are not on death watch tonight for the president. There is no reason to expect that the president is going to die from this. Now, of course, it is possible, right, I mean, more than two hundred and nine thousand Americans have died from this thing and barely more than six months.
The president is a born and born and raised New Yorker. More than thirty four thousand New Yorkers alone have been killed by this thing. The president is one of a relatively small fraternity of Republican politicians who've run for president. In the past few years, this thing has already killed another recent Republican presidential candidate, Herman Cain, who contracted the virus after publicly naysaying its risks. And crucially, after Mr. Cain went mask free to the first big indoor rally President Trump held in defiance of health authorities.
The first of many, of course, the president for months was the only entity holding Kongregate events of any kind with thousands of Americans at them. While the pandemic raged, he has gleefully flouted health guidelines designed to keep people from getting infected. He has mocked as weak and silly and disingenuous. Anybody who does follow those guidelines, particularly people who wear masks, he's done almost immeasurable harm to the effort to contain and stop the spread of this disease in our country.
And when the person doing the most damage to public health efforts is the person in charge of those public health efforts. That's all you need for a guaranteed large scale public health failure, which is what we have, which is why the United States has more dead and more infected than any other place on Earth. It is understandable. It is more than understandable to be enraged at the president and at this White House for endangering all of the other people whose lives they have risked and squandered.
Being enraged at this president in this government for botching the response to this epidemic so royally, still this long into it for so aggressively undercutting the public health guidelines that could keep people safe for themselves, brazenly defying public health guidelines, performative proudly with a sneer in a way that endangered everyone anywhere near the president, including the president himself. I mean, the rage you feel about that is righteous rage and inevitable. It is at least rational. But the president himself getting it.
Is a different kind of cat. It is a different kind of thing. And of course, it is clear that he in this White House have been playing with fire all this time, and so, yes, now they've gotten burned in the worst way. We all understand that. But we as a country now have a very serious situation on our hands. We need to both understand how we got here. Yes. But also how to get out from here.
I mean, if if you if you know someone who smoked for years and years and years and never even tried to quit despite knowing the risks of lung cancer from smoking, and then that person who, you know, got lung cancer, how do you react to that? Well, part of the way you react is that you understand why they likely got it. Your instinct might even be to blame them for getting it. Go right ahead. Right.
Enjoy that schadenfreude. But also, you're a human being in this situation if your friend has lung cancer. Now, regardless of what you feel about he or she, how how he or she got it right, once you find out that they're ill, you wish and hope and try to save them. Right. You get them into treatment. You help them try to survive it. You move heaven and earth to cure them. That's how we do as humans.
Right? That's how this works. Understanding how we got here and now, coping with what we have to do to try to survive it are two things that we can keep in our heads at the same time and two things that we can keep in our soul at the same time. That's how this works to write. I mean, accountability for the president's disastrous mishandling of the epidemic is political accountability. That's what the election is for, accountability for him, cutting the legs out from public health authorities and replacing them with quacks and hacks that corrupted what used to be the most authoritative public health assets and expertise on the planet.
That's political accountability, that's what the election is for, accountability for all of the Americans who died on his watch and who got infected and sick and survived, but they've got long term consequences because of it. There has to be political accountability for that. There should be political accountability for that and for the economy that was destroyed by us not getting the virus under control and for the destruction of the trust we will need to have in public health authorities to even make a vaccine ever possible, let alone successful.
I mean, all those terrible failures upon failures, upon failures that have gotten worse, not better over time, those all cry out for accountability, for political accountability. The election is in a month. That's what that's for. But the president is in hospital now with him getting infected and getting sick from it and now needing to be hospitalized because of it. This is a sober thing. And a serious thing for us as Americans that is separate from any political price this president and this administration will pay for his past actions.
Statistically speaking, the president is absolutely likely to survive. There is a chance he may not. But it is worth trying to understand everything we can about what's going to happen next, and it's and it's and it's worth keeping perspective, right. Other world leaders have contracted the disease caused by this virus and have recovered.
Multiple US governors have it, including right now the Democratic governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, and the Republican governor of Missouri, Mike Parson. They are both recovering as we speak, as are their wives. You might remember the British people went through a similar scare not long ago with their elected leader, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, back in April. Johnson tested positive at the end of March, 10 days after his positive test. He ended up hospitalized in London the day after he went to the hospital, they put him in intensive care.
He had three days in the ICU. Downing Street took care to announce that he wasn't on a ventilator, but he did need external breathing support. The prime minister spent three days in intensive care, then three more days back in the hospital, the regular hospital ward, before he was finally released to recover very slowly over a very long time at home. But he is recovered. The British people went through this already with their prime minister. Expect that our president is likely to survive to.
I mean, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is almost 20 years younger than the president, but I mean, I don't mean any offense by this. He's he's just as unhealthy, generally speaking, as our current president is. And he's out of the woods. He's fine. President Trump will likely recover to. But this is a serious thing that we are going to go through. As you know, the president has been hospitalized tonight at Walter Reed. Given the track record of this White House, even specifically about the president's health, it is hard to trust at all what they tell us now about this situation.
But if the president is sick, Walter Reed is a good place for him to be and he will likely get the best care in the world. And the White House should absolutely level with us and be perfectly crystal clear with us about the president's condition, his treatment and his prognosis. Tonight, we're going to talk with a few people who I've asked to be here specifically to help me and hopefully help you understand parts of the story that I feel like we can't yet fully grasp.
For example, we were told by the White House late today that the president is receiving an experimental treatment for covid. Why is he getting experimental treatment if his symptoms are mild? covid-19 has no approved treatment, there's no known cure, there's no known drug or vaccine that's been shown to be unequivocally effective against it and approved for that use, the president is nevertheless taking an experimental antibody based treatment. Tonight, we're going to speak with one of the world's leading antibody and antiviral researchers about what that kind of treatment is, how it works, and why they're giving it to the president.
Also, whether it's a weird thing that the president is taking an unapproved drug at all, let alone at this point in his disease progression. We'll also speak with a public health expert tonight about that antibody treatment, but also what appears to be the very quick progression here from the president's positive test to the emergence of symptoms to this hospitalization tonight. The White House has released the timing of when and where the president was tested when he last tested negative before he got this positive result.
They haven't even told us what exact test it was that produced the positive result. And, of course, the president so regularly flouts social distance and mask rules that it's hard to piece together a timeline in terms of when he was likely exposed and who he might have infected since he's been positive. But we'll talk tonight with a physician who's worked in the White House medical unit and who knows what kinds of things can be handled for the president while he's at home and what kind of medical worries might exceed what they can do at the White House.
That would necessitate moving the president to the hospital for what they're saying from the outset is going to be multiple days. There also remain questions tonight about the protocols or lack thereof around the White House and around the president personally that have led to what now appears to be a White House cluster of infections. We'll talk with somebody who's been part of the White House coronavirus task force and who has seen these protocols up close tonight. She's saying warning that the White House was effectively a petri dish.
For cultivating the transmission of this virus. Those details can perhaps help us understand how it is that the president got infected in the first place, but also who else is at risk now from the president, from whoever infected the president, from the rest of the White House staff and from everyone on Capitol Hill. And so far, the president and the first lady and a Republican senator from Utah, Mike Lee. Also, just in the last hour, we learned another Republican senator, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, they've all tested positive.
The White House has also advised that three journalists who've been inside White House grounds have also now tested positive. Also, the president of the University of Notre Dame who attended the Supreme Court nominee announcement at the White House Rose Garden last weekend. He has also tested positive. Also, the chair of the Republican Party, Ronna Romney. McDaniel, has also tested positive. A slew of household names have been exposed to the president in recent days or who have been exposed to his close contacts, people like the president's Democratic presidential opponent, Vice President Biden, also the vice president, serving now Mike Pence and both of their wives, also the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and various cabinet officials, including the attorney general and the secretary of state.
All of those people have all put out statements today saying that they have tested negative and that's great. But also it is possible that if they were just exposed. It might take a while, it might take a few days for the results to show a positive result. And so that has very practical implications, the question of who ought to be in quarantine right now away from all other people, even with masks. That is a live question. With the with the president and Senator Lee and Senator tell us and Hope Hicks and the first lady and the multiple journalists in the White House and and I mean, it's possible that we're talking about a whole lot of people at the highest levels in Washington who want to be in quarantine right now, not to mention all the people who we don't know the names of who work around them, White House staffers, Capitol Hill staffers, security people, cleaning people, valets, military personnel, Secret Service officer drivers.
There's a lot of people who've been exposed to what appears to be a large cluster at the top of the government in Washington, D.C..
We will talk with a member of the congressional leadership tonight about that, we will talk with that member of the congressional leadership about the very sensitive issue of presidential succession. Other presidents have had to temporarily hand off power to their vice presidents because of medical issues in the past, because of needing surgery or other temporary infirmity. What do we need to do and what do we need to be prepared for if the president is temporarily disabled by covid-19 or God forbid, if he succumbs to it and dies?
We've also obviously never had a president hospitalized with a potentially lethal illness just a month before asking the American people to vote him in for another four years. Indeed, while we are in the middle of that process already, as of tonight with the president in the hospital, two point nine million Americans have already cast their votes. A lot about the Trump era is unprecedented, this is both not an exception and also feels like an exception even to that. All right, eyes open, everybody, no days off.
Lots to learn tonight, lots to report, lots to figure out. Joining us first is Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who is a health care adviser to President Obama. He's now vice provost of global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania. Zeke, Dr. Emanuel, it's nice to see you. Thanks for being here. Nice to be back again, Rachel. First, let me just ask you to correct me if anything that I laid out there seems wrong or if I'm putting the wrong emphasis on it in terms of people understanding the severity of what we're up against here.
I would say two things, first of all, I think to have the most powerful man in the world, the leader of the free world, our president, with somewhere between a five and 11, 12 percent risk of dying. I don't think that's so trivial. That's pretty substantial risk of dying in the next few weeks. And that, I think, is a national security threat. It's something to take very, very seriously. I agree with you.
The odds are for him, but those are very high odds. And I'm speaking as an oncologist who took care of a lot of people with cancer. The other thing is, I would say that the White House has consistently downplayed, underplayed, misspoken about the seriousness of this, the president's condition early in the morning. He's fine, mild symptoms. In fact, he was symptomatic with fever all day long. He missed the 12 o'clock virtual meeting. He's been short of breath, according to reports.
He has some other underlying condition. I think this is much more serious and we've been told. But we won't know until we have a frank briefing from one of the Walter Reed doctors who will actually give us the basic information we need to evaluate the president's condition. Because the president is presumably being tested all the time, the progression here seems fast. I mean, we've heard a lot of tragic stories, people talking about their family members testing and immediately being very ill and very quickly dying.
But in a lot of those cases, it seems like people weren't able to get a test until very deep into the process of there into the progression of their illness. In this case, presumably, the president's being tested all the time. And it does feel like a very fast progression from positive test to symptoms to experimental treatment to hospitalization. As a physician, does it also seem fast to you? Does it tell you anything about the seriousness of the president's condition, the way this has progressed?
You must have an entity after your name. Yes, earlier when we heard that the president was going to the hospital, I talked to some of my colleagues. I said, this is really fast, just a few days after being confirmed to be positive. Usually it takes 10 days before you need a hospitalization and oxygen and not having fevers and shortness of breath. And, yes, it does make you worried that he got a lot of virus in his exposure and that his not doing too well and fighting off the infection.
Look, I haven't examined the president. We haven't had transparency about his condition. So I'm making hypotheses there. And I don't want to make a diagnosis, but I agree with you. It does seem very rapid. And to move quickly to an experimental medicine, which, as you pointed out, is not even gotten emergency use, authorization also raises concerns. You know, as an oncologist, I used medications in clinical trials all the time for my patients.
But it was at the end, not at the start, not before they've seen anything else. All of this raises many red flags. And we know for a long time we haven't had the president's actual health condition. Does he have metabolic syndrome? What are his cholesterol? We haven't had the basic data. And we do know that all day today, the White House has been underplaying his condition and somewhat deceiving us about how sick he actually is. Dr.
Ezekiel Emanuel, former health care adviser to President Obama, vice provost of global initiatives at PEN now. Thank you so much for being here.
Scary and clarifying it is scary. And thank you very much for having me. All right, I want to bring into the conversation now Dr. David Ho. He is the scientific director and CEO of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center. He is a legend in the fight against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and especially in terms of insight and research breakthroughs in developing treatments that made that a survivable disease. Dr. Ho is now leading a team working on a treatment for covid-19.
Specifically, he's been working with several companies to produce antibody cocktails along the lines of this experimental drug the president was given today. Dr. Ho, it's an honor to have you here, sir. Thank you for making time tonight.
Thank you, Rachel. Good to be back with you. For those of us who vaguely remember 10th grade biology, but otherwise don't have a expert grasp of these things at all. Can you explain to us in layman's terms what what is this type of treatment that the president has been administered? We know that it is on compassionate use, as Dr. Emanuel is just saying, it's not approved as a treatment for coronavirus. We've read that it shows some promise as a potential therapeutic.
But what kind of drug is this and how unusual is it for somebody to be getting it very early on after being diagnosed?
Well, the president is getting an antibody cocktail that is comprised of two monoclonal antibodies, and these antibodies were isolated from the infected person some months ago. So these are products that that came from human beings. So in general, antibody therapeutics are pretty safe. But the therapy that's given today are antibodies that are that will recognize this surface protein of the virus and buy into it and prevent the virus from entering a cell. And therefore, it would interrupt the replication cycle of the virus.
In addition, the antibody could mediate the killing of infected cells. So that's the principle of how such antibodies work. And we do know from clinical trials now of the Regeneron antibody, which is what the president received, or the Lilly antibody, which is also in advance phase clinical trial, is that they're beginning to show some promise. For example, the Lydie antibody given to patients who are already in the course of infection could reduce the hospitalisation rate from about six percent in the placebo recipients to about one point seven percent in those who were treated with the antibody.
So that that was a study done in about forty, four hundred and fifty patients. And it's promising, but it's not definitive at this point. And then the Regeneron antibodies also are beginning to show promising signs they have and once again to minister to about two hundred and seventy five patients, some placebos, some receiving the antibody at a high or low dose. And by the way, the president did receive the high dose. And and what the company has reported is that those who received the antibody that they could see a measurable decline in the amount of virus detected in the nasal Terex.
In addition, the symptomatic duration seems to be short. So these are promising signs and I work on the antibody. So I believe these are the results I expect and I'm glad he's done this kind of experimental therapy rather than say, hey, Dr.. Dr. Ho, that you've already answered a number of my questions about this in terms of the stage of development, why he would be treated early on with something like this and what the hope is for this kind of things.
Two quick follow up questions. And I will admit to you at the outset, these are sort of dumb. One is given the early developmental stage of these these these types of therapies in this region around one in particular. Is there any reason to worry that it might be dangerous? And two is the fact that the present is the way these drugs are administered. Part of what might explain why the president is hospitalized is this something that you actually need to be in the hospital to receive in the sense that it comes in in some sort of transfusion or in some other other other way of administering it where the patient needs to be monitored closely?
Well, let me take the second one first. And from my reading that the the online coverage, he apparently received the Regeneron antibody prior to going to the hospital. But in general, these antibodies would need to be given intravenous to the intramuscularly or subcutaneous. So you would be done via the injection. You cannot be taken orally in terms of side effects. As I said earlier, antibodies of this sort came from human being. So they're not going to be immediately toxic.
Now, there are situations where the antibody could cause acute allergic reaction and that could be dangerous. But the president is well beyond that point. There are infrequently complications, but they're not I don't think there will be so prominent in our anticipation at this point. Dr. David Ho, scientific director and CEO at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, currently working on antibody based treatments for covid-19. Sir, thank you for being here tonight. Again, it's an honor to have you here.
My pleasure. Thank you, Rachel. All right, as we continue to absorb the news about the president's hospitalization for covid-19 and try to understand its implications, we're going to be talking with one of the Democrats in the leadership in the House. Congressman Jim Clyburn is going to join us to talk about some of the sobering implications about potential succession issues. Stay with us. Hi, I'm Brooke, and I'm America, and we're the hosts of Even the Rich, a show about people with a lot of money and a lot of feelings.
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Again, that's code matto at Madison. Dasch, Reed, Dotcom. News of the president's condition had serious reverberations on Capitol Hill today. Lawmakers raced to determine, among other things, who might have been in contact with the president and with his close contacts, who the president might have exposed. Anger also grew over the lack of any comprehensive testing system for members of Congress. And their staff should also tell you that this past hour on MSNBC, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said that the next five officials in the line of succession for the presidency should now be quarantined for their own safety in order to protect the line of succession in the country.
The next five in the line of succession would include the vice president, Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Senate president, who is Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and then the two Cabinet members who come next in the line of succession, the secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and the secretary of the Treasury, Steve Ammunition. Again, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson suggesting that they should be quarantined now for the sake of the stability of the American government.
Joining us now is chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, also the majority whip in the House of Representatives, the honorable South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn. Representative Clyburn, thank you so much for being here, sir.
Well, thank you very much for having me. I first just wanted to get your reaction to the events of today. I know you held your big hearing today on the coronavirus crisis. You to speak with Health Secretary Secretary Azar. This is all after the president tested positive. Now that we know the president appears to be having significant symptoms or at least symptoms and he is hospitalized. I just wanted to get your reaction. Well, first of all, I think all of us, irrespective of whatever may be our persuasions, our religious persuasions, ought to be keeping the first family in our thoughts and our prayers, and hopefully they will have a speedy and complete recovery.
That's first and foremost. I do believe, though, that the country must move forward and our Constitution will guide that. Now, though, the 25th Amendment is kind of convoluted in some instances. I think that all of leadership together and have some discussions as to what will happen, whether or not there will be a vice president, and that the president has to kick start that by ceding power to the vice president. And if he's not able to do that and then make some determination that he's not able to do it, I think is a collective decision that's got to be made by the speaker of the House, the president pro tempore of the Senate and the vice president.
And hopefully these precautionary discussions are all taking place. If not, there certainly should be. Congressman, the White House has been less than transparent when it comes to the issue of the president's health, they haven't released information about the president's health. That's in keeping with what we've seen from modern presidencies, including a mysterious incident not that long ago where the president went to Walter Reed and stayed for a long time without explanation, without ever there, without there being anything ever explained credibly from the White House in terms of what he was there for after there was reporting that Mike Pence, the vice president, had been told to stand by, to potentially assume the president's the powers of the presidency at that point.
Vice President Pence simply said that he didn't recall whether or not he had been asked to stand by. All of that is worrying in terms of how much we can trust coming from the White House. Have you and other leaders in Congress been briefed candidly about the president's condition, or have you been advised that you will be briefed?
No, I've not been in any briefings about the president conditions. I've been in a lot of discussions about what may or may not be. Everybody may be having these kinds of discussions. But I will say this. I do believe it is necessary for the leadership of the vice president and the leadership of both houses need to be sitting down having those discussions. Now, this country is teetering on two pandemic's covid-19 is taking its toll on this country. We've had some significant racial issues involving law enforcement and other things in this country, these things alone or tests in the country in a big way now to have this issue of leadership that makes the country puts the country in a pretty precarious situation and it needs bipartisan leadership gathered around to ensure the stability of this country because it could become a international problem for us, a problem of security for the nation.
So we should be having this discussion sit in our partisan differences aside and think about the country for the next several days and get things stabilized. Chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, the number three Democrat in the House, South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn. Sir, thank you for your time this evening. Thank you for those words.
Thank you very much. That. I should mention in terms of what Congressman Clyburn said there about partisanship and needing bipartisan agreement for calm and stability at this point, the Biden campaign today took down all negative advertisement, what they call a contrast advertisement and a running only positive messaging. Now that the president is in this crisis, the Trump campaign has declined to do the same thing. They're still running all their attacks against Biden. We'll see if that changes overnight.
Actually, frankly, I expect that it will. Maybe I'm naive. All right. More to get to tonight. We'll be right back.
Hi, everyone. It's Joy Reid. I'm so excited to tell you about my new MSNBC show, the Read Out every weeknight. I'm talking with the biggest newsmakers about the most pressing issues of our time, like Joe Biden, the words of president matter and so is President United States.
The first thing I'm going to do is stand up and talk sense and be honest with the American people.
Level with them. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. We need as many voices as we can have as possible sounding the alarm, encouraging people to wear masks and to take all precautions and to follow the science and the data. Senator Kamala Harris, we send folks into a war wearing camouflage. So what is going on here? When you send camouflage uniformed officers into a city and many more?
You can listen to the readout as a podcast by searching for the readout. That's r e i o u t one word wherever you're listening right now and subscribing for free.
Thanks for listening. What you have is is a virus that is contagious, that that certainly continues to be, regardless of whatever protocol we have, that that it has the ability to affect everybody. As you know, the president, we keep a pretty wide circle. All of you that have interacted with him know that.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows this morning not wearing a mask, talking to the press about the president being infected, about other protocols, haven't worked, obviously, to keep even the president himself protected. What protocols have they been following at the White House? Joining us now is somebody in a unique position to tell us. Olivia Troy was a member from day one of the White House coronavirus task force. She was the top aide to Vice President Mike Pence on the coronavirus.
She left the White House in August and has since been critical of the president's handling of the matter is, it's nice to see you. Thank you for taking time to be here tonight. Thank you, Rachel, it's good to see you again. How has it been for you today, learning about what appears to be a pretty significant infection cluster in the White House, including among people with whom you used to work? Rachel, this has been a very hard day for me the last 24 hours, the optics and honestly, last night when I heard that, I just I just knew that we would be hearing more people would be positive because of the proximity of the immediate staff.
And I know how close she was to the president and she was part of the inner circle. And, you know, I've watched this develop throughout the day. It's just really been a very somber, sad day for me. It's something that it's very serious. I know a lot of these people. I know that a lot of them are scared right now. I've been in touch with some of them. And this is not this is very real to them.
And I think it's, to be honest, a reality check moment for everybody in that White House right now. I think that a lot of people certainly speaking for myself, I think that I assumed that part of the reason that the president was seemingly so cavalier about the risk because of this virus was because he was almost exquisitely protected. That protocols in the White House to keep him safe in the White House as president must be so good that he legitimately had no fear of the virus and that worked against his ability to develop empathy for people, all the rest of us who are at risk.
But I now obviously calling that into question. What kind of protocols were there in the White House to keep people safe? Do you think that it was well-run and well informed by science and that they took it seriously? Rachel, that's the irony, I think that most Americans probably thought that looking at the White House and this White House, you would assume that the president and the vice president should be the most protected place, especially during a pandemic of this magnitude and knowing how quickly this virus spreads.
But the truth is the doctors in the White House, they try they tried to instill protocols. They had guidelines. They had a massive policy in the West Wing. They had masks available. You can get mask in the doctor's office in the White House medical unit. I've had these conversations with Dr. Sean Connelly himself and how serious the patient is and how we should all be protecting ourselves in the White House. But the truth is, you could walk around the West Wing and masks were where people did not wear them.
The only time I really saw people actually wearing them, whereas in wine for lunch is the mask or, you know, I saw the doctors on the task force. I saw Dr. Fauci and Dr. Burke's and Dr. Hahn and Dr. Redfield when they were coming into the West Wing. They would certainly have their mask on, but everyone else around was pretty cavalier about it. It it just it didn't make sense. We were the messaging we were giving to the public as a task force, not obviously not coming from the president because he was giving a completely different message, but we weren't actually following it on the White House grounds.
One last question for you, Olivia. Was there ever an explicit plan within the White House coronavirus task force for what the what the reaction would be, what the plan would be, what the contingencies would be if the president himself got sick? You know, we obviously we have a continuity of government plan that's run out of the National Security Council is involved, and so we didn't we didn't have those discussions on the task force. But I can tell you this, that.
I find it just interesting because in the past, when we've had immediate staffers test positive, it didn't quite seem that we were really following the guidance and measures internally of taking the seriousness of the virus and separating people and making sure that the vice president and the president were relocated completely separately. The West Wing, the West Wing is a very small place where we're sitting on top of each other in there.
And when you go in and you're meeting with someone, there's really just no personal space. Olivia Troyes, former White House coronavirus task force member, a top aide to Vice President Pence, thank you for being here tonight, Olivia. I know it's been kind of an emotional day. Thank you for having me. When you talk to people who have worked in the White House, particularly at a high level, one of the things they tell you about the White House medical unit is that there's almost nothing, medically speaking, that can happen in the White House that can't be handled in the White House.
I've literally talked to somebody who worked in the White House who says that she was advised that if she really ever needed to, she could have her baby at the White House, meaning she doesn't have to go home from work. That could take care of it there. And I'm assuming a lot of that is hyperbole, but there is an expectation that the White House medical unit can do almost anything. That's what makes it feel in part very grave that in this case, the White House medical unit decided that the president needed instead to be hospitalized.
We'll talk with a former doctor from the White House medical unit who, in fact, served during the Trump administration. Stay with us. President is hospitalized tonight with coronavirus, the first lady has also tested positive. Also a close aide to the president, Hope Hicks, also two Republican senators, Thom Tillis and Mike Lee, also the chair of the Republican Party, Ronna McDaniel, also three journalists who work out of the White House for a White House announcement earlier this evening.
White House Correspondents Association has just sent a letter to its members announcing, among other things, that the White House has just committed to testing all journalists who have traveled on Air Force One over the course of the last week, according to the Correspondents Association, that testing will happen at the White House on Monday morning. Joining us now is Dr. Jennifer Penya, who has a unique perspective on these events. She served in the White House medical unit and the Obama administration.
She was the White House physician assigned to Vice President Pence and this administration. She resigned that position in twenty eighteen. Dr. Penya, it's an honor to have you here. Thank you for your time tonight. It's an honor to be on, thank you, Rachel. Is there a protocol established for when a president should be hospitalized at an at an outside facility? I've never worked in the White House and I've spent very little time there. But it's always been my impression that the White House medical unit can handle a lot.
And so that's part of why I felt worried that the president was moved off White House grounds and into Walter Reed. Yes, so as White House physicians and medical personnel, we train for a bad day scenario and this is in fact a bad day scenario, we have different protocols to deal with different situations. But certainly this is an unprecedented situation with the coronavirus. Unfortunately, it's one that we should have expected would come given the president and the administration's attitude towards the virus and the pandemic and just the lack of attention to preventive measures.
I do wish the president as well as the first lady all the best and a speedy recovery. But as has been mentioned throughout the show tonight, transparency is really important for trust in this administration has been consistently obscure with sharing information about the president's health and at times disingenuous. And so we know that the president, just like anybody else, is entitled to privacy protections of their health care. But the president is at the service of the people, and the people have a right to know if he's fit for duty for the presidency, especially as we're nearing a presidential election.
And so it's all very concerning in a very, very sad day for for the medical unit as well as for the president's health. As a categorical matter, though, obviously, you're not examining the president, you're not involved in his medical care and you can't speak to his specific situation right now, but as a categorical matter, isn't it? Does it does it worry you as a citizen in terms of the severity of the president's illness, that they have moved him to Walter Reed and they're already saying from the outset he's going to be there for several days?
Absolutely, so the progression of symptoms, this is concerning the fact that we went from what appeared to be mild symptoms to now some difficulty breathing, the progression of treatment from something experimental to now being in a hospital setting. And as you mentioned, Rachel, the projection that he's going to be there for a few days, all of that is is has been said to be being done in an over abundance of caution. But as somebody who's worked at the White House for four years in the medical unit, all of this concerns me.
Like you've mentioned, we have robust capabilities at the White House to deal with the majority of things that you can imagine. So the fact that the president has been transferred, has received experimental treatment again, has been hospitalized with a projection to be there for a few days, concerns me that the progression of his clinical course could, in fact, be worsening or is expected potentially to worsen. Dr. Jennifer Pinna, a former White House medical unit physician, thank you for your service to the White House medical unit and thanks for being here to help us understand tonight.
I appreciate it. Thank you, Rachel. All right, we'll be right back. Still more to get to tonight. That's going to do it for us tonight, I'm going to do my darndest to make this an actual weekend rather than just weekdays that begin with s for Saturday and Sunday. But the way the news is going right now, you never know serious times. This is no time to tune out. But I will see you again at least on Monday.
The Rachel Maddow Show weeknights at 9:00 Eastern on MSNBC. Hey, guys, Willie Geist here this week on the Sunday Sit Down podcast, I get together for a rare conversation with John Cusack to talk about his new series, Utopia and his long career of memorable roles. And get our conversation now for free wherever you download your podcasts.