Meet the Press - June 14, 2020

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CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday: Another police shooting. The fatal shooting of an African American man after a struggle with Atlanta police leads to angry protests and the immediate resignation of the city's police chief.

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS:

I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force.

CHUCK TODD:

We'll have the latest from Atlanta. This as coast-to-coast marches --

PROTESTOR:

I just want justice and we just want it now.

CHUCK TODD:

-- have prompted a national debate on reforming police.

PROTESTOR:

We're talking about engaging a plan to create a public system that works for everyone.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

We won't be defunding our police. We won't be dismantling our police. We won't be disbanding our police.

CHUCK TODD:

This morning I'll talk to Senator Tim Scott, who's leading the Republican efforts on police reform and to former Defense Secretary Bob Gates. Plus: the Coronavirus spike. Half of the US now seeing a post-Memorial Day surge.

DR. MARC BOOM:

We saw more acceleration at that point in time. I think people let their guard down.

CHUCK TODD:

So why has the coronavirus task force been silent for nearly 50 days? My guests this morning: Infectious disease experts Joseph Fair and Dr. Nahid Bhadelia. And primary chaos.

VOTER:

It was a disappointment.

CHUCK TODD:

Missing ballots, confused poll workers, long lines.

BLAYNE ALEXANDER:

Why are you so intent on staying?

VOTER:

It's important. It's important for me. It's important for my son.

CHUCK TODD:

Why this is a big flashing warning for November. Joining me for insight and analysis are: NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt, Helene Cooper, Pentagon correspondent for The New York Times, and Tim Alberta, chief political correspondent for Politico. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, the longest-running show in television history. This is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good morning. Another fatal shooting of an African American man at the hands of police, this time in Atlanta, has led to renewed protests and the resignation of that city's police chief. This happened Friday night at Wendy's restaurant when police shot and killed Rayshard Brooks after Brooks had failed a sobriety test, fought with police officers and was running away with one of the officers taser guns. As news spread, protesters took to the streets, blocking an interstate and the Wendy's itself was set on fire. Atlanta's mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms moved quickly, firing the police officer who fired the fatal shots and announcing that police chief Erika Shields was stepping down.

[BEGIN TAPE]

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS:

I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

The second officer involved has been placed on administrative duty. Our own Blayne Alexander is in Atlanta at the Wendy's restaurant where all this took place for us this morning. And Blayne, there was quite a bit of time where things were sort of routine until they weren't.

BLAYNE ALEXANDER:

Absolutely. It was a very sharp escalation there in that video that we saw on the body camera video, Chuck. Let me just set the scene for you this morning. You see the aftermath here behind me. Up until just about ten minutes ago or so, parts of this Wendy's were actually still smoldering. And I've got to say, even standing out here through our masks, we can smell the scent of smoke in the air. It's hanging heavily in the air. So that's really just a tangible reminder, Chuck, of all of the unrest that filled these streets here in Southwest Atlanta overnight and well into the morning. Now, a number of remarkable things about this, Chuck. First of all is the fact that there are six different angles, at least, of video that show exactly what happened, what unfolded in this Wendy's parking lot on Friday night. One of them eyewitness video, surveillance video that was released by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and then four different angles of body camera and dash camera video from police officers. So when you look at that surveillance video, Chuck, you see those final moments of Rayshard Brooks' life before he was shot by the officer there in that parking lot. Now we do know, again, that this was something that was taken on surveillance video. Officers were called to the scene because he had fallen asleep in his car. He was sitting in his car, blocking the drive-thru. That's why they were called to the scene. But when you take a look at the police body camera, Chuck, there were two things that stood out very strongly to me. One, the fact that you see on the video officers search Brooks and find no weapons on him, find that he's not armed. But the second, the fact, as you mentioned before, it was 43 minutes into that video, Chuck, before things escalated. For the better part of that video you see Brooks sitting in his car, the officers talking to him. Asking him things like, "How much have you had to drink? What are you doing here tonight? Where were you going? Where were you coming from?" He takes a field sobriety test which investigators say that he failed. And then about 43 minutes into that video you see the officers there try and place him under arrest and that's when things quickly begin to escalate there. In about a 90-second piece you see it go from a calm conversation to hearing those gunshots, Chuck, that ultimately ended his life. So as of right now there are three different investigations taking place, the GBI, the Fulton County District Attorney to find out if there are any charges that would come from this case --

CHUCK TODD:

Right.BLAYNE ALEXANDER:

-- and then finally attorneys for Brooks' family say that they're also conducting their own investigation, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Blayne, this was really swift action when you think about it in comparison to what we've seen in other incidents, other communities, how quickly not only the firing of the police officer, resignation of the police chief. What is the reaction of other Atlanta police officers? Are we hearing anything from the police side of things?

BLAYNE ALEXANDER:

And that swift reaction was very intentional, Chuck. I've got to remind you that, you know, we've been covering the protests here, it was less than two weeks ago that we saw six officers who are now facing charges in a different case surrounding those two college students, breaking in using tasers on them, use of force. Two of them were fired and subsequently another two were fired. So this is kind of a pattern that we're seeing when it comes to trying to take very swift action in this. I will say that of just a couple of Atlanta police officers that I've spoken to, they're very surprised by how quickly this is transpiring, at least in the other case. You know, that typically there's an investigation.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

BLAYNE ALEXANDER:

It could take weeks, maybe months before officers are fired and certainly before charges are brought. So certainly a very stunning speed with which this is happening, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

That's for sure. Blayne Alexander, getting things started for us at the scene at the Wendy's in Atlanta. Blayne, thanks very much. Joining me now from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina is Senator Tim Scott who has been tapped to lead the Republican effort at police reform. Senator Scott, welcome back to Meet the Press. And I just want to get your reaction--

SEN. TIM SCOTT:

Good morning, Chuck

CHUCK TODD:

-- to what you've seen in Atlanta in the last 48 hours and what you make of the swift action that has already taken place with the firing of the police officer and the resignation of the police chief.

SEN. TIM SCOTT:

I certainly think the mayor decided to fire the officer, have the chief resign in order to perhaps quell the response from the community. That video is disturbing to watch, but I'm not sure that it's as clear as what we've seen around the country on some of the other issues that have driven us to the point where we're actually having a serious conversation around police reform. The conversation is necessary. Very important. That situation is an outlier from what, really, has brought us to where we are as it relates to police reform and George Floyd.

CHUCK TODD:

The issue of use of force though in how quickly use of force -- when do you escalate and things like that, I feel like that does --that is part of this larger conversation you're seeing there. As part of police reform, should there be a federal standard on use of force and when it's required, when it isn't?

SEN. TIM SCOTT:

I think it's really difficult to establish a codified and law standard for use of force. There are millions of scenarios that play out. It's one of the reasons why what we have tried to achieve through the legislation is finding the best practices around use of force around the country and then provide that clarity and guidance for those departments who may need to have a better, better perspective on use of force. So we're getting at it. But I'm not sure we're ever going to codify in law a use of force standard.

CHUCK TODD:

So if you can't codify it into law, what would a best practice look like? I mean, have you identified a local police force that you think is doing it right when it comes to trying to create, you know, sort of different training, better training when it comes to use of force?

SEN. TIM SCOTT:

I think you've seen under the previous administration and under this administration, we're focusing, at least I am, on trying to find a way to get the former police officers, current police officers and civilians to work on a commission to help us to discern what it looks like to have effective policies that lead to better outcomes in those intense split, split-second decisions. That's what we're achieving through our commission that studies the use of force and the best practices around it. There are other aspects of it that we can be more clear on like the chokehold. This is a policy whose time has come and gone. And we try to tackle that on the local level, the House policy tackles that on the state level. I think the president's looking at a national perspective on that from his executive order. But every single aspect of all three levers want to tackle the issue of chokeholds. And that's part of that entire conversation around the de-escalation of force.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to show here -- quite a few local and state communities have already enacted reform measures. Six states have done -- either the governors have issued executive orders or their legislature has passed some reform, signed them in the law. And a whole bunch of communities that we're going to show in a scroll have, or police departments, have instituted different things like a ban on the chokehold, for instance. I know Miami-Dade did that among others. But on the federal level, what has the most momentum here? What has the most consensus? The Democrats want to create a national registry to track police misconduct. They want to end no-knock warrants. You already talked about chokeholds. And they want to reduce qualified immunity for police officers. Of those four priorities, and we’re going to -- like I said, chokeholds there's a lot of consensus, where are you on the other three?

SEN. TIM SCOTT:

Well, no-knocks we certainly want to understand. There's no actual database on no-knocks. We don't know when it's used, to whom it's used against, we don't know the race, the sex, the age. We know nothing about no-knocks except for the Breonna Taylor situation that was tragic without question. So I want to take the Breonna Taylor case and have an act that requires more data to be provided so that we can actually come out with policies that are consistent with the best use of no-knocks or the elimination of no-knocks. We just don't have the information to get there. I know that the House bill says let's just eliminate it for drug cases. But we have no information that supports that that is the best way to go. I'm interested in having that conversation. If we get to the end of the road and we have a negotiation that will be on the table. Whether it's a local or state approach on chokeholds, that will be on the table. Whether there's a national registry, a state registry or a local department by department registry around the misconduct, that will be on the table as well. So there are approaches that are very similar and somewhat different --

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

SEN. TIM SCOTT:

-- at the same time. I think we're going to get to a bill--

CHUCK TODD:

How --

SEN. TIM SCOTT:

-- that actually becomes law.

CHUCK TODD:

I was just going to say, it seems as if your disputes are more in implementing the goal, in implementing, in implementation to get to the goal, whether it's financial incentives to encourage change versus mandates. Is that the -- do you think there are more disputes sort of on implementation than on the larger goal?

SEN.TIM SCOTT:

Well, Chuck, let me just put some skin on that, that comment that you just made. So the House bill reduces money or takes money away from states on the chokehold issue. We take it from departments, department by department. On the qualified immunity, something that you mentioned, we would -- I would be interested in decertification of officers, the left says that's a union issue that's kind of hard to get at. Qualified immunity on the right, that's an issue that most Republicans don't like at all, to include myself. So the question is, is there a path forward that we take a look at the necessity of eliminating bad behavior within our law enforcement community? Is there a path forward? I think we'll find that. I'm not sure that it's qualified immunity.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

SEN. TIM SCOTT:

It seems like it won't be decertification. But there's going to be more information provided to the public so that we can make concrete decisions. But if we're that close on making progress --

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

SEN. TIM SCOTT:

I hope we don't let partisanship get in the way.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let me ask you about the president and the role he plays here. It, you know, he's, even now, called demonstrators thugs. He's uncomfortable with some of -- he’s talked about some of the things he doesn't want to see. They've called getting rid of qualified immunity a non-starter. And of course there's his own history, right, with, when it comes to race that is, to some people, remarkably consistent and not in a good way. Can he play a role here that gets this across the finish line without sort of, maybe, apologizing for some of his views on race over the years?

SEN. TIM SCOTT:

I think we can -- A) I think the answer is yes. B) I think he is engaging now in a way that is constructive and helpful. C) The executive order that will come out I think on Tuesday really does reference a national database strengthening and national database on police misconduct, from my understanding. It also talks about the importance of co-responders from a mental health perspective that both law enforcement and communities like that approach. So I think he's weighing in at the right time in a constructive manner. I'll look at yesterday's speech at West Point where he talked about the powerful institutions of authority in this country and how they eliminated desegregation, broke the back of it. How the Civil War led to the freedom of African Americans in this country. His approach yesterday at West Point is what we'd like to see a whole lot more of because it was constructive, it is important that all three levers of government work together to solve what is, in fact, the original sin of this country. If we do that, I think the American people will celebrate, neither party, but the fact that we worked together as one country.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Scott, considering that the Trump campaign, sort of, ended up planning a rally in Tulsa, of all places on Juneteenth. They've since moved it.

SEN. TIM SCOTT:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

But I'm curious, do you think if Juneteenth were a federal holiday already, you know, sort of marked in a way that, one of the ways we use our federal holidays, is for remembrance, for education, for things like that, a mistake like that wouldn't have happened?

SEN.TIM SCOTT:

I do think the more information we have, obviously if there was a national holiday, Chuck, you're hitting the nail on the head, we would all know about Juneteenth. We'd all have an opportunity to celebrate it. And frankly, there would be fewer mistakes on that day. One of the aspects of our legislation, frankly, is providing resources in a very similar fashion as it's done at the Holocaust Museum, we want to do something at the African American Museum to celebrate Juneteenth and Oklahoma, the Tulsa, Oklahoma race riot and 100 years ago next year. We think the more education, the information that we provide the better people behave in all corridors of this nation. --

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

SEN. TIM SCOTT:

-- But specifically within the law enforcement community. So we have an opportunity to do that in our legislation, we provide some resources for that historical perspective and understanding that I think will bring us --

CHUCK TODD:

What about a federal holiday?

SEN. TIM SCOTT:

-- closer together. Well, listen, I'm open to it. I've been talking to some of my friends throughout the country, including at the White House. I think that's a brilliant idea. The conservatives in the House seem to be interested in that. So you never know what may happen.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Tim Scott, Republican from South Carolina, we look forward to the, I guess you're going to unveil more of this next week, on police reform. We'll be taking a look and watching. Thanks for coming and sharing your perspective, sir.

SEN. TIM SCOTT:

Looking forward to it, thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

The clearing of protesters from Lafayette Square nearly two weeks ago for President Trump's photo opportunity at a nearby church led to condemnation by dozens of military leaders. And on Thursday, it continued when the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Mark Milley, publicly regretted taking part in the incident.

[BEGIN TAPE]

GENERAL MARK MILLEY:

I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.

[ENDTAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Joining me now is Robert Gates who served as secretary of defense for both President George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He's also the author of a new book, Exercise of Power. Secretary Gates, welcome back to Meet the Press. General Milley's speech late this week after sort of a number of attempts to, to, to put some distance between what happened -- your reaction? Was it appropriate and did he do it soon enough?

ROBERT GATES:

I think he really wrestled, Chuck, with how to respond when he realized how the appearances of him being present for that photo op seemed to the rest of the country. I think, I've known Mark Milley for a long time, and he's a man of great integrity, takes his responsibilities as an apolitical military officer very seriously. I think the important thing was that he made the statement, made it with all sincerity. And frankly, I think that plus his statement, written statement, to senior commanders around the world about the apolitical nature of the American military sent a powerful signal and re-emphasized the importance of the military staying out of politics, and frankly, not getting used. You know, all the presidents that I worked for liked to use the military as a prop. I think this president's probably taken that to a new level, but, but the military has to be very sensitive about being exploited in that way.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, another aspect that's come, come under scrutiny with the military. On one hand, as an institution, it’s an extraordinarily -- it's perhaps more integrated than any other major institution in this country. And yet, this week we just had the first ever military chief to be confirmed, to be a head of one of the military branches, be an African American. So how far behind do you think the military has been, at least on its upper levels? And why is that? You've seen it. What do you think that is? Is that a systemic racism issue?

ROBERT GATES:

I don't know if it's systemic racism in the military. The military for a long time was out in front of the rest of the country when it came to integration and to offering opportunities for African Americans and other minorities. But I think one of the points that General Milley has made this week is that the military is going to have to pay more attention to how it moves officers and minority officers into the most senior positions. There have always been individuals who have been successful, Colin Powell is Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Lloyd Austin who was the commander in Iraq while I was -- during part of the period when I was secretary. So there have been a number of African Americans. But as you point out, this is the first African American service chief. In all honesty, the first four-star woman was appointed while I was secretary and that was pretty far into the process as well. So I think, I think the military is really focused on now how more regularly minorities and particularly African Americans are moved into the most senior positions in the military.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm curious of your take on the movement to change the names of those southern military institutions, the banning of Confederate paraphernalia in the Marines. Are all of these things that you think are, whose time has come?

ROBERT GATES:

I think, I think that opportunities are presented by events. And I think we now have the opportunity particularly to change the names of our military facilities. I've always, I’ve always puzzled over the fact that we don't have a Fort George Washington or a Fort Ulysses S. Grant. So I think the time has come. And, and I think that there is the opportunity, not only to name some of these places for some of our great generals of the 20th century but also individuals such as African American and other minority medal of honor recipients and so on. We've done that in naming ships. We just haven't done it with our, with our facilities.

CHUCK TODD:

You've had some tough words on both of the two potential men who are meeting off to be -- in the next presidential election. Here's what you wrote about Joe Biden in 2014. "Joe is a man of integrity, incapable of hiding what he really thinks, and one of those rare people you know you could turn to for help in a personal crisis. Still I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades." Does that make him more -- in your mind, is that, does that make it hard for you to support him for president?

ROBERT GATES:

Well, I think the important thing is the quality of his character is important. I have a lot of policy disagreements, frankly, with the former vice president. But I think one of the things that people will be weighing this fall is probably the character of the, of the, of the two contestants.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let me put up what you said about President Trump in 2016. You were pretty tough on him as well. Let me read this quote, he said, "He is stubbornly uninformed about the world and how to lead our country and government, and temperamentally unsuited to lead our men and women in uniform. He is unqualified and unfit to be commander-in-chief." You said this September of 2016. Has your assessment of him changed?

ROBERT GATES:

I would say this, Chuck, first of all, unlike his three predecessors, and I write about this in the book, at least he hasn't started any new wars. And he has robustly funded the military. I supported his outreach to North Korea. It hasn't come to anything, but I thought that it was a bold move when everything else had failed in the previous 25 years. I thought his challenging China was, was about time. But there's also the other side of the coin in terms of some of the things he says, his treatment and words about military people and military heroes like John McCain that I admire a lot that, that are really troublesome.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm just curious, in this case, is this a case where character trumps policy for you?

ROBERT GATES:

Well, I think that's going to be up for the, up to the voters of the country.

CHUCK TODD:

Secretary Gates, I'm going to leave it there. I'm glad you brought up North Korea. If I had more time I was going to ask you about an interesting comment from your book about North Korea and about whether it is time for us to accept, accept them as a nuclear power. Among the many interesting things you write about, I encourage folks to pick it up. Secretary Gates, thanks for coming on and sharing your perspective, sir.

ROBERT GATES:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Coming up, a surge in Coronavirus cases in half of the states. What can we expect this summer to bring? I'm going to talk to two infectious disease experts, Dr. Joseph Fair, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia

when we come back.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. The CDC and the White House Coronavirus Task Force aren't talking about it much but the United States is in the midst of another surge of COVID-19 cases. Twenty-five states and Puerto Rico have seen spikes of more than 10% over the last two weeks. Overall we have seen more than two million confirmed cases in the United States and 116,000 people have died since February. What does this all mean for the hopes of getting back to something approaching normal in the near future? Joining me now are virologist Joseph Fair who recently recovered from COVID-19 himself and infectious disease physician Dr. Nahid Bhadelia of Boston University. Welcome back to Meet the Press to both of you. Dr. Fair, let me start with you because I would like you to share a little bit about your recovery from COVID-19. What should Americans take away from your experience?

DR. JOSEPH FAIR:

Well, first of all, you know, I did not have any underlying conditions. And I'm not a triathlete or anything like that. But I was generally very healthy, could run and exercise probably four or five times a week. That being said, I did not expect if I got COVID-19 that I would get that ill because I don't have any of those underlying conditions, I'm 42 years old. So you wouldn't think, clinically, that I would be one of those people that would get so very ill. I can say that that seven to eight days prior to me hospitalizing myself when I was doing the self-treatment, that was the worst I've ever felt. I probably spent 23 out of 24 hours in bed. And then, obviously, I developed the secondary pneumonia at the end. And so the struggle with breathing and everything else. So I was shocked at how severe my illness got without having those underlying conditions that we've discussed so many times. And so what I would take from that is, you know, everyone that's younger, everyone that is going out without masks now and being very cavalier with that and ignoring this kind of ongoing pandemic, and we use the analogy and the band played on with HIV and its response in the early days, that's really the analogy we should be using with Coronavirus right now to a much greater extent. And so those people that are young and think they're invincible or people that just don't think it's going to affect them that greatly even if they do get it, I can say that my own experience was the complete opposite. I can't say that I had a brush with death but it was enough to put me in the ICU for four days and in the hospital for six days.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to -- for both of you, and Dr. Bhadelia, first to you, we're seeing spikes in states across the country. We've broken it up by region here. And you can clearly see the Northeast and the Midwest, those curves are going down. But when you break it up in the south and the west, both of those curves are going up. What does this tell you, Dr. Bhadelia, about we're going to -- what the rest of this summer's going to look like?

DR. NAHID BHADELIA:

Well, Chuck, some of the benefit that the states in the south and the west had is that when the coastal states had their peaks, we all locked down. Except for some states we all locked down around the same time. And so the lack of movement protected them from that influx and new cases coming in. And now we've all opened up. And the evidence to me in the South and the West and some of the other places is that we opened too early in those states. That we didn't have the ability to basically trace down those chains of transmission and stop them once people started mingling again. The most worrisome thing for me is the fact that hospitalizations are going up. We've talked about Arizona. There are about 84% in-patient bed use. And in North Carolina they're inching at 80% -- they're at 79%. And so it's not just the cases, it's the fact that at this point hospitals are at risk of getting overwhelmed. And that is basically signaling to me that the states are already behind and they should consider potentially whether they should be rolling back, at least not progressing with further reopening. But should they be rolling back reopening or considering lockdowns in certain counties where there is a lot of disease activity.

CHUCK TODD:

Dr. Fair, there's obviously been quarantine fatigue. And you have a whole bunch of local officials and state officials who just politically don't want to have to pull back or are tired of doing this. Had we ,at the beginning, had a better -- more aggressive testing and contact tracing, could we have been able to, sort of, have regional shutdowns at the beginning of this so that we would -- then there'd be more comfort today, for instance, for Texas to shut down because they didn't shut down before? Does this go back to our initial blindness to where this was three months ago?

DR. JOSEPH FAIR:

Absolutely. And I can say one of those things that we -- you and I, spoke about very early on was the need for a nationwide shutdown. And I explained at the time that unless we all do it, it's really moot to do it in one place and not another with the United States in our porous borders between the states. And so I think that having not done that early on, we missed a huge opportunity to contain and, you know, even potentially eradicate this virus. We can't truly eradicate it because we're always going to have travel in and out of the United States and vice versa. But that being said, we could have truly mitigated its effects. And we missed that opportunity. So now we have so many cases that, as I said earlier this week, that we risked the virus becoming endemic to the United States. And that's going to have a lot of derivative effects to it. Such as countries banning the United States or ban its citizens from traveling to it because we're the COVID-19 hot spot.

CHUCK TODD:

So I was just going to say you used this word endemic with me the other day, Dr. Fair. Meaning we're not going to have waves. I heard one of the -- say, "We're not at a second wave”. No we're not. It's just going to be one, long continuous until we get to deal with this vaccine at this point? Is that your assessment?

DR. JOSEPH FAIR:

I just think that at this point in time we have so many people that have this virus we are not -- we’re not only not putting down the stricter measures, we're loosening the measures we had in place. So those cases are going to continue to rise. And once you get past a certain number with a virus like this which can be either seasonal, and we don't see that yet with it being seasonal. But once it gets so ingrained in the population, there's not a point where we can come back from that other than getting a vaccine in place. And that just means that we're going to have it in the country until a vaccine is here.

CHUCK TODD:

Dr. Bhadelia, it's clear that we're going to see political rallies in indoor facilities whether public health officials think it's a good idea or not. Number one, if you were to go into an arena with 15,000 people, how would you do it to protect yourself? Or would you even bother?

DR. NAHID BHADELIA:

Chuck, I guess I would start with I would not personally take that risk. But that, I think, is a risk assessment that everybody needs to make for themselves. I particularly think it's a bad idea for states that are already seeing increases in cases to then have these large -- this perfect storm setup. The idea of tons of people where one sick person can have an impact of generating secondary cases on this immense level. Where it's indoors, where there's no ventilation. And so if you had to have it, I think that you -- I would move it to the outdoors. I would reduce the number of people. I would introduce physical distancing. And I would require everybody to wear a mask. And actually stay home if you're sick. And once you've attended a rally, get tested.

CHUCK TODD:

Dr. Joseph Fair, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, thank you both for your expertise this morning. Always a pleasure to have you on.

DR. JOSEPH FAIR:

Thank you, Chuck.

DR. NAHID BHADELIA:

Thanks.

CHUCK TODD:

And when we come back, as confederate symbols across the country start to come down President Trump has become an increasingly lonely voice in the national culture wars. Panel is next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Panel is, is joining us from their remote locations. NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent, Kasie Hunt, Tim Alberta, chief political correspondent for Politico, and Helene Cooper, Pentagon correspondent for The New York Times. Welcome. I want to get started and I want to let Jamelle Bouie essentially get us started and read this excerpt that he wrote over the, earlier this week. "The reckoning that is toppling Confederate monuments and fueling the largest sustained protest in 50 years, is also, I think, turning the voting public decidedly against the president. The killing of George Floyd, the racially disparate impact of the pandemic, and the violent police rioting against accountability have shown millions of Americans what the future may hold if we continue along this path of inequality, exclusion and authoritarianism." Kasie Hunt, are you seeing, are the actions we're watching on Capitol Hill sort of, in some ways, proof that, that Jamelle's right about this?

KASIE HUNT:

Chuck, I mean I think what you heard from Tim Scott at the beginning of the broadcast says everything you need to know about this. I mean, even at the beginning of this past week, there was a sense that Republicans weren't necessarily going to make significant policy moves beyond the data collection. And Tim Scott spoke to the ways in which data collection's important, but he also in that interview suggested that they are going to go beyond that in this. And, you know, you would not be seeing that reflected in what they are actually doing if they weren't seeing the exact kind of political movement that you just described here. I mean, the shift on this has been fast and deep and, you know, if the lawmakers are already seeing it this quickly I think that really tells you how significant it is. And, you know, I will also just say I think Republicans are pretty lucky that they have a leader in Tim Scott who brings so much credibility to this issue and his measured approach, I think, has gone quite, it’s gone quite a long way in convincing his colleagues to start to make these changes.

CHUCK TODD:

Tim Alberta, you wrote about the phrase “law and order” and how it doesn't have the same meaning politically anymore on the right.

TIM ALBERTA:

You know, Chuck, it doesn't. And obviously, you know, post-2012, Republicans began to have this conversation about how do we soften the image of the party? How do we expand our appeal into these non-traditional communities? And, and they talked a lot about immigration reform and some other issues, but they didn't talk really at all about this issue of, you know, systemic injustice and institutional racism and police disproportionately targeting and brutalizing the African American community. And that is a conversation that is now taking place inside the Republican Party in a way that was really unimaginable just a few years ago. And so I think regardless of the outcome this November, the writing is really clearly on the wall for a lot of these Republicans now. The polling is just remarkable. Frank Luntz spoke to it earlier this week, he said, you know, "I've been doing this for 30 years. I've never seen public opinion move so quickly." Karl Rove spoke to it in my piece. There is sort of a clear line of delineation that the spring of 2020 represents for Republicans and they recognize that regardless of what the president is saying or doing, that they need to address this issue moving forward in order to be competitive, and in order to get a foot in the door with some of these communities.

CHUCK TODD:

And I guess, Helene, the question is whether the president, whether he can play a role that's constructive here or not. I want to play, first, I want to play two excerpts from the president. One just this week to Fox News about Abe Lincoln. Take a listen.

[BEGIN TAPE]

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

I think I've done more for the black community than any other president and let's take a pass on Abraham Lincoln cause he did good, although it's always questionable. You know, in other words, the end result--

HARRIS FAULKNER:

Well, we are free, Mr. President.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

But we are free.

HARRIS FAULKNER:

He did pretty well.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

You understand what I mean.

HARRIS FAULKNER:

Yes, no, I get it.

PRES.T DONALD TRUMP:

So I'm going to take a pass on Honest Abe, as we call him.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

And Helene, before you respond, I want to also play, because I think one of the challenges for this president is that this has, this has been a long history of having one view about race. Listen to this quote from the, from 1989.

[BEGIN TAPE]

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market. If I was starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black because I really believe they do have an actual advantage today.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

It's sort of a similar question I had to Tim Scott is, you know, can the president, because of his history, even his, sort of his recent instincts here, can he play a constructive role without sort of acknowledging views that he had in the past that no longer seem to be mainstream?

HELENE COOPER:

I have an easy answer for that. No. I don't see how President Trump can play any kind of constructive role in what's going on right now in this movement for change because of who he is. I mean, I wish we had the face palm emoji for when you were playing that, that tape of him on Fox News just now talking about Abraham Lincoln. That was, that was insane. That's very Trump. I mean, he thinks he’s always talking about how much he's done for the black community, but as you can see from his actions, and you can see from the actions of the administration, that's patently untrue. There's nobody in their right mind that can make that defense or even that case for President Trump. And when you look at what he did, for instance, I mean, I've been so focused this past week on the military and what's been going between President Trump and the military. But when you look at what he did on Confederate bases, when he immediately slammed down Pentagon efforts to start talking, and they weren't even saying we're absolutely going to do it. They were, they had started in such an anemic way. We're going to start a bipartisan commission to talk about changing these Confederate base names and Trump shut that down immediately and he infuriated his senior military officials who were just ready to throw their hands up in the air. So it's like the idea that this is the guy who's going to play a constructive role in, in this movement for change in the United States, I think is preposterous.

CHUCK TODD:

Tim Alberta, is the president misreading his own base? I think he instinctively assumes his base is going to rise up on this Confederate name change thing. I don't fully see it the way, that way, do you?

TIM ALBERTA:

You know, it's at the margins, Chuck, as with everything else the president does. I think he has such a myopic focus on his base that he doesn't recognize that politics is a coalition business and that a lot of the votes that helped get him across the finish line in 2016 were coming from wealthy, affluent, two-car garage suburbs where voters are not only, not only turned off by his rhetoric around race but specifically when you get to issues of the Confederate flag or when you get to these protests in NFL stadiums. These are voters who culturally have drifted further and further from these traditional Republican positions of orthodoxy. And now the president has a choice to make heading towards November. It’s, you know, do you begin to soften ever so slightly? Do you modulate some of your positions, understanding that you can't afford to bleed these suburban voters? Or do you continue to just sort of take this hard-line position, believing that that's what rallies your base behind you? Obviously, the math is going to be very difficult for him if he does not do something to acknowledge the fact that he needs those suburban voters.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, speaking of math, we're about to put up a math problem here for President Trump in our next segment. In fact, when we come back, the changes in our political culture and political parties that could play a big role in November. Stick around.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Data download time. We've said it before: Donald Trump is making a mark on the Republican Party. And it may be that he's reshaping the Democratic Party as well. Changing those who self-identify as members of either major political party. Data from The Pew Research Center shows notable shifts in the demographic makeup of both parties since 2015, just before Mr. Trump entered the race five years ago tomorrow. Let's start with the ever-widening political divide among men and women. In 2015 there was already a gender gap. Republicans had an eight point edge with men, women leaned Democratic by 12. Compare that with combined data from 2018 and 2019. By then the GOP was holding steady with men but Democrats held an 18 point edge with women. Then there are the divides along racial lines. In 2015, Republicans only held an edge among white voters with Democrats holding a double digit lead among other racial minority and ethnic groups. As much as 71 points, for instance, among black voters. But that advantage among whites is slipping. Now it's down to only plus 11. And look to the right at that huge jump in Asian-Americans identifying as Democrats in just four years. Dramatic. Then there's other great divide in this country, geography. Five years ago, Democrats held a big edge with urban voters. But Republican was the party of choice in the suburbs and with rural voters. In the 2018, 2019 numbers, Democrats gained in urban areas and were almost even in the suburbs. But Republicans have made big gains with rural Americans. All this is to say the Republican Party that was once the bastion of wealthy, white establishment voters is looking more like the home of working class and rural white voters. That's a shrinking demographic. It was enough for Mr. Trump to eek out an electoral college win in 2016. But it could be a real problem for the party as the country continues to change. When we come back, is Joe Biden closer to choosing a running mate?

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, the panel is with us again. And I guess since we're a day closer to the Democratic Convention, we're a day closer that we can say Vice President is one day closer to picking his running mate because at some point he has to pick one. I want to put up nine candidates that we think are on some form of the short list. The first screen of six candidates appears to be almost the consensus top six in various reporting outlets, ours, The Times, AP, Val Demings, Kamala Harris, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexico's governor, Susan Rice, Elizabeth Warren. The next page here there are various reports, Tammy Duckworth, Tammy Baldwin, Amy Klobuchar that they're also being vetted in some form or another. Kasie Hunt, I think what's obviously notable is if you look at that consensus top six, four of the six are African American, five of the six are women of color.

KASIE HUNT:

That's right, Chuck. And I think it's very clear that that is a significant consideration in this moment. He certainly is under a lot of pressure to choose a woman of color. Although I will note that Jim Clyburn who has been somebody that has really had the vice president's ear on this has said it's not necessarily a requirement that they do that. I do think also the thing that is probably weighing the most heavily is that there is a very real sense that they need to make sure that they are choosing someone who voters, and particularly independent voters, feel confident could step into the top job were that necessary. And that set of qualifications is particularly important in this instance. They don't want to repeat, you know, a mistake that John McCain made when he selected Sarah Palin and it raised questions about his judgment in her ability to take over.

CHUCK TODD:

Helene Cooper, I think about some of the top candidates here. You've got Val Demings, who's not run for statewide office before, Susan Rice who's not run for any office before but has a ton of national security credentials. Val Demings obviously a lot of credibility perhaps on law enforcement issues being a former police chief. Kamala Harris is somebody who's run a national campaign. There are different ways of looking at this. Which way -- do you think Biden is more concerned about what at this point?

HELENE COOPER:

I think in the moment that we're in right now obviously the push for an African American woman is probably something that Vice President Biden has been focusing on a lot. But let's assume that this moment sort of eases at some point and then you get to the whole -- both the electability issue but also the issue of who can step in once -- given his age, if he actually wins. So you've got to balance both the who can help him beat Trump and who looks like they're going to be qualified enough to step in on day one because of his age. And that's where you start seeing him lean more towards maybe the senators, maybe the Kamala Harris or maybe Elizabeth Warren. It's such a tricky road to hoe for him. Val Demings looks fantastic right now when you see here --

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, she does.

HELENE COOPER:

-- on paper. She did a really good job during the impeachment trial in the eyes of many people. But there's still a lot to consider. And I still think that he might take some time, a little bit more time on this because we are in the middle of such a huge moment, it seems that making this kind of a decision right now, it may be a good idea to wait a little bit.

CHUCK TODD:

Tim Alberta, I'm reminded by a long-time friend of mine, the greatest vice president disparity of all time was 1988, Lloyd Bentsen, Dan Quayle. And the pulse all said how much more qualified Bentsen was and all of this. And it didn't seem to have any impact. Are we doing it again? Could we be over-hyping the importance of this?

TIM ALBERTA:

It's possible, Chuck. Look, historically, you're right, the vice presidential selection has not had a huge impact. And in fact, in many cases, it has no impact at all. Although we only have to go back four years to see how Donald Trump's selection of Mike Pence along with his unrolling, his unveiling of his potential list of Supreme Court justices, those two things in tandem really mattered as far as reassuring a Republican base, particularly Evangelical Christian Republican base that was very nervous about Donald Trump. And Mike Pence provided them a familiar face and a sense of okay this guy really will govern in a way that is going to be consistent with our values.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, you make an important point, Trump worrying at the time about a base constituency group that could be what Biden has to be concerned about as well. Thank you all. Before we go, we want to note that once again Meet the Press is working with our friends at the American Film Institute. This year the AFI Docs Film Festival which is always a great event is going virtual, obviously. Featuring more than 50 documentaries. It runs from Wednesday to Sunday. Tickets and passes are available now at Docs.AFI.com. We love our partnership with them. I'm looking forward to this. Hope you will too. That's all we have for today. Thank you for watching, thank you for trusting us. Stay safe and healthy on this flag day. And we'll be back next week because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.