Meet the Press - June 21, 2020

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CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday: Pandemic and politics. With COVID cases on the rise --

SCOTT GOTTLIEB:

I think there's more complacency and there's a higher risk of spread.

CHUCK TODD:

President Trump holds an indoor rally in Tulsa, playing down the coronavirus threat --

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

So I said to my people, slow the testing down, please. They test and they test.

CHUCK TODD:

-- defends his record --

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

I saved hundred of thousands of lives.

CHUCK TODD:

-- and blames protesters for the smaller than expected crowd.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

The unhinged, left-wing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments, our beautiful monuments.

CHUCK TODD:

Why experts fear last night's rally could become a super-spreader event. My guests this morning: Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, and infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Osterholm. Plus, John Bolton's revenge. The former National Security Advisor describes President Trump as ignorant, obsessed with his re-election and mocked by his cabinet.

JOHN BOLTON:

I don't think he's fit for office. I don't think he has the competence to carry out the job.

CHUCK TODD:

Democrats, meanwhile, angry that Bolton refused to speak up during impeachment. I'll talk to the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff. Also, President Trump fires a top federal prosecutor who has investigated several of the president's close allies. What's the real story behind the firing? Joining me for insight and analysis are NBC News Correspondent Carol Lee, Republican strategist Al Cardenas, and Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour. 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 Sunday morning and a Happy Father's Day to the dads out there. Presidential politics, demonstrations and a partisan pandemic all came together last night in Tulsa, Oklahoma. President Trump has refused to wear a mask and his supporters have followed suit, dismissing mask wearing as some liberal virtue signaling and somehow as nothing more than signaling opposition to the president. Last night, a president frustrated by a virus that has kept him off the campaign trail finally got to do what he loves best about his job: thrill an adoring crowd of loyal supporters, though the crowd was much smaller than anticipated and plans for an overflow area were scrapped. He did it in a Tulsa arena with mostly non-mask-wearing partisans. This, as experts fear the indoor rally could be a super-spreader event. This, as the United States, Oklahoma and Tulsa specifically are all seeing spikes in COVID-19 cases. This, as we're still experiencing a 9/11-like loss of life every four to five days. The rally came at the end of a rough week for the president: sinking poll numbers, the John Bolton book, two Supreme Court decisions that didn't go his way, all on top of swiftly changing public attitudes that have put Mr. Trump on the wrong side of the culture wars that he's always leveraged in the past to his advantage.

[BEGIN TAPE]

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

I saved hundreds of thousands of lives. We don't ever get even a mention.

CHUCK TODD:

President Trump at his first campaign rally since the pandemic began --

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

When you do testing to that extent, you are going to find more people, you are going to find more cases. So I said to my people, slow the testing down please.

CHUCK TODD:

With 26 states recording at least a 20% percent spike in new coronavirus cases over the last two weeks, Oklahoma among them, the president went maskless mocking COVID-19 with racist language --

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

I can name "Kung flu"

CHUCK TODD:

-- insisting on the rally despite warnings from his own coronavirus task force.

RALLY ATTENDEE:

I will take a chance I get that virus, but I'm not going to get that virus.

CHUCK TODD:

President Trump spent nearly two hours on the attack --

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

The unhinged, left-wing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments, our beautiful monuments.

PROTESTORS:

Black Lives Matter!

CHUCK TODD:

-- and blamed protestors and the media for the smaller-than-expected crowd. The president is facing a handful of new polls that show him trailing Joe Biden substantially, including a Fox News poll where he's down by 12 points. And the rally caps a week where the president suffered a series of setbacks. There's the rollout of former national security advisor John Bolton's new book --

JOHN BOLTON:

I don’t think he’s fit for office. I don’t think he has the competence to carry out the job. There really isn’t any guiding principle that I was able to discern other than what’s good for Donald Trump’s reelection.

CHUCK TODD:

The president called the Bolton book "a compilation of lies and made up stories," then insisted it is full of classified information.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

He should go to jail for that for many, many years.

CHUCK TODD:

Mr. Bolton is the fourth top former administration official to question the president's fitness for office. The president has called John Bolton a "wacko," Jim Mattis "overrated," Rex Tillerson "dumb as a rock" and John Kelly "way over his head."

REPORTER:

Why do you keep hiring people that you believe are wackos and liars?

CHUCK TODD:

Then there are the twin defeats in the Supreme Court: on DACA and on protecting LGBTQ employees from being fired because of their sexual orientation. Mr. Trump tweeted on Thursday, "Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?"

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

It's almost like we’re a minority court.

CHUCK TODD:

And there's the late night Friday firing of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Geoffrey Berman was investigating a number of the president's associates.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

That’s all up to the attorney general. Attorney General Barr is working on that. That’s his department, not my department.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm going to talk to acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and epidemiologist Michael Osterholm in just a moment. But I want to bring in our NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams to talk about this Trump administration drama-filled firing of the top prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman. So Pete, walk us through the last 48 hours where first he was I guess getting promoted to a new job in justice. It was supposedly a resignation. Then he wouldn't go. Then suddenly he was willing to go. So how did we get to where we are today?

PETE WILLIAMS:

Well, our understanding is that Jay Clayton, the SEC chairman, raised his hand and said, "I want that job." He played golf with the president a couple of weekends ago. He told Barr about this. The president knew him. Barr knew him. And so they said, "Fine." According to the people we've talked to, Barr then said to Berman, "Hey, we want to move this guy in. Would you like to be SEC chairman or the head of the Civil Rights Division at Justice?" And Berman said no. So Friday night, out of nowhere, Barr announced that he would, the president would be nominating Jay Clayton for this job and that Berman would be stepping down. Berman immediately shot back saying, "No, I'm not going anywhere. I was appointed by a court. So I'll stay until the Senate confirms my replacement." And then by Saturday, the president actually said, "You're out."

CHUCK TODD:

So Pete, obviously when you look at this over the last four months, the president has, seems to have gotten rid of whether it's inspectors general or folks that were investigating different things, and there are many critics on Capitol Hill who look at this Berman firing and wondering if it's about the Rudy Giuliani investigation or things like that. That it fits a pattern. Any evidence that suggests that is part of this larger pattern?

PETE WILLIAMS:

No evidence, Chuck. It's the appearance that has concerned Democrats so especially because it was Berman's office that handled the prosecution of Michael Cohen, the president's former lawyer, -- although Berman was recused from that case -- is now investigating Rudy Giuliani's business practices and has prosecuted two of Giuliani's former associates. But several people in the office have told us that they know of no imminent case. They don't think this was intended to derail anything. And it may at the end of the day, simply be that the president and the attorney general wanted somebody that they liked better and knew better in that job. Still, it's a bit odd for someone to say, "I'd like to take a position that somebody else already has." And at the end of the day, who knows whether this is going to work because the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham, has signaled that he won't go ahead with a nomination unless New York's two Democratic senators approve of it. And they both say they don't.

CHUCK TODD:

Pete Williams, really appreciate you trying to make some sense out of what was a chaotic 48 hours for what is also known as the Sovereign District of New York. Pete, thanks very much.

PETE WILLIAMS:

You bet.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is the acting secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf. Secretary Wolf, welcome to Meet the Press. And a happy Father's Day, sir.

SECRETARY CHAD WOLF:

Great, thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to just start big picture here. Here we are in June, there's been over eight million confirmed cases of the virus around the globe and the United States accounts for just over 25 percent of all confirmed cases, leading the globe, unfortunately in that statistic. How did we find ourselves in that precarious situation?

SECRETARY CHAD WOLF:

Well, I think what we saw early on in January and February is a virus that came to the U.S. We saw China not being very clear, not being up front about what they were seeing early on. We took a number of dramatic steps, the president did, in limiting the spread or the seeding of that virus here in the U.S. And what we've seen since then is a White House coronavirus task force working day and night to make sure that we have the resources, the testing, the PPE, as well as the guidance to state and local, to governors, to make sure that we can open up this economy in a safe and reasonable way. And I think that's what we're seeing. We're seeing a number of states throughout the country in different phases, from Phase 1 to Phase 3, trying to get this economy, trying to get the country back up and running. And we're doing a great job at that.

CHUCK TODD:

Why do you -- is this what is considered a good job at this point? I mean, I say this -- other countries in Europe have been able to flatten their curves, and we have not. If anything, we're on the rise. And I know we're doing more testing but I want to show you these statistics right now. Very troubling in the south, just three states to show you here where, yes, testing is up 30 to 40 percent. But the positive case percentage is up in Florida 88 percent, in Texas 77 percent, in Oklahoma 94 percent. We're in the midst of a spike. Is there anything we could be doing now to basically bend this curve that we're not doing?

SECRETARY CHAD WOLF:

Well, again, the coronavirus task force has put out that guidance, has put out -- CDC has put a number of things that states can continue to do in their various phases. And I think we're seeing that from social distancing to again, the face coverings and everything in between. And I think it's important when you talk about testing, we've tested over 25 million folks. We've tested more than any other country. And we're logically going to see a number of cases positive over what we see in other countries. So I think it's important to keep that in mind. But again, we're supporting, this is a state-led reopening. We're supporting that through our medical professionals at HHS and CDC, making sure that our state and local officials have all the resources and all the knowledge that they need to open up in a safe manner.

CHUCK TODD:

It looks as if though that these, that what you guys have put out, the guidelines that you've put out, the guidelines the CDC's put out, I mean, even the president and his campaign aren't following these guidelines, holding an indoor rally. Is it a surprise that the public is not following these guidelines as well as they should given that example from the top is not wearing a mask, holding an indoor rally against the recommendation of various public health officials, including people on the task force?

SECRETARY CHAD WOLF:

Well, I think I disagree with the premise of that question. I think what we saw particularly in Tulsa when you talk about the president's rally is a state in a Phrase 3 reopening. And so activities like this are allowed. And again, when you talk about face masks or face coverings, hand sanitizer, temperature checks at such an event, these are all things that are in those guidelines, that are in that guidance that we talk about. So I think it's important. It's also a personal choice that people are making on the face coverings. And where you are within that phase. So again, it's very specific to individual states. We'll continue to provide that resource and guidance, making sure that governors have all the information that they need to make those decisions locally.

CHUCK TODD:

It's been a couple of months since we've had a coronavirus task force public press briefing. The lack of constant public reminders of wearing face masks and social distancing, we're not seeing that right now. Any reason?

SECRETARY CHAD WOLF:

No, there's no reason. Look, the coronavirus task force continues to meet. I know the press would like everyday press conferences. But the guidance is still out there. We're still holding calls with governors weekly. The vice president is as part of the lead of that task force. So there's a lot of message and it continues to go on both individually to states and to governors, but also to the American people. So American people know about the social distancing. They know about the face coverings and we'll continue to push that message.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you concerned that we're now in an endemic, basically we’re just, this virus, we're going to live with it. We're not going to be able to get our daily caseload below 20,000, which we've yet to be able to do, I think?

SECRETARY CHAD WOLF:

Well, what we know is we have a lot of individuals continuing to work hard at therapeutics and vaccines. And so that's really the end goal. We have HHS and their medical professionals, CDC, the NIH and others really looking for those therapeutics and vaccines. And I think as we look towards the fall, and the end of the calendar year that's where we hope to be. We'll continue to push that while we also continue to do that social distancing, face coverings and some of the everyday practices that we encourage all Americans to do.

CHUCK TODD:

ICE, which is under your, obviously, under DHS has an estimated 24,000 people right now detained. How are you handling the virus among those detained? And are you deporting people who are, who test positive? Or are you waiting until they test negative before you deport them?

SECRETARY CHAD WOLF:

Right. So as you indicated, ICE holds a number of individuals waiting for that deportation. So we've taken a number of steps. We've had CDC look at those facilities. We are adhering to CDC guidelines. In almost all of our facilities, we have reduced the intake down to about 70% so that we can social distance in many places. We have voluntarily released about 900 individuals that are in vulnerable populations or have underlying health conditions. And then we are court ordered to release a number of other folks. And so we are taking a number of measures to make sure that those facilities are as safe as possible. What we're not going to do is we're not going to realize criminals into American communities. So we're going to make sure that we do that in a safe and reasonable way. And then on the repatriation side, we are testing most individuals that we are repatriating back to foreign countries and making sure that they are not symptomatic as we do that. And we'll continue to do that and we're working closely with the Northern Triangle and others as we do that.

CHUCK TODD:

So you're not intentionally sending anybody back that tests positive?

SECRETARY CHAD WOLF:

Of course not. No, what we know is this virus is difficult. So you can test one day, you can be asymptomatic on one day, two days later you can be symptomatic, the viral loads could be at the point where a test picks those up. So we are doing everything within our power to make sure that those repatriations are safe, they're secure. And we're communicating very robustly with that foreign government, letting them know everything that we're doing as we send their nationals back to them.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to ask quickly on DACA and the deferred action on those that were, those folks brought into this country as children by their parents. The president described the decision as saying, "Hey, he actually won. It just means they have to fix the paperwork." Let me ask the question this way, for somebody that is participating in the DACA program, how concerned should they be that they might be asked to leave the country in the next two years?

SECRETARY CHAD WOLF:

Well, Chuck, what we know is the program is clearly unlawful. And I would point you back to the Supreme Court decision. At no point in that decision did they say that the program was lawful. They simply didn't like the rationale and the procedures that we used. And I find that a little troubling. What we know is the Obama administration created this program out of thin air. They haven't really been held to task on why they didn't put this out for public comment and notice. It's such a large decision on a program, really the American people needed to have some comment into that. What we've seen from this administration is we take a very logical approach to winding this down over a six-month period, been very clear about that. And so we find ourselves where we're at today. The president's been very clear. We need to find a solution for this population. And we'll continue to look at that. We're continuing to look at the opinion that the court produced this week, making sure that we adhere to that. But we are going to end an unlawful program. As the acting secretary of Homeland Security, I don't have the luxury to ignore the law. The program's unlawful. We need to solve it. The president's begging Congress, has been for the last two and a half years to solve this problem. We're willing to sit down at the table and negotiate with them.

CHUCK TODD:

So are you going to solve this administratively and follow sort of what the Supreme Court seemed to lay out about how you need to give more time in all of this? Or will the -- does that mean the president has ruled just ending this by executive order, which is another way he could have done it, he just chose not to?

SECRETARY CHAD WOLF:

No, I think we'll continue to encourage Congress to come to the table and fold a solution for this population. The president's been very clear about that over three and a half years. But at the same time, he's also directed the Department of Homeland Security to look at that opinion, look at the rationale and look what the court has asked us to do. And that's what we're doing today. I'm not going to get ahead, in front of the president. He's going to make that decision at the right time. But the department will be ready to make that, make that call.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, acting Secretary Chad Wolf of the Department Homeland Security, I appreciate you coming on, sharing the administration's view.

SECRETARY CHAD WOLF:

Great. Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

And again, happy Father's Day.

SECRETARY CHAD WOLF:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

President Trump's Tulsa rally came one day after the United States recorded the most new cases of COVID-19 since May 3. And at a point when, according to Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. is doing a far worse job of controlling this pandemic than the European Union is doing, basically similar size if you will. Look at that graph. Joining me now is infectious disease expert, Michael Osterholm from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Osterholm, welcome back to Meet the Press. And I want to start with the same question I asked Secretary Wolf which is, how do you explain the fact that the United States has 25% of the globe's cases and it’s basically -- we’re sadly -- we’re number one with a rocket ship.

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM:

Well, first of all, good morning and happy Father's Day to you, Chuck. This is --

CHUCK TODD:

A happy Father's Day to you, sir.

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM:

--a real challenge for us. And -- thank you. And at this point we don't really have a national plan that really puts together what we're trying to do. We have 50 different states, the District of Columbia, the territories all kind of with their own plan. And you've seen in the past week, how disjointed that is. What are we trying to do? We're at 70 percent of the number of cases today that we were at the very height of the pandemic cases in early April. And yet I don't see any kind of a, this is where we need to go and this is what we need to do to get there, kind of effort. And that's one of our challenges.

CHUCK TODD:

Is this a failure of testing and tracing? Is that where this failure is? Or is this just across the board?

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM:

Well, we have to understand that as I've said to you on multiple occasions, we're not driving this tiger, we're riding it. And while other areas have done much better around the world in stopping it, after a very difficult period of time with it, we haven't done that. And part of that is the fact that we just have not really I think gotten the message across to the public yet that this is a very serious issue. That we can't shut down our economy but we just can't suddenly say, we're done with it. This virus is operating on its own time, under its own rules. Not at anything we impose on it. And we're now trying to act like someone we can policy-wise impose our -- our will on this virus and that's what's happening. Other countries have been much more aware of the fact that the virus is going to do what it's going to do. And so you have to basically stay locked down. You have to limit transmission areas that we're not doing. And that's why I think you're seeing right now is the increases in a number of states because everybody's back to a pre-pandemic mindset.

CHUCK TODD:

Basically without sort of a national structure here, if we let this be 50-50 flowers blooming on how to do this, we're never going to get control of this curve?

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM:

Well, we do have to allow for local decisions. Meaning that in some cases it's going to be different in rural America in one area, versus urban America in another area. But at the same time, what is our goal? To hear the fact that, we don't want to do testing, is wrong. Absolutely, we should be testing as much as possible. Second of all, once we do have these positive tests, what are we doing to make sure that additional transmission isn't occurring? How do we do contact tracing? You've heard a number of stories in the past week about some of the failures of contact tracing. Well, we should learn from those. What are we doing to improve upon it? And I think that right now we don't have, even at a local level necessarily the kind of plans that say, this is what we're going to do to get shut down transmission over this period of time. And we need much more clarity that way. It's almost, in some ways, seems random. Why are some areas doing better than others? We have to learn from what those areas that are seeing fewer cases, why that -- that's happening.

CHUCK TODD:

You have said that a second wave is inevitable. Every pandemic there's one. It's coming. This one is no different. Given that we've not gotten through this first wave, that we're sort of as some people have called it more endemic, if you will. Are you concerned this second wave will be even worse than you at first anticipated?

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM:

Well, in early April our group put out a document that laid out different scenarios because we're dealing with the coronavirus we don't know -- is that going to make it different than influenza virus. Where you traditionally see that first wave, a period of a trough where very few cases occur. And then suddenly a flare-up of a second wave. I'm actually of the mind right now, I think this is more like a forest fire. I don't think that this is going to slow down. I'm not sure that the influenza analogy applies anymore. I think that wherever there is wood to burn, this fire is going to burn. And right now we have a lot of susceptible people. And so, I think right now I don't see this slowing down through the summer or end of the fall. I don't think we're going to see one, two and three waves. I think we're going to just see one very --

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM:

-- very difficult forest fire of cases.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, team sports, is that -- is that probably going to not happen considering what we've already seen as they are trying to -- trying to start up?

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM:

You know, at this point it's going to be a challenge if, in fact, you have teams that continue to have outbreaks of cases within their players. At some point, we'll hopefully have a situation where we won't have all that transmission. But I think it is going to be very, very difficult at this point to protect players, protect their staff, coaches, to protect the public. I think it's not going to be easy to do.

CHUCK TODD:

It's looking -- looking more dire there. Dr. Michael Osterholm with some grim, if you will, short-term news there going forward. Again, a happy Father's Day. I know you haven't seen your grandchildren. Hopefully that'll happen soon. Thank you, sir.

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, John Bolton's book and one of many Democrats who are saying, "What took you so long?” Congressman Adam Schiff joins me next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. John Bolton has pulled off a trick that few others have accomplished in partisan Washington, maybe Jim Comey being the other one. Bolton has managed to unite Republicans and Democrats against him. Republicans are angry over what Bolton says about President Trump in his new book. Democrats are angry that he didn't say it sooner, particularly during the House impeachment hearings. Well, joining me now is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, who, of course, oversaw the Trump impeachment hearings. Congressman Schiff, welcome back to Meet the Press. I want to start, first of all, happy Father's Day.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Happy Father's Day to you and my dad. Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, excellent. Let me start with what we saw over the last 48 hours with the Southern District of New York. Pete Williams is reporting that this, that they know of no motivation having to do with some other case, that this was simply the president wanting to do a favor for a golfing buddy who's currently at the SEC. Do you accept that explanation?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

I can't accept that explanation given the pattern and practice of both the president in seeking to use the justice system to reward friends, punish enemies, protect people he likes, and Bill Barr's willingness to carry that water for the president. Also if you look at Berman's statement himself, Berman apparently has the same skepticism. There's a reason why he included that passage in his statement when he was saying, "I'm not stepping down," that he wanted to ensure that these investigations continued or words along those lines. So Berman clearly had a concern about why he was being pushed out. And given the firings of these inspector generals, given the way that Barr has sought to intervene in cases to help out people like Michael Flynn or Roger Stone and to seek additional punishment for people like Michael Cohen, then you really have to question what's really at the basis of this Friday night attempted massacre and now, a completed one.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you want to see -- should we expect to see Mr. Berman in front of Congress in the next week or two?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

I certainly hope that he will come and testify before Congress. And I know Chairman Nadler intends to investigate this and he should. It's, you know, I think, the most disastrous management of the Justice Department in modern memory. And like so much of what we have seen this administration, it doesn't come as a surprise anymore. But yet it's completely demoralizing to the people in the department and dangerous to the rule of law.

CHUCK TODD:

Have you read Mr. Bolton's book yet, Congressman Schiff?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

I have not. I've certainly read the excerpts that have been published in the newspaper thus far. And there's a tremendous amount to be disturbed about the substance of them. You know, I would put, frankly, at the top of the list the fact that the president of the United States was willing to change tariffs on China if only China would help him get re-elected. Of course, this is a perfect echo of his misconduct with Ukraine. But more than that, we warned during the trial that you could only count on Donald Trump to do what's right for him, not what's right for the country. And John Bolton says that is exactly this president's pattern and practice, that he didn't see a significant national security foreign policy decision made on any other basis than the president's personal or political re-election interest. And of course that's a tragic and dangerous situation for the whole country when a president has that kind of myopic focus on what's right for him and is willing to sacrifice the national interest.

CHUCK TODD:

I know that you wanted to see Mr. Bolton testify. You wanted to see him do it voluntarily. You also, I remember you and I had a conversation before the impeachment trial began, about the issue of Bolton and about why the House chose not to force the situation because you thought that it was better done in the Senate. Do you regret that decision now? Should you have fought harder to get Bolton to testify before you voted on the articles?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

No. I think, indeed, our decision has been vindicated by the fact that we are still in court now over a year later trying to get McGahn to testify. Bolton said he would sue us if we subpoenaed him. We would still be trying to get John Bolton's testimony today. And given that the president was trying to cheat in the upcoming election, we couldn't afford to wait another year to get John Bolton to testify. But more than that, I think what we did is ratified by what we're hearing from the senators. We made the case when we were urging his testimony in the Senate that the senators would one day have to explain why they didn't want to hear from him when they had the opportunity. Well, they have now explained, those that haven't run away from the camera, have explained Trump is guilty. They found him guilty. The House proved him guilty. But they weren't prepared to do anything about it. And so we had the evidence to prove it. We did prove it. But nonetheless, you know, what John Bolton has demonstrated and I think to the length and degree that he indicts Donald Trump, he also indicts himself for cowardice and for greed. Because there were people who did come forward, people like Colonel Vindman and Fiona Hill who risked their careers. And he lacked that basic courage and patriotism. It was only the greed that made him come forward in this book. Because remember, Chuck --

CHUCK TODD:

Do you--

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

-- what his lawyer was saying at the time was that Bolton might damage the presidency or he might violate his own oath and that's why he needed to go to court. But apparently those things have given away to a book deal.

CHUCK TODD:

There is some damning allegations involving China, which you brought up. But there's also things in there involving Turkey, involving Saudi Arabia. These are a lot of things that are in the purview of the House Intelligence Committee. Do you plan on getting Ambassador Bolton to testify soon and go under oath with these allegations?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

We haven't had a chance to read the book, as I mentioned, Chuck. When we do, and we expect we will within the next 24 to 48 hours, like the rest of the country, we will look at what allegations like those involving Turkey and other countries, particularly involving China, need to be fleshed out and exposed to the light of day. And then we'll make our decisions. But, you know, we do need, I think, to expose the length and breadth of this president's depravity and how much it is endangering the country. So those facts are going to need to come out and we are discussing with the speaker and my fellow chairs just how to do that.

CHUCK TODD:

Look, if you don't act now and you sort of wait to act and you wait to see what happens in November, is that too late? If you believe he has done impeachable acts with the Chinese government, can you really wait until after the election to, to put Bolton under oath, to start the process?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

I don't think we should wait if we conclude that there are important things that he says that need to be exposed to the public. The public needs to know exactly what they have in this president. A lot of it is not a surprise. But at the same time, exposure of this president's misconduct is the best way to protect the country. Congress can take steps to protect the country. You know, look, those comments that the president made when only the interpreter and President Xi were in the room, blessing the concentration camps of the Uighurs, it's exactly why we want to know what he said to Putin when he's alone in the room with Putin because he's dealing away our national security. He's dealing away the values of this country, in secret, in order to help himself. And that's just so destructive of everything that this country stands for.

CHUCK TODD:

Congressman Adam Schiff, I've got to leave it there. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, we'll be watching the next couple of days to see what you guys do next regarding Mr. Bolton. Appreciate you coming on and sharing your views. And again--

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

--happy Father's Day.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

You too.

CHUCK TODD:

And before we go to break, I want to alert our viewers that John Bolton will be my guest right here next Sunday on Meet the Press. I hope you'll join me for what I hope will be a fascinating interview. ‘

When we come back, why does President Trump wind up calling the men he hires for top jobs wackos and liars. Panel is next.

(BREAK IN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. The panel is with us from their remote locations. NBC News correspondent Carol Lee, Republican strategist Al Cardenas, and Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for PBS Newshour.

Alright, Carol Lee, I want to start with last night and what you're hearing this morning from the campaign. It seems to me that the turnout of that rally, the fact that they had no overflow, they didn't need it, they only had-- it looks like the estimate is less than 7,000 attended.

CAROL LEE:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

In isolation, you could chalk that up to health, but when you combine it with everything else we've seen over the last couple of weeks with his poll numbers. Is this a troubling sign to the campaign, that they have an enthusiasm issue?

CAROL LEE:

Yeah, Chuck, and they’ve really raised expectations for this rally. Remember, they were saying that they had over a million responses to -- requests for tickets to the rally, and we really wound up yesterday with something very similar to Inauguration Day. The way we -- crowd size was the issue. You saw the campaign spokesperson put out a statement saying this was a huge audience, that watched the president's rally; that's very similar to what we heard on the president's Inauguration Day over crowd size. The message was very similar, very doomsday, very much saying, you know, if you elect the Democrats, if you elect Joe Biden, the liberal mob is going to take over. So -- the president had that kind of a message. And you know, this comes at a time when the president can't really afford to lose any more support, in the sense that the polls are against him, they're not getting any better, his internal polls, the public polls -- he's got a pandemic, he's got an economic problem and he's got civil unrest across the country. This political rally was a risk, a risk politically, a risk healthwise. You know, he had his task force members, as we reported this week, advising him against this. But he really wanted to go forward with this and a lot of the reason behind that is because they feel like this is their only play. That they have to get the president out there and whether or not --

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

CAROL LEE:

-- that winds up being wise, we'll see in a couple of weeks. How the polls respond and also how the pandemic responds. Is there a big spread of coronavirus cases, because of this?

CHUCK TODD:

Al Cardenas, you -- you grew up in a politics that always knew campaigns and in presidential races, the more optimistic messenger usually wins. That's not the case in the Trump era. But more importantly, can you discern a re-election message that's forward-looking at all out of the president right now?

AL CARDENAS:

Well, I think he's playing right into Joe Biden's hands. Joe Biden's whole campaign has based on the fact that he's going to be a healer, our country's divided, our country's feelings are too -- too separate, too different and we need to come together. So when the president goes and speaks in a way that divides the country into two or more totally isolated, segregated pieces, it plays right into Joe Biden and his campaign. But the random thought about the rally was the fact that it was because the numbers were spreading in Joe Biden's favor, so I think the campaign was getting nervous and oversold the rally in order to compensate for this decline in polling numbers, and the result was a disaster for them. And then also the era, I mean without social media you couldn't have 800,000 people punk the campaign -- getting tickets and getting the campaign to give out bad information. And so, it was a confluence of panicking over the sliding numbers and a consequence of being punked, or fooled by these people, and it was not a good night for the Trump campaign last night.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Yamiche, I want to bring up John Bolton here. There's a pattern in the criticism of John Bolton to others that the president has criticized. He loves them when he hires these folks and hates them as they go out. Let me play an example.

[BEGIN TAPE]

DONALD TRUMP:

Just a brilliant, wonderful man.

DONALD TRUMP:

What’s he done for me? How has he done in Afghanistan? Not too good.

DONALD TRUMP:

I like Bolton. I think he’s-- you know, tough cookie, knows what he’s talking about.

DONALD TRUMP:

He made some very big mistakes. -- John wasn’t in line with what we were doing.

DONALD TRUMP:

I have tremendous respect for him.

DONALD TRUMP:

We were not really thinking the same.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

And of course, Yamiche, some of this is because these four gentlemen in particular have said some pretty damning things about his fitness for office. Let me put up some examples here. John Bolton: "stunningly uninformed." John Kelly: "we need to look harder at who we elect." Jim Mattis: "three years without mature leadership." Rex Tillerson: "a man who is pretty undisciplined." You know, you can chalk these stories up as inside-the-beltway folks, elites, but you can't help but wonder if this is also having an impact, this pile-on questioning the president's leadership.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

Well, I think what you saw last night, what you see going forward is a president who's really playing defense, who's trying to really put out this message that he is a strong leader, that he's someone who has the virus under control, he's someone who has his re-election under control. What we see in the John Bolton book, and it’s really a 500-page bombshell of detail after detail -- John Bolton's thesis is that the president is unfit to be president, that he is someone who tries to curry favor with strongmen and authoritarian leaders, and he's also someone -- John Bolton says -- that is ignorant of global affairs. And what makes the John Bolton book so damning is what you just laid out, which is that it's not happening in a vacuum. You have so many other people talking about the president's leadership, saying that he would just ignore commands by President Trump because he kind of had a stream of consciousness with every meeting and that he was undisciplined. And I was thinking this morning of Senator Bob Corker, who talked about the fact that the White House was an adult day care and the president took real issue with that, but in John Bolton's book what you see is someone laying out the fact that there are these -- quote, unquote -- adults around the president who are steering him sometimes well and sometimes doing bad things because of their own self-interests.

CHUCK TODD:

Carol, I want to bring it back to the virus here for a second, because I'm sort of stunned that Chad Wolf, in one way, he's saying what he's supposed to say which is we've done a good job. But it is -- there is no acceptance of responsibility here, of how we are the country that is leading in -- in number of cases. You know, we’re the same size as the European Union, if you will, and they've flattened this curve, and we haven't. Is there any concern in this White House that they have just botched this completely?

CAROL LEE:

Well, we know that there's concern among the president's political allies, even if the president doesn't admit it publicly, about how the president's handling of coronavirus will impact his re-election chances in November. And also, not only that, but how the gamble that they're making on putting the president out there with a message that "everything is fine, get back to normal, hold big rallies, gather around," that that's a real gamble for them too, specifically because they're not, at the same time, asking people to follow their own CDC guidelines. So the virus is a wildcard, and they know it.

CHUCK TODD:

Alright, let me pause it here. When we come back, there were events across the country this weekend marking Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. Up next, why those celebrations may be even bigger next year, and beyond.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Data download time. For many Americans, June 19th, Juneteenth, has long held a special meaning. But for others, especially many white Americans, this was the year it was suddenly recognized everywhere. Even so, momentum to recognize the holiday has actually been building for quite some time. First, let's talk about what it is. Juneteenth commemorates June 19th, 1865. It is the day that Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce the Civil War was over. The news hadn't reached Galveston yet. And to inform people that the Emancipation Proclamation had freed all enslaved people nationwide. It was more than 100 years later that Texas made Juneteenth an official holiday. And since then, 46 other states and the District of Columbia have joined Texas and done the same, with most doing so since the year 2000. The only exceptions are North and South Dakota and Hawaii. In the last few years, we've seen resolutions recognizing the holiday pass Congress numerous times. And there's now talk of bills in both chambers to make it a federal holiday. And as we have seen with other recent cultural shifts, corporations are ahead of the policy makers. Just look at this wide array of household brands that offer their employees a paid holiday on Juneteenth this year. Forty-seven states, congressional resolutions, big moves in the private sector, add it all up and we could very well see the entire country recognize what African Americans have known for a long time, that Juneteenth celebrates freedom for everyone and is worthy of a national holiday. When we come back, did President Trump just lose a big campaign weapon he was counting on? Stick around.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Let's turn a bit more directly to the campaign trail. And Al, I want to play a little bit of a snippet of what the Trump campaign wants to make their negative ad, their sort of consistent attack ad message on Joe Biden. Let me play a montage of these various attack ads that they've been running against Biden over the last couple of weeks.

[BEGIN TAPE]

COMMERCIAL VOICEOVER:

Joe Biden, China's candidate. Iran's candidate. And Osama's candidate. Joe Biden won't stand up to China. He never has. He never will.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

China, China, China, Al. They want to make it about China. But here's what John Bolton wrote about one specific meeting between Trump and Xi. "He then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China's economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he'd win. He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump's exact words, but the government's prepublication review process has decided otherwise." Vanity Fair got a hold of unredacted notes during the lawsuit and it said, "Make sure I win." Al, how much does this sort of undercut what the campaign thought would be an effective message against Biden?

AL CARDENAS:

Well, first, you know, I've known John Bolton for almost four decades. And know him well. Not just casually. And I believe John Bolton. He’s got many, he may have many faults, but he's a truth teller. And so I take anything he says about China and the presidency as alarming. Look, China right now, is kind of trumping, pardon the pun, on Hong Kong. They're invading the border with India. Relations with China are horrible. The information about China's intelligence breeches are, are also quite alarming. And so I don't know that it's a good idea to harp on China. But I do know they expect Joe Biden to do so. And so this is a way to neutralize Biden's campaign and taking on Trump regarding China and his record on China. I call it a way to try to get even on China. I don't see a plus one way or the other with the ads.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, and in this case, you know, the Democrats are also going to try to make hay of China. Yamiche, I want to show this graphic of the, of the match-up between Biden and Trump and how very slowly, it's sort of been, it's one of those things if you check day to day you think, "Oh, the presidential race doesn't change that much,” until you look at it over a three-month period. And as you can see here, the race has basically gone from about a three point race on April 15th, a little before April 15th, to where it is now, close to double digits. And what's got to be alarming for Team Trump is the Trump number is eroding faster, in some ways, than the Biden number is growing.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

I think that's why you see the president feeling like he had to go out on the campaign trail to try to reinvigorate his base, to try to get those numbers higher up. The president will say that he's not overly concerned about poll numbers. And as we saw in 2016, there's a lot of signs and a lot of people saying, "Don't think about these numbers too much." That said, the spread is growing. And it's pretty clear that Joe Biden by staying at home mostly and by making very select visits to places that he has a strategy that's working for him. I should say I was just talking to the Biden campaign this morning and they told me that they're rushing to make an ad out of President Trump saying that he was going to be slowing down coronavirus testing. The White House says he was joking. But he said that at a rally. So what Joe Biden's campaign is feeling like is if we kind of sit back and let President Trump do things like not mention George Floyd's name in the middle of a 90-minute speech, his first on the campaign trail, that if he keeps doing stuff like that we can just point to President Trump and not think about, not overthink or really have the gaffes that we know Joe Biden at times has made.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's been interesting, Carol, the Trump campaign is desperately trying to make hay that, “Hey, Joe Biden doesn't answer questions, Joe Biden doesn't campaign, Joe Biden does this. Come on, media, get him out there.” It reminds me of a losing football team going, "Why won't they pass? Why are they punting? Why are they kneeling down? Why are they running out the clock?" Yeah, there's a reason they're running out the clock. They're winning.

CAROL LEE:

Right. That's right. And you know one of the things, I was talking to some of President Trump's campaign allies yesterday. And one of the things that they plan to do on top of trying to tether Joe Biden to the idea that he's not going to be tough on China is to rebrand Joe Biden. What they know is that they believe voters think they know who Joe Biden is. And what they're trying to do and they're going to get really aggressive on this, we've already seen some of it, is to basically say, "This is not the Joe Biden that you know. This is somebody who is not fit to be president. He's not all there mentally." They're really going to go at the idea that he is not fit for office because he's unwell. And so it’s -- and that's just one of many ways in which they're reaching back for their 2016 playbook.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, it's an odd thing to hit Biden on when the president keeps bringing up this issue with his own health watch on that front as well, an odd amount of time he spent on that. I have to wrap it there. That is all we have for today. Thank you for watching. Thank you for trusting us. A big happy Father's Day to everyone out there who's a dad. And we'll be back next week because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.