TRANSCRIPT: On MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, Schumer Demands Senate Take Urgent And Necessary Action To Further Respond To Coronavirus Economic And Public Health Crisis, Decries Republicans’ Decision To Focus On Biden Conspiracy Theories Instead Of The Coronavirus

May 13, 2020

Washington, D.C. – Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer today appeared on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports and demanded immediate action to respond to the urgent coronavirus economic and public health crisis and denounced Senate Republicans’ decision to focus on Biden conspiracies rather than responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Below is a transcript of the interview:

Andrea Mitchell: And Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer joins me now. Senator, thank you very much for being with us. We know how busy you are.

Sen. Schumer: Hi, Andrea.

Andrea Mitchell: You were on the floor today calling— well, hi it’s good to see you. First of all, how are you doing? 

Sen. Schumer: I'm okay. How are you and your family, everyone all right?

Andrea Mitchell: Good, good. Everyone is fine, thank you. We are the lucky ones able to work from home.

Sen. Schumer:  Yes.

Andrea Mitchell: But you're not at home.

Sen. Schumer:  No.

Andrea Mitchell: And, of course, you and other Senators have been taking some chances in coming out and doing your jobs. You were on the floor calling for that additional $3 trillion House bill. Arguably has no chance of passage. This is not something signed on by the Republicans, and others in the Senate, by Mnuchin. It's not a compromise deal. Why bring the House back and risk some danger for them to have the vote? I know this is a decision for the Speaker. But it seems symbolic. It seems like a pressure tactic. She said it‘s a bargaining position.

Sen. Schumer: Well, let me say this, Andrea. First, the outline the House had is both necessary and urgent. There are huge problems out there as your show just acknowledged. Dr. Fauci said we could have such a serious, serious problem when we come back. And in the proposal is what's needed. Our state and local governments are going to lay off tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of police and firefighters and bus drivers if we don't do something. If we don't do adequate testing.

It's amazing that this administration is refusing tests—really to do a regime on testing. They want the country to open up? Every other country as Dr. Emanuel said that has done a good job has had much more testing and much more contact tracing than us. And so there are so many things in this bill. And you say why start with – what is needed? It's what's needed. It's urgent. It's necessary. When the Republicans are pointing to what's wrong with it, they point to a small little thing that's .003% of the bill. And look at the last two COVID bills—COVID-3, COVID-3.5. Initially Leader McConnell said what he's saying now, we don't need to do it. Do it our way or no way. But public pressure and public need on him and his Republican senators forced them to come around.

And, in fact, COVID-3 and COVID-3.5 had many more of the things that we Senate Democrats wanted than the Republicans wanted. So there will be a huge amount of pressure from Republican governors and Republican senators, from business people, from police unions and fire unions, and so many others who are going to say we need this bill. So I believe that this is a very, very good place to be because it shows what the needs are. We didn't cut it in half to bargain against ourselves. But you will see—the pressure on the Republicans is enormous.

When Mitch McConnell says he doesn't see an immediate, urgent need, what is he saying to the miles of cars that are waiting in food banks? People come out and are interviewed and say they've never been to a food bank before. What does he say to the hundreds of thousands of small businesses? They put their blood, sweat and tears into building their business and now they're closing down. What does he say to a family that might be kicked out of their house because they don't have rent or people who are losing their jobs? Of course it's urgent. And as Dr. Fauci said, and today [Fed Chair] Jerome Powell, another non-politician, said that we need much more fiscal relief or we could risk the kind of thing it’s the Great Depression. The Republican party right now, from Donald Trump to Mitch McConnell, is sort of like Herbert Hoover. When the stock market crashed, Herbert Hoover said we don't need to do anything—let the private sector work this out. And that caused, lengthened and deepened the Great Depression. Let us hope that the public need and the public pressure will get the Republicans to understand what we need to do to get this country out of the greatest health and economic crisis we've had since the Depression.

Andrea Mitchell: I was going to point out it's not just Jay Powell and the Fed today. It's also Larry Hogan, Republican governor, and Andrew Cuomo together for the National Governors Association saying they need that state and local government money.

Sen. Schumer: Andrea, what's appalling here—I was just going to say—they don't believe in truth. That's the problem. There is truth. There are facts. Dr. Fauci talks about facts. They don't argue with him. They call him names. Donald Trump said two months ago, anyone who wants a test can get a test: a lie, a straight out and out lie. And they're still clinging to that thing when Donald Trump says, we've accomplished what we need in testing. And the irony is this: if Donald Trump wants to open up the country again—and I understand that, so do most of us want to get the country opened up—you’re going to need a far stronger testing regime so you can test everybody. Georgia, which opened up quickly, Governor Kemp—I read yesterday in the paper that in one shopping center, 92% of the people who usually show up didn't show up. If people don't believe they're safe, we are not going to get back. And testing and contact tracing is so important. And this administration ignores it and it's hard to figure out why.

Andrea Mitchell: You know, that's right. I was going to play a little bit of what Senator Murphy had to say to Dr. Redfield from the CDC yesterday at that hearing and get your reaction on the other side.

Sen. Schumer: Sure.


Sen. Murphy: We're reopening in Connecticut in five days, in ten days. This guidance isn't going to be useful to us in two weeks. So, is it this week? Is it next week? When are we going to get this expertise from the federal government?

CDC Director Redfield: I do anticipate this broader guidance to be posted on the CDC website soon. I can't tell you—soon. But I can tell you, your state can reach out to the CDC and we’ll give guidance directly to anyone in your state on any circumstance that your state desires guidance from.

Sen. Murphy: Soon isn't terribly helpful. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Sen. Schumer: He's on the money, Senator Murphy. I asked on the floor today—go ahead.

Andrea Mitchell: Are you concerned that the CDC—I know you lost the vote on the floor—but now going forward, are you concerned that the White House is censoring the public health information from the most important agency?

Sen. Schumer: Yes. Yes, I am. The White House has censured agency after agency. They've gotten their minions and Fox News and everyone else to personally and vitriolically attack people who tell the truth. But I'll tell you something, in this huge crisis, if you avoid the truth, you're going to make it worse. And you're going to make it worse for everybody, including, I would say to the Republican party and Donald Trump, for yourselves.

Andrea Mitchell: Now, before I let you go, I want to play a bit of what Leader McConnell had to say about former President Obama. Because we’ve heard first from President Trump and now from Leader McConnell, some surprising comments about a former president. Let's watch. 


Leader McConnell: I think President Obama should have kept his mouth shut, you know. We know he doesn't like much this administration is doing. That's understandable. But I think it's a little bit classless, frankly, to critique an administration that comes after you.


Andrea Mitchell: That was on Trump TV with Laura Trump, the daughter-in-law. I just wanted to ask you what you think about the way President Obama is being described.

Sen. Schumer: It's ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. He has been very restrained. Instead of doing what they're supposed to do, Senate Republicans, coming up with answers to the COVID crisis, having oversight hearings to find out why small business is not getting the lending, why we're not testing, why the hospitals are still hurting and are not getting the money that they need. Instead of oversight hearings on that, they’re coming up with conspiracy theories on Obama, and Chairman Johnson wants to go after Biden and this Hunter Biden conspiracy theory, which came from the Russians of all people. This is amazing to me, what alternative universe do they live in? Spending their time on discredited conspiracy theories against Obama, against Biden instead of dealing with the greatest crisis we’ve had in America in decades and decades and decades. What universe are they in? What is in their heads? They don't have to agree with me on everything that should be done about the crisis, but why talk about it instead of absurd, often Russian-generated conspiracy against their political enemies?

Andrea Mitchell: Chuck Schumer, thank you very much, Senator. Thanks for being with us today.