TRANSCRIPT: On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Schumer Blasts President Trump’s Unworkable, Weak And Narrow Executive Actions Amid Historic Coronavirus Crisis And Calls For A Serious Comprehensive Solution That Meets The Needs Of The American People.

August 10, 2020
Washington, D.C. – Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today joined MSNBC’s Morning Joe and blasted the president’s unworkable, weak and narrow executive actions  amidst this historic coronavirus crisis and called for a serious and comprehensive solution that will meet the needs of the American people. A transcript of the interview can be found below:
Joe Scarborough: On that high note, let's bring in Minority Leader in the United States Senate, Chuck Schumer. Chuck, I've got question for you, my man, because I'm a simple man. I'm a dumb country lawyer. I don't really understand this Constitution thing. Of course, you know we Republicans all carry around that little Constitution in our pocket and then at times we'll pull it out like we're pulling out a shield against left-wing autocracy. But in that little Constitution that every Republican and I always carried around in our coat pockets, it said that Article I powers were the power to tax and spend. That means that Congress can do what Donald Trump is claiming to do. Not Donald Trump. So, where does Donald Trump get the authority to do any of that stuff?
Sen. Schumer: Well, he just makes things up. Donald Trump is the fables president. He just makes things up as they go. And what you saw Kudlow say, which would B be laughable if it weren't so sad, $400, $300, $800. He had no idea -- he's ready to go on a show before the American people and had no idea what the actual executive order said. And it's a metaphor. The towering and destructive incompetence of this administration is why the coronavirus is raging here where in most European countries, most other, Asian countries, they’ve gotten a handle on it.
Trump has never believed things are on the level. And just as you said, Joe, none the people around him anymore believe things are on the level. If you believe things are on the level, if you spoke truth to power to the president, you're gone. And this incompetence -- you know, this is what's pushing many voters who voted for Trump, not the hardcore, but that, say, 15%, away from him. For the first time they've seen this incompetence, which they sort of suspected, but affecting them directly and they know it. And it started when Trump denied the crisis altogether, it's a hoax, it will go away, don't worry about it, when he couldn't put a testing regime together. I called on him on March 6th, that's four months ago, to use the DPA [Defense Production Act] and set up a real testing regime. They still haven't done it. And it's one of the reasons COVID is still raging.
It's why these executive orders are laughable. This unemployment insurance one, which Kudlow so mauled, is not going to be able to be put into place for a month or two, if at all. So here we're going to have through September, all these people not getting the money? And the $600 – you know, they have no respect for the American people. And that’s part of the hard-right philosophy. Oh, people, if they have a job, will just sit back and take the money. That is not what American workers are like. They want a job, and they want a permanent long-term job which will give them a decent life and have some pride in work. And so they use that excuse because they don’t want to pay money.
Here's the most amazing thing, Joe. 20 Republican senators, some of whom running for president in 2024, don't want to spend one nickel. That, I would ask them to go back into the history books and look up a word: H-O-O-V-E-R. Herbert Hoover, when after the crash said, don't spend any money, and we had the Great Depression. If we were to listen to them, if Trump – and by the way, Meadows in our negotiations seems to have that philosophy as well. Not Mnuchin, but Meadows. And if they persist in doing these things, they’re going to get much worse.
So, we want to come up with a strong plan. The Heroes bill was not a wish list. We studied the needs of how to get enough money to open up schools safely, of how to do testing, of what the state and local governments needed, as to how we run the Post Office, how we have elections, how we feed the hungry, how we prevent people from being evicted, and we came up with a strong plan.
But we even were willing because we so much want to get this done, we said to the president's negotiators last week, we'll meet you in the middle. We'll cut a trillion, you raise a trillion. You know what they said? Absolutely not. I said to them, you mean it's your way or the highway? And they said yup. Well their proposal will not deal adequately with testing, will not deal adequately with opening schools safely, will not deal adequately with people being evicted from their homes, will not deal adequately with unemployment insurance, will not deal adequately with state and local needs. It will be a disaster. I hope saner voices in the Republican Party will prevail and say, sit down with Pelosi, sit down with Schumer, and meet them in the middle for God’s sakes. That’s what we're willing to do. And we’ve said it: we’re waiting for them to come back and say yes.
Joe Scarborough:  You had talked about the president surrounding himself with yes men, people that wouldn't cross him. I just got to say, sidebar here, the most remarkable example of that for me recently has been the fact that the Intelligence Community for quite some time knows that Vladimir Putin has put bounties on the heads of young American troops. In March, inside White House, they were desperately getting the president to do something, but they were afraid to brief him on it because they knew it would make him angry. So, what is the next step -- you know, what is the next step?
But first, we've talked about the relief bill. I've just got to talk about something that a lot of people are concerned about, and that is the Friday night massacre at the United States Post Office. That's the president seemingly intent on wreaking havoc on that institution, to slow down packaging and to possibly impact the election and how many votes are able to be counted. What can the United States Senate do, what can the United States House do to make sure that the president doesn't undermine the election?
Sen. Schumer:  The president has wanted to destroy the Post Office. You know, he gets these little bugs in his head that have nothing to do with reality. No one tells him the truth. And then he tries to go for it. So, he's wanted to hurt the Post Office, maybe even destroy it, end it, for a long time. Now we have the COVID crisis. And like everywhere else, some postal workers have COVID. And instead of beefing up the number of people at the Post Office, the new Postmaster General, who has no experience in postal and who is a big contributor to Trump; I called him, by the way, three times because I wanted to talk to him about what he was doing. He would not call me back. Finally, Pelosi and I said, we're not going to negotiate on this unless we meet with him. That’s what I said to them. And we met with him. And the meeting was a disgrace. He is in so far over his head.
And to cut back on overtime, to cut back on the number of employees, particularly during the COVID crisis -- I'll get to elections in a second -- what about people who need their medicines? What about the so many necessities that are now sent through the mail because people won't go out and shop in a store? So there should have been an increase to begin with. But what I think what's motivating Trump and his henchman there at the head of the Post Office is to screw up the system so that they can claim that the elections weren't done properly. Because if the mail is late, it doesn't work.
So what can we do about it? We are insisting in this COVID Heroes bill, the COVID 4 bill, that first the Postal Service get the money it needs so it can hire people, so it can put overtime. We’ve asked for $25 billion over three years, $10 billion in the first year. That's what the experts tell us they need. And second, if they don't rescind this language, and we made a strong pitch for them to rescind these rules that limit overtime, that don't allow them to hire people, we can insist and put it in the bill. And that's one of our top priorities. I told them, we're not giving in on this. This is so vital.
The fact that these guys would take the wellspring of our democracy, elections, and mess with them, whether it's Russian interference - that seems to be okay with Donald Trump. Whether it's not giving the states the money they need to adjust to many more people who will vote by mail and a need to have more places where people can drop things off so there will be social distancing if they don't want to vote by mail, the fact that they're messing around with the Post Office. These are all the wellsprings of our democracy. If Americans believe after November that the elections weren't fair, where are we headed? That's been the core of the -- that's what men and women have died for, the right to vote in a free and fair election. It’s been the hallmark of America. Trump is trying to destroy it. We I think it's vital to prevent that from happening and we're using every way we can, including this COVID bill, to make sure they can't do it.
Joe Scarborough:  All right.
Kasie Hunt: Leader Schumer, it's Kasie Hunt.
Sen. Schumer:  Hi, Kasie.
Kasie Hunt:  This, of course, is all predicated on you passing a massive COVID package. It’s nice to see you. The president said last night, quote, the Democrats have called. They would like to get together and we say if it's not a waste of time, we'll do it. Do you know what he's talking about?
Sen. Schumer:  Fables from Donald Trump. Fables. That's what he seems to specialize in. I didn't call him. Speaker Pelosi didn't call him. No, we didn't call him. He makes these things up or he hears from somebody at one of his fundraisers or at his country club, oh, the Democrats are calling you, and he acts like it's true.
Here's how we’ve left it. On Thursday, I believe it was, we said to them, we're willing to come down $1 trillion, you come up $1 trillion. When you're ready, come back and talk to us. Here's what I think might happen. This is an optimistic scenario, Kasie. So the Republicans, you know, they’re in a pickle. You have 20 of them who don't want any money whatsoever, but then you have 10 or 15, many running for re-election, who are desperate to get a package. And they're all hanging their hats on this executive order, oh that will solve the problem and we won't have to do anything. Well now it's clear that these executive orders are going to be minimal at best. I've called them paltry or three words that I've used which now seem to be in the currency, are unworkable, narrow, and scanty, they just won't work. So it may well be that the Republicans are willing to now sit down with us because they see what they were hanging their hat on, these executive orders are just being more or less regarded at best as ineffective and laughed at at worst. And hopefully they’ll now come to the table.
Sen. Schumer: We're ready. But they have to meet us in the middle. They can't just come to the table and say it's our way or no way; we'll never get a deal. And the reason is not because we want to thwart them, but because what they're proposing doesn’t meet the dramatic needs of the American people. The greatest economic problem since the Depression, the greatest health care problem since the Spanish flu. We need bold action. We're not going to settle for some skimpy thing that doesn't work. They’re unworkable, weak, and far too narrow. That's it. That’s the three words.
Mike Barnicle:  Senator, let me interrupt you here for a second and ask you a simple question. Millions of Americans are now on the verge of economic collapse that will take them years to recover from. Mnuchin and Mark Meadows come up to your office or Speaker Pelosi's office daily to discuss this problem. Have you seen any evidence from them during these negotiations in the past three days that the President of the United States is actively involved on a minute-by-minute basis in these negotiations? And in the last 72 hours, has the President of the United States called you personally to see if something can't get done?
Sen. Schumer: No, I've seen zero, zero evidence that he's involved at all. And he has not called us. I spoke to him during the last bill when Mnuchin was there. Meadows wasn't. And we got more done. But I haven't spoken to him since.
Joe Scarborough: All right. Thank you so much. It's great to have you on, Chuck Schumer. We greatly appreciate it.

Sen. Schumer:  Thank you.