JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: The numbers keep rising. As another week comes to a close,
COVID-19 claims more lives and shows signs it won't go away soon.
Then: feeling the pain -- the April jobs report shows an economy in freefall. Unemployment
nears 15 percent, the worst the U.S. has seen since the Great Depression.
Plus: hitting home -- how places in the Western United States are handling their coronavirus
cases and efforts to reopen.
And it's Friday. Mark Shields and David Brooks break down the Justice Department's dropping
of the Michael Flynn case and the ongoing pandemic response.
All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
JUDY WOODRUFF: The coronavirus pandemic has now taken the U.S. economy back to some of
its darkest days in memory.
New unemployment data put the situation in stark relief today. And the human cost continued
to mount, with some 77,000 dead.
Amna Nawaz reports on this day's developments.
AMNA NAWAZ: Long lines at food banks and empty restaurants, snapshots of a shattered economy
ravaged by COVID-19 pandemic.
The Labor Department reported more than 20 million jobs were lost last month, driving
unemployment to 14.7 percent, its highest point since the Great Depression.
Bartender Sara Barnard was among those who recently lost her job.
SARA BARNARD, Unemployed Bartender: I thought it was like kind of just a joke. I was like,
OK, well, this is going to last like a week, and then they're going to be like, OK, everything
is settling down, you can go back to work.
I had no idea that it would be two-plus months and, like, still, we have no idea of when
we're going to be able to open.
AMNA NAWAZ: Among some minorities, already hard hit by the pandemic's health crisis,
the economic toll became even more dire. Among black Americans, unemployment jumped to more
than 16 percent. For Hispanics, the figures are even more jarring, with unemployment hitting
According to one recent poll, 61 percent now say they have experienced some sort of household
income loss. That's compared with 46 percent of Americans overall.
President Trump reacted as the numbers rolled out this morning during a phone interview
with "FOX & Friends":
DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States: Those jobs will all be back, and they will
be back very soon. And next year, we are going to have a phenomenal year.
AMNA NAWAZ: But many economists have warned that repercussions will be felt for months,
maybe years to come.
And even the president remains vulnerable to the pandemic's reach. The White House confirmed
today that a staffer for Vice President Mike Pence tested positive for the virus.
DONALD TRUMP: I'm not worried. But, look, I get things done. I don't worry about things.
I do what I have to do. We're taking very strong precautions at the White House, but,
again, we're dealing with an invisible situation.
AMNA NAWAZ: Also today, lawyers for Dr. Rick Bright, a Health and Human Services official
ousted from his post, said a federal watchdog found he was removed in retaliation for opposing
the stockpiling of a malaria drug touted by the president as treatment.
And another report, this one looking at the Small Business Administration's first rollout
of billions of dollars in aid, says the agency didn't stick to congressional rules and set
restrictions that could actually hurt borrowers.
Meanwhile, states across the country continue to wrestle with how to mitigate the financial
fallout. In California, some stores and factories deemed low risk were back in business today,
including Ginger Lee's Los Angeles florist shop, packed with the Mother's Day rush.
GINGER LEE, Flower Vendor: Yes, it's been a struggle, but I think we're going to be
OK if we all follow the rules and maintain, like they say, wear the mask, social distance.
I think we will be OK.
AMNA NAWAZ: In Texas, new safety measures, including face shields and glass barriers,
were put into place at nail and hair salons before reopening.
WOMAN: I'm going to keep myself behind my client, never in front of my client.
AMNA NAWAZ: Businesses are now navigating how to safely reopen in more than half of
all U.S. states moving to ease pandemic restrictions. Though some state leaders are taking those
steps without meeting White House benchmarks, others are moving more cautiously.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo:
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): You can pull up the countries that reopened because they had
political pressure, and then saw that infection go right through the roof, and then they did
a 180 degree turnaround two weeks later, whoops, we made a mistake. I don't want to do a, whoops,
we made a mistake.
AMNA NAWAZ: But governments across the world are weighing when and how to accept those
In South Korea, recently relaxed restrictions led to a new cluster of cases, all linked
to nightclubs in Seoul. Officials ordered them closed for a month. The country had seen
its lowest daily spike in cases earlier this week, but now even plans to reopen some schools
next week could be delayed.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in this country, a new Oversight Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives
demanded today that large public corporations return funds they received from a program
that was designed to help small business.
And Wall Street shrugged off the dismal jobs report, as investors bet that the worst is
over. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 455 points to close at 24331. The Nasdaq rose
141 points, and the S&P 500 added 48.
As we have heard, today's jobs report fills in a picture of devastating unemployment nationwide
not seen since the Great Depression.
Let's look at its findings and the challenges of getting the economy up and running again.
Neel Kashkari is the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. He was assistant
secretary of the Treasury in 2008 and 2009, where he oversaw a major part of the government's
efforts to stabilize the system during the 2008 financial crisis at that time.
Neel Kashkari, welcome to the "NewsHour."
What words can you use to describe what's going on right now with our economy and what's
happened to people's livelihoods?
NEEL KASHKARI, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis: Well, it's devastating,
just as you said.
The official unemployment rate is about 14.7 percent, but if you dig below the numbers,
I think it's really around 22 percent or 23 percent, when you consider the tens of millions
who have lost their jobs.
And by the way, that data is now a couple weeks' old. It's probably even higher than
that. A couple months ago, I was optimistic, I was hopeful that maybe we'd have a V-shaped
recovery, shut things down, clamp down on the virus, and then have a quick recovery.
What we have learned in the last couple months is that the virus is continuing to spread.
Tragically, many people are getting it and other people are dying. I think we're in for,
unfortunately, a slow, long recovery, rather than an immediate bounce-back.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I want to ask you why you believe that, because, just this morning,
we heard President Trump say -- and I'm quoting -- "Those jobs will all be back. They will
be back very soon, and, next year, we're going to have a phenomenal year."
NEEL KASHKARI: Well, as your -- Governor Cuomo mentioned in your reporting, that we look
around the world, and in other countries where the virus is still spreading, when they relax
the controls, they relax the social distancing, it tends to flare back up again.
Remember, this virus came to America when one person had it, and we didn't know it,
and it ended up spreading through society. So it can spread again.
When we study past pandemics around the world and here at home, if you look at the flu pandemic
of 1918, it came in the spring. It created a lot of havoc in the spring, and then it
went quiet over the summer. People thought the worst was behind us, and then it flared
back up again, and the devastating damage was done in the fall.
Obviously, we have to avoid that. We know the end point of this is a vaccine or a therapy.
But the health experts say that's probably a year or two away. So we have to learn how
to live with this virus, reopen in a smart manner, while preserving health and safety.
But that means a muted, a more gradual recovery.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I read one economist said today there is no safe place in the job market today,
no place that's safe from job cuts.
Do you think that's correct?
NEEL KASHKARI: I think that's correct.
But we know that these -- unfortunately, what's so tragic about this crisis is, it's disproportionately
falling on service workers, lower-income, lower-wage and lower-skilled service worker.
So women are being affected more than men with the jobs cuts. Minorities are being affected
and the less educated are being more affected.
So the people who can least afford to have them incomes get hammered are the ones who
are disproportionately being affected by this. And that's what's tragic about this.
And the good news is, Congress is acting very aggressively. The Federal Reserve is acting
very aggressively. I think the U.S. government is fully going to stand behind our economy.
But, unfortunately, there's nothing they can really do to speed this up. It's going to
JUDY WOODRUFF: And I want to ask you about that.
But, just quickly, when you talk about the unfairness of how this is hitting people at
the lower end of the economic scale, does that mean it's going to be harder to come
out of this?
NEEL KASHKARI: It is.
In many cases, those workers were the last ones to recover from the 2008 crisis. So we
were just -- after 10 years, we were just beginning to finally rebuild our labor market
and put all Americans back to work. And the lower-income workers were finally starting
to see wage gains. And here comes this virus and just targets them, frankly, and hammers
And that's what's so unfortunate about this and why we really have to do everything we
can to get them the assistance that they need, until the health care system can catch up
and get control of the virus.
Ultimately, solving the virus is what's going to solve our economy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And that's what I want to ask you about, Neel Kashkari.
What is it going to take? I mean, how much more money is it going to require the federal
government to provide for the American people for them to get through this?
NEEL KASHKARI: Well, I -- first of all, we have to spend whatever it takes to support
vaccine development and therapy development and widespread testing.
Any dollar we spend there is going to more than pay for itself in needing less money
to support the economy. So, that's the first part.
The second part is, I think we need to start reopening businesses where you can actually
socially distance, where you can wear masks. Some businesses lend themselves to that. Other
businesses, like a movie theater, simply don't.
And then I think we start to focus the economic assistance on those workers and those folks
that need to socially isolate indefinitely. But we know that younger workers are at lower
risk than older workers and those with preexisting conditions.
I think, if we start to shift towards targeting the assistance to those who are most vulnerable,
I think we will be able to get into a place where we can sustain this for a year or two,
because we're going to need to be able to sustain it for a year or two.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But are you saying the government basically has -- the government's pockets
are full -- are empty -- or don't have a bottom, in so many words, so that the government can
do what's necessary for people who are going to have no income or very little income for
a long time to come?
NEEL KASHKARI: I think our chairman of the Federal Reserve talked about the great fiscal
power of the United States of America. I think that's right.
I think the government has the resources to support the economy through this period and
to get through it. And the more we can focus it on those who need the most assistance,
the longer we will be able to do it. But then, of course, we have to defeat the virus. And
that is in our health care system. That is a vaccine. That is a therapy to get this behind
us and then to get the economy back on its own two legs, so to speak.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, thank
you so much for joining us.
NEEL KASHKARI: Thank you for having me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news: Two white men in Georgia made their initial court
appearance in the killing of a black man, Ahmaud Arbery, a case that has sparked national
Gregory and Travis McMichael face murder and assault charges. They say they thought Arbery
was a burglary suspect. They were arrested last night, after a video emerged of them
shooting Arbery in February and after the state Bureau of Investigation got involved.
VIC REYNOLDS, Director, Georgia Bureau of Investigation: We base our decisions on two
things. One are facts and the other is the law.
Whatever the facts are, we apply the law to it. If the law says what the facts are is
a felony murder, then we take the warrants for it. I'm very comfortable in telling you
that there's more than sufficient probable cause in this case for felony murder.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In Brunswick today, a crowd of hundreds gathered outside the county courthouse
on what would have been Arbery's 26th birthday.
The CEO of Boeing says that the company now expects to resume production of its 737 MAX
jets this month. David Calhoun said today that he is confident of meeting that schedule.
The 737 MAX was grounded in March of last year, after two overseas crashes that killed
And the Eastern U.S. is getting an unwelcome visitor for Mother's Day weekend. A late-season
polar vortex dipping down from the Arctic is bringing unseasonable cold. Snow began
falling today across parts of New England. The system could also bring record low temperatures
as far south as the Gulf of Mexico.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": a report from the American West, as approaches to reopening
vary widely; award-winning local news outlets struggle to survive the pandemic; Mark Shields
and David Brooks assess the government's response to the pandemic; plus, much more.
The toll of COVID-19 has been focused on the nation's
hot spots, from New York and New Jersey to Louisiana, Michigan and California.
But there are many counties and states across the rural West where case numbers are in the
single digits, with no deaths.
Stephanie Sy takes a look at the COVID divide.
STEPHANIE SY: Protests across America have pointed to a dilemma state officials have
been grappling with since the coronavirus outbreak began: How much economic pain should
business owners and employees endure to protect the public from COVID-19?
In urban areas, where people live and work in close contact, there's less debate, but
across parts of the West, in towns of only a few thousand people, the question can be
JENNIFER RAMSEY, Owner, Iron Bar: We are already so remote and rural that there wasn't a lot
of risk here.
STEPHANIE SY: Jennifer Ramsey owns the Iron Bar, a gym in Pinedale, Wyoming. The surrounding
county, called Sublette, has recorded one case of COVID-19, and no deaths.
JENNIFER RAMSEY: People were doing their part with social distancing. And people wanted
to open up. They wanted to work. They were worried about their livelihoods.
STEPHANIE SY: With that in mind, Ramsey defied the statewide order and reopened, only to
be shut back down.
JENNIFER RAMSEY: This business pays for everything, my mortgage, my utilities at home. And I ended
up getting an eviction notice. I was pretty stressed out about all that.
STEPHANIE SY: With lockdowns now relaxing in Wyoming, she was allowed to reopen in recent
days, with precautions in place.
Across town, The Cowboy Bar is also open, partially. Owner Lila Golden also leases space
to a barbershop and a restaurant in the building.
LILA GOLDEN, Owner, The Cowboy Bar: All three of us have suffered from it. I don't think
Wyoming should have been shut down, let alone Sublette County.
STEPHANIE SY: She found a work-around to keep her business open, serving food and drinks
outside. The county health officer said she wasn't violating the state's order.
LILA GOLDEN: He said he didn't have a problem with it, but we had to keep at least six-feet
social distance. As long as we did that, and the bartenders brought drinks, and another
one took money, then we could do this.
DR. BRENDAN FITZSIMMONS, Health Officer, Sublette County: They found a little loophole.
STEPHANIE SY: Dr. Brendan Fitzsimmons is the health officer in Sublette County. His fear
is overwhelming the region's health care facilities.
DR. BRENDAN FITZSIMMONS: We don't have a hospital, and we're dependent on some of the surrounding
hospitals to be able to take our patients. With the virus, you don't know where you are
today. You know where you were two weeks ago.
If we had a cluster of cases here in this county right now, 30, 40 people who are very
ill, it could be very difficult for us to deal with.
STEPHANIE SY: Sublette County Commissioner Chair Dr. David Burnett cautions that these
towns are not bubbles.
DR. DAVID BURNETT, Commissioner Chair, Sublette County: Even though we're small, we're isolated
and we're rural, we still have a lot of traffic through this area. We're impacted by seasonal
workers. We have the oil field community that brings in people from the outside.
We're on the map in terms of visitors wanting to come into our county.
STEPHANIE SY: Nearby in Eastern Idaho, Rigby Mayor Jason Richardson argues the one-size-fits-all
state order doesn't work.
JASON RICHARDSON, Mayor of Rigby, Idaho: We have some pretty clear that, in all of Southeast
Idaho, we haven't had any deaths.
In our county, we have had four cases. We don't face the same thing they face over in
Boise or in Blaine County here, where we don't have that community spread that you're seeing
STEPHANIE SY: Richardson says the closure of nonessential businesses in Rigby, the principal
town in the county, has devastated people's finances.
JASON RICHARDSON: What I hear outside the news are stories about families that aren't
able to make their payments for their car insurance, their health insurance, their mortgages.
Those difficulties pile up, and they become just as dangerous and fearful as the pandemic
JUAN HERNANDEZ, Owner, Taqueria El Rodeo: We're ready to open any time.
STEPHANIE SY: From his empty Mexican restaurant near Idaho Falls, Juan Hernandez says he and
his wife have lost 75 percent of their business and should be able to welcome customers, now
that they have taken necessary measures.
JUAN HERNANDEZ: We can take tables out, so we can separate it, to show the people that
they don't have to be close to each other. So, we do a lot more cleaning. We use gloves,
we use masks to show the people that we are clean.
STEPHANIE SY: But some Idaho residents are unsure.
KASSANDRA JOHNSON, Idaho: I'm cautious, but not paranoid. I think we're kind of doomed
almost for a second go-round if we open up and get too close too quick.
JOANNA THOMPSON, Idaho: I don't know if I'd be comfortable, because I'm kind of at a high
risk, with diabetes and a couple other autoimmune disorders.
STEPHANIE SY: In Montana, there have been no known COVID-19 cases in nearly half of
the state's 56 counties, officials say, in part, because Governor Steve Bullock started
shutting down businesses a week after the first cases cropped up.
With only a million people spread out across a state three times the size of New York,
many residents outside the main cities are already pretty isolated.
DR. MARK WILLIAMS, Bozeman Health: Our curve, our projected surge was effectively flat.
STEPHANIE SY: Dr. Mark Williams is chief physician officer for Bozeman Health and was involved
in the state task force that evaluated stay-at-home directives and phased reopening.
DR. MARK WILLIAMS: When you look at Eastern Montana, I think those counties have not seen
a single case.
So two, three weeks ago, when it became very obvious that the health care facilities in
Montana would be able to maintain or be able to take care of a surge, then it became much
more logical and reasonable to talk about reopening businesses in a phased fashion,
especially in those areas which hadn't seen a single case.
STEPHANIE SY: Is there a warning that should go along with that as well?
DR. MARK WILLIAMS: We have to avoid that false sense of security. In 1918, Montana was ravaged
by the Spanish Influenza. If we can reflect back on how similar epidemics have affected
rural communities, then the story or the risk can become very clear, because, in those rural
communities, even if the likelihood of an outbreak is less, the access to health care
resources is also less.
STEPHANIE SY: But Dr. Williams admits that while saving lives is paramount, for many,
so is saving livelihoods.
DR. MARK WILLIAMS: Just recognize that, when people are wanting to reopen their business,
they're doing it for very good reasons.
I think, if we can all get on the same page and try to understand where we each are situated,
those conversations become much easier. It's a matter of honesty and transparency.
STEPHANIE SY: Wisdom that could be applied across the country, divided by the pandemic.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Stephanie Sy in Phoenix.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Local newsrooms were a big winner this week when the Pulitzer Prizes
were announced. It underscored the value of local reporting at a time when newsrooms continue
to lose journalists, and papers have been closed or gutted.
A recent estimate found that, since the pandemic began, more than 35,000 news media employees
of all kinds in the U.S. have been laid off, furloughed or faced pay cuts.
Jeffrey Brown zeroed in on this with a pair of the winners.
JEFFREY BROWN: In Alaska, The Anchorage Daily News won the prestigious Pulitzer for Public
Service for a year-long investigation into sexual violence in the state and a two-tiered
justice system that leaves rural communities at risk. The paper collaborated with the news
In Louisville, Kentucky, The Courier-Journal won the prize for breaking news reporting
for its coverage of outgoing Governor Matt Bevin's last-minute pardons of hundreds of
people, including perpetrators of violent crimes.
Just two among other examples of honors for local reporting this year, at a time when
local news organizations around the country face huge economic challenges and now more
cuts amid the pandemic.
Joining us are Joe Sonka, political reporter at The Louisville Courier-Journal, and Kyle
Hopkins, special projects editor at The Anchorage Daily News.
Congratulations to both of you.
Kyle, I want to start with you.
Your organization clearly put a lot of time and resources into this. What was the significance?
Why was this story so important?
KYLE HOPKINS, The Anchorage Daily News: Well, I think, for us, it was a story that we have
been meaning to tell for a long time.
You know, these are stories that, in some ways, I feel like we should have done 10 or
even 15 years ago. And we were looking for the right way to tell them and the right partner
to do it with.
And the thing that we most wanted to explore was Alaska's high rate of sexual abuse and
sexual assault, especially abuse of children. And we felt like we couldn't really tell that
story without telling people about what's happening with criminal justice in Alaska
and what's been just a decades-long, generations-old inequity when it comes to how justice and
public safety is delivered if you live in a city and how it's delivered if you live
and grow up in a village that's hard to reach, off the road system, and that you have to
take a plane to get to.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, Joe Sonka, you had a very different situation. This was breaking news.
What made this an important story to pursue?
ÆMDNMØJOE SONKA, The Louisville Courier-Journal: Well, people were not only outraged by the
nature of some of the crimes that people were pardoned for.
People were recently convicted of very long for -- very long sentences for crimes of murder,
child rape. But they were also outraged by the fact that none of these -- many of the
prosecutors were not warned. Many of the victims were not warned at all.
This was a total surprise to them. And then also our reporting was able to find some of
the political connections that the families of those individuals had to Matt Bevin.
One person who was convicted in a fatal home robbery, his brother and family had hosted
a big fund-raiser for Matt Bevin the summer before and raised over $20,000 for his -- to
retire debt from his previous campaign.
So, it really drew outrage across the political spectrum.
JEFFREY BROWN: You're both doing this kind of work as the landscape has shifted so much
for local news.
Kyle, what is the situation where you are? And how do you manage to continue to do this
kind of work?
KYLE HOPKINS: Well, I like to say that our newspaper, The Anchorage Daily News, we have
been through all the things that small newspapers around the country are experiencing.
You know, we have been through it all. We are -- our ownership has changed a couple
times. We went bankrupt. We had to survive the bankruptcy. We almost didn't exist. You
know, more recently, during the pandemic, like lots of small newspapers, we got hit
pretty hard by a loss of revenue.
And so a lot of reporters here and employees have had to take temporary pay cuts and see
their hours reduced.
JEFFREY BROWN: And what -- and what's the situation for you, Joe?
JOE SONKA: I haven't been to the newsroom in over two months now. We have been all working
remotely. This is my office right here.
Our reporters are also on furlough now. I will be on furlough next week. And then next
month, I will have another week of furlough. You know, we're -- the newspaper industry
has been hit just as hard as other industries throughout the economy right now.
And with the changing nature of the news media, the move away from advertising-based revenue
to subscription-based revenue, it really makes subscriptions to local papers even more important
now than it ever was.
JEFFREY BROWN: We spoke to one of the other winners, Luke Broadwater of The Baltimore
And he told us that, on Sunday, he took a pay cut. On Monday, he won a Pulitzer Prize.
That just shows the kind of weird, crazy times that you're in.
Joe, it when people wonder now about the value of local news, this kind of reporting, what's
JOE SONKA: Well, I think that we showed the value of local news by how much -- how many
resources we devoted to this project and uncovered things that might not have been known to taxpayers
if we didn't have our whole team working on it.
We put out dozens of stories in the following month and found out some really incredible
things about some of the pardons. So, that's the power of having local people on the ground
who know the situation and can uncover things and really shed light on what their government
JEFFREY BROWN: And, Kyle, you're in a huge state, all kinds of resources.
But I guess so a lot of those things can go on without much of a spotlight.
KYLE HOPKINS: That's true.
I mean, there's -- Alaska is a resource-rich state. And there's not a lot of people, but
there's a lot of money to be made here. And what we think is that, if there's no one -- there's
no one playing a watchdog role, you know, you can imagine who's going to get elected,
where that money's going to come from, and then what they're going to do in turn for,
you know, businesses that want to come here and make a dollar, regardless of how it impacts
the land in Alaska and the people in Alaska.
JEFFREY BROWN: Kyle, you know, I mentioned that you did this in a partnership with ProPublica.
I just wonder, briefly, if you think about the future, is that kind of partnership what
KYLE HOPKINS: We felt like this was kind of a proof of concept for us, because we knew
that we didn't have much money. You know, we just don't. And we don't expect to have
much money in the future.
And so how can we do work that we're proud of, but that takes a lot of time? And that's
where we needed a partner who could help, you know, that -- my salary was paid for by
ProPublica last year. So that allowed me to spend all my time just on this one project.
And so I think we're looking for more opportunities where we can -- you know, we know we have
stories to tell. We know there's good stories to be done in Alaska, but we don't always
have the resources and the bandwidth to do them. So who can help us do that?
And in this case, it was ProPublica, which came in and helped with editing, helped with
research. You know, they have data experts that a small newsroom like ours doesn't have.
And so I think there's a real hopeful future in those types of collaborations.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right.
Well, congratulations to both of you once again, Kyle Hopkins at The Anchorage Daily
News, Joe Sonka at The Louisville Courier-Journal.
KYLE HOPKINS: Thanks so much.
JOE SONKA: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.
That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
Hello to both of you.
Let's start with the administration, the Department of Justice asking a federal judge to throw
out the case against Michael Flynn, the president's former national security adviser who had pleaded
guilty to lying about his contacts with Russian diplomats.
We're going to see what the judge does, but, right now, the president is praising this.
He's saying the FBI is full of people acting in bad faith.
Mark, what do we make of this?
MARK SHIELDS: Judy, Jeff Sessions was essentially fired as attorney general for not being Donald
Trump's in-house lawyer. Donald Trump said he always wanted Roy Cohn to be the attorney
general or his lawyer.
And Bill Barr is living up to that job description. It's hard to believe that Bill Barr, having
been attorney general once before, would want this as his epitaph, that he was Donald Trump's
Roy Cohn, but that's all you can conclude.
This is a man, General Flynn, who twice admitted and pleaded guilty, spoke to the judge and
to the court, apologizing for lying investigators, promising, the grace of God, to make things
And here we are. He's walking free. And the villain in the piece is American law enforcement.
I mean, that -- that's the berated and condemned institution. There was no water-boarding.
There was no third degree that I know of that has been alleged in that confession coming
forward, but that's the impression that is left.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, David, not only this. The president seems to be promising more to
come. We're not sure what that's a reference to.
But it certainly caught everybody's attention.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, there are a couple things true here.
The first is that Flynn confessed, so he pleaded guilty, so I take him at his word that he
The second thing is that the Justice Department has become a hyperpartisan institution, and
we can't have faith in its judgments.
The third thing, though, is that the FBI might have screwed up here. The journalist Eli Lake
of Bloomberg, who is a good journalist, has been making this argument for several months
And the documents that have come out seem to clear with Lake's longtime argument, which
was that the original investigation into Flynn by the FBI did not reveal anything, and they
kept the investigation open. They at least considered the possibility they were keeping
the investigation open not to convict him of something, but to induce him to lie.
And so I don't know how to balance these two facts. I don't, myself, have the expertise
to say whether the FBI really screwed up the investigation, whether they were really trying
to hound him out of the job, but it's at least a possibility.
And it's -- the problem -- the core problem is here we don't have a set of authorities
who we could completely trust on this. And, frankly, I have been trying to find news organizations
who really give an expert opinion on the FBI's behavior. And I have -- I have had trouble
getting to the bottom of that, just as a journalistic outsider.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, what about you? What do you make of these accusations from the
FBI, these disclosures about what the agents were talking about before they went to interview
Mike Flynn, Michael Flynn?
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
No, I think, Judy, what we have, there is no question about it, is that this occurred
-- Michael Flynn's statement calling and speaking with Ambassador Kislyak of the Russians, the
day that 35 Russians, spies were banished from the United States by the Obama administration.
And the assurance was, don't you -- don't act, don't overreact, we will get back to
you, and this will be OK.
And that's the story. And it's pretty damn clear that it was a condoning of Russian intervention
in the 2016 election. It's a green light to Russian further intervention and subversion
of the 2020 election.
And I -- when the president of the United States calls the FBI scum, and -- the one
charge I think that stands is the investigation of Carter Page, which was inappropriate, was
But I just -- I don't think -- I don't think this is right or healthy or in any way helpful
to this country. And I think the president stands responsible.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And at the same time, David, you do have Democrats -- and you both have
referred to this -- saying, the Justice Department has just become way too politicized, in a
way that's unacceptable for the country.
DAVID BROOKS: Well, this is the story of May and April and March of 2020, the need for
institutional structures in our government that we can trust and rely upon.
And, in some cases, that's just a weak response on testing and other things. But, in this
case, it's a -- it's the longtime erosion of authority of the Justice Department. The
Justice Department has always been teetering on the brink, going back to maybe even Robert
But, in this administration, it's over the brink. And so, even in a case where I -- I
can't believe I'm defending Michael Flynn, but saying to Kislyak, we're going to -- don't
be -- don't be alarmed, this will be OK, that seems to be representing Trump's clear policies,
which is sympathetic to Russia.
So, to me, it's not necessarily convicting. But I have no authority as a citizen to go
to think, OK, these guys are on the level, because the Justice Department under President
Trump doesn't seem to be on the level.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I want to -- so much to...
JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, go ahead. And then I want to ask you about something else, but
MARK SHIELDS: On the Justice Department, I think that, certainly, under Ed Meese and
a couple of other Republican attorneys general, there were open questions.
I think we, for the most part, have been served with attorneys general who have operated independently
and honorably and legally. And I certainly would include Robert Kennedy in that group.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David, I want to turn both of you to the president and the pandemic.
I mean, it's clear, in the last few days, he's talked repeatedly about we need to change
the focus more to the economy, worry more about getting people back to work. He said
today -- when he was asked about -- he said: ""Will some people be affected badly? Yes.
But we have to get our country open, and we have to get it open soon."
Is he making the right call here?
DAVID BROOKS: I don't think so. I mean, there's a clear trade-off between our safety and our
And if we were winning, then I think his rhetoric would be justified. But we are not winning.
If you look at the death rates, we're pretty much around 2,000 a day. It's been month after
month after -- or at least week after week after week of this. The curve is flat, but
it's not going down. The death rate is hellacious.
The people who model these things are raising their estimates of how many people are going
to die. So, we're just not winning. And, someday, we will get to the point where opening up
seems to me a smart strategy. But I personally don't see the evidence of that, looking at
the data. And neither do people who know a lot more about this than me, the health experts.
And so Trump seems to be wildly premature in doing this. And, frankly, the American
people seem to me a little premature. Over the last week, even as the health data continues
to be terrible, people are loosening. The travel is up. Gathering this up.
And so I think, just as fellow citizens, we have got to try to hang in there a little
longer, until we can get some sense of a better sense of control, some sense of a downward
slope, which we just do not see right now.
Especially when you take out the New York data, the rest of the country, you see an
JUDY WOODRUFF: And -- but, Mark, the president just seems determined to let these states
do what they want, as we -- now more than 30 states are loosening -- are opening up
at different -- a different pace.
But he does seem determined to let this run its course, to let them do what they think
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
And all responsibility is with the governors for opening it up. And if anything, then there's
a second bout, then the president can distance himself from it politically.
I don't think there is any question, Judy, that, given the numbers today, the reported
unemployment, which, if anything, were probably lower, the percentage, than really are at
risk and are suffering as a result of this tragedy, that the economy, which was the issue
on which Donald Trump was going to run for reelection, is his hope for -- only hope for
reelection, which, quite frankly, seems a lot -- his prospects for seem a lot less bright
than they did just two months ago.
And I think that he is really almost determined to will the economy to be recovering heading
into the campaign and the election of the fall. I don't think there is any question
about it. And he's trying to have it both ways, that the governors are the ones making
And I think that's the political reality. I think it's that simple and that straightforward.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to ask both of you. We have only got a little time left, though
-- about -- David, were you going to say something? Go ahead.
DAVID BROOKS: Just quickly, that I'm not sure the governors are having that big an effect.
The American people shut themselves down before the governors acted, and the American people
began opening themselves up before the governors acted. So a lot of this is on us. And we're
not following the governors' rules. We are -- it's our own society that we are running.
And we have got to be a little more self-disciplined.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Just quickly to both of you on this question of White House interference,
you have the scientist at the Health -- the Department of Health and Human Services saying
he was removed because he wanted to work on vaccines earlier this year.
And now -- just tonight, we just are reading an AP report on White House efforts to bury
CDC recommendations on opening up.
Just quickly, Mark, and then you, David, is this something American should worry about?
MARK SHIELDS: Sure they -- we should, Judy.
I mean, it begin with the colonel -- we -- first, we saw it with Colonel Vindman. We have seen
it time and again, that -- Ambassador Sondland. Anybody who faced their responsibility, answered
truthfully, and testified openly, retribution.
I mean, we saw it with Michael Atkinson, the inspector general at the intelligence, I mean,
all of whom got the gate when they didn't do what the president wanted.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David, just a few seconds.
DAVID BROOKS: ... complicated. Tell -- tell the truth.
And this administration is not telling the truth. Telling the truth is the key to a pandemic
JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, Mark Shields, staying safe, thank you both.
As the week nears an end, we again want to take a few minutes tonight to share the stories
of just some of the extraordinary Americans who have lost their lives in this devastating
PHILIP KAHN, U.S. Military Veteran: I didn't know I was four feet from the atomic bomb.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Philip Kahn always carried his military photos with him, so he could
tell his story. An Air Force co-pilot in World War II, Kahn was in the Battle of Iwo Jima
and helped take aerial surveys of the damage wrought by the atomic bombs.
After the war, he settled in New York and was an electrical foreman on the construction
of the World Trade Center. More devastating than the war, Philip often said, was the Spanish
Flu pandemic, which killed his twin brother in infancy. Philip was 100 years old.
Lysa Dawn Robinson never went anywhere without a set of drumsticks. Known to fans as Lady
Rhythm, the Philadelphia-born drummer toured the world with soul singer Billy Paul and
played with many more artists, including Pink. Lysa was a go-to source for advice for her
two sisters and nieces, who describe her as witty, charming, and a good listener. She
was 55 years old.
Harold Davis spent most of the past two decades mentoring Chicago high schoolers, offering
them paid opportunities to repair school auditoriums while keeping them out of harm's way. Direct
and outspoken, Harold exposed inequalities on his radio show "The Butt Naked Truth,"
where he had a reputation for asking tough questions and holding local politicians to
account. Harold was 63 years old.
New Jersey's Gerry Genuino greeted every student who walked onto his bus with a smile. Funny,
thoughtful, and humble, the 58-year-old was always lending a helping hand to a friend
or a stranger.
Last fall, he heroically pulled his bus over on the highway to help extinguish a truck
fire. Adored by his two daughters, Gerry and his wife, Mary Jane, would have celebrated
25 years of marriage next month.
For activist Josepha Eyre, her desire to help displaced refugees was largely inspired by
her upbringing in Nazi-occupied Holland. In 1989 Josepha, or Jossy, founded the Women's
Bean Project in Denver, Colorado, to create long-term solutions for homeless women through
work and counseling.
Over the years, she welcomed people in need into her own family. She was active and tenacious,
an inspiration to her children and grandchildren. Jossy was 89 years old.
We remember them and all we have lost.
And now to a different type of remembrance.
Seventy-five years ago this week, Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allies in Europe in a red
schoolhouse in Reims, France. World War II would last three more brutal months in the
Pacific, but six years of horror and Holocaust was then ended in Europe.
Here's special correspondent Malcolm Brabant, with veterans in their twilight, as the globe
faces a new and different challenge.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Despite the COVID-19 lockdown, they were determined to celebrate V.E. Day
in Bracknell, 40 miles West of London, and honor their 98-year-old neighbor, Stanley
Squadron leader Booker, a navigator on a Halifax bomber, was shot down over France in 1944,
betrayed to the Nazis, tortured with medical experiments in the Buchenwald concentration
camp, and was in a German prisoner of war camp on this day 75 years ago.
STANLEY BOOKER, World War II Veteran: The Germans had just gone and left us. They'd
made a hole in the fence with an armored vehicle. And we were shut in there.
And there was no mention of V.E. Day.
MALCOLM BRABANT: The squadron leader's heroism was supposed to be recognized with a low pass
over his house by a Spitfire, the great British wartime fighter plane.
STANLEY BOOKER: The heroes are those lads we left behind. We are the survivors. We are
the lucky ones. But to be -- to represent them, I feel very honored.
I just hope they have as much difficulty -- don't have as much difficulty finding us as we used
to have during the war when we used to fly our bombers home.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MALCOLM BRABANT: Booker lined up on the designated flight path, but the Spitfire pilot strayed
off course, no navigator on board, complained the old airman.
Joe Cattini was also in Germany 75 years ago in the northern city of Bremen.
JOE CATTINI, World War II Veteran: We were still fighting.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Can you recall precisely what you were doing?
JOE CATTINI: We had a pocket of S.S. who wouldn't surrender. Although the war was over, as far
as they were concerned, it was death for them. We had to shell the barracks. And, eventually,
they did surrender.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Cattini landed in Normandy on D-Day in June 1944 and fought his way across
JOE CATTINI: I am not a hero. The heroes are the ones who died. We were the lucky ones.
MALCOLM BRABANT: What do you think your legacy is?
JOE CATTINI: We have had 75 years of peace without fighting in Europe.
MALCOLM BRABANT: This may seem like a strange question, but do you miss your war?
JOE CATTINI: I was glad when it was finished. I wouldn't like to go through another war
like that, when you wake up in the morning and you don't know whether you will be able
to go to sleep again that night. You may not be alive.
MALCOLM BRABANT: The springboard for ultimate victory was the D-Day invasion. At last year's
75th anniversary in Normandy, Medal of Honor winner Ray Lambert summed up the achievement.
RAY LAMBERT, Medal of Honor Recipient, World War II Veteran: There's no greater feeling
for a soldier than to liberate a country. And when you see those people so grateful
and get their homes back, and you drive the enemy out, that makes us all very proud that
we were a part of that.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Seven veterans accompanied President Trump as he laid a wreath to commemorate
those who sacrificed their lives to defeat the evil of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.
This evening, from Windsor Castle, where she has been isolating during the pandemic, the
queen gave this address:
QUEEN ELIZABETH II, United Kingdom: Never give up, never despair, that was the message
of V.E. Day.
Many people laid down their lives in that terrible conflict. They fought, so we could
live in peace.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Tonight, on television in Britain, singer Katherine Jenkins triggered
a wave of nostalgia, duetting with wartime heroine Vera Lynn along to this classic number,
"We Will Meet Again."
STANLEY BOOKER: Those days, songs had meaning.
JOE CATTINI: It more or less nearly brings tears to me eyes when I hear it.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Health workers applauded squadron leader Booker as he resumed his COVID-19
lockdown, ending a moment of respite in this new world war.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Malcolm Brabant
JUDY WOODRUFF: In this time of social distancing, artists, athletes, musicians all over the
country are trying to find new ways to channel their energies.
William Brangham brings us this portrait of one artist in California who's trying to help
people who are sick.
It's part of our ongoing art series, Canvas.
TUCKER NICHOLS, Artist, Flowers For Sick People: The crisis that we're facing is really twofold.
It's a health crisis, but it's also a crisis of isolation.
My name is Tucker Nichols. I'm an artist based in San Rafael, California.
For anyone who's been very sick before, the actual experience of being sick as itself
Flowers For Sick People is a really simple project where I send flowers, paintings of
flowers, to people who are ill right now from their loved ones.
I have a simple Web site, Flowers For Sick People. You just send me the name and address
of someone who is sick, and I will make a small flower painting, and send it off to
There's no messages. There's no -- it says who it's from and who it's to. It's a totally
free service. It just arrives in the mail unannounced.
Right now, I'm still putting them all in envelopes and hand-addressing them. But I may move to
postcards if I can't keep up with the requests.
Increasingly, the requests that I'm getting are more and more related to the virus and
to people who are sick and suffering from the virus. So, it's really become this portrait
of what people are going through and how cut off they feel from the people who they're
trying to take care of.
I realized that you can't send flowers to everyone who deserves them. So, I started
posting images of flower drawings on my Web site and on social media as sort of tributes
to segments of the population at large.
Flowers for the ventilator operators. Flowers for the hospital janitors. Flowers for the
barehanded mail carrier.
And then also ones that were kind of about everyone's experience of being inside.
Flowers to the neighbor who sits in her window on patrol. Flowers for elastic waistbands.
Flowers for the dishwasher. Flowers for you, if you are the dishwasher.
Flowers I have been posting are really an attempt for me to connect with other parts
of the world, other people out there who are having similar thoughts that I'm having, or
thinking about other segments of the population.
Flowers for someone who left in an ambulance, but still no update. Flowers for the kids
who are realizing none of the grownups know how this is going to play out. Flowers for
the frazzled woman at the post office directing the other customers to maintain their six-foot
perimeters, while trying to keep her place in line.
Just sort of say, hey, we're all in this together. We're all having some common experiences,
even while we're so isolated. We're all experiencing that. We're all waking up and thinking, how
do I do this?
Flowers for New York City. Flowers for anyone at any hospital for any reason. Flowers for
your mother. Flowers for anyone stuck at home without flowers today.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Wow, do we need that.
And one additional note: All the video for that story was filmed by Tucker's daughter,
9-year-old Ada Nichols.
And that's the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm Judy Woodruff.
Please stay safe, as you remember the mothers in your life this weekend. And we will see you soon.