Today, U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-3) joined Hallie Jackson live on MSNBC to discuss the White Houses’ continued failure to lead during the coronavirus crisis. He urged the president to take this virus seriously and contrasted the message coming from the White House with the daily lives of the people in his community:
“What I find so distressing and alarming, that seven months into the pandemic, coming upon the seventh month mark of this, that we still see him saying that this is not dangerous, that it’s not serious, and that’s a huge problem. He needs to see this through our eyes, through the eyes of the people of my district and the American people and see what it’s like to walk in their shoes during a pandemic when they’re down on their luck, they don’t have enough money to pay the rent, they don’t know how to get tested. Basically, these are the problems that the American people are facing. Not just through the lens of what this pandemic looks like from the White House.”
Read the Full Transcript Below:
Hallie Jackson: Joining me now, Democratic Congressman Andy Kim of New Jersey, a member of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. Congressman Kim, thank you very much for being with us this morning.
Andy Kim: Thank you for having me.
Hallie Jackson: So Speaker Pelosi has said, her office at least, that those last two talks with Secretary Mnuchin have focused on the potential for a standalone narrow bill on airline relief. So let me start there. How optimistic are you on a potential deal on that?
Andy Kim: Well, I’m hoping that we can get a deal on the airline relief, but it needs to be a bigger focus as well going forward. We have small businesses in my district that are struggling and they’re sure they’re going to be able to make it the next couple of weeks, the next couple months. We have schools that need additional funding. We need a lot more going forward to the president’s very narrow focus here. The fact that even shut down the negotiations to start with is just not meeting the moment right now .
Hallie Jackson: That said you would be willing to consider at least a potentially more narrow deal if it were on something like airline relief, correct?
Andy Kim: I am prepared to have a compromise bill for these negotiations. In fact, we passed a compromise version of the Heroes Act just last week. I am prepared to be able to support our airlines, but we can’t stop there. And the president saying that that’s enough, that he’s calling it games. Right now, people in my district are under a tremendous amount of strain. They don’t have the ability to kick the can down the road a couple of weeks like the president is suggesting here, so we need to have support now.
Hallie Jackson: You obviously, as we mentioned, sit on that Coronavirus Subcommittee on Capitol Hill, and there’s a couple of, many, coronavirus headlines coming out of the White House. One of them is new this morning out of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, which says that Chief of Staff Mark Meadows over at the White House hosted his daughter’s wedding in Atlanta in May with some 70 or so guests reportedly including Congressman Jim Jordan. The state at the time had a ban in place on gatherings of more than 10 people. We should note NBC News has not confirmed the wedding or reviewed photos of the event. What do you make of this?
Andy Kim: What I make of that is that it’s consistent with what I continue to see from the White House, which is they are not taking this pandemic seriously. I had hoped that that would change after the president’s diagnosis and others that have contracted this virus. We all continue to wish them well and be able to recover from this, but we had hoped that that would urge them to take this with a seriousness that it needs and deserves. But that is just not the case. And I know in my district, we’re very concerned about a second wave of this virus. We’re starting to see numbers back up here in New Jersey in an alarming way. So we need to make sure that we are all hands on deck here and focused on this virus with the seriousness and the urgency that it deserves.
Hallie Jackson: So against the backdrop of that seriousness and urgency, how do you read the president’s remarks this morning, essentially downplaying the risks of the virus saying when you catch it and you get better basically?
Andy Kim: Well, it’s ridiculous. And it’s so antithetical to what we need in terms of leadership right now. And that’s what I find so distressing and alarming, that seven months into the pandemic, coming upon the seventh month mark of this, that we still see him saying that this is not dangerous, that it’s not serious, and that’s a huge problem. Not everybody has access to the kind of medical care that he had, to be able to have testing around the clock, to have an army of doctors. He needs to see this through our eyes, through the eyes of the people of my district and the American people and see what it’s like to walk in their shoes during a pandemic when they’re down on their luck, they don’t have enough money to pay the rent, they don’t know how to get tested. Basically, these are the problems that the American people are facing. Not just through the lens of what this pandemic looks from the White House.
Hallie Jackson: Before I let you go, one of the other big headlines this morning that we’ve been talking about, President Trump saying that he will not participate in next week’s debate, virtual debate with former Vice President Joe Biden. The debates, obviously a highly watched, typically highly watched event. Your assessment on that? Is that good or bad for the American people?
Andy Kim: Well, he’s missing the moment here again. It’s not about what he wants, it’s about what the American people want. And what the American people want is to learn about these candidates, what kind of vision for America that they have, and the fact that he continuously just makes it about himself again, shows the lack of seriousness in which he’s addressing this, but also is very clear that he’s just not interested in conveying that message. He’s not trying to convey to the American people what his vision is because right now he doesn’t have one, especially when it comes to a strategy with regards to this pandemic.
Hallie Jackson: Congressman Andy Kim, thank you very much for joining us this morning. We appreciate your time.