Return to Transcripts main page


14 Americans Test Positive For Virus After Cruise Ship Evacuation; 18,000+ Democrats Turn Out For First Day Of Early Voting In Nevada. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired February 17, 2020 - 13:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And if you're trying to introduce yourself to the country, why would you not go?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Getting knocked around by your fellow candidates. I only that sense (ph).

DANA BASH, CNN INSIDE POLITICS: All right. Everybody, thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you for watching Inside Politics.

My friend, Bianna Golodryga is in for Brianna Keilar, and she starts Right Now.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN RIGHT NOW: Hi, everyone, I'm Bianna Golodryga in for Brianna Keilar in New York on this special edition of CNN Right Now.

Underway right now, mounting coronavirus cases in the U.S. after more than a dozen American citizens who tested positive for the virus arrive home on charter flights from Japan. All of them are now facing weeks of quarantine.

2020 Democrats zero in on Michael Bloomberg, attacking his wealth and record as the former New York City mayor hits back with a blistering attack of his own.

More than 1,100 former DOJ officials urging the attorney general to resign, saying that his actions have damaged the Justice Department's integrity and the rule of law.

But, first, 14 Americans just evacuated from the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship in Japan have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. They are among more than 300 U.S. citizens taken off the ship and flown to military bases here in the U.S.

Now, local officials were notified of the positive tests during the evacuation process after passengers had already left the ship. Those same passengers had been tested just two to three days prior to the evacuation flight and weren't showing any symptoms.

And for those who have just spent almost two weeks trapped on the ship, well, guess what? Their clock for quarantine, it starts all over again.

CNN's Ryan Young is at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, where some of the evacuees have been taken. Ryan, what do we know about this decision to allow those who tested positive to fly in the first place?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL REPORTER: Yes. We're told it's all centered around the fact, so far, it doesn't seem like they're showing any symptoms. But even inside that plane, there was a second quarantine area. So those passengers, those 14 passengers had a place to sit away from those other passengers who were brought to these two military bases.

But you've got to imagine at this point, some of those nerves are probably pretty afraid at this point. Those people have been sitting on that boat for quite some time, having to make this decision to take on this more than ten hour flight back to the states.

Now, what we're told is once they arrive here, you saw those medical professionals going on to the plane, taking them off and then putting them in quarantine. It starts the clock all over again. So some of these people might end up being in quarantine for almost a month, and as you can imagine, I'm sure that's sort of straining them. But we've been told that Wi-Fi and internet and other sort of comforts will be provided to those people as they start this quarantine process.

There will be no news conference scheduled for today because, of course, we wanted to ask about more detailed questions about the decision to fly those passengers back to the states. We have seen those pictures though of that specialized box they equipped on the inside so those passengers wouldn't come in contact with the other passengers. But so many questions about this, especially with some of the Americans deciding to stay on that cruise ship.

But, hopefully, at this point, some of these people who come back to the states now have a 14 day timetable before they can be released back to their lives again because, obviously, as you can understand, as this spreads through the world, so many people have questions about what happens next.

GOLODRYGA: Another anxiety-ridden two weeks for those passengers. Ryan Young, thank you.

Well, the planes carrying evacuees back from Japan weren't quite first class accommodations, that's to say the least. They were converted 747 cargo jets with no windows and a bare bones cabin. The passengers who tested positive for the coronavirus were isolated in their own part of the plane, as you just heard.

Now, some of the others complained that their time in quarantine was about to start all over again.


KAREY MANISCALCO, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER: They have sent over a dozen emails assuring us that there would not be an additional quarantine and they just told us that we'll be re-quarantined for 14 more days. I've just lost a whole month of my life.


GOLODRYGA: And with me here is Dr. Celine Gounder on set. She's an infectious disease specialist at the NYU School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital, and host of the American Diagnosis podcast.

Now, doctor, thank you so much for joining us. We can all sympathize with Karey, who we just heard there finding out that she would have to be isolated again for another couple of weeks, but you actually think that that is appropriate and the right thing to do. Why?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: So the clock really starts in terms of quarantine from the last exposure, not all the time served before. It's not like going to prison and time served counts against your sentence. The time starts from the time of last exposure. And to this is not meant to be a punishment. This is really meant to keep both people who have been exposed safe as well as people who haven't been exposed safe.

GOLODRYGA: And how effective are these quarantines? You talk about the city of Wuhan, where this all originated, and this may have started a bit too late for them to quarantine the entire city.


If people start getting out, is it effective at all?

GOUNDER: No is the short answer. You know, it's very difficult to quarantine a huge population like that. The last time we saw a big quarantine was actually in Monrovia during the Ebola epidemic, and you ended up having people very frustrated, you had some violence breakout. Fortunately, in Wuhan, that has not been the case. But you're basically locking people down where they may be transmitting to each other and that's why whether it's the quarantine of Wuhan or really these quarantines of cruise ships are a very bad idea.

GOLODRYGA: And now we're talking about people being quarantined here in the United States. What is the message that folks at home who say, I have been watching this thousands of miles away in China, now it's just hundreds of miles potentially just, you know, 10 or 20 miles if you're in Texas or in California. What should they be worried, if at all, about anything right now?

GOUNDER: Am I worried about myself and my family's health, to be very clear, no. And I don't think we need to be worried about that just yet. We haven't seen that kind of transmission here in the U.S. But, you know, I am worried that we are stigmatizing people who have been exposed. These people are not bad people. They haven't done anything wrong. They're in quarantine again for their protection as well as for our protection. And that's to say also that quarantine should be done in a way that's humane.

And so I think probably the best way to do it is really to have people quarantine in their own homes. If they are missing work, we should be compensating them for that missed work. We should be providing food in their homes so that they, you know, don't have to be going out to get that. Those are some of the things last time we had quarantines for Ebola were kind of forgotten. So I think we need to do this in a way that's safe and caring for the people who we're worried about.

GOLODRYGA: And that's so important you mentioned that. Not stigmatize, not profile any people because it's not their fault if, in fact, they are sic. And you shouldn't just assume that somebody coughing, in fact, has the coronavirus.

But in your line of work, I was thinking of an interview that Dr. Sanjay Gupta conducted last week with the head of the CDC. The head of the CDC, Dr. Redfield, said that his frustration right now is that he can't get his own staff and people on the ground there in China. Do you agree with that? And why is it so important to get U.S. officials there?

GOUNDER: Well, the CDC is the best in the world in terms of epidemiology. That's the disease detectives who go around and track down patients who have been infected and figure out how the disease is transmitted, and so on. And many of the questions we still have, for example, are we sure the incubation period is only 14 days, can people without symptoms transmit? Those key question still haven't really been answered. And we really need people like the CDC experts to be there on the ground helping us figure that out.

GOLODRYGA: There have been health scares in the past, as you mentioned Ebola and we had SARS before. Is the U.S. better prepared to handle an outbreak like this if, in fact, it does become an issue here in the states?

GOUNDER: Well, there's no question. Hospitals like Bellevue, where I work, we have what we call a special pathogens unit, which is really all set up for these kinds of infections. We protocols in place. We have people on call to respond specifically to this. So there's no question we are much better prepared. I think the real question is going to be -- the real challenge will be if we deal with the kinds of numbers like they've had in Wuhan. You know, that can swamp the health system no matter how well prepared you are.

GOLODRYGA: And from a mental preparedness standpoint, you heard people like Karey and passengers that are going to be quarantined again from no fault of their own, what is your message to them if they're sitting at home hopefully watching CNN right now as they are under quarantine?

GOUNDER: Well, we're worried about you. And I really hope that the quarantine is being done in such a way that you feel safe. And, you know, part of the idea here is, again, not to punish you, but if you do develop symptoms to get you appropriate medical attention as soon as possible.

GOLODRYGA: Dr. Gounder, great to have you on the set. I know this is a busy time for you. Thank you, we appreciate it.

Well, we are less than a week away from the Nevada caucuses, if you can believe it. And as thousands turn out to early vote, the candidates are taking direct aim at Michael Bloomberg, who's not even on the ballot.

Plus, a rare rebuke as hundreds of former DOJ officials sign a letter urging the attorney general to resign.

And CNN goes inside Syria as refugees battle harsh conditions and their effort to escape an escalating war.



GOLODRYGA: In just five days, the 2020 presidential race is in Nevada. And by the looks of it, voters there seem to be pretty excited. Over the weekend, more than 18,000 caucus-goers showed up for the state's first day of early voting. Democratic leaders are hoping that the high turnout continues.

However, stealing some of the sunshine in the Silver State is billionaire candidate Michael Bloomberg, and he's not even on the ballot. Here's CNN's M.J. Lee with more.


M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The Democratic presidential candidates crisscross Nevada, uniting over an emerging rival who isn't even competing in this week's contest.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's a lot to talk about Michael Bloomberg.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've got news for Mr. Bloomberg, and that is the American people are sick and tired of billionaires buying elections.

LEE: Michael Bloomberg under fire as he continues to catapult a national polls despite never appearing on a debate stage.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know I'm not going to be able to beat him on the airwaves but I can beat him on the debate stage. Because I believe my argument for my candidacy is so much stronger.

LEE: The former New York City mayor focusing on Super Tuesday states, already spending over $400 million in advertisements nationally.

Bloomberg's rivals quickly attacking his past controversial policies like stop-and-frisk.


BIDEN: $60 billion can buy you a lot of advertising but it can't erase your record.

LEE: Bloomberg once again issuing an apology at an event in Virginia.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is one approach that I deeply regret, the use of a police practice called stop-and- frisk. I defended it for too long, I think, because I didn't understand the unintended pain it caused to young black and brown kids and to their families.

LEE: But for Bernie Sanders, that's not enough.

SANDERS: We will not create the energy and excitement we need to defeat Donald Trump if that candidate pursued, advocated for and enacted racist policies like stop-and-frisk.

LEE: Fresh off his victory in New Hampshire, Sanders also facing harsh criticism.

KLOBUCHAR: I'm the only one on that debate stage when asked, do you have a problem with a socialist leading the Democratic ticket that I said, yes. And that is despite the fact that Bernie and I are friends.

LEE: Democratic delegate leader Pete Buttigieg said he has some work to do in diverse states like Nevada.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a process of earning trust with voters who have every reason to be skeptical who have often felt taken for granted by the Democratic Party.

And so I am not going to take any vote for granted.

LEE: Former Vice President Joe Biden banking on minority voters after struggling in the first two states.

BIDEN: I have overwhelming support for minorities. I have overwhelming support for -- you can't win, you can't take it for granted. I'm the only one who has the record and has the background and has the support. They know me. They know who I am.


GOLODRYGA: Our thanks to M.J. Lee for that report.

Here to discuss now more with me is CNN Political Correspondent Arlette Saenz. She is in Nevada following the Biden campaign, and A. Scott Bolden, the former chairman of the D.C. Democratic Party. Thank you, both of you, for joining today.

Arlette, let's start with you, because we're also now seeing Biden, Buttigieg, Bloomberg and Klobuchar really focusing on going after Sanders in particular, whether it be his policies or his response to some of his more controversial supporters. How are candidates hoping to slow down some of that momentum that Sanders currently has and continues to see?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's no question, Bianna, that Bernie Sanders has quite a bit of momentum heading into Nevada after those top two finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. He also does quite well when it comes to Latino voters. You know, he won the majority of Latino caucus-goers here back in 2016 when he ran against Hillary Clinton. But you have seen the other contenders, as was laid out in M.J.'s piece, vocalize some of their criticism of Bernie Sanders, and Amy Klobuchar warning of having a Democratic socialist at the top of the ticket. Joe Biden, over the weekend, has been talking a lot about healthcare and gun control, two issues where he believes he provides a contrast to Bernie Sanders.

One thing that Biden has really been pressing is his healthcare plan, saying that under Biden's plan, union workers, which have a very strong presence in places like Las Vegas, that they would be able to keep their negotiated healthcare plan that they've worked out through their union compared to Medical-for-all, the plan espoused by Bernie Sanders, which would not allow them to do that.

So over the course of the next few days, these Democratic contenders might continue to try to draw these contrasts with Sanders. And one thing that Joe Biden is really banking on here is support from minority voters. He believes that once the voting gets to the more diverse demographics in these states, like Nevada, South Carolina and those Super Tuesday contests, that he will fare a bit better. And he is certainly hoping for a bit of a turnaround here as the race moves forward.

GOLODRYGA: And while he continues to dominate as far as minority voters, he is seeing some of that share slip away as this continues.

But, Scott, let me turn to you. Because for first time, we are expecting to see Michael Bloomberg participate in the debate and he can get expect lots of incoming questions not only from the moderators, about his past policies and his campaign strategy but also from the candidates themselves. They have been chomping at the bit for a face-to-face with him. Now is their opportunity. How significant is this debate for Bloomberg remembering that, by the way, he's not even on the ballot in Nevada? He's still looking at Super Tuesday.

A. SCOTT BOLDEN, FORMER CHAIR, NATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION PAC: Well, he's the most important candidate that hasn't been tested, hasn't been on a ballot, hasn't debated any of the Democrats.

GOLODRYGA: Unchartered territory here.

BOLDEN: The rest candidates are running scared of the image, this kind of huge than life or bigger than life piece. But with $60 billion, it's enough to have the candidates running scared because they're all attacking him.

Here's the deal. It will be super important for him to slip a punch, take a political punch and throw a bunch back because the knives and the arrows are going to be coming. If he can take a punch or if he return a punch, that is the racial litmus test on stop-and-frisk or redlining, the other candidates their own racial baggage, such as Biden and Buttigieg and others, and even Bernie Sanders, even though he's doing better in regard to minority voters or people of color in 2020 versus 2016.

[10:20:08] These other candidates better be careful because if you think you're going to outdebate him, I think he'll be ready because he's got enough money to be prepared.

Secondly is this, I disagree with the Democratic candidates attacking Bloomberg for spending his own money. There's nothing illegal, immoral or unlawful about spending their own money. They have been politicians a long time. The rules are what the rules are. If they had $60 billion, they'd be spending it too. So I think it's misguided to really attack him like that, despite the mileage that Bernie Sanders and others think they get out of attacking him. Again, he's not leading the pack, and he's still taking political arrows.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. Clearly, they just view it, I would assume, as unfair that he's gotten this far with some of that $60 billion. But you're right, there's nothing illegal about what he's done thus far.

BOLDEN: And the common denominator in every election, local or national, isn't money. If you can raise a billion, that gives you exposure. But the common denominator is still votes. Can you get one more vote than next guy, and that's really all that matters. This noise about his $60 billion, and they've raised money to win elections and is it wrong for them to try to raise $1 billion from thousand resources as opposed to this particular candidate spending his own money, he'll eventually get to raise the money too.

So I think there's a lot that needs to shake out before we get to a conclusion here.

GOLODRYGA: You know who also doesn't like to hear about Michael Bloomberg's $60 billion is another billionaire, and that's President Trump. He doesn't quite that number of zeros following his bank account.

But, Arlette, as Scott said, it really does come down to the vote, right? That's what this is all about. And despite what some are calling a historic turnaround for early voting in Nevada, there are some concerns now that there could be a repeat of what happened at the Iowa caucuses, God forbid. What are officials on the ground there doing to ensure voters that there won't be a repeat?

SAENZ: Well, everyone here is hoping that there won't be a repeat of that debacle that occurred over the Iowa caucuses. The state party here will not be using the same app that was used over in Iowa. And instead, they have developed a caucus calculator that will be used on state party iPads to tabulate both the caucus results and also fold in those early voting figures.

Early voting kicked off here on Saturday. It goes through Tuesday. And on Saturday alone, they had over 18,000 people come and cast their early votes. A lot of the candidates have been pushing their supporters to get out there and do that early in the process instead of waiting until next Saturday.

But there are certainly questions about whether the state party here is equipped and ready to turn -- to avoid that repeat from Iowa. They said that they are training their volunteers on that iPad technology that they will be using. And so this is something that certainly the state party is going to continue to face questions about as those caucuses approach next Saturday.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. All of this technology makes a lot of people nervous given what took place just a couple of weeks ago.

Scott, let me end can you, because in an interview with our Christiane Amanpour and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over in Germany, said that she's not counting Biden out yet. She also had this to say when she was asked about the possibility of President Trump winning a second term.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You'd be elected over and over and over again, you said to me before the midterms, as long as he is there, i.e. President Trump, I'm here. Is that still the case for you?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Oh, I can't even envision a situation where he would be re-elected. But we don't take anything for granted.


GOLODRYGA: She can't envision it a situation but it is likely, right? It is definitely possible and it would be the first time in history that you had an impeached president who is re-elected. What's your reaction to what the House speaker said?

BOLDEN: My reaction is the Democrats can win if they get they get their you know what together, they need to get it in gear. They need to get on the ground, they need to be organizing, they need to be talking about healthcare, criminal justice reform and removing corruption, not Trump, but corruption from the national debater from Washington and they can win.

Everyone knows what Donald Trump is, what he's been through and what have you. Donald Trump wants to redefine or restate the narrative. We can't let them forget about that. But this is about beating Trump but we don't have to make the campaign about beating Trump. We've got to stand for something and we've got to mobilize voters who believe this is a value decision that they're going to make in 2020. If the Democrats do that, it doesn't matter how much money the Republicans, it doesn't matter what Donald Trump says, the American values versus Trump values will win.

And if you win the American value debate with the voters, then you can win the White House back and perhaps even some Senate seats.

GOLODRYGA: Scott Bolden, with a message to the Democrats, get your you know what together. Arlette, we appreciate your time as well.


Thank you to both of you. We appreciate it. BOLDEN: Thank you.

SAENZ: Thanks.

GOLODRYGA: Well, this week, CNN is hosting five town halls ahead of the next critical vote. Watch the first three tomorrow night starting at 8:00 P.M. Central, then two more on Thursday starting at 8:00 P.M. right here on CNN.

Well, it's over 1,100 former DOJ officials and prosecutors call for Attorney General William Barr to resign.