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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Second Coronavirus Case of Unknown Origin Confirmed in U.S.; Had No Known Contacts With Others Infected; Bill Gates: Coronavirus Behaving Like "Once-in-a-Century" Pathogen; Rep. David Cicilline (D- RI) Discusses His Take on Mick Mulvaney's Claim That Coronavirus' Media Coverage is to Hurt The President; Pence Defends Trump's Decision to Put Him in Charge of Coronavirus Response as His Record is Scrutinized; Trump Announces Controversial Nominee for Intel Chief; Scientists Racing to Develop Coronavirus Vaccine. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired February 28, 2020 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Will we see any of that here in the United States and how will the Trump administration manage this situation, we'll be watching very closely.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, a new mysterious case of coronavirus in California. A second person infected. The origin of that infection unknown. World Health officials tonight are issuing a new warning.
Plus, Mike Pence widely criticized for his handling of an HIV outbreak in Indiana. Tonight, says that was the reason, that handling was the reason Trump chose him to be the coronavirus point person.
And more breaking news this hour, Trump nominating one of his biggest allies in Congress to be the nation spy chief for the second time. It failed the first. Does he even have Republicans onboard?
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, the 63rd case of coronavirus just confirmed here in the United States. This is the second case here of unknown origin and it comes as a Florida's Governor says his state is now monitoring 150 people for coronavirus worldwide.
The number of confirmed cases is now close to 84,000. And just moments ago, Bill Gates has made it his mission to eradicate worldwide disease, wrote that the virus, "Has started behaving a lot like the once-in-a-century pathogen we've been worried about."
Once-in-a-century, prompting officials today when they see these numbers from the World Health Organization to raise the risk assessment to their highest level.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MICHAEL RYAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WHO HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME: We can avoid the worst of this, but our level of concern is at its highest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: In order though to avoid the worst when concern is at the highest officials across the world must take action now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: We know containment is possible, but the window of opportunity is narrowing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Dan Simon is OUTFRONT in Sacramento, California. Dan, a very sobering warning from Bill Gates and as you are there in California, tell us what you know about this new 63rd case of coronavirus confirmed here in the United States.
DAN SIMON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Erin. No question, this is another troubling sign that the virus is spreading especially here in California.
As for this woman, we are told that she is 65 years old, is a resident of Santa Clara County, which is a couple hours away from where we are in Sacramento. We're told that she has chronic health issues, was hospitalized for some kind of respiratory illness. Her infectious disease doctor was apparently suspicious and asked for a coronavirus test and the results came back positive yesterday.
And like the case here in Sacramento, the source of the infection is unknown and that's what makes this case so troubling. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: This is a reality check for every government on the planet. Wake up. Get ready.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON (voice over): In Northern California, health officials are investigating what appears to be the first case of community spread novel coronavirus in the U.S.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. BELA MATYAS, PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICER, SOLANO COUNTY HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICE: So at this point, we don't know where the patient was exposed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON(voice over): Health officials haven't been able to pinpoint how this woman contracted the virus. It suggests the virus may be out there in the community, which is why there's an urgent scramble to trace the people with whom she came into contact.
The female patient is in serious condition and is on a respirator being treated at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. She is now one of more than 60 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in the U.S. This includes 44 people who are aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Three people who returned to the U.S. from China and 15 U.S. cases.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announcing Friday his state has been monitoring 700 people who recently returned from China. Of those, 150 are still being monitored and four with respiratory symptoms are now under investigation.
And while right now only a handful of states are testing for the virus, the CDC says that's about the change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. NANCY MESSONNIER, DIRECTOR OF THE CDC'S NATIONAL CENTER FOR IMMUNIZATION AND RESPIRATORY DISEASES: Our goal is to have every state and local health department online, doing their own testing by the end of next week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON (voice over): The ramping up of testing comes as we're learning that in just the past 24 hours, six new countries have reported their first cases of coronavirus. That brings the total number of countries or regions where cases have been reported to nearly 60.
In Japan, they're taking drastic measures to try and halt the spread of the virus. Starting Monday, all primary schools have been asked to shut down for a month in hopes of controlling the spread, especially ahead of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo this summer.
In South Korea, they saw a sharp spike in case this Friday with health officials confirming nearly 600 additional ones.
In Europe, Italy remains the epicenter of the largest outbreak there. Friday, Italian officials announced the number of cases in their country top 800. About a half of them involved people who are asymptomatic, meaning they either have no symptoms or light symptoms and don't need to be hospitalized.
Instead, they're currently in self-quarantine. Health officials have not labeled this a pandemic. But one expert we spoke to said it's not a matter of if but when.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: A pandemic is inevitable. What's not certain is how severe it will be.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (END VIDEOTAPE)
SIMON: As for this new case in Santa Clara County, officials say that the public health measures taken so far which include isolation and quarantine, they have certainly helped slow the spread of the virus but right now they're saying things need to change and they are calling for stepped up efforts of community surveillance really to try to understand just how much this virus is spread, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Dan, thank you very much. I want to go now to our Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Mark Jarrett, who is the Chief Quality Officer at Northwell Health. He oversees all of the quality and safety issues in 23 hospitals.
Sanjay, so where Dan is right California, two unknown cases in terms of origin. In other words, they have no idea where the person contracted it. One of them, we know, had been walking around in her community for a few days before she had symptoms and felt sick enough to go to a hospital interacting with people, obviously, during all that time. She went to a facility. She was not tested. Then, moved to a different hospital finally diagnosed.
So all of that time interacting with people. At this point, can the United States prevent this from getting any worse or is it truly inevitable that this starts to go from kind of a check here, a check here to a lot more dots?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it unfortunately does mean that there is now community spread of this virus. And if you read the language, specifically coming out of the county where this latest case was diagnosed, they're saying, look, this is evidence of community spread. I know that sounds alarming, but this is what we've been preparing for, for some time.
And as you mentioned, they're now going to go through this other sort of process of actually conducting community surveillance. Up until now, up until the last day, Erin, really the only people that were getting tested in this country were people who - there was some suspicion they had traveled from one of these places, they had known exposure to somebody with coronavirus.
The problem with that is that that's not surveillance, that's just more confirmation of something that you suspect. Surveillance is now going to give you an idea of just how widespread this is. But the fact that someone is walking around the community, not coming in contact with anybody with known infection and still gets infected, that means that the virus is out there, that means somebody else has the virus and spread that and maybe even asymptomatically.
That that's the concern and I think this now proves it. So they're now going to take some more effective measures, hopefully, in these counties to try and mitigate the spread. But I think containment is no longer on the table really there.
BURNETT: Which is quite scary, Dr. Jarrett, because we know you're talking about hospitals in the United States that are in the midst of flu season and you have all of that going on as well. I mean, this is now on top of that. Could this stretch the system past the limit, if you suddenly go from a few cases to a whole lot of cases in each area?
DR. MARK JARRETT, CHIEF QUALITY OFFICER, NORTHWELL HEALTH; OVERSEES 23 HOSPITALS: If we go to thousands or even 10s of thousands of cases, let's say in the Metropolitan area of New York, it will stretch all of our hospitals. All of our hospitals right now are already full to the limits. In fact, they're over their limits because of flu and other influenza-like illnesses that are occurring at this time of the year.
If you now add on hospitalization of very sick patients, because the ones, at least, according to the reports in China, that get admitted to the hospital are very sick.
BURNETT: Very sick, right.
JARRETT: It is going to stretch. We are all developing search plans, developing backup plans for this, but there is no doubt it will stretch the limits of all of our hospitals.
BURNETT: And Sanjay, this comes as Florida says they're monitoring 150 people for coronavirus. Look, at this point, the numbers maybe seem big or small to people, but the reality is we just don't know what we don't know. And the Republican Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis said today that one of the biggest issues he has is lack of tests.
We heard it from California too and you hear the CDC say, OK, by the end of next week, we hope to have them. How big of an issue is this test issue?
GUPTA: Well, I think it's been a big issue for some time. I mean, you look at places like Korea, they've been conducting thousands of tests a day. In the United States, we haven't even conducted a thousand tests over several weeks. So it's understandable that in Florida, they want to understand, do these patients have coronavirus, do they need to be isolated, how best to take care of them.
But one thing I'll tell you, Erin, having covered a lot of these types of outbreaks and even pandemics is that at some point, once you sort of determine that the virus is spreading within the community, the tests really aren't as meaningful anymore. The test - if a patient goes in to get a test, the result of that test is not going to dictate anything different about their treatment, because there is no specific treatment.
So really the test, at least ...
GUPTA: ... for a period are going to be more of a public health sort of assessment rather than an individual assessment. And we may be getting to that point pretty soon.
BURNETT: So Dr. Jarrett, you just heard Bill Gates who obviously has made it his mission, he has been fighting infectious disease around the world for many, many years and knows about this. He says that we could be looking at a once-in-a-century pathogen.
The one that we've all been worried about. He notes that we have seen so far globally 10 times the cases as SARS in a quarter of the time and he finds that to be one of the indicators of why this could be so bad.
JARRETT: Well, one of the problems may be that even if the mortality rate from this virus is low, if for example, there were 50 million people in the United States who came down with this virus, even if it's 1 percent, that's 500,000 people which clearly has a huge impact on America. Now, spread that around the world with many millions more, maybe even half a billion, this can be the pandemic potentially of the century.
BURNETT: And Sanjay, look, those numbers are hard to sort of comprehend and certainly they're nothing that any of us have seen or regular people have ever imagined. Bill Gates also points out but each person is on average, it seems, infecting two to three people, which actually - you interact with a whole lot of people in a given day, that would mean you're not infecting the vast majority of people you may be passing in a grocery store or wherever it might be. But he points out two to three is still exponential.
GUPTA: It is still exponential and if you start to carry that out over a few generations of people, all of a sudden one person can, in some way, be the source for hundreds of people getting infected. And also keep in mind, it's not a linear thing. People who are sicker are probably going to be more infectious than people who are less sick or even a symptomatic.
But the fact t0hat asymptomatic people can spread this, meaning people who don't have any symptoms is of real concern. I mean, they don't know maybe that they are carrying the virus. They go by somebody who got a weakened immune system or is elderly and they pass the virus on to that person, you can see the problem.
I read the article, I read the statement from Bill Gates and there's two issues with these pathogens. One is how transmissible is it, which you just talked about and then how lethal is it. SARS wasn't as transmissible as this but it had a higher fatality rate. This seems to have high transmissibility, in a fatality rate 1 percent to 2 percent, which is 10 to 20 times as high as the flu.
BURNETT: I mean, look, again 10 to 20 times as high as the flu, I think it puts us in perspective. One thing though, Dr. Jarrett, according to the CDC, we keep hearing about schools being closed. This is an interesting point, children with confirmed cases seem to have milder symptoms, according to the CDC than adults and severe complications in children are uncommon.
Obviously, this is the very good news, but why would that be?
GUPTA: Well, it's the way the virus works. It's working more like the flu which tends to affect older people, people who are immunocompromised, whereas diseases such as SARS seem to affect the younger people more because it caused overreaction in the immune system. This works by apparently directly affecting the lower respiratory tract.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very Much.
And next, Donald Trump Jr. with an outrageous claim about the coronavirus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: For them to try to take a pandemic and seemingly hope that it comes here and kills millions of people so that they could end Donald Trump's streak of winning is a new level of sickness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And the President now wants the Fed to get involved and now after the markets have their worst week since the great financial crisis. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers is OUTFRONT.
Plus, the race against time. Sanjay is going to take us inside what the whole world is looking at right now and that is the pursuit of an effective safe coronavirus vaccine.
BURNETT: New tonight, team Trump downplaying the concerns about coronavirus. Here's President Trump's Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, claiming the media ignored the coronavirus at first because it was busy with Trump's impeachment and is only covering it now to hurt him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The press was covering their hoax of the day because they thought it would bring down the President. The reason you're seeing so much attention to it today is that they think this is going to be what brings down the President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island. Congressman, what do you say to Mick Mulvaney that this is all being covered to hurt the President?
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): Well, and this is a moment where we need American presidential leadership to address a very serious public health crisis that may well become a pandemic. And what we need is people not in a political way to be approaching this in a serious way, relying on a coordinated scientific response, recognizing the seriousness of the threat and making sure that we're protecting the American people.
And that means making sure public health agencies have good information, that the American people have good information on how to keep themselves safe. And the idea that the Chief of Staff to the President the United States would dismiss this very serious public health crisis and suggest to people that it's really an effort to bring down the President is absurd and dangerous.
BURNETT: So the President and his allies have also accused Democrats of trying to use the coronavirus to help your party politically. The President's son Don Jr. said it this morning and I think it is fair to play this. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP JR: Anything that they can use to try to hurt Trump they will. For them to try to take a pandemic and seemingly hope that it comes here and kills millions of people so that they could end Donald Trump's streak of winning is a new level of sickness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: How do you respond to that?
CICILLINE: You can't even respond to it. The idea that Donald Trump Jr. would think that the arrival of a serious pandemic would somehow be wished for because it would undermine his father is an absurdity. It's not always about the President.
This is about his responsibility, as the leader of this country, to protect the American people. And that means recognizing the reality of what this virus presents, making certain that we are doing everything to keep the American people safe and to mitigate the dangers this presents.
And when you see the kind of outbreaks that are happening all over the world, American leadership in this space really matters. If we're going to protect Americans, this virus doesn't stop at our border and so we need this to be done in a serious way, in a bipartisan way. We're working on a package to respond to this, but the president needs to take this seriously.
The American people do. They're afraid and they want the scientists reporting on what's actually happening.
BURNETT: So the CDC says the spread of the coronavirus here in the United States is inevitable, that was their word. But it also admits that testing, again, their words, has not gone as smoothly as we would have liked, which is consistent with the WHO warning that health systems are not ready for this around the world. But of course, Congressman, to be honest, the United States has never truly been prepared for a highly contagious outbreak which could affect so many people, no matter who the President is. And President Obama, I mean, we all remember, he was slammed during
the Ebola crisis because he didn't suspend flights to the United States from affected countries. But that is something, of course, as we know, President Trump pushed for immediately, airlines decided to stop flights from China and Hong Kong. Has President Trump gotten some things right here?
CICILLINE: Look, I think what we have to do for sure is be sure we're devoting the resources and developing the set of policies to protect the American people and some of those decisions I think were the right decisions to make. The President also proposed deep cuts 50 percent of our contribution to the World Health Organization, deep cuts to the CDC, eliminated the part of the National Security Council that was responsible for managing pandemic.
So look, the fact that some of those early decisions might be right. What we need, again, this is not a question about who's responsible for the coronavirus. This is a virus. The President is responsible for leading and managing the response by this country to protect the American people to make sure our health officials are listened to, that they have the resources they need and probably most importantly that he's sharing accurate information with the American people.
This is one of the problems of Donald Trump's lack of trust. The American people don't trust this administration, because they've played fast and loose with the facts on so many occasions. And in a crisis like this, it's particularly dangerous when the American people don't have confidence that they're getting accurate information from the government.
BURNETT: Congressman Cicilline, thank you for your time tonight. I appreciate it.
CICILLINE: My pleasure.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, Mike Pence widely criticized for his slow response to an HIV outbreak in his state of Indiana, but tells Rush Limbaugh this about that tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it might be the main reason why President Trump asked me to do this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: This is lead the coronavirus response.
Plus, breaking news, President Trump nominating his pick for Director of National Intelligence. It is the same Republican Congressman who was forced to withdraw his name last year after facing Republican opposition.
[19:26:22] BURNETT: New tonight, Vice President Mike Pence defending President
Trump's decision to put him in charge of the administration's coronavirus response. Pence has come under scrutiny because of his record when he was the Governor of Indiana. His response to an HIV outbreak in his state in 2015 was to 'pray on it' when health officials recommended a needle exchange program and to delay that.
But he says it was that very experience which was why President Trump picked him for coronavirus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: I think it might be the main reason why President Trump asked me to do this. I think by putting me over the administration's response to the coronavirus. The President wanted to signal the priority that he's placed on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT. She's at President Trump's rally in South Carolina. Kaitlan, the President just addressing the epidemic moments ago, what is he saying?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's continuing, Erin, to try to claim that Democrats and his critics are politicizing the coronavirus. That's something we saw his Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney echo earlier today saying that essentially the media wasn't paying attention to the coronavirus during the impeachment inquiry and the trial of the President and now they are because they think it's going to bring the presidency down.
Of course, it is also a global virus that is having an outbreak that is spreading and CDC officials are warning it is going to spread in the United States. And it is inevitable that it's going to do that. But this is what the President has been relying on in recent days as he is coming under increasing scrutiny for how his administration is going to respond to this and whether or not they are prepared.
And you heard the Vice President there, speaking with Rush Limbaugh, as someone else who has echoed that message you just heard from the President. And it was interesting that Pence was saying that he believes the President picked his experience as the Governor of Indiana, especially overseeing that HIV outbreak which some critics said he made worse by delaying that needle exchange program as reason why the President picked him.
Now, it's unclear if the President was aware of the criticism that Pence actually faced at the time over that because, of course, that is what people like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi say they have raised with him directly when they have had concerns about him being the one overseeing this. However, we've spoken with several people close to the Vice President, they say he is taking this is seriously, Erin, and that is why you're saying him pick up the position to work underneath him.
They're holding this meeting, again, tomorrow with the coronavirus task force. And, of course, this comes as we know the Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney sent a government wide email today saying that all communications, public statements and appearances must go through the Vice President's press secretary before they can be made.
BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much live from North Charleston tonight.
And OUTFRONT now, Larry Summers, former Treasury Secretary under President Clinton, Director of the National Economic Council under President Obama.
Let me just ask you, Secretary Summers, first, your reaction to President Trump putting Vice President Mike Pence in charge, confidence instilling?
LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT CLINTON: No. It's of a piece with the President of the United States whipping a mob into a frenzy during a public health crisis that he should be trying to control, which is what your viewers just saw. If the President assigns a major government-wide task like this to the Vice President, that's what presidents do with vice presidents.
If he suggests that somehow Vice President Pence by pursuing this prayer strategy, rather than the science strategy, somehow set himself up for this role, that's really scandalous and very, very scary.
BURNETT: When we look at what's out there tonight -- I don't know if you saw Bill Gates just wrote an op-ed saying this has the signs of being a once in a century pathogen he's been most afraid of. We are on the heels of the worst week for stocks since the financial crisis, which, of course, Secretary, you were in the middle of when you were at the White House.
Could this get worse?
SUMMERS: Of course, it could. We don't know what's going to happen. Markets find their level in response to events. And it may well be that we're in the first inning of the coronavirus issue. We just have to recognize that possibility.
It wouldn't be the first time that the world faced a grievous strain of flu-type of virus. It happened after World War I when more people died by far than died during World War I. Now, I don't think it's likely to get to that point. We've got tools like modern medicine that they didn't have then.
But nobody knows where this is going to go. The markets issued a pretty ominous assessment. Their assessment isn't just going to have to play out. It's going to have to get worse if markets are to go down. I'm not saying with confidence that that will happen at all. I think that this moment is a moment like almost all moments when markets are about 50/50 to go up or down.
BURNETT: And yet we hear Larry Kudlow -- (CROSSTALK)
BURNETT: Sorry, go ahead, go ahead.
SUMMERS: You go ahead. Go ahead.
BURNETT: Larry Kudlow suggesting and the president saying, you know, look this is going to go away. This is going to end. Larry Kudlow suggesting get into the stock market.
SUMMERS: I think for the president's adviser to be giving stock investing advice on market timing to the public is really a very poor, misguided performance of his duty. And anybody considering that advice should think about this. If Larry Kudlow thought it was time to sell stocks, is there any chance that he would say?
SUMMERS: And if you're listening to somebody who's only allowed to have one opinion, when they express that opinion, should you take it very seriously? And I don't think anybody looking for investment advice should look to Larry Kudlow.
People don't know whether the market's going to go up or down. And what people should do is diversify and maintain safe positions, not day trade based on the advice of the president's chief economic adviser.
This is almost calculated to destroy his credibility because even if he happens to be right in the next several days, there's no one on Earth who has a successful track record at calling day to day movements in markets. And when you try and you fail, you'll lose your credibility. And we need public officials who have credibility, not who seek to dissipate their credibility.
BURNETT: President Trump, you know, as you know, was actually blaming Bernie Sanders for driving the stock market down even as it started to fall a thousand points a day on coronavirus fears when he was in India. Here's what he said earlier this week, Secretary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you look at single payer, when you look at what Bernie Sanders and others want to do, the fact that they are even looking like they're in the hunt I think drives our stock market down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: You have referred to Sanders policies as, you know, completely unprecedented, beyond the scale of FDR. Do you agree with the president that Sanders policies could crush stocks?
SUMMERS: At some point, Sanders policies could do damage to the stock market as any potential president's policies, if they were misguided, would do damage to the stock market. Is developments with Bernie Sanders the reason why the stock market
went down this week? There is no evidence for it. There's no evidence that the stocks which he would potentially be most harmful for went down more than other stocks, whereas there is evidence that stocks that were more tied to the coronavirus went down more than other stocks did.
You listen to what all the people in the market are actually saying, they're not talking about a greater risk of Bernie Sanders becoming president. They're talking about the consequences of a major global challenge without any globally credible United States government because there had been so many ignorant and truculent statements vis- a-vis the rest of the world.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Secretary Summers. I appreciate your time tonight.
SUMMERS: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, the breaking news, President Trump announcing his pick for director of national intelligence. It is the same lawmaker nominated for the job seven months ago who is forced to withdraw because his resume didn't add up under withering criticism from his own party. What's the strategy here from President Trump?
Plus, as the coronavirus spreads, the world is anxiously awaiting the one thing that could stop the fear, a vaccine. How far away is it? Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be back with an inside look.
BURNETT: Breaking now, President Trump announcing a controversial nominee to replace his already controversial director of national intelligence, Richard Grenell.
Trump in a tweet tonight says he's pleased to announce that his close ally, the Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe will be his choice to head the DNI, which means heading all of America's intelligence apparatus. This is the same John Ratcliffe that Trump nominated for the post in July.
Ratcliffe was forced to withdraw for embellishing his national security credentials under bipartisan criticism.
If he is confirmed, he would replace Richard Grenell, who is the acting DNI, which is a big if.
OUTFRONT now, James Clapper. He is former director of national intelligence.
I appreciate your time. It's good to talk to you, Director. So, Ratcliffe's nomination was pulled, as I said, last summer. He has
said he put terrorists in prison, helped shape policy in the Bush administration. It turned out that that was an embellishment. He was criticized by his own party. That nomination went away.
What's your reaction when you hear he is now the nominee again?
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it struck me as very peculiar that having already been kind of rejected on the Hill on a bipartisan basis, the negative blow back there that now he would be re-nominated. I do wonder whether there's something to do with the Federal Vacancy Act which as I understand it the time clock on Ambassador Grenell or Joe Maguire had he stayed in that position as acting DNI runs out on March 11th.
I wonder if by nominating Congressman Ratcliffe, this allows the time clock to restart for Ambassador Grenell. I'm not sure why he would want to do that, but I do wonder about it.
And, of course, apart from all that is the turbulence -- turmoil it causes for the I.C. in general and particularly for the staff at the office of the director of national intelligence.
BURNETT: So, with the I.C. obviously, intelligence community, I just want -- I want to lay this out. This is a job that has been filled by somebody with extensive national intelligence background, right? That's what this job is about. It's not just a political job, right?
For example, you did the job for 6 1/2 years after what? Forty-three years?
CLAPPER: Forty-five or so.
BURNETT: Years in the intelligence community.
CLAPPER: Right, right.
BURNETT: That's what we're talking about what we talk about experience, right?
CLAPPER: Well, yes. I mean, you know, not everybody's going to have 50 years' experience to take the job, but I do think it would be very helpful if the incumbent had some operational experience within the intelligence community. Not as sitting on an oversight committee. There's a big difference.
I think ideally if somebody is going to be in that job, if they've had experience, for example, being director of one of the agencies, I served as -- I had the honor of serving in two of them for almost nine years.
So, this is not -- even with all that experience, this job I found to be very demanding and I don't think it's a good place for somebody to learn the ABCs of intelligence.
BURNETT: So, who do you think is more qualified? I'm not trying to say that person is appropriate qualified, but between the two, Ratcliffe and Grenell, who is more qualified, if either?
CLAPPER: Probably -- well, I guess given the choice here, I guess Ambassador Grenell by virtue of the fact he's had some exposure to intelligence by virtue of serving as ambassador in Germany. So, I guess on that basis, given the choice between the two I would pick them. I just mentioned that -- or I'd add that the -- and you kind of alluded to it, Erin, is the phraseology of the act which stipulates that the DNI is supposed to have, quote, extensive national security expertise, unquote.
BURNETT: All right. Certainly that is not what we're seeing here in these cases.
Thank you very much, Director Clapper.
CLAPPER: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, the race for coronavirus vaccine, an inside look at the people who are spending every second of every day of their lives right now trying to save everyone else.
And an update to a story we had been following about Andrew Yang's wife and the doctor she says sexually assaulted her. Now there's new evidence that his employer, Columbia University, was warned about his behavior decades ago. Drew Griffin investigates.
BURNETT: New tonight, the race for a vaccine. The entire world is watching, waiting for an effective vaccine for the coronavirus. Labs around the globe are working around the clock.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is OUTFRONT with this inside look.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are working on cures and we're getting some very good results. As you know, they're working as rapidly as they can on a vaccine for the future.
GUPTA (voice-over): But what does rapidly mean here?
DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE: If these were 10, 20 years ago, maybe five years ago, we'd be looking at a timeframe of years before we were actually seriously considering having a vaccine available.
GUPTA: Peter Hotez has dedicated his life to developing vaccines, including one that targets coronaviruses.
HOTEZ: Now, we're compressing that timeline to months.
GUPTA: And around the world, there's now a race to develop a working vaccine to fight what's on the verge of becoming a global pandemic. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH
ORGANIZATION: More than 20 vaccines are in development globally, and several therapeutics are in clinical trials.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Although this is the fastest we have ever gone from a sequence of a virus to a trial, it still would not be any applicable to the epidemic unless we'd really wait about a year to a year and a half.
GUPTA: You see, even if a vaccine looks promising in the lab, all that matters is how well it works in the general population, and it takes multiple steps to prove that.
First, that it is safe. And then that it is effective. And ultimately, how it compares to other treatments.
HOTEZ: Clinical testing is going to take a lot of time. We have to do extensive testing, both for safety as well as efficacy to show that the vaccine is preventing the infection.
GUPTA: And there's an added challenge, attracting pharmaceutical companies to actually manufacture it.
HOTEZ: It turns out that many pandemic threats are not big moneymakers for the large pharmaceutical companies.
GUPTA: But it is much more than a matter of turning a profit.
HOTEZ: This vaccine is not only going to be needed to help public health, but it's going to be used to stabilize the economy, it's going to be used to stabilize global security.
GUPTA: Now, it's worth pointing out, Erin, that as much of a desire as there is for a vaccine, understandably so, it's only going to work if people actually take it. With the flu shot, a vaccine that is available, we find only 45 percent of U.S. adults get a flu shot every year.
BURNETT: Well, that's actually pretty sobering, and, of course, I guess if this is much more deadly, maybe you would get more uptake but you hope you don't have to find out that way.
Thank you, Sanjay.
GUPTA: You got it.
BURNETT: And next, an update to a story we have been following OUTFRONT. Since Andrew Yang's wife said she was sexually assaulted by her doctor, another woman says Columbia University was warned about that same doctor, are you ready get this, 26 years ago. Drew Griffin investigates. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: Tonight, a new and very disturbing development in a story we have been following about the doctor that former presidential candidate Andrew Yang's wife and dozens of other women accused of sexual assault.
Drew Griffin is OUTFRONT and I want to warn you, the details in this story are disturbing.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Columbia University was warned, decades ago one of its top gynecologists may have sexually assaulted a patient. This 26-year-old letter proves it.
Dr. Robert Hadden, now retired, stands accused of assaulting more than 75 former patients.
Dian Saderup Monson may have been one of the first. In 1993, pregnant with her second child she had her first and only visit to Hadden's office and says she was sexually assaulted.
DIAN SADERUP MONSON, FORMER HADDEN PATIENT: I was exposed, and then he pushed my knees down. He masturbated me at some point. He started masturbating me, and I said -- and I didn't say anything, I just went, like my eyes were like, you know, he said, just lubricating the outside, like it was standard.
GRIFFIN: She left Hadden's office in disbelief. Did her doctor just assault her?
Hours later, alone on her couch, she said she realized the answer was yes.
MONSON: I just started sobbing and sobbing.
GRIFFIN (on camera): You were molested?
MONSON: Yes, I knew it.
GRIFFIN: You didn't think, I'm a victim. I should call the police?
MONSON: No. It didn't even cross my mind.
GRIFFIN (voice-ove): She thought no one would believe her. But she knew she had to report it. On May 30th, 1994, she wrote this letter to the acting chair of Columbia-Presbyterian's OB/GYN department. She says she sent a copy to the university's risk management office. The letter details two separate prolonged breast examples, pulling very hard on the nipple, awkward and uncomfortable positioning, he fondled her genitalia running two fingers up and down.
She knows Columbia received the letter because two weeks later, the chairman, Dr. Harold Fox wrote back.
MONSON: I will immediately follow up your expressed concerns and have a discussion with Dr. Hadden. You may expect a response from me.
GRIFFIN (on camera): You didn't hear back from him?
GRIFFIN: You didn't hear back from risk management?
MONSON: No, nothing.
GRIFFIN: You didn't hear back from anybody at Columbia?
MONSON: Never heard anything. But I thought, this is Columbia. They will keep this letter, put it in a file, whatever file they keep on their doctors, it will be there in a prominent way, it will be marked, and surely, in the next few years, he'll get verbal and written complaints and they will do something.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Dr. Robert Hadden continued seeing patients at Columbia for nearly 20 more years. He was finally arrested and indicted for abusing six of his patients. But in a sweetheart plea deal with the New York district attorney's office, Hadden pleaded guilty in 2016 to just two of the nine charges against him. His punishment: to surrender his license and walk free.
MONSON: This man belongs in prison. He is a danger wherever he is. He is a compulsive serial predator.
GRIFFIN: Questions over Hadden's criminal prosecution and zero jail time came back to life last month when Evelyn Yang, the wife of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang told CNN she was one of Hadden's many victims.
EVELYN YANG, WIFE OF ANDREW YANG: There are a lot of women who experienced sexual assault and it's almost like they're assaulted again or betrayed again by the institutions that were supposed to protect them.
GRIFFIN: Since Yang's story aired, at least 40 more women said they too were assaulted by Hadden. Manhattan's D.A. Cy Vance's office announced it is reopening the investigation into Hadden based on new cases. Monson and Yang are now among the more than 75 former patients who have joined together to sue Dr. Hadden and Columbia University.
Hadden has denied all allegations except the two charges he pleaded guilty to.
MONSON: I am 100 percent outraged. I'm just completely outraged. I was so happy to find those letters because I felt like the institution needs to change. They need to change the way they do things.
GRIFFIN: Columbia University did not respond to detailed questions by CNN, saying in a statement: At the time of Hadden's 2012 arrest, we did not know about the 1994 letter. Had we been aware of it, we would have shared that information with the district attorney's office. And Columbia says it is cooperating with the new investigation.
GRIFFIN: And, Erin, the former chairman of the OB/GYN department at Columbia, Dr. Harold Fox, who responded to Dian's letter, he said through his attorney he would not be commenting either, citing that pending investigation -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Drew, thank you.
Anderson starts now.