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INSIDE POLITICS

Brazilian Official Tests Positive After Meeting With Trump Last Weekend; Donald Trump Cancels Travel This Weekend Campaign Events Next Week; Donald Trump: Haven't Discussed U.S. Travel Restrictions But It's Always Possible If There Are Hot Spots; Bipartisan Frustration Over Lack Of Coronavirus Testing In U.S.; Donald Trump Restricts Travel From Most Of Europe For 30 Days. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired March 12, 2020 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:00:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That is a very important day part of our conversation. It's going to be part of our important conversation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Well, there is a lack of security. If they use Huawei as there is real problem of intelligence and intelligence security, we'll see what happens. We'll be discussing that point also.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: We have heavily tested. If an American coming back or anybody coming back, we have a tremendous testing set up where people coming in have to be tested and if they are positive and if they're able to get through because frankly if they are not, we are not putting them on planes if it shows positive. But if they do come here they have to we have to quarantine. It is going to be a strong enforcement to quarantine.

Look the key is we have to have separation for this thing takes longer to go away. I think you can say this for your country, I think we can say it for a lot of countries, for all counties hopefully it goes away. We want it to go away with very, very few deaths.

People have you know we call it cases, how many cases do you have? Well, relative to other countries, we have very few cases and certain of the major countries that really have a bigger problem than us. We offered just interestingly, I think we have the greatest doctors in the world, we offered Iran assistance. Iran is having a tremendous problem and we have offered Iran assistance. If they like it we would help, we'd be glad to help them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think Iran must be pressured if the Pentagon has determined that an Iranian backed militia fired a rocket to kill two American soldiers in Iraq. Should they expect a response? TRUMP: I'd rather not say. But let's put it this way. You will see. Again, I can't say. I was working on that last night also. A lot of rockets have not been fully determined. It was an Iran, it was a rebel group. But most likely looks like it could be backed by Iran and we'll see what the responses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President would you like to see the Prime Minister return to the White House next year? He is trying form a government at home would you like to see him--

TRUMP: I always want him to return, because he's a friend. We have been doing this now for quite a while. We started off both new to the job and yes, I would always like to see him. I know they have other people that I know I get along with very well. We get along with the country. This is a very special guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would like to see you back in Ireland again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course the American people, President Trump is always welcome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President - say to ball tomorrow Brazil - do you have the Coronavirus are you aware of that because you were in contact with that person.

TRUMP: I did hear something about that and we had dinner together in Florida and Mar-a-Lago with the entire delegation. I don't know what the press say if he was there. But, we did nothing very unusual. We sat next to each other for a period of time and had a great conversation. He's doing a terrific job in Brazil. We'll find out what happens. I guess that they tested right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can what update can you provide?

TRUMP: Let's put it this way, I'm not concerned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President yesterday we heard from the emergency room physician in Houston who had a patient who was showing symptoms for something and tested negative for the flu. This physician wanted to test this person for Coronavirus and got caught in what this doctor describes as stupid and trying to get through the public health agency in Texas and trying to get permission for this person to be tested. Is there something you can do as a President to try to cut through those bottle necks?

TRUMP: I was watching they have a minion test up now. They're going to have over the next few days. They're going to have four million tests and frankly the testing has been going very smooth if you go to the right agency if you go to the right area, you will get the tests.

With that being said, as you know millions are being produced. It is a brand new thing that is just happened but, millions are being produced. If you go back and look at the swine flu and what happened with the swine flu, you will see how many people died and how actually nothing was done for such a long period of time as people were dying all over the place. We are doing at the opposite. We are very much ahead of everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This person did contact the correct authorities but they were closed for the day, he was on hold for an hour simply trying to get a test.

TRUMP: Well, you are talking about one case. I mean, I can certainly look into it John. It's one case. I've heard also it goes very well. I watched Scott today who was with us and I respect him a lot and I like him and I respect him and he was talking about how we have so many different and in some cases California where we have too many.

[12:05:00]

TRUMP: And then in another cases, this distribution could be a little bit better for certain areas. We have done a good job on testing. You may ask Scott about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: No, I have other things to do. I am very busy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Sure it is possible. It is possible that I can also say that we can do it early. We can end it early. I thought it was an important thing to do because of what's happening over there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Well, I think the Democrats won't be having rallies. Nobody shows up to their rallies anyway so what difference will it make? My rallies are very big rallies. We'll be making a decision at the appropriate time.

I mean the next one is scheduled for the 25th and that's in Tampa but we'll have to see whether or not we'll do it. I am not going to do it if I think it is negative at all if we have not made that turn yet. We'll make the turn. The question is when.

And the question is how many people will die? I don't want people dying. That's what I am all about. I made a tough decision last night and a very tough decision a long time ago with respect to China, I don't want people dying and that's why I am making these decisions.

Whether it affects the stock market or not, it is very important but it is not important compared to life and death. So I had to make that decision and frankly people that are professionals praised the decision, it is something that I had to do.

I think you will see the end result is very good because of this. It will take a period of time. In rallies we'll make that decision but at this point we don't have - I was going to Los Vegas. I was going out to Nevada as I said. I was going to Colorado where we had Corey Gardner running and he's doing a fantastic job.

We're going to have Corey coming in here may be on Friday. We're going to do our event from the White House. We have a lot of things we are moving around because of what's happening. Because we want to be here and this is the nerve center, I want to be right here and I don't want to be flying around in airplanes all over the place. I want to be right here.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Well, actually people said you know, dealing with people that may be doing want to deal with it. I said give out about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wonder he is the White House Medical Officer of the Secret Service Counsel to you against staying too far from the White House?

TRUMP: They have not but it is common sense. A lot of it is and what I say is use common sense like washing your hands and you know certain things, keep a little bit of distance away, that's why sporting events are tough because you have people sitting in small seats right next to each other so it is a little tough.

What happened with the NBA is incredible but if you look over in Europe, and you see their big soccer matches were cancelled. It is pretty amazing when you think of what happened and how fast it would spread to the world. It was one country and then four countries and nine I'm reading this list every week and then it was 13 then it was 22. And now I guess it is over 100 countries. So it is an amazing thing how fast it spreads. This is a very fast spreader.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any more thoughts about the Tokyo Olympics?

TRUMP: No, I just wish the Prime Minister he's a friend of mine. Prime Minister Abe. I wish him luck. They did such a perfect job the venues are incredible. He was proudly showing me pictures of what they have done the last time I was with him. This is before this came up. And I said what a job and they built it very well. They built it on budget even under budget and their beautiful facilities I don't know.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: It is very possible that for the Olympics and maybe I just can't see having no people there in other words not allowing people. Maybe and this is just my idea, maybe they postpone it for a year. Maybe that's not possible. I guess it never happened with the Olympics. Although I think there was interruption for wars. It was cancelled or interruption. But I would say maybe they postpone it for a year. It is a shame because really I used to be in the real estate business as you probably hear. I build beautiful buildings and they build some really beautiful buildings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you make the recommendation to your friend, Shinzo Abe?

TRUMP: No, no they're very smart they're going to make their own. But you know I like that better than having empty stadiums all over the place. I think if you cancel it, make it a year later that's a better alternative than doing it with no crowd. [12:10:00]

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Well, we didn't shake hands today. We looked at each other we said what we are going to do sort of a weird feeling. We said at the same time we did this. You know I just got back from India and I didn't shake any hands there and. It was very easy because they go like this and Japan goes like this. They were ahead of the curve. Now we looked at each other we said and we also had a lot of press staring others.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Welcome to "Inside Politics," I Am John King, in Washington. You are watching the President finishing off a session in the Oval Office with the Prime Minister of Ireland.

We brought to you the part that we are cutting that now. Bit earlier there was a technical issue. The President discussing at length of the Coronavirus on the one hand suggesting maybe next year's Olympics - Olympics planned for a few months now should be cancelled for a year.

On the other hand saying back here in the United States the President once again being optimistic saying the stock market will bounce back we will get through this very quickly also saying that there is not a significant testing problem here in the United States with the Coronavirus. That's simply not a factual statement.

And the President down playing his contact in Mar-a-Lago last weekend with an aid to the Brazilian President. That aid the Press Secretary is now tested positive for Coronavirus and he posted on social media some pictures of him in very close proximity to the President of the United States, the President though saying he's not all that concerned about that.

Let's get straight to our CNN's Kaitlan Collins outside of the White House. Kaitlan a lot the President discussed here for the most part being optimistic but also making clear this is going to be with us for a while and also making clear that he does not like some of the elements of a big package of the Democratic House is planning to move this afternoon that they say is necessary to help Americans with paid sick leave and food assistance for kids who get lunch at school who now can't go to school and things like that.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes the White House actually has a slew of issues with that legislation that's happening on Capitol Hill. Though the House Speaker did announce and say they're going to bring it to the floor anyway. So those negotiations between Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are still ongoing right now. So we'll see how they end up by the end of the day.

I do want to point out of what the President said there about testing. That's a become widespread concern for most Americans as whether or not they're going to be able to get a test. If they feel they got symptoms of Coronavirus, and the President there is saying that testing has gone smoothly.

John that is just not what we heard from a bipartisan group of lawmakers who had a briefing with the President's own top health officials on Capitol Hill this morning and walked out of there deeply unsatisfied. I am not just talking about Democrats. It was allies of the President, Republicans who were also saying that the President needs to stop saying everyone who wants to get a test can get a test.

Because they say right now that's not the case. They were appalled by numbers of testing that you are seeing happening in the United States compares to what's happening in South Korea on a daily basis. They say we are just not where we need to be despite the President pushing for this optimistic message for testing.

Now these lawmakers say they are hoping that is going to change as the days come, but it has already been many weeks since we knew this problem was here and they are still deeply unsatisfied with how that testing have gone so far.

Speaking of testing the President there did talk about something that's really startling which is the fact that the Brazilian Press Secretary now has tested positive for Coronavirus. John, that's someone who has spent an extensive amount of time with the President at his Mar-a-Lago club just this last weekend on Saturday night when the President hosted the Brazilian Leader for dinner.

The Press Secretary was right there, there is a photo of him standing to right to next to the President. I'm told he had extensive contact with him and that of course the Brazilian Press Secretary also later attended a birthday party for Donald Trump Junior's girlfriend at a Trump Campaign Adviser that the President also attended.

Now we know that so far the White House has said the President does not felt the need to be tested. They say he has had no symptoms but whether or not this changes that calculus is still something that we are reporting out.

One other really main point from there was about those travel restrictions that the President announced last night that the Department of Homeland Security later clarified what exactly those restrictions were going to look like.

The President there is confirming what we reported last night that European Leaders were caught off guards by those restrictions. The President essentially saying he doesn't feel like he had the need to tell them because there were too many leaders to call and sometimes he says they make moves without calling the United States first.

Of course, that has caused a ton of chaos at air ports with American citizens abroad unclear if they can even get on their flight buying new flights at the last minute for really expensive prices. And so the President there saying he did not feel the need to tell those European Leaders exactly what he had in mind when he made that Oval Office announcement last night.

KING: That among the many stunning things out of the White House today and last night and recent weeks that you're going to announce the new policy that affects Americans around the world and American allies around the world and airlines industry and the economy and you don't feel the need to consult anybody. Kaitlan Collins live at the White House. Thanks very much appreciate that live reporting.

[12:15:00]

KING: With me here in the studio to share their reporting and their insights Seung Min Kim with "The Washington Post" CNN's Phil Mattingly Catherine Lucey with "The Wall Street Journal" and Julie Hirschfeld Davis with "The New York Times" showing me

There is a lot to unpack in what we just heard and then especially then if you connect it to what we heard last night from the President in the Oval Office. There is every right and reason for a President of the United States at the time of crisis to try to be optimistic and try to tell the American people we are going to get through this.

But, when you are optimistic absent facts or when you are optimistic and saying things that are not true, that adds to the confusion and the chaos that's part of the number that you see at the bottom of your screen and for the program we are talking about, about 80 percent of the gains in the financial markets of the Trump Presidency have been washed away in recent days by the Coronavirus.

I want to play one other thing the President said because I've just believed this is from a parallel of universe. On the subject of testing he was defending his decision, at the beginning the President said I did the right thing. We blocked travel from China that kept a good deal of the virus from coming in. He says it saves thousands of lives.

Now last night announcing very strong restrictions on travel from Europe the President getting it wrong in his speech. The White House having to clean up the details later but the President says the right thing to do and then he talked about Americans trying to come home or anyone tried coming to the United States and he said this.

I'm sorry we don't have this cut. We have been very heavily tested. If Americans coming back or anybody coming back we have a tremendous testing setup. Where people coming in have to be tested if they are positive and they are trying to get through because frankly if they are not, we are not putting them on planes if it shows positive. Are people being tested? Are they being tested getting on and off plane right now?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: My understanding is no. There might be self-quarantine when they come back to the country is the description I have been given.

KING: Under the new.

MATTINGLY: What lawmakers were told this morning is that they believe the people would have to self-quarantine for 14 days depending on what their history is where their travel history is. On the issue of testing, you counter of what the President said with what this top infectious disease officials said in an open hearing on Capitol Hill today, really the chief spokesman I think both Republicans and Democrats listen to it that's Anthony Fauci the top public health official on infectious diseases who said and I quote "This is a failing, let's admit it,"

And Kaitlan hit on the key point that I have been hearing and Seung Min has well today on Capitol Hill which the frustration over the testing is not just because the President says something exists does not exists. It says that the United States is to quote Anthony Fauci failing on this, compares to what Singapore has done compared to what South Korea have done.

They were told this morning in their briefing the close door briefing that it would still be a number of weeks before testing can scale up to the degree that they need to. How this is falling apart repeatedly over the course of the last several weeks even with the knowledge of what was coming which I think public health officials were honest about over the course of those weeks is stunning.

And I think people on the Hill who are hearing from their constituents who are getting phone calls constantly from their office are outraged and I think just frankly perplexed as to how we as the richest country in the world with best health system in the world are falling so far behind than anybody else.

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": We can't understand the level of frustration on Capitol Hill right now. I thought it is remarkable after the set of briefing with top health officials. I mean, we asked Senator Lankford whether the statement that the President had been saying that if anyone can get tested is that accurate. He is like no, it is not accurate right now and people should stop saying it.

And the fact that only about 11,000 people according to the administration officials have been tested in the United States where other countries have been able to do nearly that per day is a question that a lot of lawmakers have been asking and Senators relay the frustration that Phil just hit on too that their constituents are the ones asking them answers.

How can I get tested and what is the government doing to stem this epidemic. Because they're not getting answers from the administration and because the President of the United States is not giving consistent answers, they can't give answers to those constituents.

KING: So let's listen a little bit of that. This is on Capitol Hill today as you mentioned. The President of the United States in the Oval Office just said we are doing a good job on testing. Those are the words that the President of the United States. His top infectious disease expert told Congress this morning we are failing. We have failed and let's admit we have failed and let's learn and ramp up as quickly as we can members of Congress coming out of the briefing and Democrats and Republicans saying what?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): I see no effort to be prepared for the need for massive testing.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): It is very frustrating that we have been so slow in getting the testing. There is no question for that. You can't get wipes for your countertop you can't get alcohol and you can't get masks in our country. It is very difficult to get tests.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IO): There are questions that have not been answered and until I get answers, I would not want to make a judgment whether or not I am satisfied.

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): People should not say if you want to test you go get a test right now. That's coming that's not here at this point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The last two especially important Chuck Grassley someone who tried to be on the President's side is not willing to make a judgment but not willing to say all is well. James Lankford another conservative who tries to be an ally of the administration, people should not be saying if you want to test you can get tested.

[12:20:00]

KING: The President of the United States has been saying if you want to test, you can get tested and they are perfect and beautiful.

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": You see this a lot with the President that we have seen this before in some natural disasters or hurricane response he often wants to be a cheerleader and saying everything is going great whether or not that is actually the case.

And that's created an issue over the last two weeks as we've seen sort of an erratic response from him. He up until last night had really sought to downplay the severity of this. How many cases there were? Insisting everything was going to be fine. People shouldn't worry. And we did see a shift in tone last night.

He was obviously much more serious last night more somber made clear this was a bigger deal. He still wants to at lot of these moments suggest that everything is going to be okay. That creates confusion for the public because people don't see that it is said by everybody.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CONGRESSIONAL EDITOR, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Right I mean, and this also clearly these members of Congress are channeling the concerns of their constituents who are literally calling and trying to figure out if they can get tested in some cases being tested or not, able to get the results so there is a practical issue here.

But I also think there this goes to the President's overall approach here. The fact that the testing has fallen so short and there are so few tests being conducted means that we actually don't know the scope of either of the spread or where the outbreaks actually are? And so when the President says we are doing very well, there actually aren't that many people infected not that many people have died I think most of the public health community and lot of lawmakers now who have been talking about this with experts that they trust know that this is about to get really, really bad but we don't have a way to measure it because the testing has fallen short.

KING: They say they're flying blind because the testing allows you to understand A how quickly it transmitted, B how closely in contact you have to be. That allows them to use the day-to-day to estimate what the problem is going to be weeks from now a month from now and further on. But the President says we are going to be just fine and it will be over soon. I hope he's right but the testing thing is an issue there.

We'll continue this conversation. And tonight we know a lot of you at home have a lot of questions about this. We'll try to get to some of them in the time we have left today. You can join our Anderson Cooper and our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta for their second CNN Global Town hall on "Coronavirus: facts and fears" only on CNN tonight 8:00 pm eastern right here.

Up next what's the new normal looks like for you in a world battling the fight of pandemic.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:25:00]

KING: All Americans no matter where you live facing a new normal is the Coronavirus spreads and ripples through the rhythm of our daily lives. But part of that confusion and anxiety is the things can be different from state to state even from school to school in the same neighborhood.

The disruption hits sports hard, the NBA season suspended, major league soccer league suspended, that fate of the NHL season in the balance today. The impact also hitting the arts, Broadway might go dark. Television shows now shooting without audience.

CNN's Brian Stelter is joining us from New York. Brian by the hour or sometimes by the minute, things that are important to everyday Americans whether it is places of worship, whether it is schools or whether it is the relief we get from going to the theater or a sporting event being changed.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Right, that's right. Hour by hour we are seeing what is a kind of low keys slow motion shutdown really starting to speed up. Now we are seeing events across the country are being frozen. As you said every hour this is happening and changes.

So in the past hour we've heard from the PGA Tour which says events will go on but without fans. We have seen several basketball conferences cancelled the rest of their games which signals that March madness will likely be cancelled. I don't want to get out of ourselves here it hasn't happened yet but it appears March madness will not go on.

This is beyond sports as well in the past hour Paramount Pictures has postponed the release of a big movie they were about to release on March 20th "A Quiet Place II," now they're going to delay it because of Coronavirus. They have not even come up with a new release date yet, they just say it is postponed.

Also in the last hour, Jerry Seinfeld cancelled his performance here in New York City this weekend. And as you mentioned it does seems that Broadway Theaters are reevaluating the situations and thinking about cancelling performances. We're going to hear more about that in the coming hour John.

KING: Brian Stelter keeping track of these changes for us again they're changing by the minute. Appreciate your help there. And as we consider this just imagine for example being an American college student just studying overseas in a country that has a significant Coronavirus impact and you are worrying about that just as U.S. flights to the United States are being cut back because of new travel restrictions announced by President Trump.

CNN's Melissa Bell is at the airport in Rome tracking this part of the international rank of this story. Melissa it has to be frustrating both for Americans trying to get home and Italians or other Europeans thinking I'd like to go to the United States.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right I think for so many people here on the European continent whether they're American citizens or Europeans all sorts of questions throughout the day. Extraordinary scenes throughout the airports of the - but especially here in Rome, of course bear in mind that any Americans student who might be sitting here is facing already a nationwide lockdown.

That is that if you're moving around the country, you have to explain why you are going about. You have to be able to provide documents why you are going from a to b? No one can leave this airport or arrive at it without a written explanation of why this is essential to do so. So already this country was in a state of complete lockdown and this since the announcement on Monday night by the Italian Prime Minister.

Then add to that what was announced over night by President Trump and you have for any Americans who happened to be a great deal of worry. We spoke to one American student as she was about to get on the flight earlier on here today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was pretty nervous about not being able to go home or just being quarantine in my apartment here.

BELL: How was it booking a flight, it was easy enough to get on your seats up on the flight?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know my mom did it for me but I think that it's hard because a lot of them are getting booked out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BELL: She was very relieved to be getting on that flight back to the states, but the point is John that was one of the last ones that's going to be leaving Italy any time soon.