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Interview with Gen. Stanley McChrystal; New York, New Jersey, Connecticut Tristate Announce Joint Closures; Interview with Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA). Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 16, 2020 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00]

CHRIS FUSSELL, PRESIDENT, MCCHRYSTAL GROUP: -- previous generation was, it's a distributed network of fighters, right?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Yes.

FUSSELL: This is a network-based disease spread, right? So you have to restructure the way an organization interacts. And one of the major points that was put in place immediately by General McChrystal and his leadership team was, massive communication structures, transparency, communicating with thousands of people inside our organization every single day. That's going to be an important step, moving forward.

HARLOW: There are lessons here on leadership for corporate America, for, you know, big business CEOs, but also people leading small businesses. I told you, General McChrystal, I sent your op-ed earlier this morning to my husband because I thought it would be so helpful and instructive in terms of how does he lead his team remotely.

You write in part, quote, "Your role as a leader is to be brutally honest about what is achievable in the coming weeks and months as this disruption continues and ripples across the economy." Talk about the importance of that candor, and just sort of telling people how hard it is going to be, and being brutally honest with them.

STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, FORMER U.S. COMMANDER IN AFGHANISTAN: Well, the thing is, people have access to tremendous amounts of information, and they're smart.

HARLOW: Yes.

MCCHRYSTAL: And they will figure it out, but they will also fill a vacuum up. If you give false information, what happens is, they fill up what you did and you lose credibility, but also sometimes they'll fill it up with worse than reality.

So it's important the leaders say, we have a huge hill to climb. We've got a big problem here, but we can do it. And so leaders provide a reality check, but also a confidence-building set of inspiration.

HARLOW: Chris, what should business leaders say to their employees now, who are asking them, is my job going to be safe? Are you going to pay me if I'm out for weeks with this?

FUSSELL: Well, I think your point is critical there, Poppy. The first thing they need to do is start talking with their people. Everyone we talk with now, they've set up their COVID response team, et cetera. That's a good first step, but that's a small part of the organization.

Set up daily -- maybe every other day -- calls with as many people in your organization as you can get dialed in. The first thing you have to do is have a platform where you can have those conversations.

And then speak honestly. We don't know what's going to happen. If you tell your people you have a clear, exact understanding, they'll know you're either crazy or lying. So put in place a system where you can start having honest conversations with your people.

HARLOW: General McChrystal, tell me why you thought it was so necessary to write this in this moment, right now? What were you feeling and seeing that led you to this?

MCCHRYSTAL: Well, we are in a fight against an enemy, a virus. But the nation's going to have to operate, businesses are going to have to operate. They provide functions that we all need, and they provide business -- you know, income -- but also they provide a sense of teamwork and belonging to something.

HARLOW: Yes.

MCCHRYSTAL: So we can't let the fabric of that be torn. We can't let everybody go home and suddenly feel isolated, or we'll lose what binds us together.

HARLOW: What do you think, Chris -- and you know, we get a lot more from work than a paycheck, which is critically important, and health care for those who are lucky enough to have it. But a sense of community and belonging and necessity, right? How can we keep that up at this moment?

FUSSELL: That's right. And that's one of the similar parallels to what we went through. We'd grown up with a common headquarters, where you came in and you had those hallway conversations and you went to the gym together in the morning. Suddenly, that was all gone. We were distributed around the world in small pockets for years.

Leaders have to step in and fill that void because it's the culture that holds us together, that underbids (ph) the effectiveness of an organization. And leaders have to step into that breach right now and start filling it through a virtual platform, which can be challenging and different, but they have to start today.

HARLOW: Thank you both for writing this, for the advice. General Stanley McChrystal, Chris, to you as well, thanks very much.

MCCHRYSTAL: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: This just in, three governors coming together to announce a ban. Brynn Gingras, back with us on the breaking news. What have you learned, Brynn?

Oh, all right, we don't have her. We'll get you that as soon as we get the connection back.

[10:33:55]

Of course, we have a close eye on the market there, the Dow off 2,000 points as the Fed cuts rates to zero. It does not calm Wall Street, nor did the president's comments over the weekend. We'll bring you an update on that, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: This morning, U.S. markets, plunging. Look at that, the Dow down 2,000 points after the Federal Reserve cut rates to zero but Wall Street did not respond favorably. Trading halted at the open this morning after a seven percent decline-plus, that hit the 15-minute pause -- a circuit breaker, as it's known.

What are we in store for? Beyond the market, what does this mean for you at home? Kevin Hassett is with me and I'm so glad he is, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors.

You worked in the Trump White House, you were his lead economist. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is downplaying the risk of a recession; former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers says 85 to 90 percent chance there is a recession and it won't be mild. And Gary Cohn, who worked with you at the White House, says we're already in a recession. Are we in or heading to a recession?

KEVIN HASSETT, CNN ECONOMICS COMMENTATOR: Right. You know, I think that the odds of a global recession are close to 100 percent right now.

HARLOW: Wow.

HASSETT: I think in the U.S., it's -- we're going to have a very terrible second quarter. You know, we just -- at the Lindsey Group, we just ran the numbers carefully over the weekend and we think second quarter's going to be about minus-five percent, and we think the jobs number in early April might be, you know, as much as minus a million or so because there are going to be a lot of -- there nobody -- nobody's going to get hired next week in the (INAUDIBLE) week --

HARLOW: Sorry --

HASSETT: -- it's -- it's -- and so the point is just that you're going to have one really bad quarter. If you're going to have a bad -- a recession, then you're going to have two bad quarters. And I think that's going to depend on, you know, whether we get ahead of curve about (ph) the coronavirus. And that's a big unknown right now.

HARLOW: OK, Kevin, just to -- you just -- a lot of news there. Not only did you say close to a hundred percent chance we have a global recession, but you think we --

HASSETT: Right.

HARLOW: -- will lose a million jobs in April?

[10:40:00]

HASSETT: You know, it's a very, very hard thing to figure. But basically, what happens in the job market is that the gross flows in and out of work are much bigger than the net. And so that there are millions and millions of people who are hired and fired every month, and then that 200,000 number you see is the net. If it's positive, then that means there are more hires than fires.

And the issue is just that we think that next week, the survey week, there're going to be basically no hires, but there will probably be a normal amount of fires. And if that happens, you're looking at one of the biggest negative jobs numbers that we've ever seen.

Now, of course, that would hopefully reverse itself quickly if we get ahead of the curve on this, but there's a whole bunch of really bad numbers coming in and I think that's why the market is responding the way it is right now, to the Federal Reserve's action. I think the market understands that the Fed, with hundreds of economists, has really started to think about the numbers that are coming in and is really sure they're going to be terrible, which is why they did this extraordinary action.

HARLOW: Potentially one of the worst jobs numbers we've ever seen, wow.

HASSETT: Yes.

HARLOW: I think everyone, bracing for that.

OK, Kevin, help me understand what we can do. So there's little ammunition left for the Fed, right? Here, they've already cut down to zero. They've already instituted essentially Q.E. once again, with buying up these mortgage-backed securities and bonds.

Should they start -- the federal government start guaranteeing credit lines, start buying up corporate debt? I'm really concerned about corporate debt, what this means. Should they start buying up ETF stocks? What do you think?

HASSETT: Right. Well, I think that what has to happen is that we need a fiscal policy response now. I think that, you know, the House is right to help people that are separated from work, but we really do need something like what the president's talking about, a payroll tax holiday for about a month.

And the way to think about it is that, you know, businesses are going to have to pay wages for people even though there aren't a lot of sales because everybody's staying home. And so if you have a payroll tax holiday, then basically what you're doing is giving, you know, a big chunk of payroll both to workers and to firms to help them see through a good three or four months -- HARLOW: But --

HASSETT: -- that are going to be super-negative. And so I think that if Congress doesn't understand that we're looking at maybe one of the worst jobs numbers we've ever seen, and we're looking at a negative GDP number in the second quarter that's really large, you know, if they don't understand that, then they cannot do a stimulus for sure.

But they need to understand that, and they need to give a big stimulus right now. And if they have a better idea than a payroll tax holiday, then they should pass that. But if they don't take a big action, then that minus-five percent will spread into the third quarter and you're going to look at a recession.

HARLOW: I hear you on the payroll tax cut, but I just think it's very -- the limitations of it are -- certainly doesn't help unemployed Americans, it doesn't really help our hourly lowest-income workers. You just add to the debt and the deficit, which I know we have to keep things in perspective here this morning, but even the conservative Heritage Foundation said that it's just not the right move. Is it really enough? Or do you think something TARP-like?

HASSETT: Right, well, I think that this is -- you know, the president's proposed keeping it on through the end of the year. I think that you definitely need it in the second quarter because it's something that you can turn on right away, and it could -- you know, that minus-five percent could be maybe even a zero or a slight positive number if you have a big payroll tax holiday.

But if you don't act now, then what's going to happen is you're going to get that really bad number, and then you're going to start to see business defaults and the like --

HARLOW: Yes.

HASSETT: -- and it could really start to spin out of control.

HARLOW: OK, sobering message from someone who knows this stuff as well as anyone. Kevin Hassett, I really appreciate your time this morning.

HASSETT: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: Thanks very, very much.

All right, so here is the breaking news that we want to get back to. Three governors, coming together to announce restrictions in the middle of this crisis. Brynn Gingras has more.

Brynn, what are they doing.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Essentially, these three governors, Poppy, are banding together. The theory here is that because the Tristate is obviously such a mobile area -- people live in different states and commute into the city, vice-versa -- they needed to band together and really make an effort here with a large -- on larger scale.

And essentially, what's going to happen is in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, bars and restaurants are going to close. And that begins tonight. That means restaurants who serve food will be takeout-only. Bars that don't serve food are going to close. And then areas of entertainment are also going to be closed. That's talking about gyms and casinos, movie theaters.

So this is all as -- you know, of course, the CDC has recommended that there should not be crowds of 50 or more people together. And so this is the effort that these three states are banding together to take.

In addition to that, Poppy, New Jersey is going even a step further. We're learning from the governor that he has enacted a statewide curfew, and that goes into effect immediately as well, 8:00 p.m. to I believe 5:00 a.m., only essential people who have to go to work -- like nurses, doctors and others -- will be allowed to travel during those times.

So these are major steps that the Tristate is taking. Again, it's because of not only the population in this area, but also just the fact that everybody is so mobile within these three states.

HARLOW: Just quickly, Brynn, what state is it again that everyone has to be indoors by 8:00 p.m.?

[10:45:02]

GINGRAS: That is New Jersey.

HARLOW: OK.

GINGRAS: I want to make sure I have my information correct, but I believe it is the 8:00. But it's definitely --

HARLOW: OK.

GINGRAS: -- New Jersey who's enacting this curfew --

HARLOW: Wow.

GINGRAS: -- actually, I'm a Hoboken resident. This is actually --

HARLOW: Affects you.

GINGRAS: -- was enacted over the weekend, that this curfew was put in place --

HARLOW: OK.

GINGRAS: -- but yes, now the whole state.

HARLOW: OK, Brynn, thank you very much for that reporting. Quick break, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARLOW: In case you missed it, a striking moment last week. In an attempt to ensure free coronavirus testing for everyone in this country, watch this.

[10:50:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): Will you commit to invoking your existing authority under 42 CFR 71.30 to provide for coronavirus testing for every American, regardless of insurance coverage?

ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: What I was trying to say is that CDC is working with HHS now to see how we operationalize that.

PORTER: Dr. Redfield, you don't need to do any work to operationalize. You need to make a commitment to the American people so they come in to get tested. You can operationalize the payment structure tomorrow.

REDFIELD: I think you're an excellent questioner, so my answer is yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: She asked and asked and asked again, and got an answer. With me now is Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter of California. Congresswoman, thank you for being here. But as I understand it, the CDC at the end of that, was sort of backtracking. Is it guaranteed now for all Americans, to be free?

PORTER: So he -- the director of the CDC, when I pressed him in that questioning, he was under oath. So I intend to hold him 100 percent accountable for his answer. It's not OK to say yes just because it's a tough question. You are under oath, giving an answer not just to me but more importantly, to the American people.

And of course the House's bill, the Families First bill, the House's coronavirus bill that we passed, very early Saturday morning, in the middle of the night on Friday, also provides for free testing. So nobody should --

HARLOW: OK.

PORTER: -- be hesitant to go in for testing because of a lack of insurance or a fear about the cost.

HARLOW: So that legislation, expected to be passed by the Senate, signed by the president, should ensure this for people.

Can we talk about what else, Congresswoman, that bill does and doesn't do? Because I don't want people to misunderstand it as guaranteeing paid sick leave for everyone as long as they need it for example, or if they're not sick but lose their job because their restaurant closed, then what? Right? It's not foolproof here. PORTER: No, the bill is not comprehensive and the House is working on

another bill. We're going to keep taking action to make a difference.

One of the parts of the bill that I think is going to work really well and is going to be really important is the $1 billion in food assistance. This includes things like senior nutrition, Meals on Wheels, additional funding for SNAP and school lunch.

Right here today in Irvine, schools are closed because of coronavirus but there are eight locations here in Irvine where anyone can go -- any school child can go -- drive up, walk up and get a free school lunch today, to go.

HARLOW: Right.

PORTER: And so some of that money is already affecting decisions that schools are able to make.

With regard to the sick leave, I'm incredibly frustrated that we exempted employers with 500 or more employees --

HARLOW: Why?

PORTER: -- these corporate special interests --

HARLOW: Why did you do that? I mean, that would include McDonald's, many of the big fast food chains.

PORTER: This was absolutely -- we were told by Speaker Pelosi that this was all that Secretary Mnuchin and the Trump administration would agree to. But I am very unhappy about it. I think the large employers, we know that they have the most flexibility and the most financial ability to accommodate providing sick leave.

So I'm calling on large employers to step up and permanently enact 10 to 14 days of paid sick leave. So we're seeing a few corporations do that, but they all need to do it. And if not, I'm heading back to Washington to try to make that happen.

HARLOW: We heard former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Sanders in the debate, both last night agree on one thing. And that is, in their opinion, Americans should be made whole (ph) whose job is going away because of this, who's sick, you name it. But is that realistic, Congresswoman? How can America do that right now? Can we do that?

PORTER: I don't think there's any quick path to make all of this struggle go away.

HARLOW: Yes.

PORTER: I've lived through this for the foreclosure crisis. It's not going to be quick, but there are some real lessons from the foreclosure crisis about what to do and what not to do here. We cannot be focusing on bailing out industries that leveraged up with too much corporate debt. Instead, we have to be putting, as Speaker Pelosi said, families first but really delivering on that. So I think it's going to be time, very quickly, to talk about cash

assistance to families. We have expanded unemployment insurance. Those are the kinds of things that are going to work.

One of my real worries right now is that Governor Newsom, here in California, has banned gatherings of 50 or more people. And he's also directed those who are 65 and older to stay in their homes, to protect themselves.

Over half of the members of Congress or about half of the members of Congress from California are over 65 years, so that's why I pushed very hard for a remote voting procedure before we left Washington. I'm still pressing for it, I think it's incredibly important. That every community's member of Congress can still be their voice, even if we can't travel.

HARLOW: We'll see where that goes.

But you bring up cash assistance, that is a very important question right now. We'll make sure to ask the White House as they join us on that. Thank you, Congresswoman Katie Porter.

PORTER: Thank you.

HARLOW: OK. So more breaking news in to CNN, the Supreme Court, announcing this morning, they're postponing all of the oral arguments that are upcoming due to the coronavirus. Our Ariane de Vogue joins us on the phone. This is a huge move by the High Court.

[10:55:06]

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: It's a huge move, Poppy. And it's unusual, it's not unprecedented but it's unusual. And what it means is that about 11 cases that were going to start to be heard around March 23rd, won't be heard. They'll be postponed.

And of course, Poppy, that included Trump's bid to shield his financial documents. Remember, that big case as well as a big copyright case, pitting Google against Oracle.

The court did say that they're going to meet behind closed doors on May 20th. That's for their regular conference, but they said that some of the justices may call in. And of course, the court has six members who are over 65 years old.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on Sunday, she just turned 87. She's a four-time cancer survivor, so that was probably included so say that they'll meet behind closed doors, but some of the justices, if they want to stay from home and call in --

HARLOW: OK.

DE VOGUE: -- they can do that, Poppy.

HARLOW: Ariane de Vogue, I appreciate it very much.

Thanks to all of you for joining us. I'll see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow. Kate Bolduan takes over after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)