Return to Transcripts main page


Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) is Interviewed about Pandemic; Trump: 'We Cannot Let the Cure Be Worse Than the Problem Itself'; Fauci Frustrated by Trump's Misstatements; Japanese Prime Minister: Summer Olympics May Have to Be Postponed. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 23, 2020 - 07:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, ANN ANCHOR: New Jersey is one of the harder hit states in the coronavirus pandemic. There are now nearly 2,000 cases in the state and 20 people dead.


In just minutes, the state is going to open up a new drive-through testing center, and many residents who wanted to get tested over the weekend waited in long lines like this one. This line, you can only see one car there, but it was more than a mile long at one point.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy joins me this morning.

Governor, we do appreciate you being with us this morning. This new testing center it opening in your state today. How much do you think you have your arms now around the wave of cases in New Jersey?

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Listen, John, we're doing our best. We started meeting on this, believe it or not, in January. I formed a whole of government task force on Super Bowl Sunday, which was February 2. We've been trying to stay out ahead of this at every step of the way.

That's testing, that's being straight with people in our communication. It certainly means getting any personal protective equipment we could find, and that is really tough right now. Planning for more acute care beds. We're going to need an enormous amount of economic help from Washington. All of those fronts we've been aggressively pursuing.

We're not batting a thousand by any means. I don't think any state is. But we're going to expand this, particularly on testing, as you mentioned, as fast and dramatically as possible.

BERMAN: We heard from Governor Cuomo of New York and Governor Pritzker of Illinois, saying they feel like they are being put in a position to compete with other states for these much-needed medical supplies. How do you feel on that front?

MURPHY: Yes, there's only so much right now personal protective equipment out there. We've got a big ask into the federal government to get a chunk from the strategic stockpile. We did get a fraction of our ask. We need a lot more. The federal government, like so many other things, there's no replacing the federal government. So anything they could do is going to make a huge difference here.

And we're not waiting for that. We're turning over every stone through hospital systems. A lot of really good corporate citizenship.

But yes, we're all out looking for the same thing. And the last thing we probably need now is to be bumping into each other. We've got lives to save. And the more we get out of the federal government, the better it will be for all of us.

BERMAN: And do you feel like the federal government is putting you in a position, though, where you're competing against other states right now?

MURPHY: Listen, I don't have an insight into the strategic stockpile. But all I know is we need more. From the federal government, we need a lot more PPE, and they know that. And we've made our point and our requests known and secondly, both to the administration and to our leaders had Congress, states need a huge amount of direct cash assistance.

We're at the frontlines taking care of folks who are sick, lost their jobs, small businesses. We need the feds to come in in a big way to help us. We estimated over the weekend or late last week that New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, those four states alone need $100 billion from the federal government. That's the sort of economic toll this is taking.

BERMAN: I know you're reporting new unemployment numbers for the state of New Jersey today. Can you give us a preview of what will be reported?

MURPHY: I don't know what the exact number is. But it's gone up dramatically. We had one day last week where we had unemployment filings of 15,000 in one day. It crashed our system. It was the biggest one-day spike in the history of our state.

The only good news is -- and this is a silver lining at best -- is we were really strong going into the crisis. We had among our lowest unemployment rate in the history of the state. We had a big surplus. But we're eating through all the above right now, and folks are hurting.

BERMAN: The president put out a statement overnight. And I'd like your take on it. He said, "WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15-DAY PERIOD, WE'LL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO."

Can I take that in two parts? "We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself." What would that mean in this case? The problem would be number of lives lost; the cure would be an economic issue? What do you see as the tradeoff there? MURPHY: So I'm not sure what -- what was -- what was behind the

president's statement. We're going to be on a video call with him, I believe, and the vice president and their people later today.

But I would say this. As a governor at least, you're faced with two choices, two playbooks here. One is let this thing run rampant and just let it run its course, in which case the fatalities will be much more meaningfully higher. Those sickened will be higher. But the economic toll will be dramatic.

Or let's try to get out ahead of this. Let's -- let's limit the amount of fatalities, limit as best we can the amount of folks who are acutely sick, even if many of us get infected. Let's limit the really acute sick. And by the way, let's rip the Band-Aid off and take economic pain up front.

I'm all in for door No. 2. I think door No. 1 is untenable. Too many lives lost. Too much of a public health crisis. And an economic toll to pay at least as big as the Band-Aids that we're ripping off right now.

BERMAN: And I heard you say over the weekend that you are damned unhappy. I'm only swearing because you did. Damned unhappy that there are people not obeying some of the social distancing guidelines. They're still outside in groups. You're not happy about that.

So I'm wondering what kind of message it sends when the president is suggesting that maybe at the end of this 15-day period, you know, life can return to normal? Do you think we're anywhere near to returning to normal?

MURPHY: Two things. One is I can't -- again, I don't know what's behind what the president said. And secondly, I don't think my mother in heaven was terribly happy with my swearing.

For the most part, folks are doing what they should do. We're at war. I said this yesterday. We didn't win World War II because we panicked. We all got in together. We rowed the boat together. We were one family. We had courage. We were straight with each other in terms of the facts.

There are some still in our society and our state who are sort of turning their back on that, ignoring it. Thinking this is still abstract. We can't have that behavior.

For the most part, folks are doing what they need to do and should be doing. We need everybody to be doing that.

BERMAN: And you're talking, though, about enforcement, in some cases, of some of the social distancing guidelines. What does that mean?

MURPHY: Yes, I mean, you've got, John -- you've got folks, overwhelmingly, you've got folks who have anxiety who will understand this who are doing the right thing. And our job is to be straight with them with the facts, work together and lessen their anxiety.

Again, this is both no time to panic. It's also no time for business as usual.

We had some who literally didn't believe this, thought it was a hoax. I think that group has largely gone to zero.


But you've still got a group of folks -- they're largely young people -- who think, and bless their hearts, that they're in great health. And this -- this won't impact them.

The fact of the matter is, A, the data shows it could impact them. But far more likely, they could carry it, even if they're asymptomatic, and pass it on to a more at-risk generation: a grandparent. So we've got to get everybody -- not most of but all of us -- to social distance, to stay home. That's our big plea.

Please, God, stay home unless you're -- unless you're totally essential to our state's running or to the fight against this virus.

BERMAN: Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey, thank you very much for being with us this morning. We appreciate you sending that message out to the people all around the country.

MURPHY: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: We got all kinds of new developments tracking this pandemic. The Senate, will they vote on this huge stimulus measure to get money in people's pockets? That's coming up.



ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump is deploying the National Guard in New York, California and Washington, three of the states hardest hit by the coronavirus.


Joining us now, CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman, White House correspondent for "The New York Times."

Maggie, good morning.

As we look at that tweet from the president, there are interesting nuggets in your reporting overnight. And specifically as it relates to how the president is addressing this issue on a bigger scale.

And among the things that stood out to me, is as we talked so much about whether the president is actually going to officially fire up the Defense Production Act, you point out that, by not doing this, he actually avoids taking personal responsibility, when there are any questions about the speed or the delivery when it comes to what is needed. Which is fascinating, especially based on the heels of the president being asked -- I think it was in the last week, but I've lost track of time like many Americans -- whether he takes any responsibility; and he said no.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Look, the president has struggled with this, I think, for -- for months now. No president wants to say, Yes, I own all of this. But other presidents have said, Yes, the buck stops with me, and this president has tried not to.

By not -- by not invoking this act, the DPA, specifically with companies, among other things that happens is it does not free up a certain pool of money; and it does mean that the federal government does not have to basically own, you know, things if they go wrong in terms of trying to increase the medical supply chain.

Their argument, the White House argument is we've had a lot of companies coming to us, volunteering. We've seen a huge outpouring. And I think that is true. There are some companies that would like to see them put the weight of the government behind it, and they just haven't yet.

BERMAN: Maggie, I was surprised to wake up at 2 a.m., albeit, and see this tweet from the president, saying that we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.

Why was I surprised? Because it's so at odds with the tone that he has been trying to strike in these White House briefings for the last week, where he has tried -- whether or not he's succeeded at it -- to indicate that he will do whatever he can to help save lives in the United States.

That statement seems to be at odds with that. That's saying, You know what? It may not be worth it in some cases.

What's behind that -- do you have any reporting on what's behind what may be a change of heart there?

HABERMAN: I do. And John, if you watched the briefing yesterday, Vice President Pence sort of previewed this, that this was likely to happen, because he talked about the CDC guidelines are likely to be changed today to allow some people who have been exposed to coronavirus to return to work if they're wearing masks. That was related to this.

There is growing concern in the White House -- and that's what the president was expressing -- that they have gone to the extreme measure by letting health experts set policy that affects other areas of the government, such as the economy; and that perhaps these measures were not needed to be as draconian as they are.

What may end up happening, as a result, if they do end up loosening some restrictions after 15 days, is that you will see a disparity in how different states are dealing with this. You're going to have some states that are not particularly hard hit by cases who will probably be able -- that will probably be able to go ahead and continue functioning as normal. In Texas, for instance, you've seen sort of partial shutdowns of

counties, but there's been a resistance to a broader order by the governor, because there are counties that don't have cases.

In New York or in California, you are far less likely to see something like that. And I think that, because much of -- much of us in the media are based in New York, I think that the coverage is still going to show it impacting major states with large economies.

And I think that this is a challenge for the president, who is trying to, on the one hand say, Go about your lives. We want things to get back to normal. But on the other, This is a serious danger and a threat to the country, and we have to be careful.

And I agree with you. I think it's tough to narrate. But I do think that is why he's saying this.

HILL: There's also. As we look at what's happening and the people who are being directly impacted today, there's also the question, of course, of what's going to happen in the Senate later today, whether this vote will go forward.

How involved, if at all, has the president been behind the scenes in trying to help massage this deal, help get it done?

HABERMAN: I don't have a sense that he's been deeply involved. And candidly, I understand why he hasn't. And I think that's because, at the end of the day, if he -- he can be more polarizing than helpful, right? And him being injected into these discussions has not always been particularly helpful. He and Nancy Pelosi, in particular, have a terrible relationship, which does not surprise anyone to hear, obviously, after what we have seen with their last meeting together in October blowing up; and that was prior to impeachment.


But his officials have been very involved. Eric Ueland, the legislative affairs director; Steve Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, they've been working very hard to try to craft this deal. I think that there were some people in the White House who were genuinely surprised, and some Republicans, that the deal blew up last night. And they are hoping they can get it done today before the markets get more rattled.

BERMAN: So Maggie, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease official, had this remarkable interview with "Science" magazine --


BERMAN: -- overnight where he talked about how he handles himself when the president says things that he believes not to be true.

And he said, quote, "I can't jump in front of the microphone and push him down, OK?" He says, "OK, he said it. Let's try to get it corrected for the next time." He said other stuff, too, frankly, in this interview. He said, What do

you want me to do, he asks the writer of this article.

Does he have some get-out-of-jail-free card with the administration?


BERMAN: I mean, how far can Dr. Fauci go?

HABERMAN: -- he does not.

BERMAN: OK, what's the relationship there?

HABERMAN: Look, the relationship, I think, as you're seeing a doctor who is increasingly on edge and getting frustrated with things that the president, who he serves, is saying, and who knows that there is a chasm between what is -- what is true and factual about this virus, about some of the medicinal options that might be available. And the president is putting a very happy face spin on it. And I think that's been frustrating to Fauci.

I think the president knows that he needs Dr. Fauci, but I think he has started getting frustrated with what he is seeing. And so I think you're going to see a number of interviews where Fauci is sounding an alarm, for lack of a better word, more and more.

He -- he was pretty blunt with Maureen Dowd in an interview on "The Times" op-ed page over the weekend. He does not have a get-out-of-free -- get-out-of-jail-free card, but again, the president knows he needs him now; and I think that he is willing to give him some leash. I don't think that that leash is permanent. It can be extended indefinitely.

BERMAN: Maggie Haberman, very, very interesting. Thank you very much for being with us this morning.

HABERMAN: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: There are major new developments that might indicate what the future of the Summer Olympics will be in Japan. What two countries are now telling their athletes, next.



HILL: New signs this morning that the Summer Olympics in Tokyo may not happen as planned. Japan's prime minister conceding, in fact, the games may have to be postponed.

CNN's Will Ripley is live in Tokyo with more on this developing story.

Good morning.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erica. Yes, overnight, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did more than say

it's a likelihood that the games will be postponed. He actually said the Olympics cannot be held under the current conditions that are happening in the world, talking about the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Basically, Prime Minister Abe is all but confirming what a growing list of athletes and nations from around the world have been calling for, that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics cannot be held on July 24 as scheduled.

Now, in the next four weeks, what we expect to learn is what is the new plan? They have a lot of logistics they need to sort out in terms of the venues, the bookings, the billions of dollars that are at stake here.

We were talking to one economist who said it could cost Japan upwards of $5.6 billion to postpone Tokyo 2020. And they were already on track to spend $20 billion, way over budget, hoping that this would be Japan's comeback after the devastating earthquake/tsunami and triple nuclear meltdown of Fukushima nine years ago this month. But now, we have to learn the details.

And this comes as countries like Canada and Australia have been saying they're not going to send athletes to Japan this summer, because the athletes just don't have time to train. Even a member of Japan's Olympic committee said that there's no way that athletes in places like Europe and the U.S. would have adequate time to prepare.

There were countries like Colombia and Slovenia and Norway also calling for the postponement of the games. And it seems that officials here in Tokyo and the International Olympic Committee have finally bowed to that pressure.

But their message right now is patience, because they have so many massively complicated logistical details to work out. When you postpone an event like the Olympics, it has a tidal wave effect around the world.

But of course, the world is in the midst of dealing with an unprecedented crisis, and it seems like Tokyo 2020 is just the latest casualty -- Erica.

HILL: Will Ripley for us, live in Tokyo. Will, thank you. We'll continue to stay on that as it develops -- John.

BERMAN: All right. A stark new warning from the surgeon general on the coronavirus pandemic. NEW DAY continues right now.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The infection rate is going to be tremendous.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm announcing action to help New York, California and Washington ensure that the National Guard can effectively respond to this crisis. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need millions of masks and hundreds of thousands

of gowns and gloves. So we're out on the open market competing for these items.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Every single one of them has been on record preventing us from taking the next step.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The markets are sending a message to these politicians that they have to stop playing politics. This isn't a stimulus package. It's an investment in survival.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): What it has is a giant, giant corporate bailout fund with no accountability.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: Good morning and welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, March 23. It is 8 a.m. in the East.

Erica Hill joins me this morning. Alisyn is on a long-planned day off.

Happening now, the U.S. surgeon general is issuing a sobering new warning for the nation. This is Dr. Jerome Adams just moments ago.


DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: I want America to understand, this week, it's going to get bad, and we really need to come together as a nation. I heard the stories that you were just playing, young people out on beaches. We see here in D.C. that the district set up a cam for people to watch the cherry blossoms.