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White House Holds Coronavirus Task Force Briefing; Deadliest Day Yet In U.S Crisis As Total Deaths Hit 900; Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D- CA) Is Interviewed About The Coronavirus Relief Bill. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 25, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Perhaps, relatively speaking, if you go back, look during the FDR New Deal days, there was something, that, if you time-value it, you could say it was bigger. I don't know.

But this certainly, in terms of dollars, by far and away the biggest ever, ever done. And that's a tremendous thing because a lot of this money goes to jobs, jobs, jobs and families, families, families.

The Senate bill, as you know, includes $350 billion in job retention loans for small businesses with loan forgiveness available for businesses that continue paying their workers. They continue paying their workers, that's what we want. We want them to keep their workers and pay their workers. This will help businesses keep workers on the payroll and allow our economy to quickly accelerate as soon as we defeat the virus.

$300 billion in direct cash payments will be available for every American citizen earning less than $99,000 per year. That would be $3,400 very quickly for the typical family of four, nothing like that's ever been done in our country.

Up to $250 billion in expanded unemployment benefits, the average worker who has lost his or her job will receive 100 percent of their salary for up to four full months. Unlike normal unemployment benefits, independent contractors and the self-employed will be eligible. So you have independent contractors and self-employed people will be eligible for this.

Over $100 billion to support the heroic work of our doctors, nurses and hospitals, they've been incredible.

$45 billion for a Disaster Relief Fund, so we are setting up a fund of $45 billion for disaster relief, that's more than double the amount available to support my national emergency and disaster declarations. It's a doubling up.

$27 billion to build up the Strategic National Stockpile with critical supplies, including masks, respirators, pharmaceuticals and everything you can imagine. Because it was very depleted like our military was depleted, and now we have a brand new military. Never had a military like this, we have equipment either coming or it's already come. For the most part, it's already come. But we have a lot of things that will some be coming, planes, missiles, rockets, lots of things. But the stockpile was very depleted, like everything else.

This will also include significant funding for the development of vaccines on top of the $8 billion we approved several weeks ago.

Over $500 billion in support for the hardest hit industries, with a ban on corporate stock buybacks, which is something I insisted on. And frankly, I will tell you, the Republicans wanted that and the Democrats wanted that. We want them to use the money for the companies and the planes or whatever they may be helping to get over this rough patch.

And I don't think it's going to end up being such a rough patch. I think it's going to -- when we open, especially if we can open it the sooner the better. It's going to open up like a rocket ship. I think it's going to go very good and very quickly.

And you're going to have some tough new limits on executive compensation also. They need the money, they're going to have to sort of just make things work because we're interested in the workers, the jobs and we're interested in the companies because that's really what fuels the workers in those great jobs.

And we also have $16 billion in funding for the purchase of personal protective equipment -- you know about that -- such as masks and respirators through the Strategic National Stockpile.

I encourage the House to pass this vital legislation and send the bill to my desk for signature without delay. I will sign it immediately. We will have a signing, and it'll be a great signing and a great day for the American worker and for American families and, frankly, for American companies, some of which were having the best years they've ever had these last few years. And then a little bit less than a month ago, they went into a position that they haven't seen because of the hidden enemy, the virus.

Earlier today, I spoke to the leaders of many of America's amazing nonprofit organizations. I thanked them for their unwaving and unwavering devotion to American people, to American families, to our nation.

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And they have been fantastic. They've been collecting supplies, distributing food, supporting health care workers, caring for vulnerable workers and families. I encourage them to continue to do it. But I will tell you, the nonprofits have been fantastic, they've been great, they're great people, actually. I know a lot of them.

Finally I want to provide a brief update on the critical supplies. Through FEMA, the federal government has delivered, or is in the process of shipping 9. 495 million N95 respirators -- think of that, 9. 4 million, 20 million surgical masks and we have others that we think are going to be delivered pretty quickly. The whole world, it's not just us, it's not just the states, the whole

world is trying to get these things; in competition with many, many countries.

I believe today you broke the 150 mark for the virus, we have 150 countries -- over 150 countries where you have this virus and nobody would ever believe a thing like that's possible, nobody could have ever seen something like this coming. But now we know and we know it can happen and happen again, and if it does, somebody is going to be very well prepared because of what we've learned and how we've done.

It's been incredible how we've done. Remember there's more tests than anybody by far and the news, the reporters, the media, always like to bring South Korea, they called me and they told me it's amazing your testing procedures are amazing. Plus we have a test that's a very high level test and it's a test that's very accurate; 3.1 million face shields, 2.6 million surgical gowns, 14.6 million gloves, and almost 6,000 ventilators, which go to the areas of greatest needs.

We sent over the last day, 4,000 ventilators to New York, and I spoke with the governor about that, he was happy, I spoke with the mayor also about that, Mayor de Blasio, he was very happy. It's hard not to be happy with the job we're doing, that I can tell you. Throughout this national emergency, everyday heroes continue to step forward to demonstrate the extraordinary character of our nation including the people behind me.

By the way, these people are amazing, they are amazing people and they have become -- I don't know, maybe I should just speak for myself but to me they've become friends. Maybe they don't like me, maybe they don't, maybe they do, maybe they do, I don't know, all I can tell you is they're talented people, they worked very hard.

In Maryland, a 7-year-old boy used his own birthday money to buy meals for dozens of senior citizens. In Nevada, a college student recruited 90 of her friends to help deliver groceries and supplies to the most vulnerable, this happening all over the country. Thousands and thousands of instances, I could stand up here all day and tell you about other things. In Minnesota, hundreds of medical students have volunteered to provide child care for hospital workers, helping to keep our doctors and nurses on the front line, fighting to save lives.

These inspiring Americans remind us that we all have a role to play in winning this great national battle and it's really a worldwide battle. We are dealing with other nations all the time, the people here are, I am a little bit. I take calls from a lot of people, they're in trouble, a lot of countries are in big trouble. So now we will hear from our great secretary of the Treasury, he has been working rather hard I will tell you.

Steve Mnuchin, he's a -- he's a fantastic guy and he loves our country, and he's been dealing with both sides, Republicans and Democrats, he sort of lived over in that beautiful building, it's a very beautiful building. To me, one of the most beautiful buildings actually in the world and he's gotten to know it, Steve, very well. So we could have a little update, Steve, it would be fantastic, as to how we're doing and what it's looking like. Thank you.

STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Thank you very much, Mr. President.

And first let me say, I would like to thank Mitch McConnell for his leadership and I would also like to thank Chuck Schumer for the enormous bipartisan support we had on this bill. And the many senators, both Republicans and Democrats that worked tirelessly over the last five days on the task force. As the president, said I got to live in the LBJ room for the last five days and we couldn't be more pleased with the unprecedented response from the Senate to protect American workers and American business in this situation.

The president has outlined many of these but let me quickly go through them. Again, small business retention loans, this will cover roughly 50 percent of the private payroll in small businesses where we will immediately make loans that will supply eight weeks of -- of salaries as long as they keep workers employed and overhead.

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And those loans will be forgiven at the end of the period as long as they keep workers employed. These are SBA loans, but the treasury will be issuing new regulations authorizing almost every single FDIC insured bank to make these. I expect by the end of next week we will have a very simple process where these can be made and dispersed in the same day. So this will be a very simple system to get money into small business hands.

For companies that don't qualify for that, we have an economic program of tax incentives to retain workers, and as the president said, we have enhanced unemployment insurance for people who don't fit into these two programs that will be administered through the states.

We also have economic impact payments, these will be within the next three weeks, direct payments into most people's deposit accounts and for those that don't have it, we will be having the checks in the mail. Treasury will have additional authorities; we have $500 billion that we can use to work with the Federal Reserve for emergency programs that will create up to an additional $4 trillion if needed to support American business and American workers in an unprecedented way.

And then finally, the president mentioned $100 billion to hospitals and $150 billion to states that have specific coronavirus expenses, as well as any additional things. Mr. President, I especially want to thank you and the vice president, you are constantly available to us, we spoke constantly throughout the day, you gave us guidance and quick decisions on many issues.

And again, thank everybody for this great bipartisan work, this is going to be an enormous help for the American workers and the American economy. The president was very determined that Congress would move swiftly to protect hardworking Americans and business in this unprecedented situation.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, Steve. Great job. Day and night, right?

Day and night, we -- was -- that was a lot of work. And we'll see how it all goes. We still need a vote, Steve, don't we, huh?

Do you have a question? Yes?

QUESTION: How long do you think this bill will keep the economy afloat?

TRUMP: Hopefully a long time. We'll see. If we have to go back we have to go back, we are going to take care of the American worker, we're going to take care of these companies that fuel this country and make the country great. It's not their fault, it's not their fault. But we think...

MNUCHIN: I would say -- we've anticipated three months, hopefully we won't need this for three months, hopefully this war will be won quicker but we expect that this is a significant amount of money if needed to cover the economy.

TRUMP: And don't forget, a lot of this is going to be -- to keep companies that are very strong, AAA rated companies previously, to keep them going and it's going to be in the form of loans, so the money's going to come back. This money is -- a lot of this money is coming back.

QUESTION: Separately, let me ask you about something you said yesterday, you said we should never be reliant on a foreign country for the means of our own survival. What did you mean by that?

TRUMP: Well, I have been saying that for a long time.

Well we're reliant on many countries where we give up our supply chains, we give up our factories we give up our production facilities and we can buy it someplace else for a little bit lower price but it's really costing us more when that happens because we lose jobs, we lose everything and we lose our independence and we can't let that happen. We have been making those changes.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... an executive order to basically ban the export of medical equipment?

TRUMP: I don't know that we'll need that, but I think it's happening by itself, I think a lot of things are happening.

While some people, we make the best medical equipment in the world and you have some people like the European Union, they don't take it because they have specifications that don't allow our equipment in because it's designed in a different way, even though it's a better way -- they're all playing games against us, OK? They've been playing games against us for years and no president has ever done anything about it.

But the European Union -- you look at medical equipment. We make the best medical equipment in the world but we can't sell it because -- well not appropriately and yet we take their medical equipment in our country. We're changing things, all of this is changing. But they have specifications that are equipment -- designed specifically can't come into their countries. It's a very terrible thing that's happening to our country.

And let me tell you, some of the people that took the biggest advantage of us, our allies. We talk about allies? They took advantage of us in many ways but financially as well as -- even militarily when you look at -- look, I have got -- if you look at NATO, the abuse that was given to our country on NATO, where they wouldn't pay.

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And we were paying for everybody, we're paying -- now, because of me, they're paying a lot. Now, they've paid $125, $130 million -- billion dollars more. And then ultimately, Secretary General Stoltenberg, who I think you would say is maybe my biggest fan, we got him to pay an additional $400 billion, billion, other countries. And -- but -- but that.

And then there's the trade. They make it -- they make it almost impossible for us to have a fair deal. They know this, they know I'm just waiting. We have all the advantages, by the way. It's going to be easy when I decide to do it. But this isn't the right time to do it. But we've been treated very, very unfairly by the European Union.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Mr. President, four Republican senators have indicated that the extra $600 for unemployment insurance may encourage workers to leave their jobs, even though you can only collect unemployment if you're fired. I'm curious what you think of that concern.

TRUMP: Well, I know the issue very well, we talked about it just a little while ago. I will let -- Steve, I'm going to let you maybe discuss that.

MNUCHIN: Sure. Now, the president, I spoke to several of the senators today. But let me just explain the issue, which is, we wanted to have enhanced unemployment insurance. Most of these state systems have technology that's 30 years old or older, so if we had the ability to customize this with much more specifics, we would have. This was the only way we could assure that the states could get money out quickly, in a fair way. So we used $600 across the board.

And I don't think it'll create incentives. Most Americans, what they want, they want to keep their jobs. And I said for 50 percent of these businesses, they will have the businesses keep those jobs.

So this was -- our number one issue was, how do we make sure that American workers who needed to keep getting paid -- this is no fault of their own -- that businesses have been shut down, the president and vice president wanted to make sure those hardworking Americans got money. And this was the most efficient way of doing it.

QUESTION: Senators that you spoke with, are they in agreement now?

MNUCHIN: I'm not going to comment on the specifics of -- of where they are. But I would say our expectation is this bill passes tonight and gets to the House tomorrow and they pass it. We need to get this money into the American economy and American workers. That's the importance of this.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: The one -- the one good thing, when you think about that, people would actually get more money. But we don't want to give a disincentive. But they have been talking about that. It's a good question, actually.

Yes, ma'am, please.

QUESTION: Yes, thank you. The family of -- on another subject, the family of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson says that U.S. officials have concluded that he's died in Iranian custody. Are you aware of that and...

TRUMP: So...

QUESTION: ... how did U.S. officials reach that conclusion?

TRUMP: ... yeah I have been very much involved in that. And he was a great gentleman and a great family. It's just -- I mean, I have to say this -- and they've been making this statement to the family, I believe. But it's not looking good. He wasn't well for years anyway, in Iran. It's not looking promising.

We've gotten so many people back, we got two people back this week, but Robert Levinson, who was outstanding, he was -- he's been sick for a long time. And in -- he had some rough problems prior to his detainment or capture, and we feel terribly for the family but...

QUESTION: Do you accept that he is dead?

TRUMP: No, I don't accept that he's dead. I don't accept it. I mean, I'm telling you, it's not -- it's not looking great, but I won't accept that he's dead. They haven't told us that he's dead, but a lot of people are thinking that that is the case. Feel badly about it.

QUESTION: Mr. President, you tweeted earlier, linking the closing of the country to your election success in November. Is this Easter timeline based on your political interests, because...

TRUMP: What do you mean by election success? No.

QUESTION: You -- you tweeted, you said that the media wants the country to remain closed to hurt your odds of being reelected.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: No, no. I think the media -- yes. No, the media would like to see me do poorly in the election. I think -- I think that...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Sir -- sir, lawmakers and economists on both sides of the aisle have said that reopening the country by Easter is not a good idea. What is that plan based on?

TRUMP: Just so you understand, are you ready? I think there are certain people that would like it not to open so quickly. I think there are certain people that would like it to do financially poorly because they think that would be very good as far as defeating me at the polls.

And I don't know if that's so, but I do think it's so that a lot of -- that there are people in your profession that would like that to happen. I think it's very clear...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Your own medical experts have not endorsed that...

(CROSSTALK)

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TRUMP: I think it's very clear that there are people in your profession that write fake news. You do, she does. There are people in your profession that write fake news. They would love to see me -- for whatever reason, because we've done one hell of a job. Nobody's done the job that we've done -- and it's lucky that you have this group here, right now, for this problem, or you wouldn't even have a country left, OK?

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Go ahead in the back, please.

QUESTION: Mr. President, two questions.

The first one, once you sign the $2 trillion package, how soon or how rapidly do you expect to see economic...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Who are you with? Who are you with?

QUESTION: I'm with CBN.

TRUMP: OK.

QUESTION: And my second question is, we are hearing you are pushing for April 6, to have direct payments issued to taxpayers. Is that the target date?

TRUMP: I think it's very much.

(CROSSTALK)

MNUCHIN: Again, I would say our expectation is within three weeks we will have direct payments out where we have depository information, and we're looking to get a lot more information and we have procedures to do that. So three weeks for that. And I would say the end of next week, we want all the banks to be able to originate loans, same day.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

I have two questions for you. One is that, tomorrow, you're going to be speaking with the G20 leaders.

And I want to know if you're going to lead an effort to craft a worldwide ban on wild animal markets so as to prevent another pandemic, given that COVID-19 is a zoonotic that was transferred to humans in trade of exotic animals?

TRUMP: Yeah, I don't know that that subject's going to come up. There is a lot of talk that that's how this all happened. Came out of China, and they say that's how it happened in China. So it's something, maybe will be talked about. But it's not the top of my list.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I think we'll have a very -- I think we're going to have a very good conference tomorrow.

QUESTION: Thanks. And to follow up -- and to follow up, also, and Dr. Ashish Jha, who is the head of Harvard's Global Health Institute says the key to getting this economy open as soon as possible is to test everyone who needs testing so we can quarantine all infected individuals and allow everyone else to go back to work immediately. Would you subscribe to that strategy?

TRUMP: No, but I -- we have tested more than anybody. I saw....

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: I mean, if not -- if not, how many deaths are acceptable?

TRUMP: Yeah. How many? None, OK? How many deaths are acceptable to me? None, OK? None, if that's your question.

Look, I saw him, I saw his statement. We have tested, by far, more than anybody. We're testing more than anybody right now. There's nobody even close. And our tests are the best tests, they're the most accurate tests.

But if you're saying we're going to test 350 million people? I watched his statement. I disagree with it. We can go to certain states, I could name them now but I'm not going to do that. But we could go to certain states right now that have virtually no problem or a very small problem. We don't have to test the entire state in the Middle West, or wherever they may be. We don't have to test the entire state, I think it's ridiculous. We don't have to do it.

A lot of those states could go back right now, and they probably will because at some point in the not-too-distant future, certain states are going to come off the rolls. Maybe New York can't and maybe California can't, maybe the state of Washington can't -- although if you look at them...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: ... their biggest problem was in one nursing home. Yeah, go ahead?

QUESTION: But the states aren't siloed. And so -- I mean, somebody, if you test one state and then the person moves over to the other state, well then...

TRUMP: Well you're going to -- just look at that. But if you take a look at the states -- and many states that I'm talking about, they don't have a problem. We have some big problems, but it's confined to certain areas, high-density areas. So why would we test the entire nation, 350 people?

With that being said, I'm going to say it again. We tested far more than anybody else. We are -- we have the ability to test -- I mean, we've come a long way from an obsolete broken system that I inherited. We have now tested, with the best test, far more than anybody else. And when I say anybody else, I'm talking about other countries. No country is even close.

They came out with a statistic, I guess yesterday, that I heard from Dr. Birx, where it's for eight -- eight days, here. More than eight weeks in South Korea. And South Korea's done a good job. But we did, in eight days, more than South Korea did in eight weeks. That's a big number.

And we're getting -- I said before -- exponentially better. Every day it's going up substantially. We have an incredible apparatus built now. But no, I don't want to test 350 million people. I think it's ridiculous.

Yes, please?

QUESTION: Thank you so much, Mr. President.

Two questions, one for (OFF-MIKE) because the U.N. asked the G20 countries to do -- for more resources for a coordinated stimulus package, ban on tariffs, waive all sanctions to try to prevent what they call an apocalyptic pandemic. Would you consider those measures?

And --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: With respect to what?

QUESTION: On tariffs and also related also to waive tariffs, and also sanctions --

(CROSSTALK)

[18:25:05]

TRUMP: We have strong borders.

QUESTION: And would you consider to join this global effort?

TRUMP: So before I came here, we weren't into borders, we had a country, people could come in, we had a whole different deal. Now we are up to almost 164 miles -- think of that. 164 miles of wall, big, beautiful wall. And in those areas, it's very, very tough to come in. We have been very tough on the borders.

I mean, where we have the wall built, nobody's getting through. Now they're going around, but that's a long trip, if they're going around, that's the way they get through. But, no, I'm very strong on borders and I don't want people coming in here.

What I want is if they're going to come in, they have to come in legally, they have to come in through merit. We're not having the people that you're talking about come into our country.

All right.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: -- another question.

QUESTION: Yes, sir, a question for you and for Dr. Fauci if you'll let me. Both republican and democrat packages of the stimulus included $25 million worth of funding for the Kennedy performance art center here in Washington D.C. Shouldn't that money be going to masks, respirators?

TRUMP: Well, I knew that I approved that, and I knew it was 35 million and we actually took off ten, but I'm a fan of that, although I haven't spent time there because I'm far too busy. I would love to go there evenings but I'm too busy doing things because that's more important for me than going there.

But the Kennedy Center has suffered greatly because nobody can go there, it's essentially closed. And they do need some funding, and I said look, that was a democrat request, that was not my request, but you've got to give them something, it's something that they wanted it works that way, when the democrats have treated us fairly, I really believe that we've had a good back and forth, and I say that with respect to Chuck Schumer.

I spoke to him a number of times, but they had requests also. So that was a request, there were 35, as you know, and it came down to 25, we got it down to 25 -- we agreed. I said that's a lousy sound bite, that's not a good sound bite, but that's the way life works. With that being said, the Kennedy Center, they do a beautiful job, an incredible job. David Rubenstein does a fantastic job. He's very much involved, and he puts up a lot of money and he does

things that a lot of people wouldn't be able to do or do, but they've been essentially closed. They have tremendous deficits that have built up. I mean this thing has been devastating to it. So I didn't have a big problem with that, but this was a request from the democrats because of the fact that they have a facility that's essentially closed down.

QUESTION: Another question sir.

TRUMP: Otherwise, you couldn't go there if you wanted to, If I wanted to go there tonight to look at Romeo and Juliet, I would love to see Romeo and Juliet tonight. You know what happened, they said sorry, 250 or 50 people, whatever it might be down to. Go ahead.

QUESTION: And then earlier today, Senator Marco Rubio told RCP that -- quote -- "The World Health Organization showed favoritism to China" -- unquote. And then Representative Michael McCaul, the ranking member on the House Foreign Relations Committee.

He questioned the integrity of the World Health Organization's director, saying "that there were several red flags in his past with respect to his relationship with China" Do you agree, do you think the World Health Organization showed favoritism, and then once all the dust settles, do you think that the United States should reexplore it's relationship with the World Health Organization?

TRUMP: I think there is a lot of -- certainly a lot of talk that has been very unfair, I think that a lot of people feel that it's been very unfair, it's been very much sided with China and a lot of people are not happy about it.

At the same time, Dr. Fauci and myself and other people, there are people on there that we like and we know, a lot of I think your friends are on there, a lot of good people, a lot of good professionals.

I don't know. It would be interesting to hear, if you would like to talk about the World -- WHO. But the fact is that I have heard for years that that is very much biased toward China, so I don't know. You want me to get you into this political mess?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: No, I don't want you to do that, but I will. So, Tedros is really an outstanding person, I have known him from the time that he was the minister of health of Ethiopia. I mean, obviously, over the years, anyone who says that they're WHO has not had problems, has not been watching the WHO. But I think under his leadership, they've done very well.

He has been all over this, I was on the phone with him a few hours ago leading a WHO call.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) China's transparency, sir?

FAUCI: No, no I'm not talking about China. You asked me about Tedros.

QUESTION: The World Health Organization was praising China for its transparency and leadership on their response to the pandemic.

FAUCI: You know, I can't comment on that, because, I mean, that -- I don't have any viewpoint into it.

I mean, I don't -- I don't even know what your question is, like...

QUESTION: Could I -- could I follow up on that?

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Welcome to...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

[18:30:00]

TRUMP: You know, let -- let me just tell you, I have heard that for years.

I spoke to him yesterday. It seems fine to to me. I don't know. But were the ones that gave a great response. And we're the one to get China out of here. And if we didn't do it, you'd have thousands and thousands of people died -- who would have died that are now living and happy. If I didn't do that early call on China -- and nobody wanted that to happen, everybody thought it was just unnecessary to do it. And if we didn't do that, thousands and thousands of people would have died, more than what's happened.

So maybe one more, Steve, go ahead.

REPORTER: When you have this G20 meeting tomorrow, what sort of coordinated response are you expecting?

TRUMP: We're not coordinating. We're going to have a meeting with the 20 nations total, including us, and it will be a conference call tomorrow morning sometime. I look forward to people I know, I like in every instance. I like every one of them. But it will be an interesting call. You'll be the first to know.

REPORTER: Next week, when the 15-day period ends, what should we expect then? Are you going to extend it for another week or two?

TRUMP: I'll be speaking with Tony. I'll be speaking with Deborah. I'll be speaking with some of the people that they like and respect and they're going to bring along with them. We'll be speaking with Vice President Mike Pence and Steve, and we'll be speaking to everybody. I'm not going to do anything rash or hastily. I don't do that.

But the country wants to get back to work. Our country was built to get back to work. We don't have a country where they say, hey, let's close it down for two years. We can't do that. It's not our country. So we're going to be talking, and it could be sections of our country. There are big sections of our country that are very, you know, little affected by what's taking place and there are sections that are very heavily affected. So there's a big difference.

But, no, I would say, by Easter we'll have a recommendation and maybe before Easter, and at the end of the 15th day or even during the 15th day, I think we'll have some kind of a recommendation, but our country wants to get back to work, Steve.

I have had so many people and they want to practice social distancing, and they want to practice no handshaking, no handshaking. They're not going to walk around hugging and kissing each other in the office when they come back even though they may feel like it. They're going to do -- they're going to wash their hands more than they've ever done. They're going to do all the things you're supposed to do. But, Steve, you know what, it's time, people want to get back to work.

I'm having -- I get it from both sides in all fairness, and maybe it's a combination of both, Tony said before, combination of both is sometimes very good. But there are areas that possibly, probably that won't qualify. There were other areas that qualify almost now. So we're going have to see what happens, but it will be an interesting period of time. I'd like to get our country back.

I have tremendous numbers of people wanting to go back. You have store owners where the store is sitting there, they don't know what's happening. They've got to get back. You have businesses that are going to be closed. The longer we stay out, the longer we do it, we want to go quickly. The longer we stay out, the harder it is to bring this incredible -- we're having the most successful years that we've ever had in the history of our country.

You saw what happened yesterday with the stocks and today they were up. I'm telling you, if Steve gets the deal done the incredible incentive it's going to take care of people, it's going to take of our workers, it's going to take care of our companies that employ all these workers, small and big.

By the way, I would say, we spend more time on the small companies than we did on the big companies. You know, people ask about that. We spent more time thinking about the small businesses than the big. And that's what -- that really fuels our country. We want to get back and the people want to get back. We want to get our country going again, and we will be able to do that.

So the vice president is going to stay with you and going to take a few more questions specifically, and I will see you tomorrow. Thank you very much.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, so we're going to continue to monitor what's going on at that briefing, but you just heard the president say, when this initial 15-day period is over with, that's early next week, he wants the country to get back to work. And he also reiterated that by Easter, Easter Sunday, in about 18 days or so from now, he will get a recommendation whether to move in that direction.

We're waiting to speak with the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi. We're going to get her reaction. But I want to go to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, first. Sanjay, the president very pleased by this $2 trillion legislative economic stimulus package. He says the Senate -- they're hoping the Senate passes it tonight. The House passes it tomorrow. He will quickly sign it into law. And he's hoping billions of dollars will go to hospitals and elsewhere to deal with this crisis.

[18:35:00]

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it's money that, you know, clearly, I think, people have come to understand is necessary. There is a lot of resources that are necessary at these hospitals, not the least of which is personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. I mean, we talk about this a lot. But in order to even do testing, Wolf, these healthcare workers have to put on this personal protective equipment. So everything is really dependent on one another.

And also, you know, the other part of this, Wolf, obviously, people staying at home and that's going to be an open question still, how long that period will last. But, you know, to be able to actually be able to offset some of the losses that people are (INAUDIBLE) and all that is important obviously for them financially, but also to be able to allow people to stay home. Because if people start to not become diligent about that, that's a concern. And we saw that in other countries, we saw that cases started to surge again after that, so hopefully that will help some of those workers again, Wolf.

BLITZER: I got, Daniel Dale, with us as well, our fact-checker. Daniel, what jumped out at you from what we heard from the president?

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Well, Trump continue to boast about how the pace of testing for the coronavirus in the United States compares to testing in South Korea. He is correct that the U.S. is now conducting more tests than they are there, but what he's leaving out is the population difference.

So the U.S. has more than six times South Korea's population. And so per capita, South Korea is still far outpacing the United States. We have approximate figures, but it's something -- it's fewer than 1 in 200 South Koreans who have been tested and it's more than 1 in 700 Americans who have been tested.

He's also left out the fact that South Korea has started testing much more quickly and implemented much more stringent post-test measures to try to contain this. And so, yes, Trump is correct in terms of the absolute numbers but he's not touting the full story here, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. I want everybody to standby. The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is joining us from Capitol Hill right now.

House Speaker, thank you so much for joining us. I don't know if you had a chance to hear what the president said, but he was upbeat. He predicted that the --he and Steve Mnuchin predicted the Senate will pass this $2 trillion aid package tonight. It will go to the House, it will pass the House and then he will immediately sign it into law. He praised you, he praised Chuck Schumer, of course, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leadership. What do you think?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, I'm very happy to hear the president say it will pass the Senate this evening. We thought it would be earlier in the day, and it's so necessary. As you know, Wolf, our country is facing a pandemic unlike anything we've seen in over a hundred years. It has -- the lives and livelihood of the American people are greatly affected. So from the standpoint of healthcare, which is the important issue, the health issue, because when we solve that then everything will bounce back I'm sure.

I want to take the opportunity to thank our men and women who are our healthcare provider, our first responders, our emergency responders as well for the sacrifice they make. And part of our insistence is that we continue to fight to get them the personal protective equipment that they need and they don't have at all yet. They are our heroes in all of this, saving lives by risking their own.

As we go to the economic side of it, I think the cure is the best answer to our economy. But we had the best minds in the country working 24/7, all hands on deck to take us to that place. In the meantime, we have to address the economic strife that our families are suffering in this time. And so I was very pleased that the set several days, the congressional Democrats were able to turn upside down the bill presented at the beginning the weekend. It was a trickle down corporate bill. It is now is bubble up workers' bill, and we're very proud of that.

I hope that it would pass the Senate quickly so that we could predict what time we can get on with it tomorrow. But we stand ready because the urgency is very clear. The solutions are not everything we wanted, but many of the provisions we had in our House bill are in the Senate bill and we know that we're going to need more for our states, for our cities, for hospitals, for healthcare providers, for our workers, for our families, for our economy.

BLITZER: How soon after the Senate passes it? And let's assume it passes tonight, Madam Speaker, can you pass it in the House?

PELOSI: Well, when we see that the bill has passed the Senate, our distinguished majority leader, Mr. Hoyer, will get 24 hours' notice, at least 24 hours' notice to our members that the bill we be on the floor and that we can show them actually what the bill is so they know what they're voting on and they can review it.

I believe that at that time, one option we will not have is unanimous consent because there are those who might object to that.

[18:40:01]

But we can take a voice vote. If someone calls the recorded vote, then we're prepared to go in that direction as well. But what is important is for us to recognize the good that is in the bill, appreciate it for what it does, don't judge it for what it doesn't because we have more bills to come.

At the start of all this we had two bills which were about emergencies, the first two bills. And the emergency isn't over but the focus was on those two bills. Now, we're mitigating for the damage of it all to the health and to the livelihood of the American people. That is in this bill.

And then we will go forward for recovery, emergency, mitigation, recovery, and, again, all along the way still addressing the emergency and mitigation needs by focusing on how we build the economy in a positive way as we meet the health needs of the American people.

BLITZER: Assuming the House passes the legislation as written and passed by the Senate, how quick -- and the president immediately signs it into law -- how quickly will relief get to those who really need it right now?

PELOSI: Well, one of the things we want to do is -- and we're doing it now. In fact, I didn't hear the president because I was on with my members. We've been on all day listening to our committee chairs make the presentation of what the bill would do, but also how members can enable their constituents to take advantage of what enables them to take advantage of it all.

And so it's important that people know that they're entitled to that provision but also that some things take a little longer, probably take a month to get the direct payments, which are really important. We had bigger direct payments in our bill, and we think we'll get more direct payments in another bill. But nonetheless it's still a process to get the checks out at the soonest possible.

So in different categories, what they're talking about, small business loans, you're talking about grants from small businesses, this the first time, small business grants, whether you're talking about unemployment insurance, whether you're talking about direct payments, whether you're talking about aid to hospitals, assistance, state stabilization fund, they all have their own pace, some of it almost immediate, others a little more time for the process.

BLITZER: It sounds like you and the treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, are roughly on the same page. He said there's going to be about three weeks before the checks start reaching folks out there, three weeks relatively quickly. He also says that the package is designed to help the American public for three months. Do you agree with him?

PELOSI: Well, the unemployment insurance, thanks to our Democratic members of Congress, and I salute Chuck Schumer because he led the way in that negotiation, we're at four months with unemployment insurance, and some of the provisions go even longer.

But I do think that if he said that -- I haven't heard him say that, but if that's the measure he has on it then that we are soon going to have, to have another bill. There's no way the states can bear the burden of this plague and this attack, assault on the economy and their states. I can speak with some authority on California. Governor Cuomo has been articulate in calling for more already. But that is not to diminish what we are doing now. So, hopefully, three months, we have the cure, it's all greatly diminished and that would be great. But I do think that the consequences of this will prevail for a while. So we have to be ready to not only finish the job but do it in a way that takes us in a very positive way for our economy. And to do so in a way that honors our values.

We're very prayerful for those who have lost their families, who have lost loved ones, families who are cases now in our country, again, prayerful for our healthcare providers and first responders and the rest. But, again, our scientists who are working very hard on this, but just because the -- we find a cure and that would be important, it doesn't mean that this all ends. This has had deep impact on our country.

BLITZER: I'm sure they have.

PELOSI: Let's hope that the need doesn't go beyond that. But I don't think we even have enough to go to three months right now.

BLITZER: He says three months and then they'll have to reassess where to go next.

Speaking of the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, he said earlier today that in terms of what New York State will be getting in this package, he says it's a, quote, drop in the bucket. He says, New York State needs a lot more. How do you respond to that?

PELOSI: Well, I completely agree with him. The governors need more money. We had $200 billion in our package. They had $150. But neither of those figures is enough to go forward.

[18:45:02]

And I've had the pleasure of hearing these concerns directly today, and I have great respect for the governor and his -- taking responsibility for the needs of his state. And I hear that from my own governor in California. In fact, I hear from governors all over the country that they need more resources, and they do.

And I hope that the Fed could be a resource for some of that money as well. Chairman Powell has said to me the interest rates are low, think big in what you do because the interest rates are low. I said back to him, think big in what you do because the need is great and we can't do it only with appropriated dollars.

So that, in our bill, we enabled the chairman of the Fed and the Fed to be able to do more for municipalities and states as well, and hopefully he will do that.

It is -- it's debilitating to the states. This isn't -- they were -- they have education and transportation -- you know, all the responsibilities that a state or municipality is responsible for, including, first and foremost, meeting the health needs of the population. But it is -- they need more and I don't want to say -- well, maybe a bit small bucket or big drop, but it is still several billion dollars, and at the same time, we'll be giving money for education and transportation -- and hospitals get 100 -- I think it's $130 billion the final number for hospitals.

So entities within the states will be well-served. But that doesn't diminish the need for those mayors and governors to meet their needs in their states as well. And we do have to do more. But that would be no reason to stop this step that we are taking, but we need -- we recognize this is -- this is bigger than anything we have ever imagined.

And I want people to have the confidence that everybody's doing everything possible, hopefully as much as possible in a bipartisan way.

Right now, the wrinkle is that the Senate Republicans are saying they don't want to give $600 to those with unemployment insurance over and above their unemployment insurance benefit. I think that that -- that discussion is indicative of what the difference between the two parties.

When this bill was introduced by Senator McConnell, it was corporate down. Now, it is worker up. And that's the difference between us, and why would the senators hold up this really important bill where the lives and livelihood of the American people because they resent people at the low end of the spectrum who have lost their jobs and getting $600.

BLITZER: Yes, that's three or four Republican senators who are making that threat right now.

I know you've got to run, but let me ask you a final question, Madam Speaker. What's your message tonight to Americans who are so scared and concerned about what their future holds?

PELOSI: Be confident. Be positive. We have to believe in America. This is the country we believe in and we have to be optimistic.

But I do also believe they have to understand that this should be science and evidence-based as we go forward. We want to be optimistic, but we don't want to be Pollyannaish about it. This is a scientific challenge and we have to think scientifically in how we meet that challenge.

I think that we could do better in that regard. But I want them to know that people appreciate the concerns that they have, that are putting aside differences so that we can move forward and wait to fight another day for some priorities we may have because we understand the urgency. And their priorities are kitchen table priorities of ours, too, and now, that's expanded to a health threat.

So, again, when it comes to health, science, science, science. And I wish that every person in America would subscribe to the fact that science is an answer to our prayers so that we can get through this in a very positive way. But our thoughts -- not only our thoughts, our actions are with them. And pay attention to the discussion. Thank you for all the work that

you all are doing to make sure the public is aware of this, the challenge that it is. But it cannot go away because we wish it away. We can't hope that it goes away. We can hope that it does, but we have to believe in what will really make the difference.

In my view, in every way, it should be science and evidence-based, done in a way that it really, truly understands that our economy will come back when our people are well.

BLITZER: Well, that's encouraging, Madam Speaker, you and Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, work together with the Republicans and the president to get this done. And let's make sure it gets done very quickly because there are a lot of people who are in desperate need right now.

PELOSI: Uh-huh.

BLITZER: Madam Speaker, thank you so much for joining us.

PELOSI: My pleasure in a sad time. Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

I want to go back to the White House.

[18:50:01]

This briefing is continuing. There's Dr. Fauci.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: Our Chinese colleagues are very concerned because they went through the entire cycle of the curve to come down. They have very, very few cases. What they're starting to see, as they're relaxing the constraints on travel, that they're getting imported cases, and they wanted to warn us that when we get successful, make sure you very carefully examine how you're going to release the constraints on input.

So I know we're going to be successful in putting this under control, but I think we're going the have to remember, we don't want to import cases in. That's the first thing for today.

The second thing that was important is that it was something that Dr. Birx mentioned. And that is when you look at the inflection of the curves, we now have multiple different countries that have gone through various phases of their individual outbreaks, and you can learn something from them, about where you are in your own outbreak.

For example, when China went up, what happened is they didn't just turn around, they went from going to -- I'll just take an arbitrary number -- 500 new cases a day, the next day it was 1,000, then 1,500, and then 2,000.

But once the number of new cases each day starts to flatten out, that's when you get to that point where the inflection goes down. So things we want to look for, the things that Dr. Birx had mentioned, that doesn't mean you declare victory when it does that, but you know you're at least on the way to where you want to go. And I think that's really very important.

The third and final thing that I think gets back to the question that many of you in the audience had asked of us, is about would this possibly become a seasonal cyclic thing? I always indicated to you that I think it very well might.

And the reason I say that is what we're starting to see now in the southern hemisphere in Southern Africa and southern hemisphere countries is we're having cases that are appearing as they go into their winter season. And if, in fact, they have a substantial outbreak, it will be inevitable that we need to be prepared that we'll get a cycle around the second time.

What does that mean for us in what we're doing? It totally emphasizes the need to do what we're doing in developing a vaccine, testing it quickly, and trying to get it ready so that we'll have a vaccine available for that next cycle, in addition to do the randomized control trial of drugs so we'll have a menu of drugs that we have shown to be effective and safe. Because I know we will be successful in put thing down now, but we really need to be prepared for another cycle.

And what we're doing, I believe, will prepare us well.

Thank you.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thanks, Doctor. We'll take a few questions. Please?

BLITZER: All right. We're going to continue to monitor this briefing over at the White House. I want to get some analysis as we do that.

Gloria Borger, you just heard from the speaker of the house. You heard earlier from the president. What's impressive, as far as this $2 trillion is concerned, they're pretty much on the same page. They want the Senate to pass it, the House to pass it and the president to sign it into law quickly.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And you heard -- and you heard the treasury secretary say that this really needed to get done. You heard the president be generous about the Democrats in this particular bill.

But it's very clear from learning about the details that what this effectively is, is a bridge loan to the American people. And that there is no saying that in a few months' time, which is what Mnuchin said it would last, that they may not be back again at the trough to have -- to have to deal with it.

So, it seems to me now that there's a way to work this out, and we can all take some solace in understanding that they are trying to get this voted on, and that they all understand the gravity of the problem.

BLITZER: It's an enormous problem right now.

Dr. Patrice Harris is with us, as well, the president of the American Medical Association.

What jumped at you, Dr. Harris?

DR. PATRICE HARRIS, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Well, certainly, we are encouraged to continue to hear that there is a priority for support for personal protective equipment and for tests and for ventilators again. But for the American Medical Association, our metric will be results. And we need to make sure that we get that equipment in the hands of those physicians and nurses and other health professionals on the front line.

I continue to hear that physicians and nurses don't have the equipment that they need. They're worried about their own health. They're worried about risk of infection and worried about risk of infecting their families.

[18:55:03]

So, it -- that is a very critical point. And, of course, we will have an opportunity to review, but it's also important to have support for physician practices. We have to make sure we maintain a vital health system, as we make our way through this crisis. But we certainly want to be prepared for the next phase after we flatten the curve of this pandemic.

BLITZER: Do you worry that the president's clear desire to get Americans back at work maybe as early as next week when this 15-day period is over with, and maybe see some reopening of much of the country by Easter Sunday, do you fear that could lead the a resurgence of this pandemic here in the United States?

HARRIS: Well, he -- we have to follow the science and the data, and that should really determine the next phase. You know, if we follow the science and the data, we will save lives. But if we ignore the science and the data, we will lose lives.

So it's not about a particular date. We have to make sure that the data and the science informs our decisions.

BLTIZER: What are the most important things do you believe the president of the United States can do right now to make sure Americans are safe from this?

HARRIS: Well, certainly this is an all hands on deck and we need everyone engaged. On an individual level, we need folks to stay home and practice physical distancing. The AMA has asked for the president to enact the Defense Production Act, so we can get the supplies in the hands of physicians and nurses and health professionals on the front line.

If we really want to flatten the curve, to make sure that we have a healthy economy, we have to focus on health. And we have to certainly do all that we can to stop the spread of COVID-19. BLITZER: Yes, it's really important.

Daniel Dale is still with us, our fact checker.

What else jumped out at you, Daniel?

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: One of the things, Wolf, is how much like his campaign rally rhetoric, Trump's rhetoric at this briefing was, like his rhetoric at previous briefings. We heard him use the phrase big, beautiful, wall. We heard him complain of, quote/unquote, abuse by members of NATO, singled out the trade practices of the European Union.

And so, I think, you know, while there is some important health and medical information being presented at these briefings, especially by people like Dr. Fauci, there is also Trump using this as a political platform to promote the messages that he's not able to promote at rallies because they can't hold rallies right now.

BLITZER: And, Gloria, you did hear during the course of the president's statement, his response to the questions. He went after the usual suspects, including the news media.

BORGER: Yes. He went after the news media, making the point that, you know, we would like to see them do poorly in the election, so we're rooting against him in this crisis, and that's ridiculous. We should almost not even dignify it honestly.

One thing that Nancy Pelosi said to you and she was signaling to Donald Trump is we can't be too Pollyannaish about this, and you have to trust the science. And, you know, every day, what Daniel is saying, the president gets up at the podium and, of course, presidents want to give you good news, but he gets up at the podium, and he's very self- congratulatory.

And today, for example, he said Governor Cuomo is happy with the ventilators. We'll have to see what he says about that tomorrow. We've done more testing than anyone. We know that it's not -- you know, we know it's about density, it's not about volume, right?

So, there are -- there are ways he's trying to show the American public, of course, that he's doing a great job. At one point, he said, Wolf, and I'm looking at my notes, he said it's good to have this group here, or you wouldn't even have a country.

And I don't know if that's the kind of message you want to give to the American people, but it's all about the sense that I am doing this better than anybody else, and we are doing a great job. And so you have these mixed messages coming from governors and coming from the podium at the White House.

BLITZER: Who do you think he's listening to most in coming up with these concepts?

BORGER: Well, it's very hard to know. I think he is listening to everyone, and I think he's torn. And one person, one source told me he's indecisive. But I think he's listening to the scientists who are telling him we have to look at this curve, we can't get overenthusiastic, even if things start to head in the right direction, as Tony Fauci says. And then he looks to the economists, and people at Wall Street who say we have to reopen this economy.

And I think he's reflecting that every single day.

BLITZER: Yes, and what's significant right now is at least right now, Democrats and Republicans and the president, they're working together to get this $2 trillion package passed to help the American people.

Gloria, thank you very much and to our viewers thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.