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Northeast Governors Discuss Plan To Reopen Amid Coronavirus; White House Denies Trump Considering Firing Dr. Fauci After Trump Retweets "Fire Fauci" Message; Trump Claims Its His Decision To Reopen, Not The Governors; Sanders Endorses Biden After Dropping Out Of 2020 Race. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired April 13, 2020 - 14:30   ET


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Whenever we start talking about what it's like -- going to be like as part of the reopening, it may send the message that it's OK to start lightening up on some of these stay-at-home orders. Now, Governor Cuomo, you know, pushed back on that pretty forcefully, as did I think Governor Murphy's saying, we're not saying that, you know, we're saying we have to keep the course right now.

Can we keep the course right now and still plan for the future and do it in this regional approach? And I think that's the point they were trying to make, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It is a difficulty, though. I mean, even for from a reporting standpoint, you know, as one understandably discusses the next steps of how to get places back online. It does seem to, you know, one has to constantly remind everybody that social distancing is working. And it's important to keep that going.

GUPTA: Yeah, and this idea that there's other places I think as -- I think, again, it was Governor Murphy referred to it as the COVID corridor, you know, the this sort of region of the country that we're talking about, but also drawing the analogy to other places around the world that have at times, you know, sort of started to lighten up some of these stay-at-home type recommendations, orders, whatever, depending on which country and seen some resurgence of cases and sometimes significant resurgence of cases in those places.

So it's sometimes hard to see it if you're not directly experiencing, if you don't know anybody who's had the infection, if you're not living in a place where the virus seems to be circulating as robustly, but it's there and I think that's a point that -- and I think they've tried to make, I think everybody at least on that call that I was just listening to, sort of seem to make that same point, that not only do we now have evidence that it's working in some places like New York, that curve is flattening. I think a term that most of the country knows by now, but if you lighten up, if the curve is not only not likely to remain flat, you might start to see these peaks again, Anderson.

COOPER: So the White House Press Office has now said that the President has no intention of firing. Dr. Fauci. First of all, they don't have a great track record of predicting who the President is going to fire and not so take that for what it's worth.

But this whole thing has come to the fore because the President retweeted somebody tweet with that at a hashtag fire Fauci after Dr. Fauci, you know, talk to Jake Tapper on Sunday and said, you know, yeah, of course, if -- and I'm paraphrasing, if these, you know, stay at home orders and social distancing had been instituted sooner, fewer people will get sick and fewer people would die. That's just a scientific fact, it's not necessarily criticism of anybody in particular.

I'm wondering what do you make to this back and forth? I mean, I'm not exactly clear on why the President retweets, the things he does. But you know, maybe it was a warning to Fauci. Maybe he just wanted to dominate the news cycle for, you know, half a day. And so he tweeted this out. Certainly the idea of firing Dr. Fauci in the midst of a pandemic, doesn't seem like a wise idea.

GUPTA: There's, you know, he's pretty unique, Dr. Fauci in this regard. I mean, as you mentioned earlier, I think he -- This is the sixth President that he's worked for. So he's been, you know, he's been at this a long time, very widely regarded within the public health community. And, you know, I mean, a noted respected infectious disease doctor, somebody who should be in the position that he's in, right now.

I'll say, Anderson, when I saw that, I was following this. I have not spoken or communicate with Dr. Fauci since all this happened. But you remember some time ago, he was given testimony, and he sort of acknowledged, I can't remember his exact quote, but he acknowledged that testing had been a failure. I think he said, come on, I think everyone can recognize the testing components of it have been a failure in this country.

COOPER: Yeah, a failing, I think so.

GUPTA: That to me was a much more significant -- a failing, yeah. That to me was a much more significant and pointed statement at that point. And yet, you know, obviously he was not fired after that, as you pointed out this this recent back and forth, I think it's just -- what he's saying is just common sense.

Of course, if they had started earlier, you wouldn't have had as much spread, community spread, there wouldn't been many people who got sick and not as many people who died. That's just factual. You know, and that's not an indictment, I think of anybody. But so, I saw that back and forth. But I think, you know, look, we all owe a debt of gratitude to Anthony Fauci. I'll just say that. I think we should be talking about the debt of gratitude, not about his departure right now.

COOPER: Yeah. Dr. Sanjay Gupta. I appreciate it. Thanks, Sanjay.

Coming up next. I'll speak with the Governor of Maryland after the President says it's his decision to reopen the economy, not the states. [14:35:00]


COOPER: This hour, six governors from New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware and Pennsylvania announcing a regional collaboration when it comes to reopening their states, emphasizing that they have the power when it comes to that decision.

Governor Larry Hogan is the Governor of Maryland. He's also the Chair of the National Governors Association. He joins us now.

Governor Hogan, I want to get your reaction to the meeting that we just heard from that Andrew Cuomo sort of was heading up about cooperation amongst governors and trying to kind of figure out what a reopening would look like based both on public health issues and economic issues.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Well, I think this is something that governors across the country have been talking for quite some time. I didn't get a chance to really see or hear Governor Cuomo press conference earlier with the governors in the region. But I know I've talked to a number of the governors there over the past few days.

And I think it's really good idea the regional cooperation at the National Governors Association. We've had ongoing discussions for weeks, with governors about all the things that might go into reopening in the various states here in my state.

Well, we've been talking about this for almost 35 days since we first declared a state of emergency, talking with our scientists and our doctors, some really smart folks, including Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who's the former FDA Commissioner, Tom Inglesby from Johns Hopkins long as some of our business leaders about, how would we go about doing this in a safe way? So I think it's something that governors are taking the lead on and will continue to do so.


COOPER: On the issue of governance taking the lead and on reopening the state, President Trump tweeted today, essentially the opposite that it's his decision not that of the governors only he didn't issue the stay-at-home orders in the first place. Governors did that. He essentially said he's the one who makes the decisions, decision for the President and for many good reasons. Is that your understanding? It doesn't seem that's the way it works under the Constitution?

HOGAN: Well, it's not my understanding of the Constitution. But look, I think we're -- we had a very productive discussion with the nation's governors, with the Vice President and some of the top leaders just a little bit earlier today. We're -- we have some real cooperation going forward.

Look, we'll be discussing with the team at the federal level, some of their thoughts and ideas. There are some multiple smart people at the federal level, like, you know, Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci, who I'm sure will be weighing in about whether or not it's time to reopen and how we might go about doing that in the safe way. And we'd love to have the President's cooperation.

But governors made decisions to take various actions in their states based on what they thought was right for their state, based on the facts on the ground, talking with doctors and scientists. And I think individual governors who made those decisions will have the ultimate decision about what to do with their states.

COOPER: You and Governor Cuomo have asked Congress to give $500 billion in aid directly to states to help stabilize budgets. How would that be used by the states?

HOGAN: So one of the things, look, there have been a couple of stimulus packages, which I think are really helpful to get our economy back on track. But what was missing, there was zero funds that went directly to the state governments to make up for any shortfalls in their revenues. And states are really in a position to be able to help get our economies back online. And if -- and we've also suffered major losses in revenue that we need to provide the basic services to all the people in our states.

We took the tough decisions to shut things down and to put in place these tough social distancing practices, which are having an impact on the economy, and we need that help from the federal government so we can help get the economy back on track when it's safe to do so. And when we're ready to, you know, get people back to work.

So we've asked Congress to do so. There's a discussion there. We've made that pitch to the Vice President today. I've talked with Secretary Mnuchin. We made the pitch to the President last week. I think we've got some support, at least generally, from the administration to try to help get the states and the governors more help. And in Congress, it's sort of tied up. We're just hoping they can put aside partisan differences and get this done for the American people.

COOPER: What we've seen -- We heard today from a pork producer about concerns about the food supply essentially, plants closing because workers there often have to work shoulder to shoulder, there been a number of infections in various food production plants, how concerned are you about those? I mean, basic issues of people getting food on the table in your state?

HOGAN: Which there's so many different issues. I mean, this is just one thing after another with this virus that, you know, that's a new one that just popped up. We're talking about the whole supply chain and our states it's not so much on the food production, as the situation came up with the pork producers, but it's about getting all of those things to the people that really need them.

So it's making sure that the things are being delivered out to the store so people can get the food and the things that the basic needs taken care of, and that they can do so and purchases things in a safe manner. But it's certainly an issue that needs to be addressed. But letting people go back to work in an unsafe manner is not going to help get our economy back on track. If we just get more infections and more people sick. We overload our hospitals that could have an even more detrimental impact on our economy.

COOPER: Obviously, one doesn't have to sort of make these kind of decisions. But if you had to err on the side of public health or economic issues, I assume, you would say you'd err on the side of public health.

HOGAN: It's a terrible position to -- for anybody to be in because they're both really bad consequences, right? I mean, nobody wants to hurt the economy and put people out of work. But mainly we're talking about saving lives and the difference between, you know, 10s of thousands of people dying or bringing that down, so we don't overload the healthcare system, that's got to be our first priority.

But I'm also very sympathetic to those people that have lost their jobs, those small businesses that are being hurt. So we've got to listen to the doctors and scientists, we've also got to be really concerned about getting people to help that they need and getting our economy back on track, but doing so in a gradual and safe manner, when it's really the right time to do it.


COOPER: I'm wondering if you read the report by the New York Times over the weekend about the details about, you know, concerns about the response by the administration with social distancing, pushing that off until mid-March, despite earlier warnings?

HOGAN: Well, so look, I Anderson, I think the last thing that we need right now in the middle of this crisis, because I think we all have to be working together to get things done. We're all on the same team at the federal state and local level and then private sector. It's not the time to be talking about what went wrong.

Certainly some mistakes were made, but rather than talking about what did get done yesterday or last month or last year. I want to talk about what we can get done today. We're making some progress. The federal government has improved and stepped up and provided more help to the states just recently, and I'm happy about that.

But certainly, I mean, I heard some of the reports and Dr. Fauci, who I have tremendous respect for I saw his comments over the weekend. I mean, look, we took very early action and very aggressive action in our state and I became really concerned about this and focused on it from early January. I can't speak as to why certain decisions weren't made. But right now, I think we're all focused on it and we're all trying to do the best we can.

COOPER: Governor Larry Hogan, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

HOGAN: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Up next, a major endorsement from Senator Bernie Sanders as Democrats plot their path forward for the presidential election. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Breaking News former presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders has just endorsed Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination happened moments ago. Sanders joins his former campaign rival on Biden's live stream.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): So today I am asking all Americans, I'm asking every Democrat, I'm asking every Independent, I'm asking a lot of Republicans to come together in this campaign to support your candidacy, which I endorse.


COOPER: I want to bring in Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger and CNN's Jessica Dean. Jessica, that comes less than a week after Sanders bowed out of the race?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Anderson this move pretty quickly. We're about five days after Bernie Sanders officially exited the race and suspended his campaign. And you just saw the video there that visual of Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden together on the live stream, really showing the Democratic Party, both sides of it unifying.

That is something the Biden campaign was really hoping to see and has been very, very important for them. They have really treated this delicately as the Sanders campaign and the Biden campaign have been talking now for a while about how to make this happen for days.


Now, my colleague Ryan Nobles reporting that this was really born out of them coming together and talking about the coronavirus that they decided to form these task force which they announced today that Sanders and Biden will be working on six key issues moving forward, putting policies together. That includes the economy, education, healthcare, criminal justice, climate change, and immigration. So really showing the Democratic Party this united front, Bernie Sanders giving his full endorsement, which you'll remember he didn't do five days ago when he got out of the race.


DEAN: And then really talking about issues where they can find common ground, Anderson, things like the $15 minimum wage and student debt for goodness.

COOPER: Gloria, why do you think Senator Sanders waited a week to officially endorse?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think when he originally got out of the race, he felt a responsibility to talk to his supporters first and foremost, because they've been working for him for years are dedicated to him personally, as well as politically. And I think that in order -- if he had just jumped out and said, oh, and by the way, I'm endorsing Joe Biden, who many of them, by the way, Anderson, are still saying they refuse to support, I think it would have been received badly.

I think what we saw today, as Jessica points out, was well choreographed. There are clearly some issues that they're going to agree on at the outset, like the $15 minimum wage, establishing a task force is what Bernie Sanders wants. You can be sure that lots of the things that Bernie Sanders wants are going to be in the democratic platform.

And I think they wanted to show that they are working together and not against each other. This is very different from the way it was with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. I think Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders like each other personally, and I think so the transition in a way has been a lot easier.

COOPER: And yet, Jessica Dean, Bernie Sanders, when he initially announced he said that he will be remaining on the ballots, wanting to gain as much many delegates as possible in order to have more power at the conventions. I assume that's still the case.

DEAN: Right. And that appears to still be the case. Of course, he wanted to have as big a voice as possible when it gets to the convention to be able to really affect the party's platform. But Anderson, as you heard them talking about today, it sounds like they're laying a lot of that out right now as well. Bernie Sanders certainly is a force within the Democratic Party, has a lot of leverage and the Biden campaign seems to be listening to him and trying to find a lot of this common ground that they can unite on.

COOPER: Yeah, Jessica Dean, Gloria Borger, thanks very much. I appreciate it. Oh, sorry. Go ahead, Gloria.

BORGER: Well, I was going to say in the age of coronavirus, I think a lot of this has changed. I think that Bernie Sanders and he said it over and over again, has said that the main job is to beat Donald Trump and they have to do it together. And I think they're going to be talking a lot about his leadership during this virus.

COOPER: Yeah, thank you both. I appreciate it. Coming up next, the way forward for professional sports as the virus crisis drags on NHL Commissioner joins me live and whether there's still hope for a Stanley Cup.



COOPER: If not for the coronavirus pandemic, the National Hockey League playoffs would be underway right now but hockey along with other professional amateur sports have shut down to the outbreak. A return date now remains uncertain. There's the sporting world is now at a critical crossroads. Gary Bettman is the NHL Commissioner. He joins me now. Thanks so much for being with us. What is the status of the NHL? I mean, do you have a sense of when you might be able to salvage the regular season?

GARY BETTMAN, NHL COMMISSIONER: We're on pause as we have been since March 12. We're exploring all options but when we'll have an opportunity to return depends on things that we have absolutely no control over because it all starts with everybody's health and well- being and until there's a sense that people can get together not just to fill our arenas, but even our players to get together to work out. We don't know when we can come back. But it's something we're monitoring on a daily basis.

COOPER: That that is a concern not just, you know, playing matches, playing games themselves. It's the ability to work out even is limited.

BETTMAN: We've had discussions with our players and the Players Association, and you know, as much as you may try and stay in shape with a home gym, our guys haven't been on the ice now for a month. And they're going to need the two to three weeks to get back into playing shape. So as much as we may worry about keeping everybody not just our players and the NHL family, but everybody saved from the coronavirus we also want to make sure that our players don't jeopardize their health by coming back too soon and not being in game shape.

COOPER: Obviously, they're, you know, it just in all aspects of life we're talking about kind of getting back in stages. Would you see a stage where games might be put on, matches might be put on but without fans?

BETTMAN: We're exploring and want to be prepared for every option, whatever the circumstances present themselves. So we haven't ruled anything in. We haven't ruled anything out. And we'll be prepared to go in whatever direction makes sense at the time.

COOPER: I know you and other sports commissioners recently had a call with President Trump, what did he -- How did that go?

BETTMAN: Well, it well. It was very constructive call. There were a number of us representing most of the major sports not just the Big Four, throughout North America. We got an update from the President. And we all express the desire to get sports back.

It's something that for the psyche of the American and in my case, the Canadian public is very important. Sports can be part of bringing people together, can be part of healing, but we all agreed that until it's the right time, there are other more pressing issues then when we come back. And again, everything starts with people's health and well- being.

COOPER: Yeah, I mean, there's been a number of creative ideas thrown around, you know, not just having games without fans. You know, I talked moving major league baseball games to Arizona or, you know, there was the one time UFC event, you know, moving to a private island or other territories, is the NHL considering something creative? BETTMAN: All the leagues are basically focused on the same things. There's been a lot of speculation that we're going to play in neutral sites like North Dakota, and a variety of other places. The fact is, when you're in the position that all of us are in you, you have to be prepared to relaunch when the opportunity presents itself, which means you have to rule, not rule out any conceivable alternative. And be prepared on everyone even if some of them ultimately turn out to be not realistic.

COOPER: Yeah. Gary Bettman, I wish you the best. Thank you very much.

BETTMAN: Thank you, Anderson, be well.

COOPER: All right. Yes, you too. Our special coverage continues next with Brianna Keilar. I'll see you later tonight.