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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Kim Jong-Un in Grave Condition?; Trump Passes Testing Buck to Governors; Online Learning. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 21, 2020 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:35]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back.

The president is trying now to depict concerns about coronavirus testing as, in his view, mostly partisan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: There's bipartisan outcry still today that there's not enough testing. Why do you think it's a personal attack on you?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it's not bipartisan. It's mostly partisan.

The reason that the Democrats and some others, maybe because they don't know, they want maximum, because they want to be able to criticize, because it's almost impossible to get to the maximum number. And yet we have been able to do it already.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: It's just inaccurate in so many different ways.

To start with, I don't know of anyone advocating that every single American needs to be repeatedly tested over and over, which would theoretically be the maximum.

But, honestly, stepping back, to have only four million completed tests in a country of 328 million at this point in the pandemic, according to health experts, that's woefully inadequate, at the very least.

Those who have expressed concerns about inadequate tests and supplies and labs include Republican Senate Health Committee Chairman Senator Lamar Alexander, Trump's former FDA Director Scott Gottlieb, Republican Governors DeWine of Ohio, Hogan of Maryland, Baker of Massachusetts, and Ricketts of Nebraska, who said this just a few weeks ago:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. PETE RICKETTS (R-NE): There's no governor in the country that feels like they have got enough testing. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: But because President Trump seems to want to shirk responsibility for any mishandling of this crisis, he depicts concerns that health officials in his own administration share as partisan.

They are not.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins picks this story up from the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Good morning, everyone.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This hour, President Trump will sit down with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in the Oval Office.

CUOMO: I have to get to Washington. Thank you, guys. Thank you.

COLLINS: Cuomo is one of several governors who has said ramping up testing is critical to reopening the country, and that the federal government needs to help, a topic he says will be front and center in his sit-down with the president.

CUOMO: Testing, and what does testing mean and how do we do it and how can the federal government work in partnership with the states?

COLLINS: The meeting comes amid a broader battle between the White House and governors who say there aren't enough tests or supplies to conduct them.

Trump has dismissed governors who say they're scrambling to get the materials they need. And he didn't explain why Maryland's Republican governor had to get half-a-million tests from South Korea if there are enough in the U.S., like he says.

ADM. BRETT GIROIR, U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: I don't know what the governor of Maryland -- we talked to him today. He didn't bring that up today.

TRUMP: I don't think he needed to go to South Korea.

QUESTION: Have you guys not spoken to him about this?

TRUMP: I think he needed to get a little knowledge, would've been helpful.

COLLINS: Despite the concerns over testing, other governors are moving ahead with reopening their states, including Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who announced one of the most aggressive timelines in the country.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): Well, I can tell you, I don't give a damn about politics right now. COLLINS: Some of the governors, like in South Carolina, aren't

meeting some of the criteria laid out by the White House for reopening.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Each of the governors can decide for themselves whether they have reached specific guidelines in specific areas.

COLLINS: As he faces criticism over his slow response to the coronavirus, President Trump announced in a late-night tweet that he was halting all immigration to the U.S.

The announcement came with few details about its size or scope. And sources tell CNN the executive order he plans to sign was still being drafted when Trump tweeted. Given that immigration has largely been brought to a standstill by the coronavirus, critics claim it's a presidential distraction.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): I think the president ought to stop these diversions. What we really need is a focus on testing, a focus on contact tracing, so that we can open up again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Now, Jake, there are obviously questions about if the president's motivations behind that announcement last night were political, given the fact that we still don't have details on what that's going to look like.

The president still has not signed that executive order. And his attorneys are still working on it today, signing that it wasn't fully ready to be implemented yet, though I do want to note that the president's meeting with Governor Cuomo, which was scheduled to start at 4:00 p.m., has already ended, according to the White House, though they're not expecting to tell us exactly what went on in that meeting until we do see the president here at the briefing shortly.

[16:35:03]

TAPPER: And, Kaitlan, the president seems to be arguing that it's time in this pandemic to start opening up the country, and yet the pandemic is so serious all immigration needs to end.

That doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

COLLINS: Yes. And his argument for why he needs to have this, which has really only been spelled out to us on Twitter, but we have been speaking with sources who've been speaking with the president and working on this, basically say that his argument seems to be that these jobs, once they do return, he wants to preserve them for American workers, though what we're expecting, based on what we have been hearing, is that there are going to be some pretty broad exemptions to this.

So the questions of just how effective it's going to be are a whole 'nother matter, because we should note, right now, there aren't a lot of visas being processed anyway.

TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thanks so much.

We expect the U.S. Senate to vote this hour on a new round of emergency financial relief. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are already touting the bill as a big win for Democrats, who wanted the deal to go be beyond funding for small business loans.

The bill now includes $321 billion for small business loans and, in addition, $50 billion for disaster recovery loans, $75 billion for hospitals, $25 billion for coronavirus testing, and add another $2 billion for salaries and expenses from the Small Business Administration.

Together, this relief package now taps $480 billion.

Let's bring in CNN business anchor Julia Chatterley.

And, Julia, the $321 billion for small businesses has money designated for small businesses in rural areas, small businesses without existing accounts with banks and other lenders. But the process to determine who is who is not ironed out yet. Might that mean more delays?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: There's good and bad in this.

And that's certainly the fear at this moment, Jake. What it looks like is that the cash is going to be allocated based on size of bank, the assumption being, if you're a small bank, you will get access to some of the smaller businesses. So far, so good, except the program to upload the applications doesn't recognize banks based on size.

So either that's going to have to be updated, and that could mean delays, or there will be a window to get loans in from different sized banks. I have had small businesses coming to me and saying, hey, I have got an application and with a big bank. Does that mean I'm going to be delayed here?

And that's potentially the risk. There's nothing simple about this process, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Julia, with the oil markets crashing today, President Trump directed his administration to come up with a plan to try to save American jobs related to the energy sector.

Does it sound as though a bailout might be in the works for the oil industry.

CHATTERLEY: Bailouts or borrowing.

I spoke to the CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today, and he was really clear. He said, look, the big oil companies, they're not going to need money. But for the smaller businesses, particularly in the shale sector, they're going to need emergency lending. They need access to what we have just been talking about, their paycheck protection scheme.

I looked at the numbers. The oil and gas sector just took 1 percent of the money available last time, so we will be looking for a rise in the money coming around. But, remember, this sector supports 10 million jobs. It's way bigger than just oil and gas names and small businesses here.

TAPPER: There are some serious questions about the health and safety of workers who go to work in this environment, as businesses start to reopen in some areas.

President Trump was asked yesterday, and he said he didn't have a legal opinion, the White House didn't have an opinion on the liability risk for these businesses.

This is a growing concern for businesses, who worry they will be sued, and for people who don't want to go back to work and then get sick and possibly die.

CHATTERLEY: All of the above.

Imagine being a gym in Georgia at this moment. I have spoken to a few lawyers today. And they said it comes down to reasonable precautions. It's something that the grocery sector has been dealing with now for weeks.

Three suggestions they have got -- the first, you follow the most stringent, as a business, of the guidelines from the state or from the CDC guidelines, and you keep following those, because they're evolving as the virus does.

Two, a sign on the door: As a customer, you enter at your own risk. It's not foolproof, but it's something.

And the second thing is, talk to your insurance provider. But, very quickly, Jake, for customers here, in the end, you're at your own risk. So you have to make good decisions first and foremost.

TAPPER: All right. We're going to talk more about the OSHA deal here in coming days, Julia, because there's still some serious questions I have about employees.

Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

CHATTERLEY: Thank you.

TAPPER: Many schools across the country are closed for the rest of the year, but a huge number of students are not logging on for these online classes.

I'm going to talk to the head of the nation's second largest school system about the challenges facing students and teachers there in Los Angeles.

That's next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:44:22]

TAPPER: It's been about six weeks since schools in Los Angeles County were closed.

And while district officials are trying to make sure every student has Internet access and the devices needed to do their schoolwork, thousands of high school students are simply not logging on, for a variety of reasons.

We're joined now by Austin Beutner. He's the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, which is the second largest in the nation.

Superintendent Beutner, thanks so much for joining us.

Earlier this month, you said about 15,000 high school students, out of more than 100,000, about -- so that's about 13 percent -- had no online contact with teachers since schools closed.

[16:45:00]

Why is that? And what have you done about it?

AUSTIN BEUTNER, SUPERINTENDENT, LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT: Sure.

Let's jump ahead just a couple of weeks. We have reduced that number to a bit less than 3,000. But the context would be, we didn't start from position of strength. There's been much public conversation over years now about adequacy, or lack thereof, in public education funding, where are class sizes too big, or we have libraries without librarians.

And one of the other intended or unintended consequences of inadequate funding from the state is a lack of investment in the digital tools. So we started not from a position of strength, but we felt we had to connect every child. We're north of 98 percent high schools now. As I said, out of 120,000 high school students, we're still working to collect the last -- connect the last couple thousand.

TAPPER: How many students are connected, logging in every day of the more than 100,000 students you have?

BEUTNER: So, we have -- if you look at balance between weekly, daily, about 98 percent every week. Daily, it would be close to 70 percent.

But let's be careful that to not look at that vs. attendance, because logging in doesn't necessarily mean a student's working. And the converse, if a student's reading a book or working on a writing assignment, they may not be logged in.

So we're looking at a bunch of more complex measures. And the transition to online is more complex than that. What we're looking to do is measure engagement, not just, is a student logged on, because that's where it starts. More complex than that.

TAPPER: Yes, and it is complicated. I know, just from having kids myself, I mean, there's a dilemma that the teachers and superintendents and principals have, which is, you don't want to be too tough.

This is very, very difficult online learning. It's very, very challenging, especially for younger kids, especially for kids who already have learning challenges.

But, by the same token, you don't want it to be a joke. You don't want it to be nothing. And it's a very difficult line to walk.

BEUTNER: Well, our educators do an extraordinary job.

But the transition to online, so much of the history or the examples one would use have real selection bias, affluent communities, schools that are well-endowed with tons of investment in training and the tools, and students with a demonstrated aptitude to work independently, which is online or distant learning.

Public schools have in their DNA to serve every child. And that's our goal. If you think about what newspapers went through, when they used to have a captive audience at the kitchen table, and transitioned online, certainly, those challenges exist for public education, where we had assumed a child present at school, attending school, was engaged in learning.

Not always the case, but we did have a captive audience. We now go to a home environment, where everybody's lives, our students and their families, our educators and their families, have been turned upside down.

Engagement is the goal. And we're going to work towards that. We have got to learn different ways to make sure students are engaged and keep them engaged.

TAPPER: And what's the biggest challenge to get all these kids, tens of thousands, to log on, to pay attention, to do their homework?

I imagine there's some kids that don't have a place to do schoolwork, in addition to obviously the ones that might not have Wi-Fi or might not have computers, even though I know you have worked to solve that?

What's the toughest thing you're facing?

BEUTNER: I'd say you touched on it there, Jake.

We serve a community with great needs. More than 80 percent of the families that we serve live in poverty. They were struggling -- many of those families were struggling to get by even before this pandemic hit.

It's only been made worse. We see that every day. We're providing almost 600,000 meals a day to students and families in our communities. So the needs are real. The struggle is real. And engaging a student, keeping them learning is only part of the struggle. We have to connect it to the safety net for all families, with the mental health hot line to try to keep our students whole and connected, and recognize it is this delicate balance right now, because families are under a lot of pressure.

You talk about it a lot and well-chronicle it on your show. Education is one part of the picture. And we have to find ways to keep students engaged and learning as best they can and we can help them in this environment.

TAPPER: A very tough task for you and all the teachers of Los Angeles County.

Thank you so much for your time, Superintendent Beutner. We wish you the best. Stay in touch.

Coming up next: North Korea's Kim Jong-un believed to be in grave condition, a source tells CNN.

What we know about his health and who might succeed him, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:54:36]

TAPPER: In our world lead today: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is in grave danger, after undergoing surgery, according to a U.S. official.

Questions about Kim's health were raised after he missed the celebration of his grandfather's birthday on April 15. He has not been seen publicly since April 11.

CNN's Jim Sciutto, who broke this story internationally, joins me now.

And, Jim, gathering intelligence out of North Korea not an easy task. What is the White House, what are your sources saying?

[16:55:02]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question, the blackest of black boxes.

That said, the U.S. is monitoring intelligence that Kim's health may be in grave danger following a surgery, multiple officials telling us right now, coupled with other indicators, as you mentioned, Jake, him missing that very public, high-profile ceremony honoring his grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, some six days ago.

Another U.S. official telling CNN that Kim is -- quote -- "definitely unwell, though still believe to be involved in day-to-day decisions."

The national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, acknowledged in public this morning that the White House is following these reports on Kim's health very closely. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT O'BRIEN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: No, we're watching the reports closely. And we will have to see.

As everyone here knows, the North Koreans are parsimonious with the information that they put out about many things, especially when it comes to their leaders. And so we will keep a close eye on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: So, given those difficult use of getting intelligence out of North Korea, U.S. officials taking it seriously enough that they have reached out to North Korea experts to discuss questions such as the possibility of succession. Who would succeed Kim if he were not able to maintain leadership there?

And that's another question that Robert O'Brien addressed in public this morning as well -- Jake.

TAPPER: Do we know who a successor might be?

SCIUTTO: So, again, this is always speculation with the Hermit Kingdom, but Kim Yo-jong, his sister, she has played a very public role of late, including appearing in public during the South Korean Olympics, but also crucially, Jake, notice that she appeared at one of the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore, that public role, they believe, U.S. officials, North Korea experts believe, in conjunction with increasing power for her.

But again, as with everything in this country, you really don't know until it happens. But it is something that U.S. officials follow very closely, this key question of succession.

TAPPER: All right, Jim Sciutto, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

More in our world lead today.

Chile will be issuing digital immunity cards to people who have had coronavirus and fully recovered to help be able to identify those who theoretically no longer pose a risk to others. The Netherlands will extend its lockdown for most businesses until May 20. And all large events will be banned until at least September 1. Children will begin to return to school in waves beginning May 11.

After six weeks in total lockdown, Spain is finally letting children under the age of 14 leave their houses for the first time, but only to run errands with their parents, not to play.

Death tolls in England and Wales appear to be significantly higher, 41 percent higher, than what has been reported by the government. This is according to data released by the Office of National Statistics studying data from the start of the pandemic until April 10.

Let's talk about that story with CNN's Bianca Nobilo, who joins me now from the U.K. Bianca, along with the discrepancy in numbers, a significant one,

there's also a concern in the U.K. about shortages of PPE, personal protective equipment.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we have had another jump in the death statistics today in the United Kingdom.

And that's just the official death toll of around 850 people. That's up from around 400 and 500 the two days prior. Now, the tragedy of that becomes even more difficult to bear when we consider that new data from the Office of National Statistics.

Now, the difference in the data is, the Office of National Statistics is incorporating care home deaths and deaths in the community. And when you factor that in, it looks like the death toll in Britain could actually be around 41 percent higher than what we have been told by the government.

This had long been a concern, because those in care homes are, of course, the most vulnerable to this. They are the oldest and often have other comorbidities. Now, all of that being said, there still remains a problem with personal protection equipment in the United Kingdom.

The government say, they maintain that is enough. They say margins might be tight, but there is sufficient PPE. That is not the story I hear from the front line, Jake. In fact, the leader of the main opposition party in the United Kingdom has said the same. There is a big discrepancy between what the government is saying and what doctors and nurses are saying.

They are having to feel pressured to perform their duties without the requisite PPE. And also, Jake, I have been learning today that there's another issue, because women actually don't fit the PPE in the same way as men.

Even though 75 percent of our health service are actually women, the PPE equipment doesn't fit them as well. So that's another issue just compounding the problems that health care workers are experiencing on the front line here, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Bianca Nobilo in the U.K., thank you so much.

Finally, today, in our money lead, the economy is a disaster for so many people, with so much pain. But there are some companies benefiting.

Netflix has far exceeded its growth expectation. The company added an astonishing 16 million new subscribers last month alone. That's over twice what had been predicted.

[17:00:00]