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Law Enforcement & Politicians Clash Over Confinement Orders; Will Goodwin, Of VoteVets.org, Discusses U.S. Army Asking West Point Graduating Cadets To Return To NY Campus To Hear Trump; Trump Deletes Tweets, Lashes Out At Media; Trump's Past Run-In With Rolling Stones May Explain Why No More Task Force Briefings; "New Yorker's" Charles Duhigg Discusses Reason For Differences In Number Of Virus Cases Between New York & Washington State. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired April 27, 2020 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Josh Campbell, in Los Angeles. Across the country, a handful of county sheriffs have publicly expressed their refusal to enforce new stay-at-home regulations aimed at stopping of the deadly coronavirus.
In Houston, last week, the head of a police union publicly blasting a county judge over a new regulation that carries a $1,000 fine for anyone found in public not wearing face covering.
These new regulations are causing constitutional questions about how far elected leaders can go in instituting new pandemic restrictions, and whether the police, those charged with enforcing these orders, can simply ignore them.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Thanks, everyone.
It is round two for small businesses owners across the country to try to get their hands on billions of dollars in emergency government funding. There's already a bit of a snag.
We are learning the system the Small Business Administration uses for lenders to upload applications is having technical issues, which is slowing processing of these applications. The SBA says it's because they are trying to get lenders on an equal footing to process all these applications.
And a lot of small business owners say that they couldn't even get their loans in the last go around.
Meantime, the president under scrutiny as 1,000 West Point cadets are being told to return to campus to hear the president's commencement speech.
Plus, the White House just announced a presidential statement this evening, instead of the normal task force briefing. Here why the president's past run-in with the Rolling Stones may explain why.
BALDWIN: Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Army is proceeding with this year's graduation ceremony at West Point with President Trump as the keynote speaker. Despite the academy declaring a public health emergency, West Point is asking 1,000 cadets to return to campus in New York, the state hardest hit by the virus.
With me is Will Goodwin, a retired Army veteran and currently the director of government relations for Vote Vets, a liberal veterans group.
Will, thank you so much for being on with me today.
When you heard all of this, I know you had some strong thoughts. What are they?
WILL GOODWIN, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS, VOTEVETS.ORG & ARMY VETERAN: Absolutely, Brooke. In some ways, it's sadly not surprising. This president, for the last three and a half years, has always taken a chance at every turn to use the military as a tool for his own domestic gain, whether that was banning transgender troops from serving opening, extending troops to the border over the holidays over the caravan situation.
He has shown us time and again it is all about him. In this case, he wants to give a big speech. He enjoys the pomp and circumstance, as we know, from his military parade requests from the past.
He will stop at nothing. And in this case, he will put people at risk and not only put people at risk in the travel situation but risk our military readiness. We are talking about 1,000 incoming U.S. Army officers who will be the next generation of leaders.
The idea that any of those people would be put at risk is unbelievable.
BALDWIN: You hit on two points I want to follow up on. One, the risk on travel. If you are a West Point cadet, you're graduating, you've gone home, been in quarantine. What risks will these cadets be facing to get to West Point?
GOODWIN: Right. We have to remember these cadets are all across the country right now, unlike the situation at the Air Force Academy where they were still all on campus.
We are talking about people traveling from all corners of the country back to New York. And as you have reported so well earlier, we don't know the health impacts of this. Healthy people are becoming very sick from coronavirus and even these young future Army officers will be put at risk.
BALDWIN: President Trump said he was asked to be the commencement speaker at West Point, but you say that is not true. How do you know that?
GOODWIN: To our understanding, the military was planning several contingencies. One, doing a commencement later in the summer when it's safer or doing a virtual commencement, which is what the Naval Academy is going to be doing.
But instead of listening to the military for recommendation, the president decided to go out and make the decision himself without telling the military ahead of time and allowing them to go through that deliberate planning process.
The same thing he has done in so many other scenarios, withdrawing troops from Syria, announcing, as we said, the transgender troop ban via tweet. We keep seeing this over and over again.
And just recently, on the "USS Roosevelt," Captain Crozier, a commander who was telling the president and the secretary of defense what he needed to keep people safe and the president didn't listen.
BALDWIN: To your point, Will about risking military readiness, the place, as we pointed out, for this commencement, making 1,000 cadets going back to New York, the center of the pandemic and under lockdown orders. No one knows what the virus will look like by then.
How much is the president risking out military readiness by doing this?
GOODWIN: We have seen that in the Navy, taking aircraft carriers out of being combat ready because we didn't do enough to contain the spread of virus and take all of the necessary precautions.
We are talking about people going back and living in barracks, being in close quarters, eating in at the mess hall. The proximity is unavoidable.
If even one of these cadets get sick, they might not be able to attend this graduation ceremony that he's making such a big fuss about.
So the risk is real and it's not the right way to welcome these 1,000 brave Americans into the U.S. Army as future Army leaders.
BALDWIN: I appreciate your perspective. Thank you for everything you have done for this country. Be well, Will Goodwin. Thank you.
GOODWIN: Thank you, Brooke.
BALDWIN: The White House says there will be no Coronavirus Task Force briefing tonight. However, in the last couple of minutes it was announced that the president will hold a news conference this evening to discuss testing guidance and make some other announcements.
There was also no task force briefing over the weekend either for the first time in multiple weeks. Instead, President Trump is spending the day today raging on Twitter, attacking familiar targets like the media, Democrats, governors. And even deleting one tweet where he suggested there was a Noble -- that's N-O-B-L-E -- Prize for reporters, which doesn't exist. We don't want to go there.
He's also been defending his record on the work he has done on the coronavirus outbreak, even as the death toll in the United States now tops 55,000.
The president came under heavy criticism last week when he suggested people may be treated for coronavirus by being injecting with disinfectant and treated with U.V. light, both of which are incredibly dangerous.
CNN's Chief Political Analyst, Gloria Borger, is writing all about this for CNN.com today.
Gloria, first and foremost, it's nice to see you and to be back on with you And --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: First and foremost, yes, welcome back.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
BORGER: Welcome back, welcome back.
BALDWIN: Thank you, thank you.
Let's talk about you, your column. You start your whole column by going back during more vintage Trump days and talking about the casino and the how the Rolling Stones were coming to perform. Tell me that story.
BORGER: I was talking to a former executive who parted acrimoniously with Donald Trump at the Trump Plaza Hotel. And, in December of 1989, they were going to have this huge pay-per-view extravaganza with the Rolling Stones.
The Rolling Stones did not like Donald Trump so they had it written into their contract, Brooke, that they would do a press conference before the concert but, in no way, could Donald Trump appear on stage with them.
BORGER: The day of the press conference appeared and, guess what, Donald Trump goes backstage and wants to be on with the Rolling Stones. They refuse to go on with them.
He turned to this aide and said, what do you mean, it's my press conference. As if nobody was there to see the Rolling Stones.
This is what we have seen. This is not new. December 1989. This is what we have seen time and again. If there's a stage, Donald Trump needs to be on it and in the center of it.
BALDWIN: He will be speaking, as we just saw the tweet.
BALDWIN: There's no task force briefing, but we will see the president. He will be reading some sort of statement. This is coming after the White House press secretary promised a, quote, unquote," new-look briefing." What do you make of this?
BORGER: Right. Donald Trump has been criticized and become a punchline after his words about disinfectants and how he suggested perhaps it could be injected. Hydroxychloroquine has not panned out the way he wanted. His poll numbers have been going down. And he's very well aware of that.
And Republicans, I think, suggested to him quietly and privately that perhaps this is not the best way to get his message across and it's not helping him.
Predictably, over the weekend, he tweeted, I don't need this. Who needs this? Hostile questions from the media. They're not getting anything out to the public. I am not going to do this."
The question we have is, will he be able to stay away from the spotlight and will he give the spotlight to the people who should have the spotlight --
BALDWIN: The doctors.
BORGER: -- and that is the doctors. And the question in the corollary there is, how are they able to handle Donald Trump in all of this. And we don't know the answer to that, Brooke.
BALDWIN: It is a worry. You point out in your piece, you talk about approval ratings and folks like Dr. Fauci, right? Trump knows he needs the doctors, maybe begrudgingly.
BALDWIN: Do you worry that science, at the moment, is taking a back seat after the president was embarrassed last week?
BORGER: I think he has kind of done that. I think he saw the reaction, particularly from Tony Fauci and every other doctor in the country.
I think the scientists are struggling right now, the doctors are struggling right now. How can we get our message across without having the president go on stage next to us and sort of make things up, extrapolate things he shouldn't?
And then we all look at them for reaction and they are in a very tough, tough situation. I don't think they want that anymore. I think lots of people who work with Donald Trump don't want that anymore. But imagine trying to tell the president you can't go on stage and
rant. You can't go on stage and say whatever comes in your mind.
BALDWIN: Just like, just like Mick Jagger and the Stones.
BALDWIN: We know what the president still managed to do. That's a great anecdote --
Gloria, thank you very much.
BORGER: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Two states, two responses. Why the former head of the CDC said, if New York would have acted sooner, they could have saved thousands of lives.
Plus, a disturbing new development out the U.K. We haven't seen children greatly impacted by this virus so far, thank goodness. But doctors say there's this warning of rare but serious complication in kids now. Stand by for that news.
BALDWIN: Right now, New York has more than 288,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 22,000 deaths. Just to give you some comparison, Washington State has more than 13,000 confirmed cases and 749 deaths.
Both states realized they had an outbreak on their hands right around the same time. Why is there such a dramatic difference in the numbers in these two states? A lot comes down to communication and listening to the experts.
Consider this from this incredible piece in the "New Yorker" print edition, called "The Pandemic Protocol." Tom Frieden, the former CDC director, quote, "has estimated, if New York had started implementing stay-at-home orders 10 days earlier than it did, it might have reduced by 20 percent to 80 percent."
And the author, Charles Duhigg, who joins me now.
Charles, just looking at the numbers, tell much of the story. The question is why, right?
If we start with Washington State, scientists there discovered through their own testing how fast coronavirus was spreading but that defied CDC rules. How so?
CHARLES DUHIGG, CORRESPONDENT, "NEW YORKER" MAGAZINE: Well, Seattle is very lucky that it is, for reasons of chance, in the epicenter in one of the largest creations of epidemiologists on earth.
And some of those at the University of Washington and others were doing the Seattle flu study, going around and taking swabs from people, almost at random, to figure out how quickly influenza was spreading through the community.
And once the coronavirus started breaking out, the outbreaks began, they thought, we could take those swabs and test for coronavirus and see if, in fact, it's spreading.
The CDC regulations said you weren't allowed to do that at the time. So they jury rigged their own coronavirus test and, in violation of those protocols, they started testing and found, in fact, there was evidence there was already widespread community passing of the coronavirus.
BALDWIN: So that's how they knew so quickly and early.
And in the meantime, over in New York, when you think back to -- I mean, the state and city leaders are doing an amazing job now, but back to early March, both of the New York mayor and governor were downplaying the threat of the virus. And then as time went on, Charles, there was quite a bit of bickering between the two.
So how then in New York did scientists react to this?
DUHIGG: According to the reporting, particularly with Mayor De Blasio, the Public Health Department, one of the best in the world, was increasingly furious at the mayor for not taking their advice.
There were researchers and scientists and epidemiologists within the Department of Health saying very early, we need to shut things down and start closing schools. And the mayor, they said, was very, very slow. He would drag his heels. He's a mayor who, according to sources, does not trust his experts or agencies.
In fact, it got so bad, some of them had to threaten to resign in order to spur him to shut down restaurants and bars and schools.
And of course, there's the fighting between De Blasio and Cuomo, Governor Cuomo, which just muddies the messages.
BALDWIN: And I want to make sure I still hear you, Charles?
DUHIGG: Yes. Yes, absolutely.
(CROSSTALK) BALDWIN: I lost my ear, but I'm going to ask you this question because -- guys, let me know, in the Control Room, if you all can hear Charles.
Actually, my ear just went out.
Shall we take a break?
Forgive me, Charles. I think technical issues on my end.
BALDWIN: The piece is in the "New Yorker," all about what happened in Washington State and then, of course, in New York State. You can read all about it there.
Quick break. We'll get this fixed. We'll be right back.
BALDWIN: All right, we continue on. Good to go here now. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Awesome to be back. You're watching CNN's special coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Global cases are now beyond three million, in the U.S., nearly a million, as we all watch this nationwide experiment play out day by day. When talking about the reopening of some businesses in a dozen states as governors try to restart their state's economies, even though these states may not have met some critical White House criteria to, in fact, reopen.
And that is unnerving. A number of local leaders and health experts fear the states will see a spike in infections. At the same time that our testing for coronavirus is still woefully under available, 98 days, by the way, since the first U.S. case was confirmed.
And while the White House has cancelled tonight's Coronavirus Task Force briefing, it has just announced that the president will hold a news conference tonight to discuss testing guidelines and make some other announcements.
And that could include more direction on how to reopen restaurants, childcare centers, camps, public transportation, and places of worship with the focus on hygiene practices and keeping people properly spaced apart.
So we begin this hour with CNN's Senior National Correspondent, Kyung Lah.