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Biden Denies Assault Allegations; Florida Governor Announces Reopening Plan. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired May 1, 2020 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:30:00]

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It makes it very hard. But as you said, and you said it so right, Alisyn, because you have -- we all have, but especially you -- have been covering these issues so intensely for the past few years.

It is going to be very difficult to get an answer that will prove a smoking gun either way. It's impossible to prove a negative, but it's also hard to prove a positive. And so he is relying on his experience, his record, and everything that goes along with it as his character to get people to at least take his word for it. But we'll see when we hear from her.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Look, Dana, Democrats, particularly Democratic women, have been faced with questions about this in the last several days. You know, Alisyn asked Nancy Pelosi about it yesterday and there's been some anxiety, I think, behind the scenes among some Democrats about the fact that Joe Biden hasn't addressed this. So to what extent has what he said today and how he did address it will it allay those concerns?

BASH: He left -- as MJ said, there's -- there's no wiggle room. He flat out said this never happen, nothing even close to this ever happened. And so the women and the men on the Democratic side who are looking for something to hang their hat on and their support on have that. They have finally the Biden word, as he likes to say, his word as a Biden saying that this never happened.

And, you're right, a big part of the problem has been the slowness of the Biden campaign and of the candidates themselves to actually say anything at all about this. So at least that part of the crisis management has been addressed. It is not over.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, John, here is a little bit more of what former Vice President Biden had to say about this. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Beginning I have said, believing women means taking the woman's claim seriously when she steps forward and then vetted. Look into it. This -- this -- that -- that's true in this case as well. Women have a right to be heard. And the -- and the press should rigorously investigate claims they make. I'll always uphold that principle, but it --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: John, I mean, part of the problem is that Tara Reade's story, as well as the people that she told it to, are -- is sometimes different in terms of what sexual -- are we talking sexual harassment, which I don't think is that hard for women who live through the '90s, the early '90s, to imagine might happen to a young woman working in an office place somewhere, or are we talking about sexual assault, and the latest allegation is a very extreme sort of outrageous thing to try to imagine would happen in a Senate corridor or hallway somewhere.

So, again, we're just, you know, left with sort of conflicting information at this moment.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think we need to balance all these, you know, competing allegations and the context of our politics. As you point out, part of the reason this has taken on increased seriousness, but initial skepticism is that Tara Reade's story changed. It went from allegations of harassment or feeling uncomfortable, to a full-fledged sexual assault in a public place, in the corridors of Congress, by a sitting senator after a presidential campaign and even after he conducted the Anita Hill hearings. That context seems important.

All women have a right to speak. Biden has said not only the blanket denial, but that he's not going to question her motives. No doubt other people may. But she has a right to be heard.

But then the allegation can't stand on its own. People will use this as political football. It's a journalists' job to get to the facts. I think it's interesting that his library -- his papers apparently do not contain personnel records, so it will be -- any answers will be in the National Archives.

But at the end of the day, (INAUDIBLE), presidential campaigns are compared to what propositions? And just as Al Franken is not Harvey Weinstein, folks are going to have a hard time believing that Joe Biden is Donald Trump with over a dozen allegations against him. It would be a shame, however, if this broke down solely along partisan lines because it should be about the principle, it should be about the facts.

BERMAN: Look, and that -- that is one thing you hear from Democrats here is, well -- well, wait a second, this is one allegation against the dozens and dozens against Donald Trump, John. You know, I'm not sure it's a numbers game here. It's a matter of -- it's a truth game. It's a facts game. It's a what actually happened game that matters here more than measuring the numbers, right?

AVLON: Well, I think it's a pattern question. I think that -- you know, it gets to the question of character. At the end of the day, character is the most important thing in a president.

And as Dana was saying, it gets to a question of Joe Biden's character because this has been such a core part of his identity, the Violence Against Women's Act, for example. But I do think the question of a pattern matters. And I think one of the reasons reporters were slow to pick this story up is that it didn't fit an established pattern of what they knew or what they thought they knew about Joe Biden after covering him for decades.

[08:35:05]

We'll see if that matters (ph).

CAMEROTA: I think that's a really important -- oh, sorry, John --

BASH: Yes.

CAMEROTA: I think that's a really important point, Dana, because it doesn't fit a pattern of behavior with Joe Biden.

BASH: That's right.

CAMEROTA: What we do know about Joe Biden, I mean or what other people have come forward, is that there are sometimes boundary issues, there has been a rubbing of shoulders. You know, we all know those sorts of stories that have been parodied as well on "Saturday Night Live."

But, again, this is in a different category. This is violence.

BASH: Yes.

CAMEROTA: This is a sexual assault in a public place. I mean, again, unless there's more information that is going to come out that we don't know, this is not like anything we have ever heard before with (INAUDIBLE) --

BASH: No, that's such a good point. And I -- you know, I walked the halls of Congress for many years, and particularly as a woman you hear things about, you know, whether they're true or not. You hear rumors about certain senators, certain congressmen, to stay away from or that they have certain reputations. That was not the case with Joe Biden.

It doesn't mean anything about this particular allegation. I mean the facts still stand about her -- what she said versus what he said. But when it comes to the character conversation that we're having, that's just the reality. Yes, he is a close talker, he has boundary issues, he's a tactile guy, which he has addressed, you know, many times over the course of this -- of this campaign.

One thing I will say is that, you know, the interview was very direct, but it was a home team interview and hopefully others will have a chance to also ask questions because if he wants to end this, and if he wants to continue to stay on the plane of, never happened, I'm here to answer questions, I'm not going to question her motives, but have at it, it's got to continue.

BERMAN: So, MJ, what about this point, because I can see this being pushed. There are people calling on Joe Biden to release all of his Senate records, which are housed at the University of Delaware. He now says that the personnel records are in the National Archives. You've been doing reporting on this. Where would this type of

complaint be and why wouldn't it be in the Senate records? I mean what would be the reason not to release what's at Delaware?

MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, our reporting, as of last night, and this is what Joe Biden himself said this morning, is that their understanding is that personnel papers, so papers that might be related to why a staffer left a Senate office, for example, would not be at the University of Delaware, that library, but rather at the National Archives.

And I think it's important that Joe Biden said that he is all for those records being released. I don't think that that is going to stop all of his critics and people who want more information and sort of the full disclosure in saying release the University of Delaware papers, too, right, because I think the last thing that the Joe Biden campaign wants is this suggestion that they do have something to hide.

And if Joe Biden is saying so defiantly this morning this allegation simply did not happen, then there are going to be plenty of people who will come right back at him and say, if there's nothing to hide, then release all of the papers, right? And I -- and I do think they are running that risk of being accused of not being fully transparent, even as he is saying he has no intention of hiding anything.

BERMAN: All right, MJ, Dana, John Avlon, oh, is back, John, thank you very much for being with us. I really appreciate this.

BERMAN: So, back to the latest on the pandemic. Most of Florida begins reopening on Monday with some notable exceptions. The mayor of Miami Beach gives us the story behind some of those decisions after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:42:45]

CAMEROTA: As major parts of Florida set to reopen, three of the hardest hit counties in the state, including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, will remain closed. So, how is that going to work?

Joining us now is Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.

Mayor, thank you very much for being here. How are you feeling this morning as much of your state reopens?

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: Well, I understand what's happening elsewhere, but here in Dade County, here in Miami Beach, we can't open at the same speed. You know, a third of the infections, a third of the deaths, 250 deaths are in our county. So although there are 67 counties, this clearly is an area that's different than other places. So we cannot rush into a reopening.

CAMEROTA: Are your hospitals keeping up with the demand in Miami Beach?

GELBER: Yes. In fact, Miami Beach and Dade County, what our hospitals have done is really reduced their capacities so they have incredible amounts of vacant beds waiting and, if necessary, ready. It's costs them huge amounts of money, but they've done a terrific job of having, you know, 50 percent and sometimes Miami Beach I think it's even bigger than that in terms of capacity to address whatever comes.

CAMEROTA: That's good to hear. You shut down your beaches. I mean your world famous beaches, obviously, that so many tourists come from everywhere to want to enjoy, you shut them down on March 23rd. When are these going to reopen?

GELBER: You know, the problem with our beaches is that they're accessible to anyone. Actually, it's the virtue of our beaches is they're accessible to anyone, they're incredibly beautiful, they line, you know, seven and a half miles, beautiful architecture of Ocean Drive and, you know, it's amazing, frankly, and that's the challenge because they attract people immediately. It's like a tinder. You open them up and tens of thousands of people flock there. So I don't know that we're going to be able to open up our beaches really before June. I would be surprised if we, you know, said we're open for business.

I mean, look, the problem with this was that people didn't realize there was a silent virus spreading through the community. And we got in -- everybody got in too late. We were the first to shelter and we got in too late even with the number of deaths. So I think to open up too early would be the same mistake again.

[08:45:01]

And we're going to be very careful and listen to doctors, frankly, who we -- we are in contact with every single day.

CAMEROTA: How about the economic crisis in your region? I understand that you're seeing huge food lines. So how is it being hit in your -- in Dade?

GELBER: Well, you know, we have a food -- you know, we provide meals and they're all over the county and there are huge numbers of people waiting. And it's -- you know, our community is pouring out. But, frankly, one of the problems has been the unemployment system in Florida was set up, and I spent ten years in the legislature.

I was the Democratic leader at the legislature and governors have set this system up to be cumbersome, to be stingy, to make it difficult. So, right now, that's coming home to roost because people aren't getting their checks, the system keeps crashing, it was down for a few days where nobody could even access it. So it's really horrible.

And you're seeing the lines of people who, you know, who other -- who would be working in any other day cannot get the money they need and are forced to be on a food line basically. And it's -- sometimes they wait, they get in early. I mean it's really heartbreaking and obviously this has created an economic crisis that we see especially, given our hospitality industry, we have 15 million people visit our community, 4 million from all over the world and so we -- we see it probably as acutely as anybody. CAMEROTA: And how long can that level of desperation of people not

being able to get their checks and not being able to get food or having to wait a long time in a line, how long can that go on?

GELBER: It's incredibly frustrating to watch and I imagine to be part of.

Of course the problem is frustration can't be the principle of when we let people come back and open up our commerce. So we just -- I mean this is -- at its root is a healthcare crisis, even though it has created an economic crisis. So we can't just decide that it's too much and we've got to let people come back because then we'll see precisely what we didn't want to see, which is a new spike, more deaths and something we really can't control.

We have to be prepared to manage the virus, really manage it, when we open up and we're not quite there yet, but I've seen very promising movement.

CAMEROTA: Mayor of Miami Beach, Dan Gelber, we really appreciate you giving us a status report of what's going on there.

GELBER: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

All right, we have some hopeful news amid this crisis from one of our own. Some very exciting news, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:51:41]

BERMAN: So this is pretty much the best thing ever. And I know some of you might have missed it because you go to bed at 8:00, Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: I did miss this, until this morning.

BERMAN: All right. And it's exactly the kind of news that all of us need, given that life has been so difficult for so many.

So, we're going to now share with you news that Anderson Cooper shared last night.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "AC 360": It has been a difficult time in all of our lives, and there are certainly many hard days ahead. It is, I think, especially important in these times of trouble to try to hold on to moments of joy and moments of happiness.

Even as we mourn the loss of loved ones, we're also blessed with new life and new love. So I just wanted to take a moment to share with you some joyful news of my own.

On Monday, I became a father. I've never actually said that before out loud and it still kind of astonishes me. I'm a dad. I have a son. And I want you to meet him.

This is Wyatt Cooper. He is three days old. He's named after my dad who died when I was 10 years old. I hope I can be as good a dad as he was.

My son's middle name is Morgan, which is a family name on my mom's side. And I know my mom and dad liked the name Morgan because while I was going through her things recently, I found a list they had made 52 years ago when they were trying to think of names for me, and Morgan was on the list. So that's Wyatt Morgan Cooper, my son.

He was -- he was 7.2 pounds at birth and he is sweet and soft and healthy and I am beyond happy. As a gay kid, I never thought it would be possible to have a child and I'm so grateful for all those who paved the way and for the doctors and nurses and everyone involved in my son's birth.

Most of all, I am eternally grateful to a remarkable surrogate who carried Wyatt, watched over him, lovingly, tenderly, and gave birth to him. It's an extraordinary blessing what she and all surrogates give to families who can't have children. My surrogate has a beautiful family of her own, an amazingly supportive husband. I'm also so thankful for all the support that they have given Wyatt and me. And she has kids of her own and I appreciate their support as well.

My family is blessed to have this family in our lives. I do wish my mom and my dad and my brother Carter were alive to meet Wyatt, but I like to believe that they can see him. I imagine them all together, arms around each other, smiling and laughing and watching, looking down on us., happy to know that their love is alive in me and in Wyatt and that our family continues. New life and new love.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Thanks a lot, John. You didn't warn that this was going to be a tearjerker. That is the happiest I've ever seen Anderson, obviously. What a blessed event. What a wonderful announcement. It's so exciting.

BERMAN: He's going to be such a great dad. He's going to be just the best.

I know he has spent so much time thinking about his own father, and fatherhood in general, and just look at that, look at him. This does answer one question, though, which is that Anderson wasn't born with the white hair, right? Just look -- look at Wyatt. That's brownish hair. So we know it happened later in life. Oh, it's just so wonderful.

[08:55:01]

CAMEROTA: I like Wyatt's sort of knowing expression already. Wyatt seems to be wise, I feel, in this -- particularly this picture right there.

BERMAN: He's raising his eyebrows. That's a -- that's a wry, ironic look, which Anderson, in fact himself has perfected. It's just wonderful. And we're so happy for Anderson. And we're so happy for us. I mean what a great --

CAMEROTA: Are we having a baby, John?

BERMAN: What a great addition to the CNN family.

CAMEROTA: Are you and I having a baby?

BERMAN: You have something you want to tell us?

CAMEROTA: Well, John, now that you bring it up, I did adopt a shelter dog last month. Why not have a baby? You know, we -- we're at home. We've got nothing else to do, all right? Think about it. I mean, why not have a baby?

BERMAN: That's why Anderson's going to come to me for fathering tips and parenting tips, not you. That's all I can say.

CAMEROTA: We're so excited for him. It's just wonderful news to expand all of our CNN family.

All right, have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

CNN's coverage continues next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)