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Trump Says, Death Toll Could Reach 100,000 In The U.S.; Trump Claims Intel Officials Didn't Raise Warnings Until Late January; Trump Says, I'm Treated Worse Than Lincoln, Who Was Assassinated. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired May 4, 2020 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: This morning, we are seeing a delicate balancing act in America.

All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day. Alisyn is off this morning. Erica Hill with me. Great to have you here, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN NEW DAY: Nice to be with you.

BERMAN: Breaking overnight, the president with a drastic revision in the number of deaths he now says he is expecting from coronavirus.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That number has changed, Mr. President.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I used to say 65,000. And now I'm saying 80 or 90, and it goes up and it goes up rapidly. But it's still going to be, no matter how you look at it, at the very lower end of the plane if we did the shutdown.


BERMAN: He makes it sound like it was a different era where he was predicting 60,000 deaths. It was two weeks ago. April 19th he was saying he thought there would be 60,000 deaths. We're already at 67,000 deaths. And the daily count of new deaths is stubbornly high. And it's worth noting that this is without even knowing whether there will be any effects from the states around the country that have decided to reopen.

This is not a one-size-fits-all pandemic. About one-third of the states are seeing a rise in cases. That's in pink right there. One- third are experiencing a drop in cases. That's in the sort of green there. The other third in yellow, flat.

HILL: And as we watch all of that, there's so much talk about the reopening around the country coinciding in many areas with gorgeous weekend weather. Parks and beaches in places like New York, Texas, Georgia and Florida, seeing plenty of visitors out and about. Many packed parked over weekend.

In Florida, of course, today, much of the state will reopen. By the end of this week, more than 40 states will be partially open.

I'll show you the scene in Central Park this weekend. Look at all the folks enjoying the gorgeous day but also prompting a warning from Governor Andrew Cuomo about false comfort, as he reminded New Yorkers a decline in numbers does not mean the virus is gone, and also reminding that the stay-at-hom order remains in effect.

The White House, in the meantime, continues to raise hopes for a potential vaccine. The president now saying it could be here by the end of the year.

BERMAN: All right. Joining us now, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Dr. Rajiv Shah, he is the President of the Rockefeller Foundation.

And, Sanjay, I want to start with you. The president now says he's expecting 100,000 deaths from coronavirus. I want to play you some sound, not of three months ago, of things he has said in the last few weeks. Listen.


TRUMP: So we're talking about maybe 60,000 or so. That's a lot of people. But that's 100,000 was the minimum, we thought, that we could get to. We'll be lower than that number.

We would have had millions of deaths. Instead it looks like we'll be at a 60,000 mark, that's 40,000 less than the number thought of.

And 50,000 or 60,000 people heading towards --


BERMAN: All right. He was wrong. We're already at 67,000 deaths. He was wrong. The death count is higher, Sanjay.

What I'm interested in is why is it so much higher than they thought over the last few weeks? Why is the number of daily new reported deaths so high, between 1,300 and 2,000 every day?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, first of all, one thing I'll say just going back even a little further, there's been a lot of models out there. This IMHE model out of the University of Washington was a more favorable model, I think, in terms of overall projections. And it's one that the White House glommed on to pretty early.

And I think it's a bit more surprised at that. There were other models coming out of Columbia, models from the CDC itself that didn't look as favorable in terms of number of people who would become infected and sadly, die.

Having said that, that model has changed a fair amount. It's been all over the place and has a wide range of some 35,000 to 150,000, I think, overall projections in terms deaths by August. So, you know, it is a variable thing. I think now, it's pretty clear that the country is starting to plateau at a much higher level than that IMHE model and a couple of others predicted.

And so instead of having a curve where you sort of have this apex that's started to come down, we really are flat now at the country. This looks like how it is for at least a period of time. And there's lots of things driving that. Some states are coming down. Some states are going up. And here where I live in Georgia, for example, you can almost draw with a line since we started to reopen and the numbers of infections going up.


I realize these new models don't even take into account re-openings. That's going to drive them up even further. But we're already starting to see that as well, John.

HILL: And as we look at it up too, I think we can put up three different states because this varies so much by state as we look at where the numbers are going in terms of new traces. You look at this 14-day trend here, you look at New York, it is starting to go down. Illinois, though, Minnesota, as we can see, really increasing in both of those states.

And, Dr. Shah, we also heard from Dr. Birx over the weekend who said the number was always between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths. But she was saying that that number they were looking at was with full mitigation. As we know, there's not -- I mean, I think it would be tough to say that there's full mitigation at this point across the country. And to Sanjay's point, as we're seeing more states open up, what does that tell you, even looking at the estimate from Dr. Birx?

DR. RAJIV SHAH, PRESIDENT, ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION: Well, thank you for having me and thanks for your reporting on this. The reality is the models have very wide ranges, as you just mentioned, 100 to 240 in just one instance. And what that effectively means is the actions we take now as a country in full national form actually shape the outcome.

And so the Rockefeller Foundation has suggested and put an action plan forward to initially get testing up from 1 million tests a week to about 3 million tests a week because we think that's the baseline of what you need to safely reopen certain parts of the economy.

But by the fall, we actually believe you need 30 million tests a week in this country to allow the economy to function without having big recurrences and without pushing us to the high ends of the models you're mentioning or well beyond that. And so I think the focus ought to be on not just how many deaths are there, but how many tests a week are we doing in this country by state and what's the trend line? The trend line so far for the last four weeks has been largely flat.

We're now working with more than 12 states and cities around the country and bringing them together this week to invest in efforts to accelerate. But that's really a national responsibility and needs to be much, much, much higher level testing than what we're seeing so far.

BERMAN: I'm so glad that Dr. Shah brought up the testing. There were 700,000 new tests last week. And Dr. Shah and the Rockefeller Foundation wants 3 million tests a week right now, 30 million, as he said, by the fall. That's a huge disparity.

But, Sanjay, I think it's so important to bring up, because my experience this weekend, and I think the experience that we've all had over the last few days is this discussion about whether the country should reopen is over, right?

The country has begun to reopen in so many places. So the discussion now is how we're going to do it and how are we going to protect ourselves in that process. And testing needs to be a huge part of that. If we're going to reopening the way that people seem to be committed doing right now, why do we need the testing so much, Dr. Gupta?

GUPTA: Yes. Well, There're two things I'll say. One is that we are starting to reopen. But, again, I take no joy in saying this, but there may be a point where we have to close things down again. And we've seen that in other countries.

And I think it's fair to say, you know, as tough as it is to say it, many places we're reopening prematurely. And I think people are taking victory laps and it's too early. That's just, I mean, sadly the truth.

Testing is critical because we talk about two phases, containing the virus and mitigating the virus. Right now, mitigating, slowing it down is what we've been trying to do for the last few months now. What we hope to do as get on the backside of this is to put this virus into a box again, as Dr. Tom Frieden, has said. The way to do that is through testing.

And as Rajiv has said, a certain amount of testing is going to be necessary to figure out exactly what that right amount is. It's frankly tough to know. When we interviewed Bill Gates the other day, he said at some point do we have kiosks, do we all this Point of location sort of testing available, do we even have at-home testing that have been validated, that could really expedite things as well in terms of reopening. Perhaps, we're not there yet.

By the way, when you do the math on that, it's even higher than what the Rockefeller Foundation is projecting. They're saying 20 million tests a day. That's 600 million tests a month. That means every American gets tested basically every 14 days.

And they say, look, we do have the capacity to do that. Go to the (INAUDIBLE) institute. Got to the university labs. Go to the commercial labs and say, could you do these many tests. And they say, we have machines, we have 400 machines that can do a million tests a day, 750,000 tests a day, roughly. We can do this if we need to, if we can get the raw supplies, and that may be what we need. And we may be a country that just has to test on a regular basis. Most Americans are getting out in public. We're not there yet. But that would be a step towards opening and staying open.

HILL: It just keep coming back to you. I feel like of these conversations that we have tend to come back to supplies, the need for supplies, difficulty to getting supplies or getting the supplies that are needed.


We saw Governor Cuomo talking this weekend about the seven-part partnership, seven different states who say, we're not going to compete against each other. And one of the things they're talking about is not just for PPE but also when it comes to testing, when it comes to medical equipment.

Dr. Shah, how much could partnerships like this and this focus on a supply chain help to ramp up the testing?

SHAH: Well, actually, this is the key to unlocking more testing in this country. As Sanjay mentioned, about two-thirds of molecular testing capacity resides in university labs, small labs, research labs that are currently underutilized. So we have the capacity. The question is can we get the supplies.

Rockefeller Foundation Group includes industry leaders and scientists. And when we talk to companies, it's very clear, they're only going to be able to scale up manufacturing to a large extent if states band together, as they're doing in the northeast, and, frankly, place much larger and much more long-term purchase orders, especially from the August to December timeframe to give the companies a few months to scale up their manufacturing in order to get to the 30 million tests a week.

And, again, Sanjay is right, we need a whole host of new technologies, some of which look quite promising, including point of service testing in particular. But in order to have the volumes we need, we actually need states to come together and make these larger purchases.

The foundation is actually working with those states to provide financial credit guarantees and other tools that would help them project that market demand. But this is a very fractured industry that works on short-term purchase orders and we're not going to get there without real national leadership on this particular issue or a public/private solution, which we're trying to put forward.

HILL: Dr. Rajiv Shah, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you both.

BERMAN: New overnight, President Trump claims that U.S. intelligence officials did not brief him about coronavirus until late January. But reporting from CNN and other shows that he was warned about the virus threat weeks before restricting travel from China.

CNN's John Harwood live from Washington here with the latest. John, let me play you the sound from what the president claimed last night. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: On January 23rd, I was told that there could be a virus coming in. But it was of no real importance. In other words, it wasn't, oh, we got to do something, we got to do something. It was a brief conversation and it was only on January 23rd.


BERMAN: All right, he says the 23rd. We know Azar, the secretary of Health and Human Services, had a phone conversation with him on the 18th. And there's other reporting that he was briefed by intelligence even before that. John, what's going on here?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What's going on is that the president, moment-to-moment is trying to justify what he has done and make himself look like he has not been negligent and make the situation in the country look better. This is a common thread of your previous discussion with Doctors Gupta and Shah about death counts.

When the numbers were lower and the models had been shifting down, he said, look how successful we've been, only 50 or 60. Obviously, the numbers raced past that. And he then said, well, maybe it will go to 100,000 but it would have been 2 million if I didn't do anything.

Same thing is true in the intelligence. We know that Dr. Redfield was notified by his Chinese counterpart on January the 3rd. We know from our colleagues at CNN's reporting that on January 3rd in the president's daily brief, this -- the threat of the pandemic was mentioned. We know that Dr. Azar subsequently called him. And we know that he wasn't particularly interested when azar called him.

Then now we've got news about the news about January 23rd briefing and his point in his Fox town hall last night was to say, well, it was said in a very matter-of-fact way. It was not presented as an urgent priority. This is the president simply trying to avoid blame for a response that two-thirds of the American public says was behind the curve.

BERMAN: Again, any discussion about what happened in January neglects or diverts from the question of what actually happened in February, which was where there was an incredible lack of action on behalf of the federal government that may have contributed to this situation we're in today.

All right, China, this is something we are also hearing from the president. There's just no question that China wasn't transparent about this from the beginning and has a lot to answer for here. But the U.S. administration, and now we're hearing from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, continues to say things without evidence, blaming China for perhaps a lab accident that created this. So listen.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think they intentionally released that virus or it was an accident in the lab?

POMPEO: Well, I can't answer your question about that because the Chinese Communist Party has refused to cooperate with World Health experts.


BERMAN: Well, in fact, U.S. intelligence has the answer to that specific question, which is to say that even if it did come out of the lab, they say it was accidental. There's no evidence they this was deliberate or manmade, per se. An accidental lab release is something else. Why are we hearing so much about that now, John?

HARWOOD: Well, I think because we don't know what exactly happened, whether it actually originated at that wet market or because you have those research facilities in Wuhan, whether or not someone was doing research on this virus and accidentally let it out. And the administration is trying redirect blame from itself on to China.

And as you say, there's no question that China was not transparent and China may have had lax safety protocols at these labs and an accident may have been what caused it to come out. The issue for the United States though, of course, is how we responded once this happened. That's the issue for the entire world. And the administration has taken a consistent line of trying to direct blame at China, trying to link Joe Biden, President Trump's November opponent, to China and I think that's what Pompeo was doing yesterday.

There was an ambiguity in his response because he seemed to be saying two contradictory things. I interpreted what Secretary of State Pompeo is saying yesterday was, no, it was not deliberately created by the lab but it might have accidentally escaped from the lab.

BERMAN: Right. Again, whatever China did do and whatever they're responsible for doesn't absolve what the United States didn't do or is responsible for going after that. John Harwood, thanks so much for being with us. I appreciate your time.

So a new statement from the president, which I think concerns history professors around the country, how he compares himself to President Abraham Lincoln. Has he been treated worse than Lincoln? That's next.



BERMAN: This morning, it is important to read your history books all the way to the end. Overnight, in an interview staged literally in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, President Trump compared himself to Abraham Lincoln. Listen to this.


TRUMP: They always said, Lincoln, nobody got treated worse than Lincoln. I believe I am treated worse.


BERMAN: Joining us now, Presidential Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. She is the Executive Producer of the miniseries, Washington, and the author of Leadership in Turbulent Times, and also the author of Team of Rivals, about Lincoln administration, which I have read it twice both times to the end, Doris.

In a macro sense here, at the end of the book, Lincoln is assassinated. So how can any president in a macro sense be treated worse than that?

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: It's an incredible statement when you think about it. You can't compare the time either. I mean, yes, it's true the country is split now in a partisan way. Yes, it's true that we have a divided media so that facts on one side are not even agreed on on the other.

What we were talking about is civil war with Abraham Lincoln, 600,000 people, a north and a south that had entirely different interpretations of what was going on. Let us never think that we're going back to such a period of time.

All presidents are upset with the way the press treats them. It's part of democracy. I mean, that's what Churchill said. He said, democracy, it's not perfect. It's not all lies. But look at those other governments we've tried. It's better than them. And that's what we have to remember. You need perspective. You need humor to look at this.

BERMAN: Even if you're just limiting it to press treatment of presidents, how does the treatment that President Trump receives compare to that with which Lincoln received?

GOODWIN: Well, Lincoln would have been argued by the other side, by the north, he would have been argued against by the Democrats when he did those great debates with Steven Douglas. They can report on one of his debates and say in the Republican paper, he was so great. He was carried out on the arms of his supporters. The Democratic paper might say, he was horrible, he fell on the floor, so they have to carry him out in shame.

So he was used to that kind of bifurcated media but he would hardly complain. Somebody yells at him, you're two-faced. And what does he do? He said, if I have two faces, do you think I'd be wearing this face? How much better if you can just use the understanding of free press as part of what we are? There are going to be times when you're going to get mad, times when you're going to get resentful. But rather compare yourself to other presidents who have led us through crisis and who have done things that you can learn from. That would be so much more better use of his time. BERMAN: It's a perfect segue into something else that's happened over the weekend, and that's the former president, George W. Bush, released this video as part of a large fundraiser or awareness event. And I want to play a big chunk of that.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Following 9/11, I saw a great nation rise as one to honor the brave, to grieve with the grieving and to embrace unavoidable new duties. And I have no doubt, none at all, that the spirit of service and sacrifice is alive and well in America.

Second, let us remember that empathy and simple kindness are essential, powerful tools of national recovery. Even at an appropriate social distance, we can find ways to be present in the lives of others to ease their anxiety and share their burdens.

Third, let's remember that the suffering we experience as a nation does not fall evenly. In the days to come, it will be especially important to care in practical ways for the elderly, the ill and the unemployed.

Finally, let us remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat.


In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants. We're human beings equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God. We rise or fall together and we're determined to rise.


BERMAN: Two messages really that just jump out of that video. Number one, empathy, right? I feel what you are going through. And, number two, we're in this together. We have to look beyond partisanship. What do you make of those messages, Doris?

GOODWIN: I think it was an extraordinary use of words. I really do. When he called on empathy and kindness, what he's calling on is the most important quality in a leadership in the people, to identify with other people.

And then he said suffering is not uneven. And what he meant by that is that the elderly and the unemployed are bearing the brunt of it more than others.

You know what's so deep about saying that is the awareness of, yes, there may be times when we're going to wish that we could be back to work earlier. Yes, there may be times when the elderly are going to wish we could stay out longer to be safer for them. And he's calling for empathy for both people's points of view. And then to remember 9/11, to say how much better our nation is when we are together, not allow that partisanship to be still out there with us. It seemed to me it was really important moment for the president to speak out. And then Clinton spoke out at the same time going back to FDR's inaugural how we're better off when we're together and interdependence is what we need. I had spoken at Carnegie Hall not long before we were shut down, on February 29th, I think it was. And whenever they said something about their friendship, the two of them, Clinton and Bush, the audience erupted in cheers when Bush said, I'm the brother of another mother, or he's such gifted politician, he beat my father. I hated him then and now he's my friend.

People are yearning for that sense of unity in a crisis. It's the most important thing a leader can do, is to make us we're one during these difficult times.

BERMAN: And, look, President Trump has made clear he has not chosen to call past presidents and will not. He says he leans against doing that. And as you note, all these other presidents have.

In terms of the message of partisanship though or non-partisanship, I don't think there's anything controversial in what George W. Bush said. It was the opposite of controversial. Yet President Trump, I think, chose to take it as an implicit rebuke of him. And he put a statement out that said, quoted a Fox News commentator. He said where was he during impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside? And then the president himself said, he was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest hoax in American history.

So when George W. Bush calls for empathy and no partisanship, President Trump responds with partisanship. It was odd.

GOODWIN: Well, I think what he's responding there is one of the things that old Abe Lincoln used to say, is you've got to put past resentments aside. He had normal human feelings that we all do of envy or jealousy or anger or resentments. But he said, if you allow those feelings to fester, they're going to poison a part of you.

And the resentment of what President Bush didn't do perhaps and protect him during the impeachment thing just came right to the surface. Instead of his being able to connect to the same thing, just as our other presidents have. I mean, when John Kennedy came in, and the Bay of Pigs was a fiasco, he asked Eisenhower, his predecessor, to go to Camp David with him.

When Harry Truman came in, he looked to Hoover, who FDR, not his finest hour, had not had Hoover to the White House, he finally invited Hoover on the first train, Hoover came, gave him advice about famine in Europe. Then president -- president -- I got my guys mixed up.

President LBJ, not Lincoln, when he went to Independence, Missouri and he gave the first Medicare card to Truman because Truman had first suggested it and Truman was being forgotten down there. And LBJ, I hope won't be forgotten too. How much good it is to allow yourself to feel part of that presidential club? They're the only ones who have experienced what you've experienced.

BERMAN: And it's a font of wisdom that should be tapped into. Doris Kearns Goodwin, thanks so much for being with us this morning. I really appreciate it.

GOODWIN: I am so glad always to be with you. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Thousands of crew members stuck on cruise ships for weeks after the passengers left. New hope this morning for these crew members to head home soon. We'll speak with one of them, next.