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Trump Lobbies World Leaders Against China; DNI Nominee Says Coronavirus A Top Priority For Intel; Gold's Gym Files For Bankruptcy, Permanently Closes 30 Locations. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 5, 2020 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: President Trump again today aiming at China saying, it was not transparent enough in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. The president says this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What happens should never ever have happened. China should have informed us that they had a problem. I might, but I haven't spoken to President Xi. I have not.


KING: I want to bring in our national security correspondent Vivian Salama, she has some new reporting on an administration debate about whether to punish China and if so, what to do, Vivian?

VIVIAN SALAMA, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. Yes, absolutely. So with beyond just mitigation or talking about reopening the economy, the Trump administration is really focused on accountability. They really want to hold China accountable for the fact that it failed to flag the virus early on, and act transparently in doing so.

And so, right now they're in trying to enlist foreign allies to get on board with them, both in rhetoric and in pressuring China labeling it either the Wuhan virus or the China virus. And really pushing China to take some of the blame except some of the blame for what was happening.

And so you see now that Secretary of State Pompeo and others in the administration, including Larry Kudlow, the economic adviser to the White House have been making the rounds calling allies. President Trump has also been raising the issue with foreign allies on various phone calls that he's been having.

And so we definitely see a pattern of this developing. Also, there's a shift that's happening within the administration too. Of course, with the elections just six months away, a number of officials who typically would have been a little bit more moderate in their views with China wanting to engage economically, like Jared Kushner and Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin. They're starting to come around too on a tougher stance saying that, perhaps a tougher stance on China would pay in the long run for -- at the polls in November versus say, focusing on the trade deal, which at this point seems very uncertain six months out from the elections. They don't know if China's going to commit to the phase one deal with regard to agricultural purchases, and there has been absolutely no talk of a phase two deal.

And so now, this is the strategy going forward, and the Trump administration really looks to get foreign allies on board with them as well.

KING: And yet, Vivian, the President sometimes goes back and forth on this. Number one, just for the record, even as he criticizes China now, 24 times in January and February, at least 24 times he praised China. And he praised President Xi. He said he was on top of this, and he said he was being transparent.


But as they consider a change in strategy now, the President does often tout his personal relationship with the Chinese leader.

SALAMA: Absolutely, John. And so he's -- he, for a long time, he's been sort of toeing the line when it comes to China, in part because he worries that any kind of disruption between the real -- in the relationship between China and the U.S. could disrupt the stock market.

And right now, given how the economy is in shambles, you just placed a quote from Kevin Hassett talking about the unemployment numbers. He's very wary of really kind of rocking that boat any further. And so he definitely has been very, very cautious about his rhetoric with Xi in particular.

KING: Vivian Salama, appreciate that new reporting and it's a fascinating debate, it will with us for some time. We'll keep on top of it. Vivian, thank you.

New Hampshire among the states taking big reopening steps this week and next week. The state is doing so with an eye though on its neighbors, especially Massachusetts.

Joining me now, the Governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu. Governor, it's good to see you again. So you're trying to go forward here. And I just want to put up on the screen your cases versus Massachusetts. You're pretty flat down at the bottom of this case count when we put it up.

Massachusetts is coming down, but it's still above you. And I'm from Boston. I spent a lot of time driving back and forth from Massachusetts across the New Hampshire border. What are you worried about? If you start to reopen retail, if you start to reopen recreation, if you start to reopen restaurants, you're worried about your neighbors coming north? GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): One of our biggest concerns is definitely unintentionally inviting folks out of Massachusetts in a very high incident of COVID into New Hampshire. Obviously, it's a huge concern for us.

Usually, we really rely on the Massachusetts mature folks to come up for tourism and hospitality. But unfortunately right now, we're just not in that position. So whatever we do, we have to kind of be cognizant of our neighbors Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine. Make sure that we're moving forward sensibly with the Department of Public Health, always watching what we're doing.

We have PPE. We have increased testing. All of these are going to be valuable tools in terms of moving forward and being able to do something that starts taking steps, not giant phases, but starts taking steps, always keeping in mind that we want to make sure we're mitigating the viral spread.

KING: We were listening just moments ago to the Democratic Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, making the case that he's not asking for a federal bailout. He says all states budgets are getting whacked by coronavirus and he believes states whether that's a Republican governor like yourself in New Hampshire or a Democratic governor like him in New York, deserves some federal assistance here with state and local budgeting.

Do you agree with Governor Cuomo or are you more with Mitch McConnell and of late, the President of the United States saying, now sorry, we're not going to, as they put it bail out the blue states.

SUNUNU: We're not looking for a bailout, but some assistance would be great. I think the -- one of the ideas that we're trying to promote is, look, if there has to be a shared responsibility here, right? In other words, maybe some dollar can come in to help offset some of our revenue losses. But there has to be some shared responsibility and cutting and maintaining budgets, whatever that might look like.

Maybe more flexibility in the dollars we've already been given, which right now, don't allow for revenue re-expenditures, but allow that flexibility that so that again, we, at the localized level can manage through the crisis, and also for cities and towns. We want to be able to help cities and towns so that they don't hit financial crisis as well.

But I do believe in the concept of some shared responsibility in any sort of stimulus would be helpful.

KING: Right. You as governor, and I think all Americans, all the citizens of your state are in awe of the first responders, the essential workers, the people who have been going to work every day in the middle of all this. You tweeted about this yesterday.

Our police, fire, EMS first responders risked their lives every day they leave their house. And risk is even greater as we come back COVID-19. So you are now using some of the CARES Act money to give. We're putting up these stipends here from your tweet. Explain why you decided to do this and why it's so important to you?

SUNUNU: Well, when you look at some of these first responders, police, fire, EMT, EMS, whatever it might be, these are folks that are on the frontlines, they rush into a situation. They can be in a very close proximity to an individual. Sometimes they have to be, you know, the physical touching and everything that happens with that.

They don't stop and take surveys of who they're going in for. They go in and rescue people and provide that service. And again, that's -- that hazard pay, if you will, that first responder hazard pay, we just wanted to create that stipend, not just to show an appreciation of what they do, but make sure that that workforce is going to be there for the long term in all the different communities.

The CARES Act funding didn't allow us to help cities and towns as much as we were hoping to be frank about it. And so this is one way of also just making sure that we're moving forward with those cities and towns trying to help provide a little extra service to those that are on the frontlines of this.


KING: And let me circle back to your plan. On Monday time, sensitive elective surgeries can resume, golf courses on May 11th, retail limited to 50 percent occupancy on May 11th, barbers and hair salons that same day by reservation only, outdoor seating at some restaurants a week later, with some restrictions.

Here's your plan. It's a phased approach. Tell me your metrics as you watch it. What will tell you, OK, we're doing the right thing here. Let's keep going. And what, is it rate of transmission? Is it hospitalization? Or what's the circuit breaker for you to say, whoa, we need to stop if it comes to that point?

SUNUNU: It's a great question. When we presented it, I took the first 15 minutes of my press conference and showed everyone all the data because we want to be very transparent to ensure the public trust and how --

KING: I believe we just lost the governor's technology there. Yes, we lost that one, sorry. Chris Sununu, the Governor of New Hampshire very much appreciate his time.

When we come back, the President has a new nominee to lead the intelligence community. He's getting quite the hearing today up on Capitol Hill.



KING: The Texas Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe facing some tough questions on Capitol Hill today. He is the President's nominee now to be the new director of National Intelligence. You might remember Ratcliffe as a key Trump ally and defender back during the impeachment process. Today, he was before the Senate Intelligence Committee. And he laid out what he sees as the top priority right now of the entire intelligence community.


REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE (R-TX): I believe the immediate focus of the I.C. must be directed to the geopolitical and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as its origins.


KING: CNN's Manu Raju covering these hearings live for us up on Capitol Hill. That was in the opening statement, Manu, what else did we hear including any skepticism from Democrats?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of skepticism from Democrats, he did present himself as a middle of the road nominee even as someone who has been a staunch defender of this President throughout his term here in Congress, also fighting with Democrats during the impeachment proceedings.

But the way he projected himself today is someone who was not going to take sides one way or the other. And Democrats did try to pin him down but he did sidestep some key questions. One key question was raised early on in this hearing by Senator Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the Committee.

The Democrat asked him whether or not he believes with the assessment from the Intelligence Community and the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee that it was Russia that had a preference for Donald Trump to win in 2016. He said he had not seen the underlying intelligence.


RATCLIFFE: I have no reason to dispute the Committee's findings. I will say that I have no reason to dispute the Committee that I serve on hypsi. The House Intelligence Committees finding, which is a different perspective with regard to that one issue that you mentioned, about a preference for a candidate.

I have -- I was not on the Committee at that time. I have not -- I respect both Committees. But I have not seen the underlying intelligence to tell me why there is a difference of opinion between the two committees.


RAJU: Now I did ask Mark Warner about that exchange after the hearing. He called it quote, very troubling. He said he also has a lot more questions that he plans to pose to Ratcliffe in a closed hearing. Republicans on the other hand, John, feeling good about it, Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr is supportive of this nomination. He plans to push it forward in the Committee.

And I asked him why he thinks that Ratcliffe would be independent. He said, we'll just look at his answers. John.

KING: And Manu, you have some reporting for the other side of the Capitol as well. Democrats saying they will go forward with oversight looking into all the spending and the administration in response to coronavirus even though Republicans are saying, we don't want to participate.

RAJU: Yes, that's right. And one of the Committees that Nancy Pelosi was moving forward with as a 12-member Committee to look into the U.S. coronavirus response. Kevin McCarthy the Republican leader has not yet named members to that Committee.

I asked Pelosi, will they still move ahead? She said quote, of course. So expect that fight to continue here, John.

KING: We'll watch that one as well. Manu Raju a busy day on the Hill, appreciate the reporting very much.


Up next for us, the future of fitness you might say, gyms across the country trying to survive as states begin the reopening process.


KING: Utah and Tennessee the latest to join a growing number of states now allowing gyms to reopen. However, Gold's Gym now filing for bankruptcy, that after permanently closing 30 locations across the country. The CEO of Gold's Gym, Adam Zeitsiff, joins me now. Adam, it's good to see you. So explain how this works out. These are 30 corporate owned, right? So if you're if a Gold's franchise, you're not affected by this.

ADAM ZEITSIFF, CEO, GOLD'S GYM: Hey, John. Yes, thanks for having me back. I appreciate it.

Yes, let me say first of all, Gold's Gym, we've been doing this for 55 years, and we're not going anywhere, right. So yes, this is strictly related to the company own gyms, about 32 of them, as you said. And our franchisees, they operate their own independent businesses and they're really waiting to reopen and getting their gyms reopened now, in fact. So we're excited for that.

This is strictly focused on our company, and giving us a chance to restructure and get through this pandemic.

KING: And so you hope to come out of this by August from the bigger -- the national company part. I just want to show you these numbers, you're aware of them. This is from a new Washington Post University of Maryland poll. We've seen it in other data as well. Twenty-two percent of Americans say they're prepared to go back to the gym, but 78 percent say no, that they do not think that is the right time to be able to go back to the gym.

I know we have some pictures you provided to us of the steps that gyms are trying to take. Every other treadmill is open. You have these safety signs throughout them here. You know, this environment as well as anybody, you're up close and personal all the time. You're huffing and puffing. I mean, what can you do to get at that psychology where the American people are thinking, I don't know if I'm ready to do this yet?

ZEITSIFF: Yes, it's a tough one. And you just got to take it step by step. You know, we're not reopening the entire gym from the get go. And social distancing, it's going to be the norm no matter where you go, restaurants, bars, when they reopen retail stores, and the gym.

And as you can see from the pictures, you know, we're shutting down every other treadmill and the cardio decks. And we're spacing out the strength areas. And when our classrooms reopen, we're going to space those out with the floor cleans as well.


And I think you just got to get people comfortable and take it in phases, get them into their first workout, see our staff in their PPE that they're paying attention and that we're cleaning and that we're giving them the safest environment possible here at Gold's Gym so they can work out and become healthy and active again. But it's going to take some time.

KING: And you're -- every industry in America is having to reimagine themselves. What does it look like? How do we do it? What's our capacity? When you do that, especially as you now try to emerge from bankruptcy, as you try to put a plan in to get out of that? I mean, what is your sense in terms of, you're going to have to have smaller classes, you're going to have to spread people out, what is that going to do at least for the next six months or a year or so to your potential revenue and the bottom line?

ZEITSIFF: Yes, you know, certainly. The class size is probably going to have to be between 25 and 50 percent to start, to make it safe so we can distance. We know we're seeing -- we've had franchisees open in Georgia, in Tennessee, in Wyoming. And they're seeing people come to the gym. It's probably about half the traffic that it was last year at this time, of course, as people get comfortable.

But our Tennessee franchisee sold an average of almost 40 memberships over the weekend per gym when they reopened. So people, not just our existing members, but people were coming in saying, hey, I want to get healthy. I want to get active. I want to get back into the gym. And we're seeing that. So it's an exciting trend, but we've got to be careful, and we got to take it day by day.

KING: Let's keep an eye on it in the weeks ahead. Keep sharing your metrics, Adam, come back and let us know how things are going and hopefully, hopefully things go safely. Appreciate your time.

ZEITSIFF: Thanks. Good to see you again.

KING: Thank you.

The second Walmart of Massachusetts closed due to a cluster of cases among its employees. Health officials in Quincy just south of Boston say one employee in that store has died. The entire facility will now be cleaned and disinfected. It's unclear how many employees have tested positive. Walmart does say, it is working with local officials on a reopening plan.

Coming up new details about how the coronavirus could be impacting children.


KING: New York City's Health Department says 15 children had been hospitalized with symptoms of a rare disease and they suspect this is linked to the coronavirus. The patients ranging from 2 to 15 years old, tested positive for COVID or coronavirus antibodies.

They also displayed persistent fevers and other symptoms related to Kawasaki disease or toxic shock syndrome. Kawasaki disease causes blood vessels to swell, limiting how much blood flows to the heart. So far, the NYC Health Department says none of these patients have died.

I want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John King in Washington. This is CNN continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.


Here in the United States the case count, you see it on the screen there, will likely climb past one --