Return to Transcripts main page


Mayor Paul TenHaken (R) of Sioux Falls, SD Discusses Reopening Of Smithfield Plant, Saying They're Prepared; White House Limits Testimony By Coronavirus Task Force Members; Trump Lashes Out At George Conway, Anti-Trump Group Over Ad; Trump To Visit Honeywell Factory Making N-95 Masks; Baseball Is Back On TV In South Korea. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired May 5, 2020 - 13:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And as mayors and governors and president are saying let's get the economy reopening, what lessons are we learning from those in this environment. People who may not have enough PPE from the beginning. Didn't have a testing regiment up to speed.

Are you convinced, as you look at other sectors in your economy where it is not the same as the meat processing plant, but it is tight quarters and people share spaces like locker room and cafeteria, are you learning lessons that you can apply to other industries?

MAYOR PAUL TENHAKEN (R), SIOUX FALLS, SD: You know, we absolutely are. This morning, I was e-mailing with the union head at the Smithfield plant here asking, are you satisfied with the steps they are taking to ensure the safety of your employees.

There are some concerns. And for instance, they call it the kill floor where the hogs come in. There's a lot of moistures in the air on that floor and you don't have partition that you would like to see between workers. And there's another area that he also felt that was still unsafe.

And so there's this new normal, that we talk about what's the new normal safe practices in a processing plant and no one knows it yet. Where do they get to a point where they can say confidence, yes, it is safe for you to go back to work.

KING: I want to put up this 14-day trend of new reported cases going down. You can see the trend down, which is a good thing. That's the report deaths there. You see cases going down.

We talked about a month ago. Today is better than yesterday. Is this week better than last week? When it comes to testing and availability and the things, when you wake up every day, are you in a better shape than three weeks ago?

TENHAKEN: You know John, John, it is a question. When we look at the downward trends and number of positives, that's only as good as the number of tests you are running. If we had 50 positives and we ran 55 tests, that's terrible metrics. We need to be testing more, like most states and cities.

I want to push more testing among our first responders and front-line employees. We set up this testing along with the state's health. The states led that. And 50 Smithfield employees.

To say we are in a better spot, I don't know. As the testing increases, we'll be able to answer that. I'd like some of the trends that we have seen. The biggest that we are seeing is hospitalization rate is lower than we originally anticipated.

KING: That's encouraging news there.

Mr. Mayor, thank you very much. We'll circle back in a week or two and see how you're doing. Hopefully, things get better.


KING: Thank you, sir.

TENHAKEN: Thank you, John.

KING: Thank you.

Wendy's is facing a beef shortage, forcing the fast-food chain to change their menu in some locations One in five Wendy's restaurants is out of beef. Not serving hamburgers or other meat-based items, according to one food industry analyst.

The fast-food chain blames production challenges of beef suppliers across North America. Wendy's says in a statement they're still supplying hamburgers to restaurants but menu items may temporarily be limited in some states.

Up next, the president of the United States wants to control member of his Coronavirus Task Force testifying before Congress. The president's own words on why the Senate is OK and the House is not. Up next.



KING: A startling comment by President Trump today in explaining the White House decision to block Dr. Anthony Fauci from testifying in front of the House committee about the coronavirus.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The House is a bunch of Trump haters. They put every Trump hater on the committee. The same old stuff. They, frankly, want our situation to be unsuccessful, which means deaths, which means death. And our situation is going to be very successful.

It's just a set-up. Dr. Fauci will be testifying in front of the Senate and he looks forward to doing that.


KING: With me now to discuss CNN's Chief Political Correspondent, Dana Bash, and Washington bureau chief of the "Daily Beast," Jackie Kucinich.

Jackie, I will start with you.

"The Democrats, frankly, want our situation to be unsuccessful, which means death, which means death." The president of the United States saying it is election year, the Democrats want him to fail, therefore, they're OK with more deaths if that makes him fail.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The adversarial relationship between the president and Congress is not going anywhere. Accusing them of wanting Americans to die is obviously a bit of a bridge too far.

This shows that he is committed to keeping at least part of Congress in the dark about what's happening and does not want them to exercise their oversight.

It struck me, in the letter that was sent, Mark Meadows had the approval of who on the task force gets to go testify. I can't imagine Congressman Mark Meadows being OK with that if the roles are reversed in a Democrat administration.


KING: He'll not be the first one to leave the legislative branch to go to the executive branch and suddenly have a rethinking, shall we say, about congressional oversight.


KING: To that point, Dana, a, if the president wanted to say it is Trump haters, we can talk about that as more politics as usual. But to put out the idea that they so want him to fail in this election year, they're willing to take American deaths for it, I found out of bounds.

But Dr. Fauci will go before the Senate. I think the president thinks because there's a Republican chairman that means it is a different environment.

A, this Republican chairman, Lamar Alexander, may have questions for Dr. Fauci and, B, there are Democrats on that committee, too.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. This is spike. That's the reason he's not letting Anthony Fauci go before the Democrats who ran the House. It is spike because they impeached him. He feels to have the power from keeping the spectacle from happening. That's the way he sees it.

And it is just a notion of the Democrats, who were elected as the majority in the House, elections have consequences. They're asking to do their constitutional duty on oversight. And can you imagine a time that's more important to have that check and balance than during a pandemic when the Congress is spending unprecedented billions, trillions of dollars for the American taxpayers? They haves every right to see where it is going on.

And Anthony Fauci is a key person to do that. If he thinks it is going to be easy going in the Senate, he's going to be disappointed when he sees that it is almost surely be a very fair, balanced hearing in the Senate next week.

KING: A couple of other dynamics, as we see, Dr. Fauci giving a briefing. The president is not there in the briefing room everyday anymore.

We see Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx. They seem more candid and cautious. Dr. Fauci said reopening certain parts of the country is dangerous. "Coronavirus has the capability of spreading like wildfire. Shame on us if enough available by fall." Strongly leaning toward could not be artificially manipulated, questioning the president's theory this was done in a lab from China.

And the president, Jackie, went like this. This is from the new "Washington Post"/University of Maryland poll. How would you rate the handling of the coronavirus outbreak? And 44 percent gave the president an excellent or good grade. And 56 percent said Dr. Fauci is doing excellent or good.

The president does not like seeing numbers like that.

KUCINICH: No, he does not. We are not seeing it live on television right now. During the coronavirus breaking every single day, there were times you would have Fauci and Dr. Birx walking back what the president said after the president said or the president stepping on them saying something that was inaccurate. The fact that we are seeing it play out in these interviews are interesting.

You also see, in the poll, that governors are, by and large, getting high marks where the president has not. And the difference is, with Fauci and the governors, they're giving clear, consistent messages to people who want to know how to take care of their families and how to move forward with their lives. The president has been, at best, erratic.

KING: OK, folks, standby.

I want to go through another interesting political story with you. There's an online video from a group who members include George Conway. George Conway the husband of Kellyanne Conway, the president's counsellor. They put up a video on Twitter last night and the president did not like it. Let's look at the video.


NARRATOR: There's mourning in America. And under the leadership of Donald Trump our country is weaker and sicker and poorer.


KING: That's a piece of the video.

This is just one of many late-night tweets from the president. "Their so-called Lincoln Project is a disgrace to Honest Abe. I don't know what Kellyanne Conway did to her deranged loser of a husband, moon face."

The tweets go on and on and I won't repeat all of the president's language.

Number one, the president guaranteed millions more, tens of thousands, the use of that video when he tweets about it. Number two, I think, Dana, it is a fair question to ask at 1:00 in the morning or so, why is this what the president of the United States is doing during a pandemic?


BASH: Because he clearly saw on television and got enraged and picked up his phone, as he has done so many times. And you can tell the time based on how really crazed the language is here, even in the context of all the crazy tweets we've seen and heard from the president.

Going after the people who did this video, including George Conway, he really put down one of the people who has been the most loyal defenders of this president, who helped him get elected, and that's Kellyanne Conway.

This is just one of those times where you have to say, would he say this? It was a man who worked for him. And this man's wife was responsible for helping put this ad on saying things like, I don't know what Kellyanne Conway did to her deranged loser husband, what she did to him. Really? There's no way he would say that if he was a man.

KING: It is a great point.

Maybe I am going out too far here, maybe Jackie, he would not say anyway if he would think before he tweets but it is too much to ask.

KUCINICH: This is one of his time where the president's reputation where he is someone who punches back him and punches himself in the face. Maybe there are people who probably looked at this video after the fact had the president not raised it on his Twitter fee. He did them a flavor and provided more clicks to their video.

KING: I needed a laugh. Jackie Kucinich, much appreciate that as well.

KUCINICH: You're welcome.

KING: Little history on the video, "Morning in America," goes back to Ronald Reagan back in the '84 campaign.

When we come back, the president is on the road to Arizona for the first time since the coronavirus restrictions were put in place.



KING: President Trump is en route to Arizona, the first trip since the one quick trip to Virginia to say good-bye to the ship, the first big trip.

He's going to Arizona to visit a Honeywell factory, now producing N-95 masks. As the state is allowing reopening of the state. Allowing walk- up service on Monday. Stores can start inviting customers inside next week.

Let's go live to CNN's Kyung Lah.

The president is coming amid a gradual reopening.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A very gradual reopening. It was a soft reopening, if you will, John. We are anticipating the president will be landing here in Phoenix, visiting the Honeywell campus. It will be a pop-up plan that he is going to stop at.

The N-95 mask you were talking about that are being produced by Honeywell. The president will stop there. He'll also attend a roundtable talking about Native American issue.

But what the president said before boarding Air Force One is, quote, "The country has to reopen."

The president has been itching to get out of the D.C. bubble. He's, indeed, dos that, flying all the way across to Arizona as a signal, a sign that the economy may be coming back, and life as he would like to see it, as normal, starting to inch back.

But the reality is here on the ground in Arizona, yes, while reopen protests are taking place -- we saw one in front of the governor's mansion where there were no masks, no social distancing. People say the economy has to start right now.

The reality is, when you go into these small businesses, business owners will tell you they're nervous that the 14-day decline has not happened, that it's bringing them some pause.

We're also hearing that similar caution from the mayor of Phoenix. Take a listen.


KATE GALLEGO (D), PHOENIX MAYOR: I'm not sure I would be traveling, but I think it is important to celebrate the workers who are powering this economy.

If you can still stay home, please do so. But we know people are suffering and there's a lot of different situations, so if you do need to go out, we need the most safety precautions that you can implement.


LAH: Something we should point out, John, is there's a Honeywell plant in Rhode Island doing a very similar thing, producing N-95 masks. So why is he coming here to Arizona? This is a battleground state critical for his reelection -- John?

KING: It will be fascinating to watch it play out. One of the states that will decide the presidential election in November.

Kyung Lah, on the ground in Arizona as the president visits. Kyung, thank you very much.

Quick break. When we come back, baseball is back -- in South Korea.




KING: Live baseball is back on TV. The South Korean Baseball League began its new season today after a weeks-long delay due to the coronavirus.

Andy Scholes is with us now.

Andy, it's great to see baseball. I wish it were a little closer to home.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. We want it here in the U.S. we're ready for something now. At least for now we have something we can watch on television.

This could provide a glimpse of what we could be seeing when sports do return here in the U.S.. The South Korea baseball league, called the Korean Baseball Organization. They didn't, of course, did not have fans in the stand watching. But they put up signs of fans, and they all had masks on, which was kind of an interesting sight. No cheering, but there's images of people watching.

They had player introductions and the national anthems. The players on the field, they were all wearing masks as well. They were standing within six feet from each other.

Then when it came to the actual game on the field, I definitely had a different field you had umpires wearing gloves and masks. Coaches wearing gloves and masks. The players not participating wearing gloves and masks.

And then, you know, look at this homerun. No fans in the stands. The commentators had no idea where the ball was because there were no fans to react where it was going. It's definitely an odd feeling.

They have rules for the organization right now while they're playing. John, there's no spiting, no high-fives. But as you can see some of the guys in the dugout forgetting about that high-five rule. [14:00:01]

Going to take some getting used to. We'll wait and see. Maybe this is what Major League Baseball will look like if and when it does get back on the field.