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Kayleigh McEnany Holds White House Press Briefing; Travel/Tourism Industry in Danger?. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired May 6, 2020 - 16:30   ET



ANDREA BONIOR, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Yes, Jake, I think the empathy piece is so crucial here, because, when we show empathy to each other, we help each other be less afraid.

And I think some of the negative reactions we're seeing, people out there not acting very altruistically, come from fear and come from not being able to express fear.

And so, when we can empathize with each other within our families, within our friend groups, with our co-workers, we allow a state to be creative where people feel comfortable speaking up. And when they can talk about their fears, they can cope a lot more easily with them.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Andrea Bonior, always excellent to have you on. Thank you so much. We will see you soon.

BONIOR: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: And we're still monitoring the White House, as we wait for the White House press briefing to begin.

Plus: why your next vacation may never look the same again. We have some new numbers from several major companies in real distress.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In the money lead today: new evidence of coronavirus shredding what's left of the travel and tourism industries.

United Airlines said it plans to layoff 30 percent of its staff. Norwegian Cruise Line warned investors it may go out of business entirely.

And this astonishing figure from Disney: Its first-quarter profits dropped 91 percent, a 91 percent drop.

CNN business anchor Julia Chatterley joins us now.

And, Julia, even if these kinds of companies are able to get federal bailouts, that's just a short-term fix for a big long-term problem.


Travel was the first to be hit. And the message from the industry is that it's going to be among the last to recover.

Look at United Airlines. They took a multibillion bailout, and they're saying that it's not enough. They're still going to cut workers in the future. That's the reality.

Norwegian Cruise Line, you mentioned, they said today they manage to borrow lots of cash to tide them over. But when are we going to feel confident enough to get on a cruise ship or go to a Disney theme park? We simply don't know.

The long-term is easier to call. We love to travel. Science will save the industry. But to get to the long term, you have to survive the short term. And that's the big challenge here and the big unknown.

TAPPER: And the same, of course, going -- goes for small businesses getting loans.

This temporary money, it's not going to last longer -- much longer.

CHATTERLEY: It's exactly the same.

You can take that money, as a small business. You can pay workers for eight weeks. But then what? We don't know. And we're already seven to eight weeks into this crisis. Those workers are probably now on benefits.

Probably best to leave them there. I think that's what we're seeing. There's no easy choices here.

TAPPER: You and I have talked a lot about the gig economy. Today, we heard Airbnb said it's going to lay off 25 percent of its staff. Uber is letting go of about 14 percent.

The pandemic is obviously forcing gig workers to rethink how they can get this income.

CHATTERLEY: Absolutely, some of their income or all of their income.

You were the first to point this out, Jake. It's 29 million workers in the United States. Three million of those are Uber drivers. And COVID- 19 has been a game-changer. Do you want to get in a car with a stranger? Do you want a stranger in your house at this moment doing some kind of work?

Probably not, if it means risking infection. This is going to be the challenge going forward. And these workers at least now qualify for benefits. But from what I have heard, that's been a huge challenge.

Getting back to work is going to be key here. The question is how and when. TAPPER: California is now the first state to borrow federal money to pay unemployment claims for its citizens. Several other states are making similar requests.

What's your prediction how long it will take states to get back on decent financial footing, where they can pay unemployment benefits out of their own coffers?


And I don't say that lightly. It's going to come down to the speed of the recovery. It's going to come down to more support from Congress, which is vital.

Just to give you a comparison, California borrowed almost $11 billion after the financial crisis. It took them almost a decade to pay it back. Paying into that fund is not easy, because you have to be in a position to raise taxes on businesses or shrink benefits.

So that's going to be the challenge. California is the first. It's certainly not going to be the last. Labor Department data say there's almost or more than 20 states now in jurisdictions that can't pay benefits themselves for a one-year recession.

That's the reality. More help is needed, and it means more borrowing in the short term.

TAPPER: All right, CNN business anchor Julia Chatterley, thank you, as always.

In our world lead today, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he's looking ahead to reopening and plans to announce new measures on Sunday. But he is also warning that a second wave would result in an economic disaster.

CNN's Max Foster joins me now from London.

Max, even though the U.K. is about to start easing some restrictions, the prime minister says now is not the right time to make international comparisons on coronavirus response.

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He does say that, because the death toll in the U.K. went over 30,000, putting it at the highest death toll in Europe, the second highest in the world.

Boris Johnson, as you say, saying, these sorts of comparisons aren't helpful, because the data...


TAPPER: Max, I'm sorry. I have to interrupt you right now. Max, I'm sorry. I have to interrupt you right now, because Kayleigh McEnany is now taking questions in the White House Briefing Room.

And we're going to take that live.

Let's listen.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He decided that Coronavirus Task Force is here to stay. They have done great work.

I've witnessed it, I'm in the Coronavirus Task Force meetings. And they've got in our country through this. There were supposed to be 2.2 million deaths and we are at a point where we are far lower than that, and it's thanks to the great work of the task force on that leadership of President Trump. QUESTION: So whose idea was it to initially wind it down?

MCENANY: Again, I'm not going further; the president has answered this four times today.

QUESTION: I asked the question about masks, I know there was some back and forth over the president wearing a mask yesterday. I don't want to ask about that, but the White House's view -- what is the White House's message to the American people? Does the White House -- does the president believed that people should be wearing masks to get back to some semblance of their normal life?

MCENANY: Well as we've put out, it's recommended but that's the choice of the individual as to whether they wear a mask or not. The president yesterday, the CEO of Honeywell said there was no need. And so he followed that advice and their guidance. And I would just note on -- the note of masks, 70 million N95 masks have been distributed across the country, 20 million -- 25 million rather are what's used in the average year for our health care workers.

So the fact that in a few weeks, we've distributed nearly three times what is used in a year is extraordinary, and that's not to mention the 120 million surgical mask and many other supplies that the president has put forward.

QUESTION: If I can just follow up. I'm sure you've seen a number of polls, there's a huge difference between Democrats and Republicans over whether or not they think it is necessary to wear a mask in public. Do you have any sense as to why that would be?

MCENANY: No sense as to why that would be. That's the choice of the American public, that's the choice of the individual as to whether to wear a mask or not. But again, I praise the extraordinary work of this administration in distributing those mask and ensuring that health care providers get them.

QUESTION: Kayleigh, we were just talking about masks. You said that Honeywell -- the president was told by folks at Honeywell as was the team that they didn't need to wear a mask. The reason he was told that is because the people who would be interacting with them, had all be tested and had been shown to be negative before that took place.

I guess -- so the president had those circumstances, obviously he's the president. But why shouldn't all Americans who go back to work be able to get the test before they do it, to feel comfortable in their own work environment to interact with other individuals? MCENANY: Yes, well let's dismiss a myth about tests right now. If we tested every single American in this country at this moment, we'd have to retest them an hour later and an hour later after that because at any moment, you could theoretically contract this virus. So the notion that everyone needs to be tested is simply nonsensical. The people who need to be tested are vulnerable populations.

That's why Dr. Birx has repeatedly emphasized we need surge nursing homes with the testing, meat processing facilities. That's where the testing is needed. We have to be strategic with our testing, and we have done that so far. And again, if we want to talk about testing and the volume of testing, the fact that in South Korea, there are -- we always hear about South Korea and their tests; there are 11 tests per thousand, here in the United States, that's 17 tests per thousand.

Our hot spots per capita are higher than other countries. We have two times -- we have conducted two times the number of tests of other countries around the world. We're in a very strong place in this country with testing. But rest assured, we'll deploy it strategically because that's what the American public expects of us.

QUESTION: So just to follow up, to be clear, should people accept a risk that they could become ill if they go back to work?

MCENANY: Look, each and every state has put into place -- this is a governor led effort first of all, let me emphasis that. The president has said that governors make the decisions as to move forward and we encourage them to follow our phased approach. Each state has submitted to us a list of testing that they need in order to safely reopen.

I was sitting in the meeting when Admiral Giroir pulled out the list for several states and said, here's the testing you requested to open safely, here's the testing I'm giving you to meet that need. It's pretty extraordinary, this wide scale effort by the Trump administration to ensure states have what they need. So as states reopen, they will do so safely and to so with the supplies of the Trump administration.

QUESTION: What does it say that so many of those governors of states aren't following the guidelines that the president dictated from this podium?

MCENANY: We encourage every single governor to follow the guidelines that we put forward to a phase reopening approach. We have this beautiful concept called federalism which means the states lead on this and that's what we're doing. It's a governor led decision. But we encourage everyone to follow the expert written guidelines that we've put forward. Thank you.

QUESTION: I have a question about reopening. But first, some of the areas that have been hardest hit by coronavirus have been urban areas. What is the White House doing -- or is there any targeted effort to help stop the spread in (inaudible) communities?


MCENANY: Yes, it's a very important question, because we know that some of our underserved communities are hit most by the coronavirus. Absolutely, we've done quite a bit, invested first of all, $1.4 billion into our nation's 13,000 community centers. That ensures that 28 million people living in medically underserved areas receive funding.

Also, that announcement I had for you last week about hospital funding, $2 billion of that was -- was geared towards specifically ensuring that men and women in underserved communities and those hospitals got that money.

I would also note just that the president has directed Secretary Ben Carson to focus the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council on underserved communities, so very important. This is a community that's been very hard hit. And rest assured we are laser-focused on making sure that these communities are assisted.


QUESTION: Can I ask about reopening as well?


QUESTION: OK. So the task force has put out phased guidelines for states to reopen and individual guidelines, but it hasn't said very much about businesses specifically. Does it plan to put out any detailed guidelines for businesses like retailers and restaurants to reopen?

MCENANY: Well, in the phased approach there are some recommendations for how, for instance, a restaurant should reopen and the -- the -- the distancing that's required. And as you go through the phases that distancing is shrunk and there are other mechanisms that are outlined for restaurants, and movie theaters and sporting venues. So I would argue that our phased approach does take that into account.

And each and every state, by the way, the governor is welcome to reach out to us. We're constantly communicating with the governors and when I say we, the administration, meaning Dr. Birx and others. So we are happy to consult with -- with regard to specifics...


QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) ... detailed -- some other outside organizations have put, you know, very detailed, step-by-step. Here's what you should do. You should require masks. You should require them to sit this far apart. You should only have half of it open in phases. Anything like that coming (ph)?

MCENANY: We've put together a phased approach. Many of those guidelines are within. We've consulted individually with states. But as I said, it's a government -- governor-led effort. It's a state-led effort in which the federal government will consult, and we do so each and every day.


QUESTION: So you've used the phrase "warriors" to describe everyday Americans. The president is using that phrase as well. What's the thinking behind using that description? And is that basically asking Americans to put themselves in harm way -- in harm's way, like warriors do?

MCENANY: Not in the slightest. It's actually the opposite. The president has been clear that at this moment, you know, we're at a wartime moment where we're fighting the invisible enemy, and by that I mean COVID-19.

And on the contrary, the notion that the American people are warriors, they're warriors because they've stayed home. They're warriors because they've social distanced. They're warriors because this mitigation effort is something that could only be done by the American people coming together and making really hard sacrifices.

And the American public has done that. And we salute each of you around the country that have listened to these guidelines. I know it's been difficult, I know it's been hard, but it's because of you that we're at this place where we can reopen the country.

QUESTION: Just to be clear, that's the opposite of what the president said, specifically because he says Americans must be warriors to reopen the economy. You're saying they've already been warriors by staying home...


MCENANY: We're saying the -- we're saying the exact same thing. The president says they're warriors to reopen because -- guess what -- in order to get to reopening, you have to social distance. You had to put together those very hard choices that allowed us to get to a point where we have one the -- one of the lowest mortality rates in the world. And that's because of the American people. So it took the American people being warriors to get us to the point of reopening.


QUESTION: Thanks, Kayleigh. I want to ask you about best practices, but first about China and some of the comments that the president made in the Oval Office. He said that there will be a report coming out next week, 10 days or so, as to whether or not they're living up to the deal -- China is. As it stands though right now -- at this moment, how does the White House view the U.S. relationship with China right now?

MCENANY: Right now, it's a relationship of disappointment and frustration because the president has said how frustrated he is that some of the decisions of China put American lives at risk.

I'll share just a few. That China, for instance, did not share the genetic sequence until after a professor in Shanghai did so, on his own. And after that genetic sequence was shared, the next day the lab was shut down for, quote, "rectification". The World Health Organization slow walked information on human-to-human transmission that was not adequately provided by China. China didn't let U.S. investigators in.

And look, that -- those decisions put American lives at risk and the president is certainly not happy about that. And as the president said, you'll be hearing more about that next...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Can they be trusted business partners?

MCENANY: ... Sorry?

QUESTION: Can they be trusted business partners?

MCENANY: Look, the president has worked with China, and stood up to China and got the Phase 1 China deal -- a huge win -- $250 billion. The president managed to get that done. And the president appreciates that China got us to that point of the Phase 1 China deal. So you know, I'll leave it to the president as to how we move forward and I certainly won't get ahead of him on that.

QUESTION: And on best practices, we heard the president say as it relates to schools that he wants to see schools open, but maybe teachers who are older than 60 not necessarily come back into the classroom.

When you talk about reopening the economy, reopening the country again, there's a lot of people out there wondering, well, my school- age child, should they come back into contact with a family member who might be older than 60, per se. What is the White House advice on that and families all over the country saying is it time to meet up again?

MCENANY: Well, the president and the task force have been clear that vulnerable Americans, our senior citizens need to shelter in place and they need to take extra measures of precaution because, as we know, they've been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. So I certainly would include the senior community to continue to follow the guidelines we've put forward.


QUESTION: Thank you. Dr. Birx has mentioned an influx of asymptomatic coronavirus cases. Without more widespread testing, how do you get a handle on something like that and how do you keep people without symptoms from spreading the disease around the country?

MCENANY: Yes, that's an important question. We get information on asymptomatic spread when we test in the meat processing facilities and other facilities. Again, we can just test strategically. And it's important that once we test and we find an example of someone who has coronavirus that we can contact trace and ensure that it's not spread to other members of the community. So contact tracing is an important measure and we're testing strategically and in line with governors.


QUESTION: What's the process, Kayleigh, for the distribution and access to remdesivir?

MCENANY: Yes, remdesivir is a great example of innovation in this country. I would note that remdesivir is a drug that the president mentioned quite often. And as it turns out, there's a lot of hope and a lot of promise when it comes from remdesivir.

Gilead chairman announced last week -- and CEO Daniel O'Day announced that they would be donating 1.5 million vials of remdesivir and working with the federal government to distribute to patients across the nation. So this will get out there. And we thank Gilead for the great work they've done and for giving these 1.5 million vials which will help a lot of Americans around the country.

QUESTION: But what's -- but what's the process for distributing it and giving access to patients?


MCENANY: I don't have any information on that as of now. But once I get that, I can share that with you.


QUESTION: Thanks, Kayleigh. The president said yesterday he does not want Dr. Fauci testifying before the House because it's filled with Trump-haters. How is that consistent with oversight and transparency?

MCENANY: Well, first of all, what the president noted was specific to the House. It's important to know that Dr. Fauci will be testifying before the Senate, which means he will be fielding questions from both Democrats and Republicans.

The House, however, and specifically Chairwoman Nita Lowey's committee, did not act in good faith. Mark Meadows had three calls with Chairwoman Nita Lowey three nights ago, when she called to ask if Dr. Fauci could testify before a subcommittee hearing. And Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has made clear he wants to make the best use he can of the task force members' time. Of course, they're working hard to save American lives, so that's very important.

So to that end, he said in the three phone calls, you know, what is the purpose of this hearing, can you give me the subject matter. And Lowey was unable to tell the chief of staff what the subject matter was.

The last phone call they had was at 10:46 p.m. on that evening. And Lowey agreed to follow-up in the morning with details, those details were never received. Instead, we got a press release. So that's what we call a publicity stunt.

We encourage the House to act in good faith much like the Senate did. And as I noted, Dr. Fauci will be speaking in a -- in a week and a half before the Senate. So the notion that he's being blocked is just farcical.

QUESTION: Let me ask you just on one other -- can I ask you on one other topic, Kayleigh...


MCENANY: Someone I haven't heard from? Back there.

QUESTION: Thank you. Does the president have doubts about the way the death toll is being calculated? Does he think perhaps the true total is lower?

MCENANY: So the president answered this and he said no just a few moments ago in the Oval Office. On the mortality rate, I would note as I noted just a few moments ago, we have one of the lowest in the world -- mortality rates. It's because of the hard work of the American people. Armored (ph) -- our mortality rate, excuse me, is currently 218 per million. You compare that to Spain's at 548 per million, Italy at 485 per million.

This country is in a place where -- because of the work of the American people -- we have escaped that 2.2 million number, because of the extraordinary social distancing effort put in place by the American people.

Yes? Way in the back.

QUESTION: Thank you. The president has said many times that he's received praise in phone calls with foreign leaders because of this administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak. Who exactly are those heads of state and heads of government who are praising this administration for its response?

MCENANY: Well, I won't reveal any contents of his private conversations with world leaders. But I will certainly share some of the very public comments from Democrat governors. Like Gavin Newsom, who said, every single direct request that President Trump -- that he was given -- President Trump was capable of meeting, he has met them.

Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat from New Jersey, "The president knows New Jersey. He and his team have been extremely responsive in our hour of need, whether it was ventilators -- we got a huge amount of supplies to test."

And of course, I love the ones from Governor Andrew Cuomo, who praised this administration's response is phenomenal, saying he's delivered for New York The Army Corps of Engineers.

We built thousands of beds, he sent the Navy ship Comfort to New York, he has delivered for New York. President Trump has delivered for this nation.

QUESTION: The president was talking earlier about Dr. Bright being a disgruntled employee. One of the allegations in that whistle-blower complaint is that in January, when there was still a huge shortage of N95 masks, that he had, excuse me, been in contact with the company that was offering up to 1 million of those masks, and couldn't get anybody at HHS willing to engage with that company, which then subsequently exported 1,000,000 N95's to China. Is that something that you're looking into or concerned about?

MCENANY: Look, on issues of Dr. Bright, I'd refer you to HHS. I'm not going to get involved with the personnel issues or the substance of that complaint, but I will once again, I know you mentioned masks, 70 million plus delivered and again that's three times the amount used by health care providers in any given year. So we've done a rather good job when it comes to supplies.

QUESTION: I asked you a question about teachers and what the president said earlier about keeping those that who are 60 or older out of the classroom. What is the message to older Americans? Should they not do anything, not leave their homes until there is a vaccine or what would the president have them do if they're not allowed to teach because of their age?

MCENANY: Well, our task force has said that vulnerable communities, like our seniors, should shelter in place. That being said, we encourage every American, if you have a symptom that is pressing, that you need to go to the doctor. I've been disturbed to read many quotes from doctors on stories of people who are staying home with chest pain and don't go to the hospital when they could be on the verge of having a heart attack.

Who are missing important appointments like mammograms, screenings like colonoscopies. It's important that we, as Americans, continue to go to our doctors to get medically necessary procedures and when we have symptoms that need to be addressed like chest pain, that you do go to your doctor. So, the seniors need to go to their doctors, make sure to call your healthcare provider, go see your healthcare provider, go to the hospital should you have a symptom like that.

QUESTION: Thank you Secretary McEnany. Going back to your topic about the House in a separate chamber, acting DNI Rich Grenell has stated this week that he's prepared to release about 6,000 pages worth of transcripts relating to Adam Schiff's probe. Can you confirm whether or not the executive branch is conducting any kind of investigation into House members for potential of wrongdoing, or is that something you can't comment on yet?

MCENANY: Yes, I don't have anything information on that subject matter. That's the first time I'm hearing of that.

QUESTION: So how do you -- let's go back to Jeff's question about Dr. Fauci and in the president's statement that there to be Trump haters in the House. I mean, does the White House really believe that you can decide to have officials testify in the Republican controlled Senate, but not testify in the Democratic-controlled House? Doesn't the House have legitimate oversight and a legitimate responsibility, not just authority but responsibility, to have somebody like Dr. Fauci testify?

MCENANY: Will Dr. Fauci be questioned by democrats in that Senate hearing?

QUESTION: Yes, he will be, so why -- are you saying then so the Senate's fine, the House has no role in oversight? MCENANY: The House needs to act in good faith. We don't have time, in the middle of the pandemic, for publicity stunts. It's not the time for that. It's not the place for that, and the course of three phone calls, you should be able to give the subject matter to ensure it's the best use of Dr. Fauci's time. As you yourself noted, in the Republican-controlled Senate, Dr. Fauci will indeed be asked questions by democrats.

QUESTION: Is the subject matter a mystery?


QUESTION: In a previous life, before you were press secretary, you worked for the campaign, and you made a comment, I believe, on fox in which you said President Trump will not allow the coronavirus to come to this country. Given what has happened since then, obviously, would you like to take that back?

MCENANY: Well, first, let me note. I was asked a question on Fox Business about president's travel restrictions. I noted what was the intent behind the travel restrictions, which is we will not see the coronavirus come here, we will not see terrorism come here, referring to an earlier set of travel restrictions.

I guess I would turn the question back on the media and ask similar questions, does Fox want to take back that they proclaimed that the coronavirus would not be a deadly pandemic, does "The Washington Post" want to take back that they told Americans to get a grip, the flu is bigger than the coronavirus?

Does "The Washington Post," likewise, want to take back that our brains are causing us to exaggerate the threat of the coronavirus?

Does "The New York Times" want to take back that fear of the virus may be spreading faster than the virus itself?