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NYC Doctor Shares Coronavirus Video Diaries; Justice Department Drops Criminal Case Against Michael Flynn; Meat Plant Workers Say They Were Fired For Calling Out Sick. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 8, 2020 - 07:30   ET




ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: We want to remember some of the nearly 76,000 Americans lost to coronavirus.

Gerald Glisson was the principal at Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey since 2017. Gov. Phil Murphy called him a beloved, respected presence, and a role model. The 46-year-old leaves behind a wife and two daughters.

Eighty-nine-year-old Jimmy Glenn belonged to a vanishing New York breed. He was a former boxing trainer and bar owner.

After a brief career in the ring, Glenn became a cornerman, working in the 70s for heavyweight legend Floyd Patterson. Then, for nearly 50 years, he ran a Times Square dive bar called Jimmy's Corner. He died on Thursday.

World War II vet Daniel Zane died of coronavirus just two days after he lost his wife of 71 years, Valerie. Family members say Zane once dashed across a field under enemy fire to give first aid to another soldier.

He met his future wife sailing on a blind date. Family members say it was love at first sight for Daniel. Valerie, though, made him wait. They were married three years later.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Amazing stories. May their memories be blessings.

A New York City doctor at the center of the outbreak this morning is sharing his experience in a series of video diaries. It's giving a voice to the health care heroes who might be struggling every day with the realities of the pandemic.

CNN's Jason Carroll shows us how he goes beyond the call of duty with his own coronavirus battle.


DR. ZEVY HAMBURGER, ANESTHESIOLOGIST, MOUNT SINAI HOSPITAL SYSTEM: Hi, I'm Zevy Hamburger. I'm an anesthesiologist at Mount Sinai.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His video diaries, a personal chronicle of a doctor fighting the coronavirus on the front lines of this pandemic.

HAMBURGER: I'm running to another intubation. This is my fifth of the day, actually.

CARROLL (voice-over): As an anesthesiologist on a rapid response team at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, he sees the most critically ill patients every day.

HAMBURGER: I had to have a conversation with a patient and her son about what she wanted done for her -- what kind of extreme measures we can do to keep her alive.

CARROLL (voice-over): And because it's too unsafe for families to visit, the role of doctors in a patient's final moments has become so much more.

HAMBURGER: The only thing that we can do as doctors and nurses is try and be a person there with them, even at the end -- even if their family can't physically be there.

CARROLL (voice-over): Dr. Hamburger told us that is still one of the hardest parts of treating COVID patients. And he says while hospitalizations and intubations are down, there are hundreds of people who are still dying from COVID-19 every day in New York. And after weeks on the front lines, it has taken its toll.

HAMBURGER: Everyone in the hospital right now is dealing with these emotions and these feelings. We had graduates from a nursing program who were in tears in the stairwell and you can't even reach out and put your arm around someone.

But this is really the stress that health care workers have right now. It's not just getting themselves sick, but spreading it.

CARROLL (voice-over): Dr. Hamburger says other doctors have told him these videos help show what health care workers are going through every day, including the risks.

HAMBURGER: I woke with fever and chills.

CARROLL (voice-over): Sometime in mid-March, despite all his precautions, he started showing symptoms. Soon after, so did his wife and two of his three children.

HAMBURGER: We had to lock down and isolate, really, from everyone.

CARROLL (voice-over): He and his family had mild cases of COVID-19 and fully recovered.

HAMBURGER: I'm donating convalescent plasma.

CARROLL (voice-over): He hopes that donation will end up helping others.

And looking ahead, he says while there is so much talk of reopening and moving on, not to forget those who are still fighting the fight every day.

HAMBURGER: I think many people are worried that people are going to start forgetting about us on the front lines. And when the 7:00 stopping -- clapping stops and then the stories -- people start to get jaded about how we're on the front lines, that's when we're going to need people's help the most because that's when we're going to come home.

CARROLL (voice-over): Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


BERMAN: All right. Thanks to all the front line workers this morning.

So, America's meat factories have been hit hard by coronavirus. Now, two workers say they were fired for calling out sick. They'll join us to tell their story, next,



BERMAN: New fallout this morning over the Justice Department's sudden move to drop the case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn had previously pleaded guilty twice to lying to the FBI during -- well, lying to the FBI.

We are now joined by former acting FBI director and CNN senior law enforcement analyst Andrew McCabe. He is also the author of a new book "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump." Andy, thank you very much for being with us.

Let's just establish the baseline. Michael Flynn admitted that he lied to the FBI about conversations he had with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak about U.S. sanctions. He has admitted to that. Everyone can agree to that.


We're going to talk about the filing from DOJ in just a minute and some of the specifics there. But first, I want your 30,000-foot view on what happened yesterday -- the fact that the DOJ is dropping this case.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, FORMER ACTING FBI DIRECTOR, AUTHOR, "THE THREAT: HOW THE FBI PROTECTS AMERICA IN THE AGE OF TERROR AND TRUMP": Well, John, the 30,000-foot view is that the Department of Justice seems to have completely capitulated the political desires of this president to the -- to the fact now that they have gone so far as to deny the existence of the considerable national security concern that my colleagues and I had about Michael Flynn in 2016. So if I could back up just for a minute and kind of reset this thing. As everyone will remember, the FBI was investigating the Russians and the fact that the Russians might have been inappropriately intertwined with or coordinating with the Trump campaign.

We investigated Mr. Flynn because he had very significant, well-known, high-level contacts within the Russian government. By the end of December, we hadn't found very much new until, of course, we stumbled across absolutely incontrovertible evidence that Mr. Flynn was having surreptitious contacts with the Russian government through the local ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Very simply, he was interviewed about those contacts. He was given an opportunity to explain why he was talking to the Russians. He lied during that interview. That's what he admitted to.

BERMAN: OK. So, what this DOJ filing says is that interview where he now admits he lied -- they say it was untethered to and unjustified by the counterintelligence investigation you were doing into him. What's your response to that?

MCCABE: Absolutely false -- absolutely false and kind of blatantly ignoring the significant national security concern that we had at that time.

Look, the American people have the right to have an election in which the person they choose is elected to office -- not the person the Russian government wants. So when we find out and have information that the Russians are trying to undermine and infiltrate the U.S. election, that is something very concerning.

As we're doing that, we look to see who has contacts with the Russians. General Flynn, as a private citizen, before he had taken his position in the White House, was having repeated contacts with the Russian government asking for official government action. And that was something that certainly increased our concern that he might, in fact, be the point of contact with the Russian government on the effort (ph).

BERMAN: So again, the statement that came out yesterday -- DOJ says "The government is not persuaded that the January 24, 2017 interview was conducted with a legitimate investigative basis and therefore does not believe Mr. Flynn's statements were material even if untrue. Moreover, we do not believe that the government can prove either the relevant false statements or their materiality beyond a reasonable doubt."

Now, there's a lot in that. First of all, you had said you did not have enough information to continue the investigation at the end of December. There had been a determination to drop the case against Michael Flynn, correct?

MCCABE: There was -- that was what we were considering at that time.

BERMAN: Right. MCCABE: We had made the decision to close the case. It was kind of a close call. It was something that we were discussing until we stumbled across this really incredible evidence.

BERMAN: OK, so the DOJ is now saying because you were considering dropping the case, somehow the interview on January 24th was unjustified. Then in that statement I just read they were suggesting that even if he lied, it was immaterial.

What do you say to that?

MCCABE: It's nonsense.

John, the example would be if you were concerned that somebody might be dealing drugs and you followed them around for a month and never saw them deal any drugs, you might start to think maybe this person's not a drug dealer until, of course, you see them dealing drugs, and then your investigation continues. And, of course, you've come across new evidence.

(Audio gap) Gen. Flynn. We were looking for contacts with the Russians. We hadn't seen any recent ones until we, of course, found one.

Though, the idea that the investigation was somehow invalid because we were considering what to do with it is just ridiculous. It ignores how investigations are closely considered every day.

BERMAN: All right. I'm just going through now the various arguments that they made in this filing and some of the arguments that have been made in public over the last few weeks.

There's been a lot made of this note that apparently was written by Bill Priestap, former FBI counterintelligence director, about how to approach this interview.

And this note said -- and it's been released over the last few weeks -- "What's our goal? Truth/admission or to get him to lie so we can prosecute him or get him fired? If we get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act, give facts to DOJ and have them decide. Or, if he initially lies, then we present him and he admits it, document for DOJ and let them decide how to address it."


There is a suggestion out there, largely in conservative media -- some admission that the FBI was trying to set up Michael Flynn.

MCCABE: Conservative media has been obsessed with finding some indication of a set-up since this all started several years ago. The simple fact is it absolutely did not happen. And I think that those notes -- if, in fact, they are Bill Priestap's -- are indicative of that.

The team got together and discussed the strategy. How do we approach this interview? What sorts of things should we be thinking about? I think those notes reflect one person's internal deliberations across the range of options that might -- that might take place.

We strategize about interviews every day. When we sit down with a terrorist we think about will they admit to the crimes that we think they have committed or will they lie about their known associations? If they lie, will that give us something else -- additional leverage that we can apply in our investigation? That's exactly what happened with Gen. Flynn.

BERMAN: And again, Gen. Flynn pleaded guilty twice. He admitted to lying to the FBI. Everyone agrees with that.

The Attorney General, William Barr, was asked about that overnight -- listen.



WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, you know, people sometimes plead to things that turn out not to be crimes.

HERRIDGE: What should Americans take away from your actions in the Flynn case today?

BARR: I want to make sure that we restore confidence in the system. There's only one standard of justice.


BERMAN: Your reaction?

MCCABE: Well, I think it's pretty clear he didn't answer the question. She asked him isn't it clear that Flynn lied and he made some sort of absurd statement that people frequently plead guilty to things that aren't crimes. That doesn't happen in our system of justice. I don't know a federal judge that would accept a guilty plea to something that was not a crime.

And, quite frankly, I think the thing that people will take away from DOJ's actions yesterday is that there is absolutely no limit to what this attorney general will do to please the President of the United States.

BERMAN: Now, the president, himself, responded to this yesterday with a statement that I think he was referring to you and others who were in the FBI at that time, so listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He was targeted by the Obama administration and he was targeted in order to try and take down a president. And what they've done is a disgrace and I hope a big price is going to be paid.

I hope a lot of people are going to pay a big price because they're dishonest, crooked people -- they're scum. And I say it a lot -- they're scum. They're human scum.


BERMAN: I want to give you a chance to respond to that, Andy.

MCCABE: Sure. You know, I won't respond to his language. The president debases himself and reduces himself every day by saying disgusting things about people and in this case, saying disgusting things about people who have dedicated their lives to protecting this country and their fellow citizens. That's all horrendous and we're, unfortunately, used to that by now.

But I would point out that Gen. Flynn was not targeted. He was properly investigated in a well-predicated case -- a case that's been -- a case whose validity has been proven not just by those of us who are involved but later by the Mueller investigation and after that, by the inspector general's investigation.

He was investigated because we had reason to believe he presented a threat to national security. I still think that those things are worthy of investigation. Apparently, the president does not.

BERMAN: So, this morning, the president has said there is much more to come. What do you think he means by that?

MCCABE: I wouldn't even guess, John. I wouldn't even guess.

I'm not sure -- I, you know -- there are other -- there are certainly other friends of the president who have been convicted of committing crimes. He may be referring to his intent to pardon those folks. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

There's really no limit to how far the president will go to undo the application of the rule of law in this country. So I think we should all kind of sit by and watch it closely.

BERMAN: So, Andy, these interviews predate, obviously, the Mueller investigation, but the prosecution was part of the Mueller investigation. It was the very first part, frankly, of the Mueller investigation.

Robert Mueller has declined to respond to this. What would you like to hear from Robert Mueller right now, since this prosecution and his prosecutors are being maligned, in some ways, by the DOJ?

MCCABE: I think some of the things that the prosecutors have done speak pretty clearly about how they feel about this step by the Department of Justice.


The fact that not a single line prosecutor signed on to that 20-page motion they filed yesterday I think speaks pretty loudly about how those folks who built this prosecution, who have taken it through every hand-wringing phase with a judge whose efforts have been repeatedly held to have been proper and lawful -- I'm sure those folks feel terrible today. Their legs have been cut out from beneath them. So I think the fact that they haven't stepped forward to claim this action in any way speaks pretty loudly.

BERMAN: I will note, as you have noted about questions that William Barr didn't answer, you didn't exactly answer my question there. My question was what would you like to hear from Robert Mueller, who has been conspicuously silent about this?

MCCABE: I think that's the Robert Mueller we all know and expect. Obviously, I feel pretty strongly about standing up for the folks that I worked with and for the folks at the department who have tried -- who've put together a valid prosecution here.

I'd love to see others speaking up. I'd love to hear Dir. Mueller speak up in that way. I don't expect he will because that's the kind of guy he is. But I'm glad to have the opportunity to stand up for the people who did the work.

BERMAN: Finally, William Barr was asked -- it was a strange question -- how will history view this, and he responded that history is written by the winners. So it depends on who is writing the history here.

I want to know your reaction to that and what your level of concern is about what this legacy will be if William Barr continues these actions.

MCCABE: I think it's a pretty craven statement, especially coming from the person who is the highest-ranking law enforcement official in this country. From an individual who is supposed to be committed to justice and the rule of law, I think it's revealing of how the attorney general actually thinks that this is really a game of wins and losses -- a game of political triumph rather than the fair application of justice and the protection of this country from national security threats.

So it's sad and distressing and my suspicion is that history will reflect that over time.

BERMAN: Andy McCabe, we do appreciate your time this morning bearing with us through these technical issues. Thanks very much.

MCCABE: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Erica.

HILL: A married couple says they were fired from their jobs at a Colorado meat plant after calling out sick. Their doctor said they had all the symptoms of coronavirus and urged them to self-quarantine.

Joining me now, Tammy and Ann Day. Good to have both of you with us and glad to hear that you're both feeling better.


TAMMY DAY, FIRED FROM MEAT PLANT AFTER CALLING OUT SICK: Thank you. HILL: So walk us through what happened. This was at the end of March. You weren't feeling well. You actually drove to work but then decided not to go in.

How did that -- how did that happen? How did you alert people at the plant?

T. DAY: Well, we had called in -- we had gone into work on the 27th and Ann was feeling really bad that morning. She couldn't even get out of the car without feeling sick.

And so we decided not to go in because of what has been said about the symptoms of COVID and not to go into work if we display those symptoms. And so, we called in from the parking lot and said that we were feeling sick and we wouldn't be in.

HILL: So you called in. So we reached out to JBS and they told us that you're -- well, before I get to the statement, I'm sorry, I jumped ahead a little bit here.

So you called in. But then we fast-forward to Monday. That was Friday, right?

We fast-forward to Monday and you went back to work. You weren't feeling great but you thought you needed to go in. And then what happened on Monday?

T. DAY: On Monday, we decided to go in because we know how the plant is and they don't want their people missing. So we decided to go in.

And we walked up to the security doors and they took our temperature and saw that we were showing the symptoms. And they actually turned us away --

HILL: Yes.

T. DAY: -- and told us to go home. And they had kept my work I.D.

HILL: They kept your work I.D. Did that concern you at all?

T. DAY: It did, but then I didn't know if they were keeping the I.D. just to make note of -- saying that we have to have a doctor's note when we came -- before we came back in and entered or -- I really didn't know.

HILL: And then -- and then, Ann, at what point did you find out that you had actually been terminated?

A. DAY: We found out on the 30th, which was Monday, that we were terminated on Friday.

HILL: So when you --

A. DAY: That Friday.

[07:55:00] HILL: And were you told why?

A. DAY: We haven't heard to this day. We haven't heard any -- absolutely nothing from JBS. We found out -- I have a relationship with my supervisor and I had been in touch with him and he had let me know via text --

HILL: Yes.

A. DAY: -- that we were on the -- I guess it's a log sheet for terms, which is terminated of employment.

HILL: So he let you know via text. You say you still haven't heard from the company.

We did reach out to JBS. They, in a statement, told us the following.

That your "...employment was terminated because they didn't show up for work for three consecutive days and did not contact the company. At the time of their termination, neither Tammy Day nor Ann Day argued nor presented any evidence that their absences should have been excused for any reason."

And went on to say, "Any team member who is fearful of coming to work can simply call the company and inform us, and they will receive unpaid leave without any consequences to their employment."

T. DAY: And it wasn't even that we were fearful at that point. We were sick. And we did actually -- we called in on Friday and we went in on Monday and got turned away.

And then as soon as we found out via text through her supervisor that we were terminated, we reached out to our union that same evening and let him know what we found out. And from that point, our union takes over and handles our situations.

HILL: So that's where you're at right now?

T. DAY: Yes.

A. DAY: Yes.

HILL: They're handling that for you?

So just give a sense to what -- you know, this plant -- the JBS plant in Greeley had the highest number of employee deaths, as we know. I know that you know people who have been personally affected by this. The plant was closed in April for nine days for cleaning.

You were told about a week before you got sick -- as I understand it, Tammy, by your supervisor -- that there were some concerns. That a coworker had been sick.

What did they give you in terms of guidelines and how to protect yourself and what they were going to be doing in the plant? T. DAY: They actually gave us nothing in that respect. I mean, they came to us and had told us right before the line started that there was someone that tested positive and they needed to tell us. They are -- by law, they had to tell us that someone had tested positive in that plant. And then we had to start working within seconds.

And he was wearing a mask. My supervisor was wearing a mask but nobody else was.

HILL: Were they made available to you?

T. DAY: No.

HILL: And I know you also have asthma which, as we know, can be -- can be a concern with coronavirus.

The company has said that starting March 20th, they did have PPE in place at plants and they were putting in physical barriers and distancing between employees. Was any of that in place at your particular plant, Ann?

A. DAY: No.

T. DAY: No.

A. DAY: No, none of it.

T. DAY: They had a sign up. All the sign says is that if you display these symptoms --

HILL: Yes.

T. DAY: -- do not come to work and there will be no --

A. DAY: Repercussions.

T. DAY: -- repercussions.

HILL: Yes.

How are you two doing? I know you're feeling better but obviously, having lost your jobs there are a lot of people in this country who can sympathize with you at this point. It's not easy.

So, Ann, where are you at right now?

A. DAY: You know, it's -- you work in a factory and you get -- you get close to people and it is our extended family.

And we're good but it's just -- you know, I felt like we got left behind. I felt like -- I feel -- I still feel -- I feel saddened for what has happened over there. I thank God every day that we didn't -- we didn't get it and we're not on the ventilator like some people.

But it's just -- it's sad that we honestly thought that JBS had our backs and then come to find out we thought we had employment and then we didn't have employment. And then you find out that you get fired for being sick via text. It's hard.

HILL: It's a lot. I know you've said that this really was your family there -- more than just a job.

Tammy and Ann Day, we wish you the best as you continue this road and please keep us posted.

A. DAY: Thank you so much.

T. DAY: All right, thank you.

HILL: Thank you.

NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daily new case counts continue to climb in 19 states. Still, every one of them among the 44 that will begin to reopen by this weekend.

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that we are seeing the start of a botched reopen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to have increased testing to allow our economy to fully reopen.