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Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) to Relinquish Chairmanship of Intelligence Committee; Live Coverage of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) Press Conference; States Track Cases as More Reopenings Begin. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 14, 2020 - 14:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST, NEWSROOM: -- town hall with Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. They are going to be joined by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred plus former acting CDC Director Richard Besser, former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and activist Greta Thunberg. "CORONAVIRUS: FACTS AND FEARS," that is going to be starting tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

And we have more breaking news. Republican Senator Richard Burr has just announced he will step aside as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee while the FBI investigates several stock trades that he made just days before the coronavirus outbreak shut down business and travel in the U.S., and the stock market tanked.

A senior Justice Department official tells CNN that federal officials seized a cell phone belonging to Burr. CNN's senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill.

Big developments here today, Manu. What more are you learning?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Stunning turn of events affecting a powerful chairman, someone who leads the Senate Intelligence Committee, now saying that he will step aside as he's facing this investigation from the FBI about his stock trades, and whether he traded it all on inside information.

Now, on February 13th, he sold up to $1.7 millions' worth of stocks. And at the same time, that same day, his brother-in-law also traded about $280,000 worth of stocks. The question is, did he rely on any inside information in trading that? He has said that he has relied on public information in making those trades.

But nevertheless, it has caught enough attention from the Justice Department that his phone was seized by the FBI yesterday, he was served with a search warrant as they continue to investigate this matter. So this morning, he told Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, that he does not want to be a distraction to the Republicans and to his committee, so he's decided to step aside.

I mean, he will still continue to serve on that committee, and he also told me that he has no plans to resign his seat from Congress. He is not running for re-election, but he has several more years left on his term. He's not going to -- step aside, he's going to serve out his full term.

I asked him if he had any concerns about poor judgment in making these trades. He said, quote, "Nope." So he's feeling fine about what he did. He believes he can push back on this matter.

Now, Burr as chairman of this committee has angered Trump allies from time to time. He was involved in issuing a subpoena for the president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. Recently, he authored a bipartisan report affirming the conclusion by the intelligence community, that it was Russia that interfered in the 2016 elections with the intention of helping Trump win the presidency.

I asked Burr if he thought that this in any way was retribution for his work. He would not comment. He said, You'll have to ask the Justice Department about what it did.

But nevertheless, this is a very significant matter. Richard Burr could potentially be in legal jeopardy. And now, he is stepping aside from a key committee at a crucial time, as the heat grows about these stock trades back in February -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Manu, thank you so much for that report from Capitol Hill.

Let's head to New York now, and Governor Andrew Cuomo with an update on how things are going in that state.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): -- President (INAUDIBLE) for his hospitality.

We have with us today, from my far right: Dr. Howard Zucker, our state health commissioner, who's been doing outstanding work. To my right, Michaela Kennedy Cuomo, youngest of my three -- I thank her very much for being here, she was going to come with us yesterday but she had an appointment with her pillow that could not be broken despite an executive order. To my left, Secretary Melissa DeRosa; to her left, Gareth Rhodes.

The -- first, again, I want to thank all the nurses and doctors here and all across the state and the country, who have done just truly, truly extraordinary work. Thank you for being with us this afternoon, this morning. I wanted to make sure I could watch the hearing that was going on in Washington, to see if there was anything that we could learn.

Today is day 75. Feels like a lifetime, but it's 75 days since we had our first case. You can see, so far, so good in terms of the continuing decline in the total number of hospitalizations in the state. On the three-day rolling average also, the number of intubations is down and that's really good news.

The number of new cases, which is what we're watching -- these are the new cases statewide, new diagnoses, people who are in hospitals who test positive or people who walk in the door who test positive, it's much, much better than it was. The number of lives lost is also down, still terrible and tragic but headed in the right direction.

So all the arrows are pointed in the right direction, and we're basically right back to where we were before we started this horrific situation.


The question then becomes reopening. It's not a question of reopening or not, everybody wants to reopen. We have to get back to work, people need a paycheck. The state needs an economy, people have lives to live. So everybody wants to reopen. The question is how you reopen. And from the national experts, global experts, make sure you don't reopen too soon.

What they mean to be saying by "too soon," is you have to reopen intelligently, and you have to reopen in a calibrated way. Nobody says don't reopen, they say just be intelligent about the way you reopen. Follow the data, follow the science, follow the facts, follow the metrics. We know enough now to know what happens -- that every action has a reaction. If we do this, then this will happen. We've lived this enough.

So based on what we know, make sure we're being intelligent, not emotional, not political, not based on feelings, but based on facts. And learn the lessons of other people who have gone through this, other states have gone through it, other countries have gone through it. There are experiences that we can learn from, educate yourself and be smart ,be smart.

Check the data on a daily basis. And we have the data on a daily basis. We put together a very elaborate reporting system on testing data, on hospital data from all across the state. That data is now available on a daily basis, and you can track that data and know exactly where you are. It's like taking your blood pressure every morning, it's like getting your cholesterol count every morning. You can know exactly where you are every morning.

And not just for the elected officials, not just for government. This is all about what people do, this is about what citizens do. And what the elected officials are trying to do, what I'm trying to do is to inform the citizens so they can better protect themselves, and they know what decisions they should make.

And that's why all the information we're accumulating, we're making it in a very transparent way and I hope people get up in the morning, they have their cup of coffee and they go online to find out where their county is, how are they doing, and calibrate their behavior that way.

The state has developed a very elaborate dashboard of relevant local information. They told me they were designing a dashboard, I got very excited about it. I sent him a picture of what I think is one of the really iconic dashboards, 1967 Corvette, arguably the most beautiful dashboard. I said they should consider that design when they were doing a state dashboard. They came back with this design. It's a New York State dashboard. How

it in any way mirrors a dashboard from a 1967 Corvette, I have no idea. But how can government be expected to have the same artistic design that we had 50 years ago?

So here's the state dashboard. You notice the iconic design, and curves and art that was used in it. But it has all the information, even if it's not the most artistic. And it has all the information for all the regions statewide, so every region can compare themselves to where other regions in this state.

Right now, by the criteria that we have, which is basically from the federal CDC, we have certain regions that are poised to reopen tomorrow. Other regions where the numbers do not suggest they're in a position to reopen. And this is all based on the metrics and the numbers, how many hospitalizations do you have, are the cases going up, are they going down, do you have your testing in place, do you have your tracing in place. And obviously, we have different rates of infection across the state, hence the variance in opening times.

The -- a big responsibility is now going to fall to local government, to manage this situation. And my advice to local governments are, in terms of priority, daily monitoring of numbers, daily monitoring of numbers and daily monitoring of numbers are the first three priorities, right?


Know the facts, know what you're dealing with, you know what activities you engaged, you know how you increased the level of activity. We're measuring the effect of that activity, make sure you monitor it every morning, every morning. Make sure the businesses that open are in compliance with the guidelines that are opening. Make sure individuals comply, you know?

You're going to say it's a reopening, people are going to say hallelujah, run out of their house. They're going to want to get out, they're going to want to do things. Reopening, phased reopening does not mean the problem has gone away.

It means we have controlled the problem because of what we did, and because of our individual responsibility and individual actions. And that has to be maintained. And I would urge local governments to be diligent about the business compliance, and about individual compliance.

And then if you see a change in those numbers, react immediately, react immediately. If you allow this virus to get ahead of us, we will have a problem. So we'll have the data, react immediately.

At the same time, the states need help from the federal government, and that's a topic that's being discussed now. Washington must act, it must be smart, it must be fast. New York State is a $61 billion hole. When you shut down the economy, you obviously create an economic hole for the state. Well, what does the state fund? The state funds local governments, it

funds schools, it funds health care. If the state has no budget, then schools get cut, hospitals get cut, (INAUDIBLE) get cut. If local governments get cut, then you cut police and firefighters. Why would you ever want to cut essential frontline personnel at this time? Makes no sense.

Washington has already acted, they've done a lot of business incentives. Great. But we need our health care institutions, we need our schools, we need our police and firefighters funded.

I spoke with President Trump this morning, we spoke again about the state funding issues. He heard me out. I've also asked him to expedite certain payments, and he's expediting $3.9 billion payment to the MTA, which is a very large transportation agency in the state, which desperately needs funding because the ridership is way down. And the president cut red tape and actually sent the first installment today, so I'm grateful for that and I thank him.

The House, meantime, has proposed a bill. The bill does a lot of good. It funds state and local aid, $500 billion, to make up for those shortfalls. It funds testing, everybody talks about testing, tracing, testing, tracing. Those operations have to be put in place, and New York State will wind up hiring thousands of tracers.

We need funding to do that. I understand it's our obligation, states are in charge, governors are in charge. But we need help with funding.

And the House bill repeals the SALT tax change that was made in Washington about three years ago. And that tax change that they made, cost New York State billions. The House bill repeals that change, which is a significant, significant benefit to this state.

And ironically, the states that were most hurt by SALT are the states that have the most pain from the COVID virus. So repealing SALT actually is, in my opinion, the best thing you can do to help the states that are now battling the COVID virus.

In New York State, the SALT repeal increased our taxes $12 to $15 billion, just New York State. We now pay $12 to $15 billion more, every year, to the federal government, believe it or not. So that would be a major boost.

But Washington has to act, no delay, no special interests getting priority or special treatment here. And when we're doing these corporate bailouts, make sure we don't make the mistake we made in 2008, where we gave corporations large bailouts, and the corporations took the money and paid themselves with the money.


I was attorney general at the time, I brought cases against corporations that took the bailout and gave themselves all a pay raise. Why should the American taxpayers now bail out corporations unless they're going to re-hire workers? I'm afraid you're going to see corporations that will not hire back

the same number of employees. They're going to use this pandemic as a way to restructure or get lean. If a corporation is going to take government money, they should rehire the same number of workers they had before. I did an op-ed in "The Washington Post" to that effect.

But I believe that should be a condition across the board. Any corporation that gets money from the government, from the people should hire back the same number of workers. If you want to lay off workers, don't expect the taxpayer to subsidize you laying off workers.

And it is a moment in our modern history, where we can get out of this partisan gridlock, hyperpolitical moment? Now is the time.

My position, funding for state governments is not a Democratic position. There's an organization called the National Governors Association, it's Democratic governors, it's Republican governors. The chairman is a Republican governor, I'm the vice chairman.

And the NGA, National Governors Association, in a bipartisan way, is urging Washington to pass the relief for state and local governments. So it's -- there's no red or blue here, right? it's red, which, it's -- and blue.

Also at the same time, we went through all this pain, people talk about reopening. I don't want to just -- I want to set the bar higher. It's not about just going back to where we were, let's use this as a moment to grow and to get better. Let's learn from the pain that we went through.

And I talk about reimagining New York, and let's use this as a moment to reimagine our education system, our telecommuting, our telemedicine, a better public transportation system, a better public health system. And take this experience, and grow from it, right? Life will knock you on your rear end, that's true. But do you get up and do you get up smarter? And that's -- that's the moment we're at.

One of the lessons we learned -- and they were speaking about it in the hearing today -- we should never again be in the position where we don't have medical equipment, where we're facing a pandemic, we're facing a major public health issue and we don't even have basic equipment for nurses and doctors, and so much of it came from China?

And governors such as myself are trying to figure out, who do we know in China to get masks for nurses in our hospitals? I mean, it was terrible, what we went through. It's a matter of national security.

And I want to make sure that we in New York are actually leading the way, let us start manufacturing here, in this country, in this state, masks and gowns and drugs and the ventilators and the tests we need. And let New York start. And we already have. But we should never again as a nation, have to scramble the way we scrambled.

We are now aggressively courting businesses, incentivizing businesses to build, to manufacture medical equipment here in this state. And the state will partner with corporations to do that. So if you want to start, grow your business, expand your business, manufacturing masks and gowns is not the most difficult situation, technologically. The volume is the problem, the quantity. But we want to develop that here in this state.

And then with this virus, we must remain vigilant because we're still learning. Facts are, in many ways, still continuing to change on us. And while we're learning, the virus is still learning also.

We have a situation that is serious and concerning, which is these COVID-related illnesses in children. Department of Health is now looking at 110 cases of a COVID-related illness in children. It's similar to the -- what they call Kawasaki disease or toxic shock-like syndrome.


We've lost a five-year-old, a seven-year-old and an 18-year-old girl to this disease. New York State and Department of Health are at the forefront nationally, if not internationally, in looking at this. And the Department of Health, good work of Dr. Zucker, they've had a number of telephone conferences, web conferences.

Sixteen other states now see cases that they're investigating, once Department of Health explained what they'd been looking at. Six European countries are now looking at the same situation, and I expect this is only going to grow.

Parents should beware, and parents should be informed of this. The key is prolonged fever, and then you see, on the chart, the other symptoms that parents should look for. Also, it tends to present in children who were exposed to the COVID virus, and actually now have the antibodies from the COVID virus or still test positive for the COVID virus.

So if you have a child who has a fever, who you think may have been exposed to the COVID virus, a person who had the virus or you found out later came down with it, and you see these symptoms, then you should take action.

New York State has published today, online, the first in the nation criteria for health care professionals to isolate, define, identify this syndrome and test for it. But it is very important.

Right now, we have it affecting children from less than one year old, so infants to 21 years old, OK? That's it, when you look at over the 100 cases, that's the span, which is obviously a very frightening development. There's more information on the website.

Last point, point of personal opinion. I'm the governor of the State of New York, and I take that responsibility very seriously. I'm honored to be governor. I work at it seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

But in many ways, before being governor, I am a son, I'm a brother, I'm an uncle and I'm a father. And as a parent, as a father, I just want to make sure I'm communicating, especially, this last situation to the people of this state and beyond.

This virus has been ahead of us every step of the way. I can't tell you how many quote-unquote "facts" I was told that then changed, right? When the virus started, the virus was coming from China, everybody was looking at China. Turns out, the virus came from Europe. And nobody told us.

When this first started, if you had the disease and recovered, you then had antibodies and you were immune. My brother had the virus, recovered, so he had the antibodies.

We were told, well, then you're immune from getting it again. And we had plans to have people who tested for the antibodies, they could go back to work because they were immune. Then the facts changed. You know what, maybe they're not immune, or maybe they're only a little immune or they're partially immune.

Then we were told, children are not affected by the virus. That was the only good news ,by the way, in the whole first evaluation. Children aren't affected. OK, now, maybe children are affected and we just didn't know it. OK, well, what do we know now?

Well, we're studying 100 children from one to 21. OK. Michaela, my daughter, is 22. Well, we only have people up until 21, so she's OK. Yes, until we have someone who's 22 or 23 or 24.

So the facts change. I have done my best to give people the information that I know. But I want you to have the same caution flag that I live with. The facts on this virus have changed, and I believe they will continue to change.


So take this all with a grain of salt and my basic point is, do not underestimate this virus. It has beaten us at every turn. And it has surprised us at every turn. Don't take it lightly, don't underestimate it.

I believe the facts will change as we go forward. The more we learn about the virus, the more the facts change, and the worse it gets, there has been no news since we started this, where we were actually too cautious or too concerned. All the news has been bad, as far as I'm concerned.

So with all this information, with all government is doing, hearings in Washington, all this, you know who's going to protect you? You are. You know who's going to protect Michaela, 22 years old? Michaela being informed, Michaela understanding. I like to think, with a little advice from a parent. But she discounts 99 percent, but maybe one percent of the advice communicates.

Michaela's graduating from college this year, they closed the college. She said, you know, a lot of people are having parties and they're having graduation-lite events. Should I go? You know, 22, you can't tell them anything at 22. I couldn't tell them anything at 21, 20, 19. But I said, here's the facts. This is what we know. And is it worth --

is it worth the risk to do it? And Michaela's made all the right decisions. But every parent, every child, it's your job to understand and protect yourself, and I just urge caution because everything I say, I tell you everything I know. But I'm also telling you, there are things we don't know yet.

And how do you protect yourself from those things? Just be cautious, be diligent. Wearing a mask, wearing gloves, staying away from gatherings. I know they're inconvenient. But God forbid, you know? Just God forbid. I've talked to too many families who have lost people.

I've talked to too many families who lost people who were not supposed to be lost to this virus, right? The start of this was just about vulnerable people, senior citizens, comorbidities. Yes, but then how do you lose a 40-year-old who had no symptom of anything, right? Children were not affected. Yes, until children are affected.

So caution to everyone. And whatever I know, I will communicate. But, again, it's about you protecting you, and I heartily recommend caution and diligence.


KEILAR: All right, you've been listening to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, there, with one of this daily updates on how the state is doing. I want to bring in CNN's Erica Hill, with us in New York.

You know, part of this, Erica, was the economic piece of it. He said that New York's in the hole $61 billion. But he gave President Trump some props there for cutting some red tape and sending, quickly, $3.9 billion in funding to the MTA, the transit authority there.

But he really wrapped up his comments by talking about, don't underestimate the virus, right? We all thought that kids basically could not be affected by this, and here we've seen this growing spate of this inflammatory response that just seems awful, and is becoming more prominent among children.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. In more than a hundred of those cases that are being investigated as having this possible inflammatory illness that is likely linked to COVID-19, are right here in New York State.

And to your point, Brianna, that update on the MTA is crucial because as you look at getting people back to work -- specifically in the New York City metropolitan area -- public transportation is key. And that is not just for people who live in the five boroughs of Manhattan, it includes people who live in the tristate area -- Connecticut, outer regions of New York State and New Jersey, who commute in.

And as you point out, he once again said, as we have heard him say so often over these last couple of months, that we have to follow the science and the information. And he was basically saying what we hear from Dr. Fauci, that it is the virus that will dictate the timeline. Saying, once again, we have been behind it since day one, behind the virus, it's been a step ahead.

All of those things, obviously, being weighed as we are seeing, Brianna, some progress when you look at some of the numbers around the country.


HILL (voice-over): Signs of progress as states and cities report fewer new cases --