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INSIDE POLITICS

Trump Targets Obama With Unfounded Claims As Deaths Near 90,000; States Accelerate Reopenings As U.S. Case Count Nears 1.5 Million; Trump Returns To Tried And True Tactic, Attack Obama; Tough Choices For Workers In Reopened States; CDC Warns About Illness In Children Possibly Linked To COVID-19. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired May 17, 2020 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:00:13]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): The reopening expands, not fast enough for the president. Too fast for his top scientists.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak you may not be able to control.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, he wants to play all sides of the equation. It's not an acceptable answer.

KING: Plus, a new coronavirus worry for parents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Started having blue lips and her extremities were cold. So, that's when it was like, hmm, this is not a normal flu.

KING: And the president playing 2020 victim. He says Democratic governors are out to get him.

TRUMP: They would rather see our country fail.

KING: President Obama too.

TRUMP: Obamagate, you know what the crime is. The crime is obvious to everybody.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your Sunday.

The president of the United States accused Barack Obama and Joe Biden of treason this past week. He offered no proof or facts, just a rant, which is why we will get to that later in its proper 2020 political context.

President Obama, for his part, delivered two virtual commencement talks on Saturday and made clear he doesn't think much of how President Trump is handling the coronavirus pandemic. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do what you think is right. Doing what feels good, what's convenient, what's easy, that's how little kids thing. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called grown- ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs, still think that way which is why things are so screwed up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The week ahead offers a big test in our new normal. The global reopening experiment is accelerating and with it, the debate over what is an acceptable amount of risk as stay at home orders and other restrictions are eased.

Greece reopened beaches this weekend and urged social distancing. Germany's soccer league resumed play with cardboard cut-outs taking the place of fans.

Washington, D.C., is still under a stay-at-home order, but this was the National Mall on Saturday.

The boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey, now a test of whether reopening and social distancing can coexist.

There's 50 states with 50 plans, many of them allowing more activity, more interaction in the week ahead, including the state hardest hit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: If people are smart, then, yes, you will see some increase in the numbers, but you won't see a spike. You've seen spikes in other countries that have opened. You've seen spikes in states that have opened.

We have an intelligent and I believe the most intelligent system, but it is still reliant on what we do. It is reliant on human behavior. So, be smart and be diligent and don't underestimate this virus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So, let's take a look at the current state of play. Number one, just start with the big map -- 48 states are partially reopened. Massachusetts and Connecticut coming in behind them pretty soon with their own plans. Gradual at first but pretty much the whole country involved in this experiment.

Let's take a look at the trend line -- 11 states have a case count that is going up, including the state of Texas, which has been one of the early reopening ones. We'll talk about that in a second.

Nineteen states, that's the more tan color, holding steady, essentially flat in where they are in the case count as they go through reopening. And 20 states are heading down, 19 of them modestly, one aggressively. This is the state of play, as this experiment plays out. Let's look at individual states here. This is Georgia, one of the early states to reopen. Hair salons, tattoo parlors and gyms, and restaurants and movie theaters. If you look at Georgia, it has held the line flat. The governor says, I was right. I could reopen. Again, we can talk about that later.

But Georgia, case study. So far we keep track of the data, it held the seven day moving average of cases here, down a little bit, flat at worst.

Texas is a different story at the moment. Again, you get different answers when you talk to people in the state, but a spike yesterday. You look at the seven-day moving average of cases, it is edging up a little bit.

Remember, the opening has been in stages. First, retail for pickup, then retail stores open, and then personal care business is open. Now, in Texas, they say, we have more testing, that's why we have more results like this, they say the hospital system is not overtaxed, but Texas worth watching as we head into the next week because that line is heading in the wrong direction.

Alabama, up a little bit, essentially flat if you look at the seven- day moving average. Retail beaches open back on the 1st of May, more aggressive as you go here, public health officials tell you takes a week or two to see what is happening. Alabama, up a little bit, then flattened, we'll watch that.

Louisiana, look at this, Louisiana has had a huge drop. Remember early on, New Orleans, especially, Louisiana was a big concern, its mark is way down. Louisiana beginning to reopen. We'll see. It starts from a position of strength.

And, lastly, Pennsylvania, which you see the spike here, back in early April, then flattens out, frustrating, starting to trend down, Pennsylvania now starts its reopening.

[08:05:05]

Down a little bit, about a thousand cases a day still, the governor says, I waited, I've got this right, much of my state is ready to reopen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. TOM WOLF (D), PENNSYLVANIA: As leader of this commonwealth, I'm responsible for the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians. And I can't and I will not let this virus ravage our communities. Yellow counties have been determined to have a lower risk of virus spread. Red counties on the other hand have been determined to have a higher risk of virus spread.

Now, I understand all residents are eager to get back to regular business operations. And I'm lifting restrictions and will continue to do so as quickly as I think it's safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Politics is increasingly a complicating factor in this reopening debate. Pennsylvania state capitol, the scene of protests on Friday. That, one day after President Trump traveled to Pennsylvania and chastised Governor Wolf.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You have to get your governor of Pennsylvania to start opening up a little bit. You have areas of Pennsylvania that are barely affected and have -- they want to keep them closed. You can't do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, the bulk of Pennsylvania is reopening. You see the map there, counties in red, still on lockdown. But those in yellow can drop some restrictions. Yellow status allows in person retail, but no dine-in eating.

Child care can reopen, gatherings limited to 25 people. Pittsburgh is beginning that process. And the mayor, Bill Peduto, is with us live this morning.

Mr. Mayor, thank you for joining us.

As you go through this process, what have you learned? Whether it's watching Georgia, watching Texas, watching other states, have you learned lessons, things that you say that's working and things that make you say, well, I don't want to do that?

MAYOR BILL PEDUTO (D), PITTSBURGH: I think the biggest lesson is that certainty has become uncertainty. That as we go through this pandemic, the best lessons that we have are those from Europe and Asia and the data is fresh. It's new. It's limited.

So we look to do the best that we can and we err on the side of public health. So if we're making decisions or we're trying to affect policy, we always have a True North which is public health. And we go through this process as part of a learning curve.

KING: If you look -- I'm going to put up the numbers, Pittsburgh is in Allegheny County, of course, and, again, 1595 confirmed cases, you don't want that. You see here, the drop in the seven-day moving average here.

Every case is a bad case, every death is horrible. A relatively low number if you look at the eastern part of your state. You know, Philadelphia area and suburbs there.

So you start from a position, I'm going to say, strength, no good words in the middle of this pandemic. Are there -- are there things that you're aloud to do that you're not going to -- that you will not do yet, you'll be more cautious than what you're allowed to do?

PEDUTO: Yes, on Friday for the city, we're the first major city in Pennsylvania to start to reopen. We laid out for our residents a system aligned with the governors, green, yellow, red, and what the changes would be from red to yellow. And we used as our baseline in decision-making real time data that has the ability to forecast that has been created over Carnegie Mellon, and at the same time, the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control.

And that would allow things like skateboard parks to be reopened, while swimming pools stay closed. Theater night, where we have throughout all of our neighborhoods during the summer movie nights in the parks have now become drive-in theater. We made adaptations to what our operation plan is, and based it all around the facts that are being shared by the Centers for Disease Control and our own Department of Health.

KING: And so if you look at the state economic numbers and I'm sure in your county and your city it is just as bad, statewide, 27 percent of the people of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania have filed for unemployment benefits. That's 1.8 million people in the last several weeks.

So, as the reopening starts, people are going to say, and I'm sure you're feeling this pressure, great, we need to get back to work, we need to get the engine of the economy going. Let's all be hopeful that works and that works without a hitch or with relatively few hitches. But do you have metrics in front of you in your desk, you're going to look every day in your dash board and say, if I cross this line, I'm dialing back?

PEDUTO: Yes. Those numbers are based with our cooperation with our two major hospital networks. We began that process back in February, so we had a little bit of a head start, but we can tell -- on a daily basis, I can tell you the number of ICU beds available, the number of ventilators available, and we watch and we actually chart the number of cases happening within our county on our website, so the public can be informed as well.

[08:10:14]

We use all of this information and we can tell you that we hit a plateau around April 26th and then that plateau slowly started to go down. But we also know that the life cycle of COVID-19 can last up to 14 days, and we have to get through a full 28 days before making any decisions to see if we do start to see that bell curve start to rise again.

So, as much as information can be used in order to be able to make better decisions, we're implementing that, but it really does come down to the attitude of Pittsburghers, and the fact that they are willing to make the sacrifices in order to keep it from spiking again.

Our lesson was 1918. Our lesson was the Spanish flu. We were the ones that came out of the gate early and in the second part of the flu which hit Pittsburgh in October of 1918, it was worse than the first part. And Pittsburgh and Philadelphia led the nation and the number of deaths. We don't intend to repeat history.

KING: Mayor Bill Peduto, appreciate your time today and wish you the best of luck as you begin this experiment. We'll keep in touch and track how it goes in Pittsburgh and around the country. Thank you, sir.

PEDUTO: Thank you, John. Be safe.

KING: Thank you. You as well, sir.

Messy is an understatement in describing Wisconsin's reopening. The governor wanted to keep a statewide shut down in place longer, but the state Supreme Court ruled he had overstepped his powers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. TONY EVERS (D), WISCONSIN: The bottom line is it was -- it was a horrible decision, not unexpected, not unexpected, because clearly, there are four justices looking for any way they could to concur with Republican majority and legislature. So if happened and now we have the Wild West.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Milwaukee and Waukesha counties are neighbors in southeast Wisconsin. Milwaukee quickly added local restrictions. Bar and restaurants remain closed to in person service, gatherings limited to nine people.

Waukesha has no mandates, but it is encouraging businesses to practice social distancing and other safety measures.

The Waukesha mayor, Shawn Reilly, with us now.

Mayor, thank you for joining us on this Sunday. I just want to put up some headlines. "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" on Saturday, down with restrictions, up with coronavirus cases. ON Sunday, no mask, no gloves, no problems, as coronavirus cases soar, day trippers from Illinois pour in.

I'm worried if you are worried that because you are open in Waukesha, that whether it's people from Illinois or people from neighboring Milwaukee are going to come in and you have done a good job containing this, are you worried now being open could be a risk?

MAYOR SHAWN REILLY, WAUKESHA, WISCONSIN: Of course, yes. I'm worried that with everything being open really having no restrictions, that there will be a spike in infections.

I'm also in -- as you already alluded to, we had the Supreme Court decision that pretty much -- well, it did remove all the restrictions put on businesses and people in the state by the governor's orders. And there is certain things that happened -- I guess what the best thing to say is that Milwaukee County has a health -- a health system that is run by the -- mainly by the county and they're making their rules based upon their health officers.

In the Waukesha County, there isn't -- the health officer is not saying there will be restrictions. So, that would leave it up to each community to decide whether they want to try to use the limited statutory authority to put restrictions on businesses and if we only have one or two communities in the entire county put restrictions on businesses, really what you're doing is penalizing the businesses and those communities without doing anything in regards to reducing infection rates because people will just go to the neighboring communities.

It's a difficult situation. I am worried. I continue to stress to our businesses and to the people in Waukesha that they have personal responsibility and I hope that we don't have any large spikes.

KING: And so, now, you have this tension. I don't know what other word to use. I want you to listen here -- this is Tim Cooney, who's one of your business managers.

He says, look, if I have the authority to reopen, I need to get my economy, my businesses back up and running. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM COONEY, WISCONSIN EAGLES CLUB MANAGER: We're doing everything physically possible to do. If they're uncomfortable, don't come, you know? We wouldn't hold it against anybody or if they want to wait a while, see how things turn out, that's fine.

[08:15:08]

But if you're uncomfortable, just don't come, rather than criticize us for opening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And so, that gentleman is trying to get his business up and running. But if you just look, Waukesha County confirmed cases, 464. Milwaukee County confirmed cases, nearly 5,000.

This is your neighbor, your county is doing a much managing this as -- it is a smaller population, but I guess to that point, I was making earlier, about the back and forth, if you're in Milwaukee and it shut down, are you going to get in your car on a Saturday night or Sunday afternoon and drive to Waukesha?

REILLY: The answer is yes. I don't know how to say it differently. Yeah.

I think most of our businesses are doing a very good job. They're limiting the number of people in the business. And the person who is speaking regarding opening the business, I really feel for them, and that did play into what, you know, Waukesha did.

There was -- we have daily EOC meetings Monday through Friday. I have a lot of people that I'm working with to try to decide which way we go during this pandemic. And we did discuss whether we would have restrictions on our businesses or not.

But standing out there all alone in the entire county and being the only community that has restrictions really -- it came down to the fact that the businesses themselves would be the one that suffers.

The businesses in Waukesha County, the businesses in city of Waukesha, whereas all the other businesses would be open and I doubt if many people know what the map of the city looks like, but just out here, there is inside the city there is town islands. You would have businesses that are across the street from each other that one would be open, and one would be closed. And that's pretty much unworkable.

And previously, the mayor of Pittsburgh indicated only thing that is certain is uncertainty. Businesses and residents are always struggling to figure out what is -- what are the restrictions, what is -- what they're supposed to do in all that and changing it all the time is a problem itself.

KING: All right. Mayor Reilly, we certainly wish you best as you go through this experiment. Your governor calls it the Wild West. We hope it works out at least reasonably well. We'll keep in touch in the days ahead. Thank you, sir, this morning.

REILLY: Thank you very much.

KING: Thank you.

Up next for us, how the doctors grade the reopening so far and their key tests in the days ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:22:10]

KING: The president's case for accelerating the reopening is driven by economics and politics, a paralyzed economy hurts his re-election chances. But he insists the public health numbers support his aggressive posture.

When you look at new cases back to the beginning, you see it the national curve is on a decline. And coronavirus testing is climbing, now averaging about 300,000 tests a day. New phases are kicking in across country, restaurants and casinos, opening in Louisiana, movie theaters and community pools in Montana. Retail stores opening in many states including Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

It will take a few weeks to see whether the inevitable growth in infections is manageable or dangerous and we're months away from experts believe still a year or more away from a coronavirus vaccine. But it is clear the president sees this as a point of no return.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I just want to make something clear -- it is very important -- vaccine or no vaccine, we're back. And we're starting the process and in many cases they don't have vaccines and a virus or a flu comes, and you fight through it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: With us again this Sunday to share their expertise, Dr. Ashish Jha. He's the director of Harvard's Global Health Institute. Dr. Megan Ranney is an emergency room physician and a researcher at Brown University.

Dr. Jha, I want to start with you and that I think the conversation a month from now will give us a better sense of how to grade the reopening. How states manage this, but if you talk to people in Georgia and Texas, Texas had a spike yesterday. And so, some of the mayors say, I told you so, you opened too soon. We were still too high when you reopened.

The governor's staff would say, you know what, we have more testing, that's why we have a spike in cases and our hospitals are handling this OK. Who's right?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Good morning, John.

Hospitalizations are really kind of a late indicator. So I'm paying attention to that. I think by the time hospitalizations are going up, you've really let the cat out of the bag as it were.

Right now, I would say it is too early to tell. Georgia has done better than I was expecting. It was risky and so far they have not seen a spike. I think the next couple of weeks will be important.

So, I'm tracking cases, amount of testing, and obviously what is happening with hospitalizations, but down the road. I would say both of those states, too early to tell, whether the decisions made by the governor were right ones or not.

KING: And yet, Dr. Ranney, you do see the IHME models, this is from the University of Maryland, the mobility, in states -- this is the IHME model on death, 67,000 back in April 22nd. Now, they project 147,000 by the beginning of August and they're saying that's because states are reopening and Americans are getting more mobile.

And you see in Minnesota, mobility just people staying at home is dropping. That's common sense, if you will, as states reopen.

[08:25:00]

Some of it is cabin fever.

When will you be able to say, and your state started its reopening experiment, we got this right, or we're going too far, we got to dial it back a little?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, LIFESPAN/BROWN UNIVERSITY: So, it is going to take two to three to even four weeks after reopening starts, John, to figure out if we moved too early, if we have to dial things back. As we know, this virus has about a two-week period of being asymptomatic after it gets transmitted, and then as Dr. Jha said, the bad symptoms don't start to show up for another one to two weeks after that. So, it's really between a two and a four-week period after reopening,

until we know if we've done too much too soon. That's determined by so many things, how much people are together, whether they're taking public transportation, whether they're wearing masks, whether they're washing their hands and, of course, the degree to which the very vulnerable are being exposed.

KING: And, Doctors, I say often on Sundays, don't want to involve you doctors in the politics, there is now a collision of this in the sense that Dr. Jha you mentioned the Georgia experiment has gone relatively well so far, that is so far, but it has gone relatively well so far. Texas, there's a big debate in Texas, we'll see how it plays out. But the president and his friends are trying to isolate voices of caution, like Dr. Fauci.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Dr. Anthony Fauci also seems to favor what the Democrats want and that is massive restrictions with no end in sight.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Some people seem to think he should be dictator for the duration of this crisis. That's insanity.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: With all due respect to Dr. Fauci's expertise, no one elected him to anything.

TRUMP: Look, he wants to play all sides of the equation. To me, it's not an acceptable answer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What's your take on the politics of this in that the president and his allies who are now all in on reopening are trying to isolate, play down, minimize, raise suspicions about voices of caution like Dr. Fauci and frankly like yourself?

JHA: Yes, so, the way I see this, John, is the science and the evidence are ultimately going to drive what happens. So you can choose not to follow the science, you can choose to take risks. And, again, I don't understand the politics of all of it, but, you know, the virus will behave the way it will behave. I think not paying attention to Dr. Fauci's warnings is really risky.

Are we going to be able to -- could we get away with it as a country? We might get lucky. But I personally think it's better to err on the side of caution. As the mayor of Pittsburgh said earlier, err on the side of public health and listen to people like Dr. Fauci, because that's the best way forward.

KING: And, Dr. Ranney, to the point that you're making, there'd be a few weeks before we know, every week there seems to be something new we learned about COVID-19 and the way it attacks the body. Hearing about strokes from blood clots, loss of smell and taste with us for a while, COVID toes came up, unexpected blood clots, damage to blood filters in kidneys. Heart and lung issues.

What are you seeing as you learn more and more about this nasty virus and what it does to the human body, what is new in your mind?

RANNEY: So this virus, John, is so wily. I don't have any other word for it.

Every week that passes, we're discovering new things in science about how it attacks the body, how it propagates, the types of disorders it causes. We now know that it can latch on to numerous organs, not just the throats and lungs as we initially thought. But we're also finding it in the kidneys and in intestine which might explain some very strange syndromes that we're seeing.

Of course, the news this week, how it is causing post-inflammatory syndromes in kids, and we're seeing a very long and prolonged course of recovery for many people, not just those in intensive care, but folks that may get sick and may not need to be hospitalized.

I think we're just starting to figure out the long-term effects of this virus, which is why it is so important to protect ourselves from infections in the first place, because the science doesn't know everything yet about what the symptoms are and the syndromes are that the virus causes.

KING: We're going to keep learning as we go through this reopening experiment.

Dr. Ranney, Dr. Jha, again, thank you. Again. I'm grateful. You get up and share your time and your expertise with us on Sunday mornings. We'll see you again up soon.

Up next for us, the president fires another inspector general and lashes out at President Obama and Democratic governors.

This week's coronavirus by the numbers helps explain his re-election anxiety. Pajama sales way up. Pant sales down 13 percent month to month. Restaurant head count down 94 percent on Friday compared to a year ago. And 27 million Americans have lost their health insurance during this pandemic.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:33:41]

KING: When you're trying to change the subject, a little help from your friends is always welcome.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The President knew everything. The President knew everything. President Obama and Vice President Biden, they knew everything.

We caught them in the act -- Maria. It's a beautiful thing. And every day we're seeing more and more information come out and now it's like an avalanche of really bad -- call it treason, call it whatever you want, but they tried to take down a duly-elected president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Treason is a heavy word. The President is talking there about the investigation of Michael Flynn. And it is important to note, there is zero evidence. Zero-- none that president Obama or Vice President Biden did anything improper.

The proof we did get this past week is that the President is worried about his reelection odds. He wants to change the subject away from the coronavirus. And when he must talk about the pandemic, he's more and more shaping that to his 2020 playbook.

Look where he's traveled. Two trips -- Arizona and Pennsylvania, both critical to his 2020 map. Look at the fights he picks. Celebrating the decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court to tell the governor, reopen your state. Wisconsin critical to his map.

Looking around too, picking fights with Democratic governors. He says the Democratic governors are keeping their states closed because they want to hurt him. Not protect public health.

[08:35:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The less successful we are in opening, the better they are, probably, maybe, for an election. But I'm letting people know, in many cases, they're doing it just for political purposes.

They would rather see our country fail. They would rather see our country fail. And you know what that means because part of failure is death. They would rather see that than have me get elected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: With us to share their reporting and their insights: Jackie Kucinich with "The Daily Beast", Toluse Olorunnipa of "The Washington Post".

I want to add into this, the President is all in on reopening. He tweeted a video yesterday that shows him in the role of the President in the "Independence Day" movie. It's very well edited. And you see in the front row here, people come up. There's Sean Hannity, his campaign manager's in there.

Extraordinary. There are other words you could use -- Toluse. But this is the President saying reopening is our independence, another pushback against the scientists who say be cautious.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes. The President is up at Camp David and you would expect him to be meeting with his advisers formulating a plan for how to get the country out of this crisis. Instead we've seen him tweeting memes and watching a lot of news and tweeting about trying to get Democratic states to reopen.

It's clear that the President sees this as a key part of his re- election message. He can't have his re-election be all about this pandemic and the fact that we have depression levels unemployment.

So he's trying to essentially change the narrative to a comeback playbook -- a playbook in which he's fighting against the Democratic resistance, fighting against Democratic governors that have decided not to open up their states and really casting it as a political scandal by trying to throw things back to the Obama administration and say that President Obama and President Trump's rival Joe Biden are essentially criminals, treasonous, saying that they tried to block him from becoming president.

So he's running a playbook that's very similar to what he did in 2016 and sort of sowing division, trying to sow scandal on his opponent but it's happening in the middle of a pandemic and it really remains to be seen how the public will judge him on the fact that he's deciding to play such rank partisan politics in the middle of a health care crisis.

KING: And play victim. He says Democratic governors, Jackie -- are out to get him. Obama was out to get him. Again, there's no evidence and the Senate Republicans say they'll hold hearings on this. Let them.

You know, did anyone in the Obama administration do anything wrong when they were trying to figure out what Michael Flynn was up to in his conversations with the Russians during the transition. But even the White House Facebook page -- this is a taxpayer official White House Facebook page -- we can show you pictures of it, playing on this Obama theme.

And if you look at the President's tweets in recent days. 52 percent of his tweets about Obama and Russia, 23 percent of them about the coronavirus, 25 percent on other subjects. Why the Obama obsession?

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "THE DAILY BEAST": Because if he's talking about Obama, he's not talking about the response to the coronavirus, the lack of testing, and the fact that his re- election is very closely tie to the economy. And right now the economy is struggling because of this pandemic.

Toluse's absolutely right. This is about changing the subject and getting into a space where he's a lot more comfortable, which is playing the victim which is this idea that everyone is out to get him. He has been watching a lot of TV. He hasn't -- he's been very open about the fact he doesn't like the coverage of how this administration has responded to the coronavirus.

And I'm sure after seeing what Obama said yesterday during several of those graduation speeches, that that will continue to fuel this feud. But, you know, they're fund-raising off of this. I got a text message from the Trump campaign yesterday calling Biden a crook and saying that he was out to get the President.

So you know, very much the same playbook that we're used to. But the fact of the matter is, the coronavirus is still going to dominate what we and everyone is talking about because it's affecting the lives of everyone in this country and around the world every day.

KING: Right. He's trying to move the margins. He's trying to do to Joe Biden what he did to Hillary Clinton. If you don't like Donald Trump, you don't think he's honest, you don't think he has personal character, he's going to smear the other person to try to bring them down to make them equal so that people don't like any of them. They're all politicians, if you will.

But You're right, this will be a referendum. He's the incumbent, it will be a referendum on him anyway. He thought he was going to have a strong economy, at the moment he doesn't.

Another issue that comes up constantly in this administration, we had another Friday night firing, is accountability. The President firing the State Department inspector general on Friday night.

Toluse -- this is part of a pattern. The inspector general for the intelligence community fired, the acting Defense Department IG fired. The acting HHS Secretary fired. Now the acting -- now the State Department inspector general, not an acting, fired.

[08:39:48]

KING: In the case of Steve Linick, the reporting is that he was investigating, and we should say it's an investigation -- there's no proof of anything -- the possibility that Mike Pompeo was asking an aide at the State Department to do personal work and political work, not official government work. Again, that was the beginning of an investigation.

We don't know the answers. But what does it tell you that the President yet again, somebody whose job it is to hold this president and any president, any administration accountable, not allowed to do his work?

OLORUNNIPA: Yes. The President feels completely unbound. He does not feel like he has to sort of abide by some of the rules that previous presidents have abided by.

You've seen other Republican senators sort of keep mum about this. A few of them have spoken out including Mitt Romney and said that this is unacceptable.

But the President was impeached, he was acquitted and now he really feels unbound even in the middle of a pandemic to start getting rid of government officials who he believes are getting too close to his administration when it comes to investigating things or just sort of undermining his goals.

And he believes that after seeing so many government officials testify in his impeachment hearings, essentially against him, that he needs to root out all of the people within his administration who don't agree with him or who don't support him.

And he's been on this sort of witch hunt in a way for the last three months in firing several officials who are part of his administration.

KING: It will be remarkable if we get anything more than Senator Romney or any more peeps out of the Republicans on Capitol Hill who in the last administration said these positions were critical. We shall see.

Jackie, Toluse -- appreciate your time this Sunday morning.

Up next for us, more painful economic numbers and a big partisan divide in Washington about whether the government needs to spend more to help you.

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KING: For Americans who still have their jobs, reopening can be stressful.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERICA HORN, HAIRDRESSER: We need to figure out something to keep us fed and keep our bills paid. You're stuck between a rock and a hard place. You need the income but you're scared of, you know, catching something that will give to your parents. It's a catch-22, I guess. You got to do what you got to do but then you're scared to do it.

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[08:44:54]

KING: You can certainly understand the fears about the economy. Let's just go through some of the numbers. More than 36.5 million Americans have filed for unemployment just in the last eight weeks. 39 percent in households making less than $40,000 a year have reported losing a job just in the month of March. This is hitting lower income families, working class families the most.

Take a look at this map here. If you're in a dark red state, 25 percent or more of the population have filed for unemployment in recent weeks. In the orange states, 15 to 24 percent. Only in seven states is the unemployment claims filing below 15 percent -- still a painful toll. This pandemic is taking jobs away across the country.

Look at the small business perspective -- 7 percent of small businesses say they have no money left, no cash available to pay their bills; 41 percent in the purple here say they have less than a month supply left; one to two months, 25 percent punishing small business which is a big engine of the American economy. This is a census study.

Now, the Democrats on Friday did pass another new bill -- $3 trillion in spending, a trillion for state and local governments, money for hazard pay, money for mortgage relief and rental assistance, direct payments to individuals and families, unemployment benefits, more testing money.

The Democrats say they should pass that right now. If they did, it would essentially match the three major bills so far. $3 trillion spent so far. The Democrats want to spend $3 trillion more.

The Federal Reserve issued that bleak report about the pandemic's economic toll, especially on those working class Americans. If you listen to its chairman, he suggests Washington will have to do more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE: The record shows that deeper and longer recession can leave behind lasting damage to the productive capacity of the economy. Additional fiscal support could be costly but worth it if it helps avoid long-term damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery.

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KING: But TBD (ph) is the state of play right now. Speaker Pelosi says that plan passed by the House Democrats on Friday is needed right now. But the Senate's top Republican is cool for more big election year spending. The President -- latest position, maybe some more but not as much as the Democrats want.

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SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: This week the speaker published an 1,800-page seasonal catalog of left-wing oddities and called it a coronavirus relief bill.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Now some of the members say, let's take a pause. Let's take a pause? Do you think this virus is taking a pause? Do you think that the rent takes a pause?

TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE) is going to happen but it's going to happen in a much better way for the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Up next for us, an urgent global mission. A scramble to understand the coronavirus-related inflammatory illness that threatens children.

[08:47:34]

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KING: The coronavirus conversation took a troubling turn for parents in recent days -- 18 states and the District of Columbia now investigating a mysterious coronavirus-related illness in children. A CDC advisory calls it multisystem inflammatory syndrome. There are cases in France, Italy and the U.K. too. The World Health Organization now urging doctors worldwide to share their notes.

More than 100 of the known U.S. cases are in New York where the governor sees it as more proof there's still a lot we don't know.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Children weren't going to be infected. Except now we're studying 100 cases where children are in fact affected by the virus and some of them very serious. I cannot stress highly enough, do not underestimate this virus and do not play with this virus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: 12-year-old Julia Daly's fight included four days on a ventilator.

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JULIE DALY, SURVIVED RARE INFLAMMATORY SYNDROME: I woke up in the morning feeling fine for about three seconds. Then my stomach started to hurt pretty bad and I really wanted to throw up because I was feeling nauseous.

SEAN DALY, JULIE'S FATHER: She started to have blue lips and her extremities were cold. So that's when it was like, this is not, you know, normal flu.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Dr. Jeffrey Burns is chief of critical care at Boston's Children's Hospital. Dr. Burns -- thanks for being with us this Sunday.

When you hear that young girl tell her story, they had to give her CPR, her heart stopped. She was on a ventilator for four days. Is that what you're seeing in these cases or is that more of an extreme?

DR. JEFFREY BURNS, CHIEF OF CRITICAL, BOSTON CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: That appears on initial study to be a more extreme side of the presentation.

KING: So let's -- I want to put up on the screen, just comparing, parents started off hearing, you know, children aren't as susceptible to COVID. Children appear to be more resistant to COVID.

You see on the left side this new (INAUDIBLE), on the right side what people were told at the beginning. Look for persistent fever, look for flu-like symptoms.

What is the same and what is different when you look at sort of the beginning of the coronavirus conversation and what you're now seeing with this syndrome in children?

DR. BURNS: It is confusing so it's worth talking through briefly. COVID-19 fortunately frequently causes critical illness in children. We know that from all epidemiologic studies today. It is true that children have died of COVID-19. It is true that some children get critically ill and need to be on a ventilator.

But by and large children are the least affected by COVID-19. And that's one of the few bright spots in this terrible pandemic. And it also indicates children's immune response may hold the key to better understanding how adults are not responding and how a vaccine could be developed.

Now this new disorder -- we've only really identified this in the last three weeks. And so it does point to the fact that we do have to just follow the data and that we can't make long term pronouncements about what will happen. We just must simply take the data as it comes.

This new multisystem inflammatory syndrome was first identified in Europe about four to five weeks ago. It started with a few cases and then more of a cluster. And these children present, if you look at when they're presenting to the hospital, they appear to be presenting about four weeks after the peak incidence of COVID-19 in the general population.

[08:54:55]

DR. BURNS: So it's not -- it's not -- we don't believe, it's not a primary infection with COVID-19. Rather, it's a delay of about four weeks from the peak presentation. And many of these children have antibodies against COVID-19, leading to some of the thought, and again we have to do research because it has yet to be determined the exact trigger.

But some of the discussion in the medical community now is, is this what we call a post viral syndrome, meaning that the child's own antibodies or white cells or immune response effectively fought off COVID-19 infection weeks prior such that their parents may not even notice that the child was at all ill or symptomatic. But now four weeks later or so, their child's own immune response is causing the fever and the inflammation that we see here.

KING: And so when the President says he thinks it will be fine to reopen schools in September, do you know the answer to that question yet? We mentioned this is only weeks old. Would you need more date before you felt comfortable putting children back in a group setting like that? Can children infect each other with this, I guess is part of my question?

DR. BURNS: Well, there was a recent editorial in General Pediatrics that called for the formation of an expert commission of various scientists and psychologists. And I think that's the first place to go.

We need to understand and get better data. You know, we should be hopeful that we can be wise and work around this virus. But the fact is, as we just discussed, we didn't know about this phenomenon three weeks ago.

And so medical scientists don't speak in terms of absolutes. We don't think that we can look forward six months and make a prediction about a virus that's only been afflicting the human race for six months. So we must proceed step-wise and be cautious and be wise and study and get better research to find out exactly how are children being affected by this virus.

KING: Dr. Burns --

(CROSSTALK)

DR. BURNS: But not make any promises going forward.

KING: Dr. Burns-- we very much appreciate your insights today. Keep in touch as you see more research as we track this throughout the spring and into summer. Please come back and share those results with us. Really appreciate it.

And that's it for us this Sunday. Hope you can catch us weekdays as well. We're here at 11:00 a.m. and noon eastern.

Up next, a very busy "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper. Jake's guests include the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, the Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, and California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday. Have a good day. Stay safe.

[08:57:30]

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