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Trump Touts Taking Unproven Drug Despite Warnings; Some Colleges Plan to Limit In-Person Classes This Fall; Moderna Vaccine Trial Shows Promising Early Results; FBI: Pensacola Attacker Coordinated with al Qaeda. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired May 19, 2020 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I happen to be taking it. Hydroxychloroquine. I think it's good. I've heard a lot of good stories.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is in direct contradiction of the FDA's own guidance.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He must have had a quite extensive exposure for them to go ahead and begin hydroxychloroquine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gyms in multiple states are open, 17 states seeing a rise in new cases over the past week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The University of South Carolina says face-to-face instruction will also end after the Thanksgiving holiday.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: Social distancing, the face coverings. You're speeding up the day when we can open up more.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, May 19, 6 a.m. here in New York.
And this morning, more than 90,000 Americans have been killed by coronavirus, 90,000. And the president is preening and bragging about taking a drug that simply has not been proven to keep that number from going higher. In fact, studies have shown it can be deadly dangerous in some cases.
So why is he doing it? The president flaunts he's not wearing a mask. Why? Ninety thousand Americans have died. Also breaking overnight, the president issued a 30-day ultimatum,
threatening to pull all money from the World Health Organization. This as the group is meeting to discuss a potential investigation into the outbreak.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We also have new details about schools and what they may look like in the fall.
And, coming up, we're going to speak with one of the researchers involved in that promising vaccine trial.
But let's begin our coverage with CNN's Joe Johns. He is live at the White House. What is the latest, Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, it really makes you wonder what's going on here. President Trump drawing immediate criticism after announcing he's taking the antimalaria drug hydroxychloroquine, despite studies showing no evidence it's a good idea. Another example of the president sending confusion messages to the public, messages at odds with the health and science experts.
JOHNS (voice-over): A stunning announcement from President Trump, saying he's taking daily doses of hydroxychloroquine, despite multiple studies concluding it does not help treat the coronavirus and at least one showing it could cause heart problems.
KAITLAN COLLINS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: When?
TRUMP: Right now, yes.
COLLINS: Now? Yes, when?
TRUMP: Couple of weeks ago started taking it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why?
TRUMP: Because I think it's good. I've heard a lot of good stories. And if it's not good, I'll tell you right. I'm not going to get hurt by it.
JOHNS: Trump says he asked his physician whether it was a good idea to take the drug as a preventative measure.
TRUMP: I asked him, What do you think?
He said, Well, if you'd like it.
I said, Yes, I'd like it. I'd like to take it. A lot of people are taking it.
JOHNS: Overnight, the White House doctor sending this memo, mentioning Trump's personal military valet's positive test earlier this month, without explicitly linking it to why the president began taking hydroxychloroquine, writing, "We concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks."
Trump's claim he's taking daily doses comes after weeks of promoting the anti-malarial drug without proof it works.
TRUMP: So we know that it it -- if things don't go as planned, it's not going to kill anybody.
Hydroxychloroquine, try it if you'd like. What do you have to lose?
JOHNS: The president often going against the advice of his own medical experts, like defying CDC guidelines in March, saying he would continue to shake hands.
TRUMP: You can't be a politician and not shake hands.
JOHNS: Trump refusing to wear a face covering, even while touring this mask manufacturer in Arizona.
And at a press conference in the Rose Garden last week, as many White House staffers looked on wearing them.
TRUMP: In the case of me, I'm not -- I'm not close to anybody.
JOHNS: He's also mused aloud about other unconventional treatment ideas, like using disinfectants.
TRUMP: But I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or -- or almost a cleaning.
JOHNS: Still, President Trump downplaying the lack of evidence hydroxychloroquine works.
TRUMP: Here we go. You ready? Here's my evidence. I get a lot of positive calls about it.
JOHNS: But the FDA says the drug carries risks and should not be used outside a hospital or clinical trial.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: He's the president. He can get tested and checked out and get EKGs and stuff like that, but what about everybody else? The message is very clear: Don't take this. We don't have evidence that it works. It could be harmful.
JOHNS: Meanwhile, today the Federal Reserve chairman and the treasury secretary are expected to testify virtually before the Senate Banking Committee in the first required update to the economic crisis that the pandemic has caused.
John and Alisyn, back to you.
BERMAN: All right. Joe Johns for us at the White House. Joe, thanks very much.
Joining us now, CNN political analyst and former New Orleans mayor, Mitch Landrieu. And Dr. Carlos del Rio. He's the executive associate dean at Emery University School of Medicine.
And Dr. Del Rio, normally I would go to you first. You have the most degrees and you are the scientist here. But this isn't about scientist. This is the anti-science. To the president, this seems like a game. A giant game.
And why am I saying that? Because listen to how he presented it. Listen to how excited he was to divulge this news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I was just waiting to see your eyes light up when I said this, but -- you know, when I announce this. But I've taken it for about a week and a half now, and I'm still here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: He couldn't wait to see reporters' faces, Mayor Landrieu. This is not a game. Ninety thousand Americans have died, and this is just dumb. He just wasted another day, where he could have been doing something to help the American people to keep that number down.
And instead, he's preening and bragging about taking a drug that science so far has shown shows no benefits.
MITCH LANDRIEU, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's really incredible. If my kids were around, they would say, Daddy, that's cray-cray.
And essentially, this is really about leadership. This is -- this is where we are. It is a matter of science. It is a matter of economics. It is a matter of how we, as Americans, deal with each other. But who the president is and what they say matters, because people follow that.
And for him to really talk about it like this at a time when we really can't be making any errors, much less running to the error board, which is what he tends to do every day, is hard to even put an adjective around.
This country is in a very difficult time, one the likes of which we haven't seen in a very long time. And we need clear leadership. We need smart leadership. We need somebody that does pay attention to the science, with somebody that leads us in the right direction.
Ninety thousand deaths is hard to get your head around. And you know what? There are going to be a lot more if we don't get our act together and start thinking really clearly about what steps we need to take to get us to a better place before we get a vaccine and before we get a therapeutic. I know the good doctor is going to talk a little bit about the
science, but essentially now, this is about us as Americans, being really smart, really wise, being very thoughtful and actually getting through a very complicated problem in a way that makes a lot of sense so we can come out of the other side of this. And the president's not doing the country any justice right now acting that way.
CAMEROTA: Dr. Del Rio, a friend of mine took hydroxychloroquine years ago to ward off malaria when she was traveling, and she says that she remembers it caused crazy dreams and sleep disruptions. It was no -- it wasn't taken lightly.
And when I read the side effects last night of it, it said mood changes. I mean, that was just one of them. There are obviously more. I'm talking about psychologically. There are also physical side effects.
And so I'm just wondering as a doctor, do you think that taking this could affect the president's judgment, affect the president's sleep, have some sort of repercussions?
DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, absolutely. But most importantly, a medication should not be taken -- every medication has side effects. And we as physicians weigh side effects against benefits.
And when there's more benefit than side effects -- for example, it's better to prevent malaria than to get malaria -- then you're OK with the side effects and you can manage the side effects.
But when you have more risk of side effects than benefits, I think then the risk/benefit ratio does not support using a drug. And at this point in time, we have absolutely no evidence that hydroxychloroquine, taken prophylactically, will prevent you from getting COVID-19.
Now, I must say that probably what happened is I suspect, between the exposure to his valet and a couple of other people, the president must have had pretty significant exposure to COVID. And I think decisions in the White House and himself are nervous about it and decided to do this.
But I don't know why he's decided to take hydroxychloroquine that doesn't work, or we don't know it works, versus using a mask, which we know works.
BERMAN: Because it's not about the science. It's not about the medicine. It's about owning the libs. He's taking a drug and preening about it, just to own the liberals, in his mind. And I don't think it's doing a single thing to save a single life.
I mean, to me, the issue is what he's not talking about while he's bragging about this. Who cares? You know, he clearly set this trap, you know, staged this big release yesterday. Who cares? Figure out some other way, Mayor, to save lives.
LANDRIEU: So John, here's what -- here's what it is that we do know, even though we don't know a lot, is that we don't have a therapeutic and we don't have a vaccine, and we're going to be in this posture for the foreseeable future.
And so what the leader of the free world should be doing is helping American citizens understand exactly what we can do and what we can't do so that we can be safe and save as many lives as we can, while at the same time using his power to get as much testing down and as much PPE and as much capacity to the ground as quickly as possible and then model good behavior. That's really what the country needs right now.
American citizens are going to see through this. It's a very anxious time for people, and we really need the president of the United States to step up to the plate and just get out of the way and let somebody else do it for a while.
CAMEROTA: Dr. Del Rio, another thing that the president announced is that he might permanently cut off funding to the WHO and withdraw the United States's participation and membership in the WHO.
And the WHO, he's -- the president, you know, has been sort of casting about for who to blame for the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. The WHO comes up a lot, because they appeared to be slow on the uptake at the beginning. And the president says that -- or the White House says that they were too differential to China.
You know, President Trump was also extremely deferential to President Xi during this. We have all sorts of examples of his tweets and his statements.
But what would happen if the U.S. cuts off funding permanently and withdraws from the WHO?
DEL RIO: Well, the biggest risk is what happens to -- to the world and what happens to us. And if we don't have a strong WHO, then the world is better [SIC] off. And we are part of the world, so we, in a way, are getting hurt.
The action of the United States should be to talk to the WHO, to use its bully pulpit and its presence in the Security Council and the General World Health Assembly to strengthen WHO, to look at what went wrong, and again, to work collaboratively with WHO and other partners in order to improve a lot of things that WHO does.
Part of the problem with WHO is it doesn't have enough funding to begin with. So doing what it needs to do, it's simply a much bigger mission than the funding they have.
So cutting funding is not going to help. It's actually going to make the world weaker, and I think it's a really bad idea and we, as Americans, should be very nervous about a weak WHO.
BERMAN: All right. Dr. Del Rio, Mayor Landrieu, thanks both so much for being with us this morning.
We have some new details this morning about how and when some major colleges and universities plan to reopen into fall. Really different plans from different universities. We'll tell you what they are, next.
CAMEROTA: Developing overnight, several colleges and universities announcing their plans for returning students this fall.
The University of Notre Dame says they are bringing students back two weeks earlier than previously scheduled, meaning in August, but then they're going to end the fall semester by Thanksgiving. Schools in at least three other states plan to do the same thing.
But then there's Ithaca College in New York. They're going the opposite route. They plan to delay the start of school until October.
Dr. Carlos del Rio is back with us. Also joining us, CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.
So Dr. Del Rio, this is interesting and, obviously, parents have been on tenterhooks, waiting to hear what the plan is for fall. So they're starting to hear it at least for colleges. And it sounds like there's these two kind of competing schools of thought.
So Notre Dame, University of South Carolina, schools like that have decided that they -- they're banking on coronavirus getting worse through the fall. So they're going to move up their start time to august and then end their fall semester at Thanksgiving, let kids go home for that month of Thanksgiving through Christmas, see what happens.
Then there's, on the flip side, as we just said, Ithaca that thinks they'll have more information come fall, so they're pushing back their start time until October, hoping that by then some things have sorted themselves out.
So which -- which school of thought is right?
DEL RIO: I don't think we know. I think what we're seeing is a lot of different plans because, quite frankly, we don't know what direction things are taking.
At the current moment I would not be able to tell you which is the right -- the right way to go. I can say, though, that clearly, as we have more testing and, clearly, as we have more capability to test, we will be able to do better decisions. So as more testing becomes available, better decision making can be made. You can make more contact tracing. You can make more early identification of cases, isolation. And that's probably the best strategy.
So when that will happen, I think, will determine what I would suggest colleges do.
BERMAN: Dr. Del Rio, one more question on schools here. What's the difference in consideration between colleges and universities and grade schools in younger kids?
DEL RIO: Well, I think there's -- there's many differences. No. 1 is the fact that it -- with younger kids it's a lot more difficult to tell them social distance. Kids, you know, tend to get together. It's a lot more difficult to do the kind of social distancing you want.
While in colleges could potentially say, well, we're going to decrease the class size. You guys sit here. You're dealing with young adults that are more likely to follow the instructions that you give them. They're likely to have more personal responsibility and understand what they need to do.
You also can rely on them and, you know, say, well, we want you to self-testing every week. And you could potentially leave swabs out, available, and they can use the swabs and drop them somewhere.
It would be very hard for that to be done with kids. So I think, you know, you're going to have different situations happening. Kids also, you know, have all their teachers. They still live at home. They're going back to home.
Colleges, you have them in a dormitory. So it's a lot -- a lot different approaches.
And the reality is, I don't think we're going to know until we do -- it happens. And I think what we're going to have to do is, really, this is going to be sort of on the ground public health experiments in which we're going to have to say, Well, let's evaluate what happened and then try to come up with some decisions. This is really uncharted territory.
CAMEROTA: Elizabeth, obviously, the one thing that could change everybody's thinking is a vaccine. And so yesterday, there was promising news and the stock market responded, certainly, by leaping up. So tell us what the status is of this Moderna vaccine trial.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you one thing, Alisyn. We're not going to have a vaccine by the time students go back to school in the fall. So it's not going to help in the situations that you were just discussing with Dr. Del Rio.
What they found yesterday -- and Dr. Del Rio was involved in this research -- is that the Moderna vaccine, which is a vaccine that's being done with the NIH, that it elicited neutralizing antibodies. So in other words, when you give someone the vaccine, they develop antibodies that latch onto the virus and disable it from infecting a human cell.
They did this with eight patients, and that's what they saw when they looked at these eight patients.
And that is definitely good news, and that means going into large- scale clinical trials, which they think they're going to start doing in July, you know, you can go in with -- with you know, some hope that it will work. And we will have to do the trials to see if it actually does work in the real world.
But definitely a positive sign. This is what you want to see in a trial of that stage. BERMAN: Again, through phase one, heading into phase two. And the
biggest news to me, Elizabeth, was the idea that they could be in phase three in July, which means testing some 30,000 people.
COHEN: Right. So that's sort of tens of thousands of people. Moderna hasn't said exactly how many they're doing to test.
And I asked Dr. Tal Zaks. He's the chief medical officer of Moderna, All right, well, given where you are, given that you're going to start clinical trials in July, you think, when do you think you could have a vaccine on the market ready for general use?
And he said, I'm going to go with what Tony Fauci said back in January, which is 12 to 18 months. So that puts the vaccine being on the market sometime between January and June of next year.
He was not making promises that that would happen in that time frame. He was not making any guarantees, but he said that it is reasonable for to us hope and expect that it would happen in that time.
But again, no promises. It all depends how these clinical trials go, and large-scale clinical trials are quite unpredictable.
CAMEROTA: Dr. Del Rio, tell us about your involvement in this vaccine trial. And in eight people, the fact that it's -- it's shown some success with eight people, is that a smaller sample size than usual?
DEL RIO: Well, my involvement, I am part of the Emery Vaccine Treatment Evaluations Unit, which is funded by the NIH, and we together with another site in Washington state at Kaiser are the two sites that were selected to conduct the phase one study.
And phase one is -- is the small studies, basically, primarily about safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine. So it's about to see if you have side effects, if it's tolerated, if it -- if there's no problems with the vaccine. That's why it's a small sample.
And the immunogenicity was basically just looking at whether the vaccine elicits antibodies. And what we find is that the vaccine elicits antibodies similar to the ones you see in people who have recovered from infection.
So those two things are good news. A vaccine appears to be safe and appears to produce antibodies.
We do not know, however, if those vaccines are -- if those antibodies produced by the vaccine are sufficient to prevent you from getting infected, or in other words, protect you or prevent you from getting disease. And that's why the phase two and, more importantly, the phase three trial will tell.
The phase three is really the one in which you test for efficacy. Does the vaccine protect you from getting the disease, or does the vaccine protect you from getting sick with the virus, even though you may not, it may not protect you from infection but it protect you from disease. And that is what phase three is about. It's -- as Elizabeth said, it's
a big trial. Almost 30,000 individuals will be enrolled. Half of them will receive a vaccine, half of them will receive placebo, and then we'll have to see. And, you know, the data our safety monitoring will see and tell us if the vaccine actually, indeed, protect it or not.
CAMEROTA: OK. Thank you both very much for the update. People are obviously waiting with baited breath to see what happens.
Dr. Del Rio, Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.
Now to this story. the attacker who killed three U.S. Navy sailors in Florida last year coordinated the attack with al Qaeda. The latest on this terror investigation, next.
CAMEROTA: This morning, the FBI says a Saudi military trainee who killed three U.S. Navy sailors last year in Pensacola coordinated and planned the attack with al Qaeda. That is an extraordinary development.
The FBI director says this was much more than just an al Qaeda- inspired attack. That would make this the first foreign-directed attack on U.S. soil since September 11.
CNN's Evan Perez is live in Washington with the latest details. So what have you learned, Evan?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, we knew that this was a terrorist who was inspired, certainly, by these terrorist -- terrorist groups.
What we didn't know was how far along he was in his radicalization, how long he had been planning it. And that answer came from the FBI yesterday. They finally were able to get into his -- one of his cell phones.
And they were able to find that he was in communication with, working with the al Qaeda group in the Arabian Peninsula as far back as 2015. And they found that he was in touch with these people all the way through when he joined the Saudi military and all the way through the day before he carried out the attack.
Attorney General Bill Barr and Chris Wray, the FBI director, addressed all of this yesterday. Take a listen to what they had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The phones contained information previously unknown to us that definitively establishes Alshamrani's significant ties to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: The evidence we've been able to develop from the killer's devices shows that the Pensacola attack was actually the brutal culmination of years of planning and preparation by a longtime AQAP associate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: And, Alisyn, as a result of the information that they found from the -- Alshamrani's cell phone, they were able to carry out earlier this month a strike in -- against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. They were able to kill Abdullah al-Maliki, who is a top operative, a top leader of that group.
And, again, this is the first directed foreign terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. It's hard to believe all these many years there have been many attacks, but this is the first one that has succeeded.
CAMEROTA: Evan in terms of the investigation, the FBI is understandably frustrated that Apple refused to help them unlock the phone, the attacker's phone.