Return to Transcripts main page


Reports on Coronavirus Pandemic across the Country; House to Vote on PPP Changes; Blame Game with China Escalates. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired May 20, 2020 - 06:30   ET



MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: From President Obama. So, obviously, a pretty important supporter and high-profile surrogate for Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee. But it is yet another tradition that has survived. Previous administrations, where there was enormous acrimony, whether it was Bush 41 leading into Clinton, or Clinton leading into Bush -- the second -- the second President Bush, people put these kinds of fights aside. That's just not the moment we're in and it speaks a lot to the -- to those times.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Maggie Haberman, great to have you on this morning. Thanks so much for being with us.

HABERMAN: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: An ultraorthodox shiva in New York City shut down for violating city and state coronavirus orders. We have details, next.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, the coronavirus death toll in the United States is close to 92,000 people. And meatpacking plants still remain hotspots.

CNN's reporters are fanned out across the country to have it all covered for you.



On Tuesday, President Trump praised meatpacking plants, saying they are, quote, very clean now and that there are fewer and fewer problems.


But the workers inside those plants, well, there's still getting sick at alarming rates and outbreaks across the country continue. In Nebraska this week, health officials said that 25 percent, a quarter of all the cases in the state, are meatpacking plant workers. They said that just over 2,600 have tested positive for Covid-19. The last time we got an update from Nebraska back on May 7th, that number was just over 1,000.


That virus stricken aircraft carrier, the Theodore Roosevelt, at pier side for so many weeks in Guam, now finally ready to go back out to sea and probably will do so this week according to defense officials. The Navy believes there are now enough healthy crew members aboard to go out to sea for a few weeks at least.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT : I'm Shimon Prokupecz in New York City, where the NYPD has shut down a Jewish orthodox school that they say was operating illegally inside a Brooklyn building. The NYPD responded to the building after receiving community complaints that there were students inside this building, that people inside this building were operating an illegal school. Of course, all schools across the state and city have been shut since the pandemic. The NYPD says they removed everyone and that they shut the building down.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Paula Newton in Ottawa, where Canada announced that the U.S.-Canada border will remain closed for another month until June 21st. Now, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was getting pressure from local leaders who feel that the level of infection in the United States is still too high to reopen the border to non-essential traffic. That border remains open for commercial goods and essential workers, healthcare workers that cross from Canada into the United States.

Now, even if the border is reopened in a month, Canada is looking at extending its quarantine measures, and that includes for Americans who cross by land, that they'll have to quarantine for two weeks when they enter Canada.


CAMEROTA: Our thanks it to all of our correspondents.

So, big changes could be coming to the small business loan program from the federal government. We have the details that you need to hear, next.



CAMEROTA: New this morning, CNN has learned that the House plans to vote next week on changes to the federal government's small business Payroll Protection Program. That PPP that you've heard so much about.

So joining us now to explain we have CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans and CNN anchor and correspondent Julia Chatterley.

Great to see both of you.


CAMEROTA: So, Christine, we've all heard from business owners that the PPP was somehow just too onerous, too limiting. So what could be changing?

ROMANS: Well, you know, it was designed to get them money in a loan and then if they used 75 percent of that loan to pay for their payroll within, you know, eight weeks, then they -- that loan would be forgiven. But a lot of companies, a lot of these small businesses just don't have that flexibility. They want to be able to use it for other things and they want to be able to use it for a longer period of time. So what this House bill is taking a narrow look at that PPP, some of those complaints that small business owners have had and want to make it -- get rid of that 75 percent rule, change that rule and also allow them to use the money over a longer period of time.

CAMEROTA: Right. So from eight weeks to I think 24 weeks is the suggestion.

ROMANS: Twenty-four weeks

CAMEROTA: And so, Julia, this is a -- this is a House proposal. So re Democrats and Republicans on board with this? Is this going to happen?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: The Senate has to be on board with this. It was one of the big takeaways, I think, from what we heard in the hearing with Steve Mnuchin and Jay Powell yesterday. Everyone's hearing from small businesses that it's great that they got the money if they got it, but they just can't use it quickly enough.

So this, if there's one thing that everyone has to agree with here to get jobs back into the economy, to protect people, it's just giving small businesses more flexibility. It's going to have other issues, though. The deadline for hiring right now under the program is June 30th. The message here is that we don't know what our business is going to look like that quickly. We need some more time. So that will also have to be pushed back. And remember the $600 bump up per week in unemployment benefits rolls off at the end of July right now.

So there's going to be technical issues with this. When you change one thing, you probably have to work out what you're going to do with the other. So it's not so simple but for now just give businesses more time and ability to use this money differently. They have bills to pay.

CAMEROTA: Christine, what jumped out at you from what Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said yesterday?

ROMANS: Well, it was fascinating, you know. Here you had the Fed chief and the Treasury chief both telling you it's going to be pretty ugly in the near term and what we need to do to get to a recovery. There was this a moment with Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio who really kind of, I think, crystalized this concern, this debate about reopening the economy and what risk that is to workers.



SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): How many workers will die if we send people back to work without the protections they need, Mr. Secretary?

STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Mr. Senator, we don't intend to send anybody back to work without the protections.

BROWN: How many workers should give their lives to increase the GDP or the Dow Jones by 1,000 points?

MNUCHIN: No workers should give their lives to do that, Mr. Senator, and I think your characterization is unfair.


ROMANS: Of course the Democrats have passed a House bill for another $3 trillion of stimulus that includes all kinds of worker protections and worker hazard pay and the like. So that's what Democrats want to push forth for now.

But, you know, Republicans haven't -- haven't picked that up. And it looks now like you're not going to be talking about more stimulus until well into -- into June if -- if we're going to do that again.

CAMEROTA: But, Julia, some people are still expecting their stimulus checks, but this time it will be, as I understand it, in a different form, I the form of these prepaid debit cards. So why the change and what will that mean?


CHATTERLEY: It's just quicker. Remember, most of the millions of people that got the money got it because the IRS had their direct deposit details, because they paid taxes or because they uploaded them to that system, if you remember. The alternative here now that they're trying to produce rather than literally sending out a paper check that could have taken weeks, which is give them a prepaid debit card. This is like technology for the 21st century. This will be a great idea. So if we do see the same thing happen again in a later stimulus package, using this rather than the paper checks arguably could be a lot quicker. And that's great news.

CAMEROTA: Christine, another bit of business news, a big bit, is that Johnson & Johnson says that they will no longer sell their household iconic product of baby powder.


CAMEROTA: So is this about safety concerns or something else?

ROMANS: You know, this is really fascinating. So they say that they -- in the era of Covid-19, right, that they're evaluating all of their product lines so that they're not shipping out things, you know, that -- that they're work -- you know, keeping the workload down for their workers, for social distancing, but -- but demand for this product has been down because of, frankly, there have been tens of thousands of lawsuits about the safety of this. They're women -- mostly women with ovarian cancer who have -- who have sued and have claimed that their cancers are tied to this baby powder. You know, talc is mined in close proximity to asbestos. We know that asbestos causes cancer. This -- you know, the company has stood by this product for years and fought these lawsuits. But at a time when the demand for the product is going down, you're trying to keep your, you know, your workload down in your -- in your distribution centers, they're going to stop selling this. It's a -- it's a big concession, I think. This has been a big fight with this company for many, many years. And it's a concession about this product not being in the U.S. They will continue to sell cornstarch-based powder but not this talc.

CAMEROTA: Really interesting.

All right, Julia, Christine, thank you both very much for all of the information this morning.

So the blame game is escalating between the U.S. and China. What does this mean for the global fight against coronavirus? That's next.



BERMAN: This morning, tension between the United States and China is growing amid scrutiny of Beijing's response to the coronavirus outbreak. Countries have now agreed to investigate the World Health Organization's response to the pandemic, but have rebuffed the Trump administration's efforts to blame China and the WHO.

Joining me now, Ambassador Richard Haass. He's the president of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the new book, "The World: A Brief Introduction."

Ambassador, thanks so much for being with us.

We've chewed over the whole WHO issue for some days here, but given the tension that is still bubbling, I guess my question to you is, what does the rest of the world thinking about this fight between the United States and China? How do they look at this, just mommy and daddy fighting?

AMB. RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: A little bit. The rest of the world hates it when the United States and China fight. They do not want to be in a position of having to choose between the two most powerful, influential countries of the era. So they -- yes, essentially they will go to their room and hope it passes and try to find the safest outcome.

BERMAN: And it gets to one of the things that I've heard a lot of people say is lacking in this pandemic, which is a unified global response.

Where is that and what's the significance of not having one? HAASS: It's both ironic and tragic. This is the iconic quintessential

global problem, something that began an obscure Chinese city, has spread around the world, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives. So you would think something like this, there would be a collective, global response, but there's not. Essentially each country is trying to deal with it on its own. That explains the enormous range of outcomes, successes and failures alike. There's not a collective effort on vaccines. The United States, for example, refused to join the European-led effort. If and when there is a vaccine, I expect there will be lots of competition over the sequence of who gets it, questions about who pays for it.

So this just showed -- this is -- this just shows the gap between where the world is and where the world needs to be, whether it's dealing with pandemics or climate change or terrorism and virtually every global problem is an enormous gap in performance.

BERMAN: One of the things that's notable, as the president ratchets up his rhetoric on China, is he's in an interesting position because of how he has approached Chinese leader Xi Jinping and how he approaches strong men in general. So I just want to play some sound here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you trust that we're going to know everything we need to know from China?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do. I do. I have a great relationship with President Xi.

Well, I think China is very, you know, professionally run in the sense that they have everything under control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people don't seem to trust the data coming out of China. Are you worried about that?

TRUMP: Look, I know this, President Xi loves the people of China, he loves his country and he's doing a very good job with a very, very tough situation.


BERMAN: As enamored as he so clearly is with the idea of these strong leaders and his emphasis on his relationships with him, how do you think he will divorce it if he continues to pressure China?

HAASS: Look, the president has this bad habit of over personalizing American foreign policy. So it -- once -- the Chinese, obviously, didn't tell the truth. The World Health Organization, to his discredit -- discredit bought the Chinese line. But the president's got a real problem, whether it's with Putin, whether it's Kim Jong-un in North Korea, whether with Xi Jinping. In every case, he has promised a lot more based on his personal relationship than he's been able to deliver.


These guys don't particularly care. They're looking out after their own national interest, as they see it. So right now we have a situation where China's behaved badly. The president is on record essentially at times supporting them. So the -- well, where -- where do we go with it now? And I think by backing away from the World Health Organization, he's ironically giving the Chinese leadership an opportunity to improve their reputation when, in fact, they ought not to be able to.

BERMAN: Overnight, "The New York Times" and others have reported more on the State Department and the president's dismissal of the inspector general there. They're saying that the secretary of state responded to written questions about a Saudi arms deal.

In general, what do you think the impact in messaging is of dismissing the State Department IG?

HAASS: I would say two things. This is not the first inspector general to be dismissed and it shows again the -- a certain contempt for independence and their rule of law, a certain tolerance, I would argue, of corruption.

In the State Department it's really bad because this is not coming out of nowhere. You've had all sorts of attacks on the foreign service. Recruiting is way down. The State Department is in shambles. And it's part and parcel of a much larger lack of respect for career professionals and the United States is paying a price. In this case, diplomacy is one of the most important tools of American national security and we -- we're increasingly undermining our diplomatic tools.

BERMAN: Diplomacy is just one of the subjects you write about in your new book, "The World: A Brief Introduction." You know, an alternate title could be, everything you always wanted to know about everything but were afraid to ask. It's really an interesting undertaking.

What are you trying to do with this? And who are you trying to reach, and why?

HAASS: Well, thanks for asking.

Look, I -- we were talking a few minutes ago, the world is fundamentally important to the lives of every American. But the problem is so many Americans simply don't have the background they need to understand the world. And that means they're not in a position to hold their elected leaders to account. They may not have the background they need to vote in an informed way. Young people need to make career decisions. Investors need to decide where to invest, businesses, where to build up plants.

And so what I'm trying to do is provide Americans of any age the background, the foundation they need to better understand this world that will shape their lives and to better make decisions, be they political decisions, career decisions or business decisions. I'm trying to narrow the gap between what people know about this world and what I would argue they need to know in order to look out for themselves and to better be -- to better be an informed citizen.

BERMAN: Yes, it creates kind of a global literacy just so when people pick it up, I think they'll be -- they'll be struck by how much you cover in such a relatively short volume. It's a lot of pages, but it's still -- it's almost a history of everything.

One of the things, as we approach this pandemic along the lines of what you write about, people -- some people have suggested, you know, this is going to fundamentally alter the world's structure. We're going to come out of this a much different world than we went in. You're not so sure.

HAASS: I'm not so sure.

Look, the optimist in me would love to sit here and tell you we're going to learn all sorts of lessons, we're going to improve global health machinery, we're all going to start collaborate more. That would be great. But so far I don't see it. More likely we'll come out of this even worse than we came into it.

You'll have all the old security problems, rough U.S.-Chinese relationship, problems with Russia, and then you'll have the whole new set of problems, pandemics, climate change, terrorism, the digital and you will have the United States, which was already pulling back from the world, and we see it with what's going on with the WHO. We've increasingly isolated ourselves. But the United States will be even more inward looking because we're going to have to deal with 25 percent unemployment. So this combination of the old security agenda, all these new challenges, and a United States that's increasingly divorced from the world, that seems to me to be a really toxic brew. So I'm very worried, quite honestly, extremely worried about the next couple of years in the world and what it will mean for us because, again, the basic lesson is what happens in the world is not foreign. Foreign policy is not foreign. It will affect the welfare of every American.

BERMAN: Just very quickly, one last question. For some time, other nations have looked to the United States to take or resume that global leadership role, waiting for the U.S. to step in. Are they still waiting or have they given up?

HAASS: Great question. Some are still waiting, but some are beginning to move on without us. You see it with the Europeans taking the lead on vaccines. China is doing what it's doing, trying to restore its reputation. What is happening is that America first is increasing America alone and the rest of the world is beginning to move on.

BERMAN: Ambassador Richard Haass. The book is "The World: A Brief Introduction." I feel smarter from reading it and just talking to you this morning.

Thanks so much for being with us.

HAASS: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, CDC guidelines are finally out how on how to deal with coronavirus, but something important is missing.


NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The CDC releasing detailed guidelines on how to safely reopen the country.