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New Study Rinds Drug Touted & Taken by Trump is Linked to Increased Risk of Death in Coronavirus Patients; New Cases in Past Week Up in at Least 17 States; CDC Estimates 35 percent of Coronavirus Infections Show No Symptoms; AP: Thousands Recovering from Virus Sent to NY Nursing Homes; Under Trump, FDA Pressed to Fast-Track Potential Treatments; Biden: Regret Saying Voters "Ain't Black" If Supporting Trump. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 22, 2020 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: May they and all of the fallen veterans rest in peace tonight and may their memories be a blessing.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, another major study shows the drug Trump has been touting and taking himself does not cure coronavirus. New data even showing it could be deadly, so why isn't it case closed at the White House?

Plus, were deaths at nursing homes in New York preventable? A new report shows thousands of recovering coronavirus patients were moved to nursing homes, why?

And Joe Biden apologizing for saying black voters 'ain't black if they're considering Trump'. The man who was interviewing Biden when he said that, radio host Charlamagne tha God is my guest.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, deadly consequences. A new warning tonight about the drug that President Trump has been touting and taking himself as recently as this week. One of the most comprehensive studies to date on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine not only found that the drugs did not help coronavirus patients, but that they were also linked to an increased risk of death and heart problems.

This study looked at nearly 96,000 patients across six continents. It's in addition to two other major studies which found that the drugs did not work. And yet today when Dr. Deborah Birx of Trumps coronavirus task force was asked about President Trump taking the drug, she acknowledged the concerns the FDA has with hydroxychloroquine but also said this.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: There are still controlled trials going on both for prophylaxis and pre- exposure prophylaxis and as well as controlled trials looking at in a hospital setting, how these drugs do, and I think those are still pending.


BURNETT: Leaving the door open. I mean, look, there was today's study and, of course, there were also two other studies published in both The New England Journal of Medicine and the JAMA, which is the Journal of the American Medical Association. The two preeminent medical journals in the world along with the Lancet.

Those two journals also had studies showing that the drugs has not helped cure coronavirus, despite also there were multiple others, smaller studies which also show that which is why leaving the door open and why the President sends a dangerous example by touting the drug constantly. I mean, frankly, telling the world that he was taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus.

Because he has a powerful megaphone and he isn't like all the rest of us. He's the president. People listen to him. They can do what he does, even though they don't have all the doctor care he has because he's the president.

So despite the FDA warning against using hydroxychloroquine outside of hospitals, 830,000 prescriptions for the drug's generic versions were filled in March, after the President start talking about it. Just so you understand what I mean about his megaphone that is 80 percent from the same time the year before.

It's clear people were listening to him. But that FDA warning, study after study, has not stopped the President.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I really think it's a great thing to try, just based on what I know.

A lot of good things have come out about the hydroxy. A lot of good things have come out. I've heard a lot of good stories and if it's not good, I'll tell you right.

What do you have to lose? Take it.


BURNETT: "What do you have to lose? Take it." Those were what he just said. The most recent trial, 96,000 people. For some people what they have to lose is their lives. The drug can be deadly and Americans are frankly desperate for answers on what could cure the deadly virus.

So instead of still fostering false hope about hydroxychloroquine, why isn't the President asking for answers on other treatments instead of ever telling anybody what drug to take?

Jeremy Diamond is OUTFRONT live near the White House. And, Jeremy, is there any chance that when you get a study of 96,000 people saying that this can be deadly and kill some people, that would force the President to back away from 'take it' when it comes to hydroxychloroquine?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I certainly wouldn't hold your breath, Erin. You got to keep in mind the fact that the President who announced just a few days ago that he is taking hydroxychloroquine and has been promoting it for months. He's been doing all of that amid mounting evidence that hydroxychloroquine is not an effective treatment for Coronavirus and that in fact it is dangerous and could lead to increased mortality, lead to all of these heart problems.

The president announced just a few days ago that he was taking this drug. That was just a week after this new study that came out last week before today's study, even though today's study is the most comprehensive today, it's certainly not the first to show that there are dangerous effects as it relates to coronavirus.

And, of course, the President in deciding to take this drug, he isn't just taking it. He's using his megaphone, as you were just saying, Erin, to tout its effectiveness and its safety. The President just yesterday was saying look, I've been taking this drug for nearly two weeks. I'm still here as if that is some kind of scientific proof here.

Now, the President today he refused to take questions about hydroxychloroquine and why he's taking this drug.


We did hear though from Dr. Deborah Birx, who as you pointed out, she did echo those warnings from the FDA, which does say that you should not use this outside of a clinical trial or a hospitalized setting. But, Erin, she refused to answer the question about whether or not Americans should be using this drug as a prophylaxis as the President is, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jeremy, thank you very much.

And I want to go right now to Dr. Amit Patel. He is the lead researcher and senior author of this new hydroxychloroquine study, 96,000 people, the most comprehensive we've seen thus far. What is the most important takeaway of your study, Doctor?

DR. AMIT PATEL, LEAD RESEARCHER AND SENIOR AUTHOR OF HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE STUDY: The takeaway is patients who are COVID positive, who are hospitalized, if they are treated with hydroxychloroquine or one of its analogs, they have an increased risk of a bad outcome. And just to put it in simple terms, if you give it to 23 patients, one out of every 23 patients will have something very bad happened to them if they're in the hospital with COVID and they receive these medications.

BURNETT: I mean, look, it's a pretty stunning thing, especially, I'm not putting you in a political position, but you got the President saying, "What do you have to lose? Take it." You're saying one in 23 people can have a severely adverse outcome from taking this. That's what the medical analysis is here.

So what are the sorts of things? I mean, I know we're talking about heart issues and stuff that are happening to people.

PATEL: So the key is once you're hospitalized with COVID, it's a very different patient population than the people who are outside or what they call outpatient or prophylactic. But these patients when they are matched for or whether they have heart disease, high cholesterol, kidney issues, when you take these patients and give them these medications, they're already at high risk. This makes them at an even higher risk.

And the key is the key of what the CDC says outside of a clinical trial, they should not be used. And that's the key or under physician's direction, so that's very important. So when people say, should we stop chloroquine, we have to remember millions of patients have to take it for malaria prophylaxis around the world. So we don't want to be alarmist and scare them.

But patients who go to the hospital who have COVID should not be treated with these medications. So did you find any benefits at all for treating coronavirus with hydroxychloroquine?

PATEL: Not in hospitalized patients.

BURNETT: So absolutely none at all. So then I guess the question is for you, do you think more research needs to be done on the drug when it comes to specifically treatment for people who have coronavirus as opposed to prophylaxis where I know there are ongoing trials?

PATEL: Not in hospitalized patients. I think the key as you said too is in prophylaxis outpatients. It's a very different patient population. There are so many different medications being studied right now and that's the key, being studied.

So instead of just giving medications, going through randomized trials and getting the objective data, studies like ours form the basis of saying how many patients are needed to form mega trials around the world and actually get the best data so we could help the most number of patients, but instead of just scaring them, we don't want to hurt patients while we're trying to just experiment and that's the scariest thing that we're dealing with.

BURNETT: And look, so I guess you're saying this is a black and white issue when it comes to treatment. But when you see an 80 percent increase in scripts, a lot of that is people who were extensively taking it, because they thought that it could take it in advance or like the President had said. How much does that concern you? I know it's unproven yet whether that it will be effective or not, but given the dangers of the drug itself, does it concern you to see just such a huge increase in scripts where a lot of people who probably, to state the obvious, are not in a trial and are not under full doctor monitoring.

PATEL: So I think in order to get a prescription, some physician has to have written it. But the key is the monitoring part and that's the very important thing. If you're in an outpatient, you're not monitored like in a hospital in terms of your EKG, your blood pressure, your heart rate, all of the possible complications or toxicities, hospital you could monitor in a study you try to monitor so that 80 percent increase is very dangerous in unmonitored situations.

And so that is a huge concern with not only these medications, but many other medications that people try to repurpose and say, how about can we just try this because it worked in a lab dish.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Dr. Patel. I appreciate your time and thanks for sharing the bottom line here on this study.

PATEL: Thank you for having me in the show.

BURNETT: I want to go now to Dr. Jonathan Reiner, member of the OUTFRONT medical team. He advised the White House medical team under President George W. Bush, currently the Director of the Cardiac Cath Lab at GW.

So Dr. Reiner, you heard Dr. Patel saying, look, this is a black and white conclusion. No, you should not be using it as a treatment for Coronavirus patients in a hospital.


So what's your reaction to this? I mean, there was no wiggle room, there was no nuance. He was very clear about this.

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes. Let me be even clearer. The only patients who benefit from this drug are patients who have a disease like lupus or some other autoimmune disease. Those are the only patients who we know there is a clearly defined benefit and perhaps people taking for malaria prophylaxis.

No one with COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 or trying to prevent COVID- 19 should take hydroxychloroquine. We know that in sick patients with this, not only does the drug not help, but that it is clearly harmful. So no one with COVID-19 should take this drug unless they're currently enrolled in clinical trial.

In a similar fashion, there is no data right now that supports the notion that taking this either after exposure to the virus or just because you're worried and you want to try and ward off the virus for prophylaxis. There's no data to support the use of this. No one should be taking this drug.

BURNETT: And, all right, so that is very loud and clear. Now, so then I want to ask you about Dr. Birx, because I just played when she was asked about the study today whether she would recommend the drug, she sidestepped the question and said her main takeaway is that and I quote her, "Comorbidity puts individuals at more risk."

I presume she's saying, well, people who already have a heart issue or something and then take it on top of that. And then she mentioned these ongoing studies on hydroxychloroquine. She did not answer the question the way that you did or Dr. Patel who did the study did, why do you think that is?

REINER: Well, her boss casts very, very large shadow. I'll tell you that in Dr. Patel's study, the two groups of people that did particularly poorly in his study were people with increased body weight and increased age. So I particularly would not use the drug in that group or in any group.

But look, it's not her job to spin. She's a scientist. That's what she does best. But the President is a very intimidating presence. We need to hear more from the scientists and physicians without any kind of political pressure on them. We should see press conferences were only people like doctors, Birx and Fauci are.

But in the presence of the President, yes, he makes people spin. That's unfortunate spin. She's really a phenomenal scientist and she's better than that.

BURNETT: All right. Dr. Reiner, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

REINER: My pleasure.

BURNETT: And next, parts of the U.S. seeing a spike tonight in coronavirus cases as the CDC estimates more than a third of cases are asymptomatic.

Plus, the New York state policy that sent thousands of recovering coronavirus patients to nursing homes is under scrutiny tonight. We have a new report.

And the FDA taking heat over who's calling the shots there. Are science and data taking a backseat to politics?



BURNETT: Tonight, some of the first states to reopen seeing a jump in new cases over the past week, Florida and South Carolina cases up by at least 10 percent from this time one week ago, both loosening restrictions more than a month ago. Meanwhile, hotspots like New York and Washington see their cases declining, still under lockdown in those locations. All of this comes as the death toll in the United States has now passed 95,000 lives. Erica Hill is OUTFRONT.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Signs of summer falling into place. Beaches, parks pools open across the country.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got some counters, so we can count people coming in.


HILL (voice-over): Bars in Houston getting a head start Thursday night as Texas lifts more restrictions heading into the holiday weekend.

In Florida, all children's activities, including camp can now resume.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Our kids have been out of organized activities for a couple months now and I think that we need to have a pathway to get it back.


HILL (voice-over): Officials nationwide creating playbooks.


MAYOR PAUL KANITRA (R-NJ), POINT PLEASANT BEACH: Nobody wants to be the mayor from Jaws who lets everybody back in the water a little too soon, right?


HILL (voice-over): Social distancing, the new mandate. Masks the must have accessory.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): It is mandatory that you wear the mask within six feet of another person in public. You don't have a right to infect another person, you don't.


HILL (voice-over): As states ease limits on how many can gather and where, President Trump on Friday declaring houses of worship essential, calling on states to let them open.


TRUMP: If they don't do it, I will override the governors.


HILL (voice-over): Rhode Island's Governor adamant, it won't happen in her state this weekend.


GOV. GINA RAIMONDO (D-RI): Honestly, that would be reckless. It's Friday. They're not ready.


HILL (voice-over): Montgomery, Alabama emerging as a new hotspot.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR STEVEN REED (D-AL), MONTGOMERY: I think that we've been a little

bit premature in our reopening of the economy. In Alabama, I think, that's led to the spike. We've seen our numbers consistently go up.

DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: It's been smoldering. We've had a lid on it, but it is now really having the potential to get out of control.


HILL (voice-over): New cases in the city nearly doubling since the beginning of the month. Another reminder that as the rules change across the country, the virus has not.


BIRX: You can see the top three states are Maryland, the District and Virginia. And so there is still significant virus circulating here.


HILL (voice-over): Minnesota, Nebraska, Chicago and Los Angeles also on the task force radar. Just nine states showing a decline in new cases over the past week, as the CDC now estimates 35 percent of infections are asymptomatic.


CUOMO: I know the weather is warmer. I know people have been cooped up. I know there's tremendous energy to get out. You have to remain vigilant.



HILL: And Erin, that is certainly the messaging here, not just in New York state but in New York City, which of course has not entered into a phase one of reopening. Mayor Bill de Blasio, though, today is saying that if social distancing continues and if the numbers continue to go in the right direction if they continue to go down, that New York City could consider moving into phase one in the first or second week of June.

BURNETT: All right. Erica, thank you very much.


And I want to go now to Dr. Richard Besser. He's the former Acting Director of the CDC. Dr. Besser, good to have you back. So I want to show, again, that graphic which is the average of new daily cases over the week. So some states in the south have emerged as potential hotspots, hospitals in Montgomery, Alabama running out of ICU beds. We talked to one doctor yesterday and he was telling us one hospital literally does not have any space now.


BURNETT: They're saying double what they would normally see in terms of people who are sick. Do you think we're looking at a second wave in some of these states or is it too early to tell?

BESSER: Well, Erin, in some of these states, it may be in a sense of first wave. Many of these places weren't hit as hard as places in the northeast and out in California and Seattle. But if you look at the criteria that the White House laid out in terms of when it might be safe to think about loosening up some of these restrictions, one of the key ones is that you have to have excess room in your hospital system, not just to take care of patients with COVID, but we've had these conversations before.

Think of all of the people with medical problems, heart disease, diabetes, cancer who haven't had these things taken care of because of COVID. You don't want to be close to the edge in terms of your ICU capacity and start sending people out so that there's going to be increased exposure pressure on the system.

BURNETT: So when the CDC now estimates 35 percent of coronavirus infections could be asymptomatic. Obviously, this is their estimate, but this is based on all of the work that they've been doing. In a sense that seemed like a lot less than we might have thought. At one point I think people were saying it could be half.

I mean, when you see out here 35 percent, what do you think and do you think it's accurate?

BESSER: Well, it's a number that's being used for planning scenarios and I think as we get more information, more data, we'll be able to get a better handle on that. But in order to really understand that number, you're going to have to be doing that antibody testing with really good tests across thousands and thousands of people in many places and that hasn't been done.

For planning purposes, 35 percent, fine, that's a significant number. It may be higher, it may be lower than that. But what it tells us is that a lot of people walking around may have COVID and wearing masks is really important and you want to see that message coming all the way from the top down through public health so that people are really doing it.

BURNETT: Of course, and Dr. Birx did wear her mask today as she has been doing, but at the podium President has made it clear he won't. Just moments ago, I want to ask you, Dr. Besser, researchers just published data from the first major trial of that antiviral drug remdesivir. And we had seen the headline results, which is that it had some effectiveness in terms of the length of how - that people got better more quickly and the data just came out now.

So it shortened the illness from an average of 15 days to about 11 days. But they did say it was not a cure and did not act quickly. So the conclusion that they're actually saying now is that that drug alone is not enough. I remember when that first came out, that caused a big market reaction. People were sort of thinking this could be a big thing. It seems like they're making it very clear tonight that it's - it is what it is, it's not going to carry it.

BESSER: Right. Yes. It points to the importance of really waiting until the scientific papers are out. I haven't seen that paper yet. But when the study came out, the benefits that they talked about were real, but small. And I think what we're going to probably see is a number of drugs that come down the pike that provides some value, but not the total value and maybe some combination that provides more.

The other piece of it is we have to ensure that when there are treatments, vaccines and other drugs, that they're being made available to everybody in all communities, because when we talk about these big differences in death rates among black Americans, Latinos and Native Americans, you don't want that to be due to differences in treatment that have occurred chronically over history.

BURNETT: Right. All right. Thank you very much, Dr. Besser, I appreciate your time.

BESSER: It's a pleasure, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, thousands of patients were sent to nursing homes in New York as they recovered from coronavirus. Was it an incredibly deadly mistake?

And new questions tonight about the FDA. The President's politics influencing the agency that is supposed to be approving drugs, moving things forward because of science alone.



BURNETT: Tonight, a new report from The Associated Press shows more than 4,300 people were moved to New York's nursing homes as they recovered from coronavirus. Nearly, 6,000 people died in nursing homes across the state. And the real question now is could plenty of those deaths have been prevented? Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT.



CUOMO: Nursing homes are the single biggest fear in all of this.


Jason Carroll, CNN correspondent(voice-over): In the midst of the coronavirus crisis last month, New York's Governor said the medical evidence showed where people were suffering and dying the most in the state.


CUOMO: Vulnerable people in one place, it is the feeding frenzy for this virus.


CARROLL (voice-over): Despite those words, critics say one of the Governor's executive orders ended up hurting rather than helping those most in need. That former directive asked nursing homes to take recovering COVID patients even if those patients had not first been tested to see if they were clear of the virus.

Now, The Associated Press reports more than 4,300 recovering coronavirus patients were returned to nursing homes in the state following the march 25 executive order. The State Department of Health says they're still trying to verify their numbers. CNN has not been able to independently confirm the number of patients discharged from hospitals to nursing homes. Stuart Almer is the CEO of the Gurwin Jewish Nursing Home in Long Island.


STUART ALMER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, GURWIN JEWISH: It might have been more of a rush to find a solution during a crisis.


CARROLL (voice-over): Almer says under the Governor's directive, his facility had to take in 58 recovering COVID patients from hospitals.


ALMER: The mandate came and it just took things to another level. It was almost a cascading effect of events.



CARROLL (voice-over): Palmer says 53 residents from his nursing died from COVID-19, but he says it's unclear if any of those deaths were a direct result from accepting recovering patients.

Others in the long-term care industry not surprised so many recovering COVID patients ended up in nursing homes.

DR. ELAINE HEALY, VICE PRESIDENT OF MEDICAL AFFAIRS, UNITED HEBREW OF NEW ROCHELLE: The focus was really 100 percent on the hospitals and the nursing homes, I always feel that we're sort of an afterthought.

CARROLL: Under intense criticism and almost two months after the governor initiated that controversial directive, he reversed it on May 10th and required testing of nursing home residents once a week and staff twice a week.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: We're just not going to send a person who is positive to a nursing home after a hospital visit. Period.

CARROLL: According to the state health department, over the past two months, there are more than 3,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths among residents at care facilities in the state.

This week, the governor responding to critics saying the former mandate was partly based on not only a critical need for hospital beds at the time, but also on federal guidelines which advised nursing homes should accept COVID-19-positive patients if they could care for them.

CUOMO: Anyone who wants to ask why did the state do that with COVID patients and the nursing home, it's because the state followed President Trump's CDC guidance.

CARROLL: The administration today showing troubling numbers of COVID cases at care facilities nationwide and again asking states to do more testing.

BIRX: To encourage governors that test 100 percent of the nursing home residents and staff because many of our outbreaks that we have seen over the last two months have started in nursing homes.

CARROLL: But some health care experts say looking forward, what is needed are more than CDC guideline, but a national policy addressing COVID-19 at nursing homes.

PROFESSOR DON TAYLOR, DUKE UNIVERSITY: What concerns me most is that the country hasn't learned enough from the mistake and we don't have a national testing strategy for nursing homes.


CARROLL: And, Erin, those that we spoke to in the nursing care industry tell us that going forward what would really help them whether it be at the state level or at the federal level would be to have more of a seat at the table when policies about their industry is being made -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jason, thank you very much.

And I want to go now to Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim of Queens, New York, which has been battered with more than 900 confirmed or suspected coronavirus deaths in nursing homes.

Assemblyman Kim, I appreciate your time tonight, and, of course, you know, you do represent an area with some of the most nursing home deaths in the state. When you hear that more than 4,300 people who are recovering from the coronavirus were sent back to nursing homes, what's your reaction?

ASSEMBLYMAN RON KIM (D), QUEENS, NY: I was absolutely shocked that the state of New York sent so many people back to nursing homes when nursing homes aren't hospitals. These are COVID-positive patients that should have been treated at hospitals or other facilities that were equipped to take them in, and everyone was shocked at that time, and many of us pushed back, wrote letters to the Department of Health and asked them to stop the policy and transfer those patients out.

And other states who initially put in those orders scaled back immediately, recognizing the mistakes that they made. But it took us about two months to recognize that error, and it cost a lot of lives in that time period.

BURNETT: And, you know, when Governor Cuomo was asked about this, his office says that the state order they're saying was based on federal guidelines and it's almost identical to policies in other -- dozens of other states. It sounds like other states reversed course and New York didn't.

I mean, what do you say to the governor?

KIM: I mean, other states not only reversed their course, they went the other way and banned COVID-positive patients from entering nursing homes. I mean, that is -- that was our duty as a state. The nursing home residents have fundamental rights that was protected by federal and state guidelines and state statutes.

You know, there is a thing called the Bill of Rights for Residents as should have been enforced and strengthened during this COVID-19 crisis and you can completely waive those rights and violate a lot of people's ability to protect themselves. I told the governor that, you know, he should have -- he should have listened early on and he should have reversed the order early on and gone in a different direction.

But, you know, there will be plenty of time to figure out why he did this and made the mistake, but right now we need to move forward and get this right because we could be potentially facing a second wave.



KIM: And we need to get this right before the second wave hits our most vulnerable populations.

BURNETT: But, you know, I guess -- I guess when you look at 4,300 people recovering from the virus and put in nursing homes and these outbreaks that happened, I mean, is it fair to say would deaths have been prevented had this been a different policy?

KIM: I think there are different factors that went into this decision making. Around the same time that this executive order was issued the state of New York also issued a blanket corporate immunity for nursing homes and nursing home executives. So, meaning, we were one of 12 states that gave them corporate blanket immunity. So while they're taking in COVID-positive, they knew they couldn't be prosecuted or they couldn't be sued by third parties.

So, it's a combination of all those things that I think led to this tragic moment and now we must learn from the mistakes and stop, you know, passing the buck on to other people and we just need to have ownership as a state and we have different laws that we're proposing to achieve that. You know, let's make sure that the buck stops at some point with some leader that we can rely on and stop engaging in the blame game. Somebody needs to step up and take ownership. If we made a mistake we should admit it and move forward and make sure we get this right.

BURNETT: Do you think bottom line it would help that Governor Cuomo admits more the mistakes he made?

KIM: I think it would be helpful to the thousands of lives including myself. I lost my uncle in April in the middle of helping hundreds of other, you know, local families who couldn't communicate with someone in the nursing home. I lost my uncle in that process. So, I share that trauma and pain and other thousands of families who lost loved ones and I think all of us -- all we are waiting for is the leader to step up and say, if they made a mistake, just admit, and I think we are willing to forgive the governor. We're all going to accept that no one is perfect in these places.

But what's important is that we don't get fixated on bad decisions and that we need to grow out of this and learn immediately to move forward in the right direction.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time, Assemblyman Kim. Sorry for your loss. And thank you very much.

KIM: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, where does the FDA draw the line between science and politics?

And Joe Biden walking back this comment tonight.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you have a hard time figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black.


BURNETT: The man he was speaking to, Charlamagne Tha God, OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: The Food and Drug Administration responding to the coronavirus pandemic at breakneck speed. They've been examining vaccines, dozens of treatments and issuing decisions very quickly. And critics tonight are saying that the FDA in doing some of this may be more driven by politics than the actual science.

Sara Murray is OUTFRONT.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Up against the deadly coronavirus every decision at the Food and Drug Administration is like walking a tightrope between speed and safety.

DR. STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: We are leaving no stone unturned. MURRAY: But critics say those decisions have at times appeared to be

more motivated by politics and data, particularly as President Trump politicizes research.


MURRAY: And brazenly touts a drug with potentially deadly side effects.

TRUMP: A lot of people swear by it, it's got a bad reputation only because I'm promoting it.

MURRAY: FDA commissioner, Dr. Stephen Hahn, told CNN in an interview that science and data are his North Star guiding the coronavirus response. Some of the science and data aren't perfect in emergency situation, Hahn said. You make the best with the information you have at hand.

Along the way, the agency issued high-profile reversals and revisions. The agency walked back strict rules for developers after complaints that the regulations were making it hard to scale up testing. It cracked down on antibody test makers, but only after first allowing unproven tests on the market. And it allowed the use of Chinese-made N95 masks in health care settings, only to reverse course and ban many of them.

But the most public battle has been over hydroxychloroquine, an anti- malaria drug seen early on as the potential coronavirus treatment.

HAHN: That's the drug that the president has directed us to take a closer look at.

MURRAY: The FDA granted the drug in emergency use authorization in March, citing anecdotal evidence that it could be effective. One former top FDA official told CNN it's an impossible political situation. They were artful with their wording making it clear they thought it was B.S.

Another former FDA chief scientist said the politicized environment would have been tough for any FDA head to navigate.

DR. STEPHEN OSTROFF, FORMER FDA CHIEF SCIENTIST: That's a situation where there is a tremendous amount of pressure being applied and when there's all of this outside noise, you know that there are things that are going on outside of FDA that are driving the pressure to make certain decisions.

MURRAY: Last month, the FDA warned of the drug's dangerous possible side effects, and a large observational study published today determined seriously ill COVID-19 patients treated with the drug were more likely to die or developed dangerous heart arrhythmias. A whistleblower at Health and Human Services alleged pressure for short- term political victory by trying to get federal health officials to encourage the widespread use of hydroxychloroquine. RICHARD BRIGHT, FORMER DIRECTOR, BIOMEDICAL ADVANCED RESEARCH AND

DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: There were some attempts to bypass that vigorous betting process.

MURRAY: A charge Trump and the FDA denied.

Hahn who took the helm at the FDA just two weeks before the coronavirus emerged from China insisted he wasn't pressured into authorizing the use of hydroxychloroquine. I stand by our decisions because I think they're rooted in science and data and we'll continue to reevaluate, Hahn said.


MURRAY: Now, Erin, I also asked Dr. Hahn what he made in the fact that President Trump was taking hydroxychloroquine. He said doctors are free to write prescriptions or approve drugs for off-label uses and ultimately, this was a decision between President Trump and his doctor. Back to you.


BURNETT: All right. Sara, thank you very much.

And next, Joe Biden is backtracking on this --


BIDEN: If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black.


BURNETT: He was speaking to radio host Charlamagne Tha God who is OUTFRONT next.

And the president's new culture war in the midst of a pandemic, threatening governors as he pushes to reopen houses of worship.


BURNETT: Tonight, Joe Biden saying he regrets a comment he made about the black vote. Here's what he said.


CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, RADIO HOST: It's a long way until November. We've got more questions.

BIDEN: You've got more questions. But I tell you, if you've got a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: It has nothing to do with Trump, it has to do with the fact I want something for my community.


BURENETT: OUTFRONT now, Charlamagne tha God, who you just saw there interviewing Biden on his radio show, "The Breakfast Club".

And, Charlamagne, it's good to be with you.


Hopefully in person at some point.


BURNETT: Obviously not this time.

But -- look, I want to play more of your exchange, because it was lengthy exchange, and there was a lot of substance in there. But, obviously, it's that moment which has gotten so much attention here.

What was your initial reaction when you heard people say, quote, if you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: My initial reaction was exactly what I said. You know, that's what my focus was. You know, it's not about Trump. It's about who is going to present the best deal for black people, who's going to have economic justice plan for black people. Who is going to finally give black people what they are owed for building this country.

You know, slavery was America's original sin. And this country has not repented for. You know, the systemic wrong that have been done to the black community, you have to create legislation, policy and plans to counter that. I'm on board with whoever is offering that. I vote my interest and my interests are black, period. So, what I said to him, that was my initial reaction.

BURNETT: So, you're saying, though, and, you know, I just want to make this clear because I know all the Democratic candidates came through your show. But are you saying you are open then to voting for Trump, like a choices are Trump and Biden? So --

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Oh, no, I'm definitely not saying that. Just being that black people have been so loyal to the Democratic Party, and, you know, we saved Joe Biden's political life in the primaries this year. I feel like, you know, they owe. Simple as that.

You know, I'm not going to vote for the person that -- if -- just saying if I was a woman, right, I was dating a guy, the guy I've been dealing with longest, that's who I'll go to and ask something of. That is new person may try to woo me but can't take him serious. I'm going to the person that I feel I owe something to. That's how I look at it.

BURNETT: I understand what you're saying, OK, you're not going to vote for Trump but don't take it for granted. Don't just say because I'm here --

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Don't take it for granted.

BURNETT: -- I'm going to vote for you. That's the moment that everyone was talking about. But this was about -- in your interview, you had about 18 minutes where you were specifically talking about Biden's agenda for black America. And I just wanted to play a brief clip of that so people can understand more of the substance of your conversation.


CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: A lot of black voters, including myself feel that Democrats take black voters for granted.

BIDEN: I want a larger share of the black vote than anybody has, including Barack. They are the folks, as they say, my way, brung me to the dance. That's how I get elected.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: We had Hillary on a few years ago, and Ms. Clinton said that the crime bill, we made a lot of mistakes with that and she wanted to atone for that by becoming the next president, like --

BIDEN: She was wrong. What happened was -- it wasn't the crime bill, it was the drug legislation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks so much, that's really our time. I apologize.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: You can't do that to black media.

BIDEN: You won't do that to white media and black media because my wife has to go on 6:00.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Listen, you've got to come see us when you come to New York, VP Biden.

BIDEN: I will.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: It's a long way until November. We've got more questions.

BIDEN: You've got more questions. But I'm telling you, if you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black.


BURNETT: All right. So, that included someone on his team trying to cut in, saying thanks so much for your time, I apologize, trying to end it.

What was your overall takeaway from the conversation?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: My overall takeaway from the conversation was I heard him talking about things he did for black people back in the day. But, you know, what have you done for me lately is my motto, you know? I see black communities across America catching hell regardless of who is in the White House.

And, you know, people like to bring up coronavirus and how it's hitting black people hardest. Well, that's because we have underlying conditions created by systemic racism that have never been fixed, you know?

And like I said before, if you created legislation that hurts, then you have to create legislation that helps. It's just that simple. Like the whole system needs to be dismantle and rebuilt. And he's been a very intricate part of that system. You know, whether you're talking about in '84 with mandatory minimum sentences for drug dealers, or you're talking about '86 with crack laws that give you more time for crack cocaine and powder cocaine.

Or you're talking about the '94 crime bill, like he was, you know --


CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: -- really one of the people on the front line when it came to the war on drugs and mass incarceration.

So, I think that, you know, if he wants to be president, he needs to fix that. He needs to really, really, you know, help the people who have helped Democrats all of these years.

BURNETT: So, Charlamagne, you know, later on today, he -- he walked back his comment at call with U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce this afternoon, and specifically about the idea that just because you're black, you would vote for him as a Democrat.

Here's part of what he said to them.


BIDEN: I shouldn't have been such a wise guy. I shouldn't have been so cavalier. No one, no one should have to vote for any party based on their race or religion or background.


BURNETT: I mean, so that's -- that's what you're saying, but you're saying he still hasn't shown you why you would vote for him specifically.


CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Yeah. I mean, it's that simple. Like he has black agenda called Lift Every Voice -- Lift Every Voice plan.

I mean, there are some cool things in there but I still think could be much stronger. He's already committed to having a black woman on the Supreme Court and I think that, you know, a black woman running mate is necessary, especially after today, you know?

Statement he made was interesting, you know, because that's something I hear from other black people. Interesting to see old white man also looks at black people that way. Like that question, what makes somebody black? That's a discussion for black people to have, you know? And a white man is not qualified to have that discussion.

But people do connect blackness to support and protection of black culture, so I guess when we see a black person voting for Trump and you know Trump is a threat to marginalized people in the country, it does make question how much that person cares about his people. So, I understand the statement just from old white man like Joe Biden. It's a real bulwark moment if you've seen that movie.

BURNETT: All right. Well, appreciate it, Charlamagne. I always like talking to you. Yes.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: And I like talking to you. It's very important he makes a black woman his running mate, you know? There's too many sisters overqualified for the position -- Stacey Abrams of Georgia, Val Demings of Florida, you know, Senator Kamala Harris. Like it's just too many sisters out there for him to just look past.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Charlamagne, thanks. I know he did tell you today there were multiple black women being considered.


BURNETT: So, that was -- that was the latest there.

All right. Thanks as always. I'll talk to you soon.


BURNETT: And next, Trump's spokesperson takes jab at media and their religious beliefs.


KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's interesting to be in room that desperately wants to seem to see these churches and houses of worship stay closed.


BURNETT: The reporter who challenged her on that is my guest.

And how can people stay safe during the holiday weekend?