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Trump Denies Being Briefed About Russian Bounties on U.S. Troops; Five Thousand People a Day Being Admitted to Texas Hospitals; Trump Retweets, Then Deletes Video of Man Yelling "White Power". Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 29, 2020 - 07:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: In the consequences, if these reports are true of not taking action or not issuing a public condemnation.

CLAPPER: Well, this is bad messaging all the way around. Certainly, it just encourages the Russians to be more aggressive whether in Afghanistan or other places against U.S. interests. And as well, it encourages other bad -- international bad guys. For example, with Iranians or the North Koreans, to be similarly aggressive since it appears that -- again, assuming this is valid, that the Russians got away with this.

BERMAN: We've heard from several members of Congress including Republicans, that they want answers. What are the most important questions outstanding to answer to you?

CLAPPER: Well, I think what the Congress -- if again, this is kind of curious, too, if the Congress has not already been briefed on this, which under normal, air quotes, circumstances, they most certainly would be. So the first thing, the Congress should ask for, I think, is a briefing. And of course, speak to the credibility of the reporting and, whether -- you know, whether or not it's valid or not.

BERMAN: Director James Clapper, we appreciate you being with us, helping us understand the process here and sort of the inconsistencies in the process that we're seeing now. Thanks so much.

CLAPPER: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: So coronavirus hospitalizations in Texas have soared, doubling over the last month.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These patients are very sick. These are patients that are about to die.


BERMAN: CNN takes you inside a Houston hospital on the front lines of the fight against the virus. That's next.



ERICA HILL, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: The number of new coronavirus cases in Texas has spiked from an average of about 2,000 a day to more than 5,000 being reported each day. And right now, as many as 5,000 people are being admitted to hospitals each day. CNN's Miguel Marquez takes us inside one of the busiest hospitals in Houston. And Miguel, I'm guessing that what you found is a little scary.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, it is -- it is memories of New York City all over again, from a couple of months ago. This is a hospital that is very busy. They also do testing on their own. And I want to show you something. It is two and a half hours until the testing here opens. They have tested about 85,000 people. This is the line. The first car got in here at 1:00 a.m.

This hospital at five different locations has tested about 85,000 people. Their positivity rate is running at about 13 percent. The lone star states is staring down a public health crisis.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Houston, Texas, now home to a major coronavirus outbreak. A procedure all too common when treating the most seriously ill with the virus. This patient on a ventilator, the breathing tube being replaced to improve oxygen flow to the lungs.

The tube pulled out, caked with dried secretions from the lungs rife with the coronavirus. The new tube immediately improves oxygen flow.


MARQUEZ: So that was --

VARON: We cut to change the tube on somebody that has no oxygen. People have -- his tube was malfunctioning. Because I know at the end, it was ruptured, so he was not getting enough oxygen.

MARQUEZ: United Memorial Medical Center, a 117-bed hospital serving a mostly working class community in north Houston, some things we've seen elsewhere on a ventilator, a patient's chance for survival goes down. Way down.

VARON: The problem is that once you intubate them, the chances of them leaving the hospital are less than 20 percent.

MARQUEZ: Unlike other hospitals we've seen, this facility is transforming itself into a sort of COVID specialty center. VARON: The last three weeks, I have seen more admissions and sick

patients than on the previous 10 weeks. So it's been an exponential increase on the severity of illness and in the number of cases that we admit.

MARQUEZ: Its COVID unit expanding way beyond its intensive care unit by turning whole sections of the hospitals into temporary air-tight chambers, creating negative pressure zones to keep the airborne virus moving up and out. And strict protocols are in place for moving in and out of these zones. Everyone must have a test for coronavirus before entering, even journalists, and protective gear now so abundant that everyone triples up. Some employees getting through eight sets or more of PPE in a single shift.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, this is for the people that you're treating? So they know what you look like.

MARQUEZ: In the hundred days, they've been treating patients with coronavirus, only one nurse has developed the sickness. She's now being treated by her own colleagues.

(on camera): You are the front line worker in the battle against COVID. And you now have it?

TANNA INGRAHAM, ICU NURSE, UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER: Yes, and it's -- I wouldn't wish this on my own enemy. Because I hurt, from here all the way down, the base of my neck and it's -- and getting any sleep is almost like -- it's impossible.


MARQUEZ: She's not sure how she got it, but thinks that may have been a patient who had stopped breathing, and despite multiple layers of PPEs, the physical effort to save his life may have put her own at risk.

INGRAHAM: I was coding him. And as I was pushing down, air was coming, but that's the only position I could do it with.

MARQUEZ: The isolation of the disease difficult to deal with, even for someone who knows what to expect. Her thoughts now with her 9 and 10-year-old daughters.

(on camera): What would you say to Madeleine and Abigail right now?

INGRAHAM: Baby, mommy loves you and misses you. I hope you're having a great time in California -- OK, I'm done.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The lone star state now in a full-blown surge with coronavirus cases and hospitalizations rising at alarming rates. In Travis County, Austin's Convention Center is preparing to host a coronavirus emergency care facility. Bear County, home to San Antonio, saw a more than 600 percent increase in hospitalizations in June.

And in Houston, hospitals are nearing capacity and preparations are underway to turn NRG Park where the Houston Texans play back into an emergency medical facility. It was taken down in April.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): If I could go back and redo anything, it probably would have been to slow down the opening of bars.

MARQUEZ: Texas now reversing parts of its aggressive effort to reopen its economy. Bars now closed again throughout the state.


MARQUEZ: Mohamed Alam owns two night clubs in Houston, both now closed until further notice. He's now fighting for his life.

(on camera): How do you think you got COVID?

ALAM: When the club opens, and I have customers(ph), they like to give me a hug and everything. So they tried to give me a hug or shake hands or maybe they were paying the money, counting the money.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Today, United Memorial Medical Center is at about 80 percent capacity.

VARON: Please understand, these patients are very sick. These are patients that are about to die. So we have to admit them. And once they're here, in spite of everything that we do, I mean, they have to stay in the hospital anywhere between five to ten days, at a minimum. So those beds will be occupied for a period of five to ten days. So sooner or later, within the next two weeks, we're going to be at full house.

MARQUEZ: Dr. Varon, who has now worked for more than a hundred days without stop has become a sort of coronavirus specialist. For now, it appears to be paying off, 96 percent of patients admitted to the hospital, he says, beats the disease.

VARON: COVID is a very fluid illness. It's an illness that changes. And what I knew four months ago is completely different than what I do now. The way I treated patients two months ago is a 100 percent different than what I do now.

MARQUEZ (on camera): And does it still surprise you? Does the disease still do things that make you scratch your head?

VARON: Every single day, I get surprised. Every day.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Dr. Varon now aggressively attacking inflammation and blood clotting, using everything from vitamins, physically rotating patients, antibiotics, hydroxychloroquine for some, even stem cells soon. Anything from having to put patients on a ventilator. The virus still confounding doctors and surprising those trying to avoid getting it.

This husband and wife who did not want their names used now share a room in the coronavirus unit here. They say they did everything, staying home, wearing masks and keeping their distance from others. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a little bit scary. I wish that people

would take it more seriously. They should take it more seriously. You can't -- you can't trust people just because they look healthy, because a lot of people are walking around looking healthy and they're not healthy.

MARQUEZ: It's the biggest challenge. Those that don't know they have it are giving it to others, making them sick, and possibly killing them.

VARON: In Houston, we have two types of patients, those that have COVID and those who will get COVID. My concern as a healthcare provider is that when they get sick, they don't all come to me at the same time, which is what's happening at the present time. And that's what's going to kill patients because we won't have enough resources.


HILL: Well, Miguel, such a great report. And I'm just -- I'm fascinated by Dr. Varon and in awe of him that he's been doing this for a hundred days. So many things he said stood out, but especially the fact that they're still learning so much about this disease. And that's what I know doctors have said to me is they almost can't keep up because the research is so new. They're all trying to share the information and yet they're swamped at the same time.

MARQUEZ: They are. And he is doing everything he can. He throws everything at every patient in the most aggressive way to keep them off that ventilator. So much of what he's seeing here is what we saw in New York a couple of months ago.


That idea that if they get swamped here and at other hospitals and in Houston and across the state, it won't necessarily be the disease itself that kills people, it will be that they can't ever get to them. One very quick frightening statistic. this hospital is still open for regular people. If you come here for a hang-nail or a heart attack, they give people -- everyone gets a coronavirus test. They are finding that 47 percent of people who come here for other things have the virus. That's how much virus is out there that we don't know about.

BERMAN: Miguel, I have to say, first of all, you're a friend of mine, so I always get nervous when I see you inside these hospitals. But this was an amazing report. It's an amazing report. It's amazing to go inside these hospitals and see what you are seeing and tell these stories. And the similarities between what you are seeing here in Houston with what you saw in New York City, what, two months ago? Staggering! Just staggering!

And what concerns me is what you heard from those doctors and what we're hearing from public health experts, the worst is yet to come. We may be two or three weeks away from the peak in these hospitals.

MARQUEZ: They have -- in New York, they had a somewhat better idea of where the peak was and how it was moving. Here, there is no clue. They have no sense of where the peak is. They don't know how much virus is out there. These lines of people waiting, they have lines every single day at every single facility. They've tested 85,000 people total so far.

They're at about 13 percent positivity rate, that's also across the states. The guideline was that it had to be at 6 percent or lower before you could start reopening. They never really got to that and now they're at 13 percent. They don't know where the top is. It is really terrifying here.

HILL: Yes, it really is, great reporting, Miguel, really appreciate it. Thank you. So why is President Trump retweeting a video thanking, quote, "great people who are chanting 'white power'"? We discuss, next.



BERMAN: President Trump's retweet of a video showing his supporters shouting "white power" twice. The president thanking the quote, "great people" in the video, and then hours later, he deleted it. Joining us now is CNN political analyst David Gregory and CNN political commentator Angela Rye; former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus.

So, in a statement, the White House Press Secretary Gidley actually said, he didn't hear the statement made on the video. What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters. What's interesting, Angela, is that nowhere in that statement is the "white power" statement denounced. Nowhere does the White House try to remove itself from people chanting "white power" who are supporting the president.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, and I think that it would be unfortunate if any of us were surprised by that. Donald Trump started his campaign in 2016 based on hate and fear, and fear mongering. And people would say there were dog whistles involved and many of us said there were bullhorns involved.

So, I hope that there aren't too many of us who are surprised that Donald Trump endorsing or embracing in some way people who believe in white power ideology. I have for a long time said that Donald Trump is a racist, and at the very least, traffics in racism. And I think that is exactly what we're seeing in this country. It is not new to us that the country is divided, but someone who would exacerbate this type of division particularly in a climate like this, I think is really toxic and dangerous.

You see this same person post FBI wanted posters of, you know, young black people who want to take down statues of people who they believe are also white supremacist. Instead of spending his time trying to get coronavirus in check to ensure that his potential voting base and above all, all Americans can survive. So this is this president and this is exactly why I refuse to claim him. BERMAN: I have to tell you, the president of the United States

disseminating a message of white power, an explicit message of white power. He denies he saw it, but he still disseminated an explicit message of white power, that should always be stunning to Americans no matter what they have seen in the past from this president. And David Gregory, that aside, it's the dissonance, it's the dissonance right now with that message to what the rest of America seems to be saying in words and in action. Mississippi overnight voting to remove the Confederate symbol from its state flag.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Mississippi, Princeton University, taking a step that it resisted about four years ago, removing Woodrow Wilson's name from its heralded school on foreign affairs. It's complete dissonance, and I think, you know, I agree with what was said about the president. I mean, he not only -- he doesn't take any opportunity to distance himself from a claim of white power.

They dance around whether or not he knew what he was -- that he heard it, this kind of thing. It's very simple as a leader to get up and say I reject it, I don't want anything to do with that sentiment. He doesn't do that. So at the very least, he plays kind of, you know, loose with all of this. And again, he is separate from a conversation that's going on without him, about the question of race and equity in the country, that citizens are having, that corporations are having, that all kinds of organizations are having, that activists are leading. That he's really on the sidelines, and worse during all of that.

HILL: On the sidelines and also actively working to protect these statues, right? That this is the focus, Angela, is protecting a statue as opposed to, you know, as you both pointed out, as opposed to protecting Americans on a daily basis, not just from issues of systemic racism, but also from the coronavirus.


RYE: Which you know, in a lot of ways, we can acknowledge now has some disproportionate impact based on systemic oppression and racism in this country. So again, I say this is not surprising to me. He has verbatim said racist things. He has targeted black women in elected office. He's targeted our own April Ryan in the press room.

These are not just suggestive. They are rooted in what he really believes. The fact that he has been able to distance himself from people who have said racist things at his rally. The types of racism he's engaged in, calling black men thugs, calling NFL players who protest SOBs, none of this is by mistake. And so I think it's really incumbent upon us to be responsible with the platforms we all have and acknowledge him for what he is.

He was when he began his campaign, racist, he was after he was elected, racist, and he continues to be exactly who he was. Now, we can say what everybody else in the country is changing, but the fact of the matter is, people have called for this long before the last person was killed by police. We have been fighting this fight for 400- plus years, right? And so, at some point, we all have to take responsibility, whether it was implicit or explicit, we have a racism problem in this country, and Donald Trump is just splashing around in it.

BERMAN: Yes, you need to be able to say it's wrong in and of itself. Tim Scott said yesterday it's wrong --

RYE: Yes, I understand --

BERMAN: In and of itself. Whether or not it's working is a separate matter, David. I'm sorry to interrupt you.

GREGORY: No, I think, you know, and there's the larger question that you phrased about dealing with the pandemic. You know, in a political context, in an election year, Adam Nagourney has a piece in "The New York Times" who quotes an independent voter who says every time the president opens his mouth, he causes trouble, and that's turning this particular voter off.

And I think that's such a distillation of so many of the problems for President Trump. But at the moment, the fact that it's a question of basic competence, can the federal government working with state officials protect people from a pandemic? A lack of competence in government engenders a swift backlash politically. And I think that's what the president is facing here because in the middle of all of this, not only is he not constructive on this conversation about race, he's quite the opposite. He's also not dealing with job number one, which is protecting people.

BERMAN: You know, Chris Christie with George Stephanopoulos yesterday, David Gregory, we don't have the exact bite right now, basically said the president is losing because of --


BERMAN: What he's saying, the way he's saying it and what he's doing. That's a pretty broad condemnation from someone who supported you in your last election.

GREGORY: Yes, there's no question. I mean, there's just a collapse that you're seeing. But again, it's a mistake politically to count Donald Trump out. So many of us did that back in 2016. There's still a path if you look at the economy, if there's some kind of rebound where he could build on a base to try to put together some kind of election victory.

But at the moment, we see him collapsing around competence, around swing voters, around minorities for sure, young people and those suburban voters who he relied on before. You look at that battleground polling, last time we talked a new slated battleground polls in states that he won, we're seeing that support collapse. And to me, the biggest indicator is his own behavior. His own erratic behavior. It's always been erratic.

But you see him take on a kind of siege mentality because I think of his fear of his political standing right now.

BERMAN: David Gregory, Angela Rye, thank you both very much for being with us this morning, appreciate the discussions --

GREGORY: Thanks.

BERMAN: NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over half of the country seeing coronavirus cases surge this weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think unfortunately the stay-at-home measures need to be re-enacted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Officials are calling on governors to roll out state-wide mask mandates.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are scientific evidence that masks, they'll keep you from infecting others, but may also partially protect you from getting infected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish the president would wear a mask. Millions of Americans admire him and they would follow his lead.

ALEX AZAR, SECRETARY OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES: This is a very serious situation, and the window is closing for us to take action and get this under control.


BERMAN: Good morning everyone, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY, Alisyn is off, Erica Hill has been with me all morning.

HILL: You are stuck with me, John Berman.


BERMAN: It's reassuring that you haven't gone two hours into the show, I appreciate you being here. So this morning, the pandemic is getting worse, in some places much worse and in some ways worse than it has ever been. Nationwide, the average number of new coronavirus cases is at its highest level yet. Look at that curve rising, look at this now, 31 states going in the wrong direction.

More than half the country in deep red. Those are states increasing by 50 percent in cases. You can see California, Texas, Florida.