Return to Transcripts main page

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Vaccine Search; Coronavirus Exploding in Florida; Trump's Niece Set to Release Tell-All Book; President of Brazil Tests Positive for COVID-19. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 7, 2020 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:00]

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: She talks a little bit about her father, who was Freddy Trump, who died after a long struggle with alcoholism, and says that Donald Trump destroyed her father's life, and she's not going to stand by while Donald Trump destroys the country.

And so she did stay quiet for a very long time. And it seems, in writing this book, she just felt like now was the time for her to move forward. And, obviously, it's at a very complicated time for the president, as a number of these tell-alls are coming out.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Yes.

All right, Sara Murray, thank you so much.

MURRAY: Sure.

BROWN: And also in our politics lead: President Trump heads to South Florida Friday. Now, that is a major coronavirus hot spot, but his visit to the Sunshine State, well, it's not focused on the spike in infections, rather, on drug trafficking in South America.

And, as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports, the president continues to repeat blatantly false claims about his administration's response to the pandemic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the coronavirus surges in South Florida, President Trump will fly to Miami-Dade County on Friday, but not because of the raging pandemic.

Instead, Trump's trip is for a briefing at U.S. Southern Command on drug trafficking in South America and a campaign fund-raiser.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has an important message to share. We have been traveling all around the country.

COLLINS: Today, the White House defended Trump traveling to an area where cases have soared and medical resources are limited.

QUESTION: But he has a fund-raiser on Friday. Is that really important?

MCENANY: We have had several fund-raisers. We have had important messages to share. We have been all around the country.

COLLINS: Trump and his aides are tested regularly. But questions remain about whether he's putting his entourage or the area at risk.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: He and the vice president are the two most essential workers in the country, so they are tested regularly.

COLLINS: When any president travels, Secret Service devotes a wealth of resources, like sending agents in advance to scope out hospitals, as they prepare for a worst-case scenario.

Friday's visit could affect hospitals that are already overwhelmed and put agents at risk as well. Some tested positive in Oklahoma when Trump went there for a rally and then again in Arizona. The White House insists Trump isn't downplaying the virus, but his only mention of it today was an inaccurate claim that the U.S. has the lowest mortality rate in the world.

While U.S. fatality rates have declined lately, they aren't the lowest in the world, and at least 13 other hard-hit countries have lower death rates.

Today, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned about a false complacency over a lower death rate.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: It's a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death. There's so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus. Don't get yourself into false complacency.

COLLINS: It's unlikely Trump will wear a mask when he travels to Miami, since he's refused to do so publicly for months. His own aides see it as a foregone conclusion, despite the message some say it could send to his supporters.

PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: What's the point? He -- everyone who gets near him has been tested. And nobody gets within six feet of him. I mean, what's the point here?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The White House effort to emphasize the importance of mask wearing...

NAVARRO: And you can keep asking it, and I'm not going to go there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: And, Pam, we said the president only talked about coronavirus at one time on Twitter. He then has since talked about it at this event on opening schools safely that they're hosting here at the White House. But I do want to point out something else that happened at this event.

The cameras caught the president placing this card in his usual writing style, this thick black all-caps sharpie into his jacket pocket.

And on the top of it, you can see where it says "Bob Woodward" in all caps, of course, the famed author, reporter Bob Woodward, who is currently writing a book on the Trump White House and who we should note the president has spoken with, according to sources, for several hours so far, because he had been irritated that he didn't sit down with Woodward for his last book on the Trump White House that was so popular.

And then, when the president put the card again back into his pocket, you can see at the bottom it says something about Black Lives Matters. It says, they say Black Lives Matter, though it's not clear the context of that or what else the notes that the president had written for himself ahead of this event.

BROWN: All right, very interesting. Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much. Good to see you.

Well, Florida, the new epicenter of the coronavirus explosion in the U.S., the plan? Well, the governor doesn't even seem to know.

We will be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:38:53]

BROWN: Well, Florida's governor, managing a surging outbreak in his state, continues to say that rising infections are mostly from increased testing and asymptomatic cases of young people.

Governor Ron DeSantis still will not clearly answer questions about how many people are in the hospital in Florida or explain a statewide plan for contact tracing.

CNN's Randi Kaye is in Florida for us.

So, what was Governor DeSantis' explanation for all of this, Randi?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he certainly danced around it, Pam. I mean, reporters were grilling him about why the state isn't releasing the number of hospitalizations of COVID patients.

This is information that we need to inform the public to let them know what's going on in this state. The governor had a lot of excuses. And he pointed us to graphs and charts and reports on the state Health Department Web site.

We have sifted through all of that and the information that we are looking for, the number of hospitalized COVID patients, is not there. It's just that simple. Maybe he doesn't want the information out there. We have calculated on our own 60 hospitals, at least 60 hospitals in the state of Florida have now run out of ICU beds.

Hospitalizations are way up in Miami-Dade, the hardest-hit county. Just yesterday, they saw more than 1,600 hospitalizations for COVID patients. In the last two weeks, ventilator use in that county is up 127 percent.

[16:40:10]

Also in that county is the issue of contact tracing. The Miami-Dade mayor promised weeks ago that they would have 800 to 1,000 contact tracers there. That county makes up 24 percent of all the cases in the state of Florida. Now the mayor is saying that he doesn't have a single contact tracer, and it's because the state Health Department hasn't authorized them, and that they're the only ones who can do so.

Today, at this press conference, the governor, and the mayor sitting right next to each other in a very awkward moment, with the governor saying he thinks what the mayor said is incorrect. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): At the end of the day, this is not a disease in which you get visibly sick, then you're contagious, so that if you isolate, contact trace, you do, most of the people walking around with this either don't know they have it or have very mild symptoms and will never come in contact with the help.

Another problem that you have seen is particularly the younger folks aren't cooperating with contact tracers. And so when they're trying to call, they're just not getting a lot of support.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: And the governor says that he has committed $138 million to these counties, Pam, to hire contact tracers.

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade, the hardest-hit county, not a single contact tracer. And even by the end of that press conference, neither the mayor nor the governor could say when that's going to change.

BROWN: Yes, we didn't get many clear answers today to questions.

KAYE: No.

BROWN: All right, Randi Kaye, thank you very much.

KAYE: Sure.

BROWN: Well, he has downplayed, dismissed and mocked the coronavirus as just a little flu.

Now Brazil's president has tested positive. We are live on the ground in Brazil up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:46:56]

BROWN: Well, today, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for coronavirus, after spending months downplaying the severity and the spread of COVID-19.

Over the weekend, as you see here, he celebrated July 4 with the American ambassador to Brazil, and neither wore masks, as you see in this picture. The ambassador has tested negative since then.

Brazil is second only to the U.S. in the number of infections and deaths.

CNN's Bill Weir is in Brazil.

So, Bill, the president is taking this anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which has been touted and it's taken by President Trump. What else you learning about that?

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a malaria drug, and there's a lot of that in this part of the world. So it's cheap and it's accessible.

And when Donald Trump touted its miracle properties weeks back, President Bolsonaro said, yes, he saw this as a way to get people to feel safe, to get back to work. He said, have it in your home. Take it when you start feeling the symptoms, much to the chagrin of doctors around the world, who worry about side effects and those sorts of things.

I just talked to his first health minister here in Brazil, who he fired over a fight over social distancing and quarantines. And he said that message was really the most damaging thing.

And so, yes, today, the president used his "I have COVID-19" press conference to sort of extol the virtues of that medicine, and also that the economy needs to be open, like he's a robust picture of proof that Brazilians can survive this, and most people, especially those, he said, under 40, you have zero chance of horrible repercussions.

Again, not exactly true, but he's so motivated by getting the Brazilian economy back up and running, that the curve going in the wrong direction is the result of that -- Pam.

BROWN: All right, so it sounds like he is not changing his tune on the danger of the virus even after testing positive.

Bill Weir in Brazil for us.

Thank you, Bill.

Well, if you listen to President Trump, 99 percent of coronavirus cases are -- quote -- "totally harmless." Well, we know that is not true, but even for all the millions of people who have gotten coronavirus and then recovered, their health problems don't just disappear. CNN international anchor Richard Quest, who had coronavirus back in

April, wrote in a personal essay: "It will roar through the body, kill some on the way, injure all in its path. And then when you think, well, thank God that's gone, look around, the damage is strewn everywhere, and will be with you long after the crisis has passed."

Joining me now is CNN's Richard Quest.

And, Richard, gosh, man, what a ride you have had with this virus. Tell us what it has been like. You had it back in April. It is now July. How is the virus still impacting your day-to-day life?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR AT LARGE: The analogy I use, Pam, is, the virus is a tornado. It arrives. It swells through the body. It creates havoc and chaos with digestion, with all -- respiration, breathing, everything.

And then, when it's gone, you think, well, that was bad, but it -- it was mild in my case, mild symptoms, but at least it's over.

Three weeks later, the cough comes back, the COVID cough, that raspy, very, very specific cough, not productive. It's not like you have got bronchitis. This is a raspy, wispy cough. And then suddenly I'm tired again.

Now, the doctors telling me I do not have the virus. I have tested negative. I have got antibodies. It's the inflammation. It's the long tail of this tornado.

And I guess why I wrote the article, because last week was bad. Last week, I was lying on the sofa behind me. And I just thought, I'm tired of people saying this isn't a big deal. I'm tired of people saying it's only 99 percent people aren't affected, the president of Brazil saying, it's not much.

[16:50:03]

Those who have had it know that, afterwards, you still suffer.

BROWN: Well, and it's interesting reading your -- the article that you wrote.

You talked about how you feel like you're more clumsy now, or you can't think as clearly. And you attribute that to the virus as well. That's just something that I hadn't heard of before. But you believe that that is also something you're experiencing.

QUEST: No one would ever describe me as delicate of movement.

(LAUGHTER)

QUEST: However, I have tripped over furniture. I go to grab a cup out of the cupboard, and I will knock it. I will knock something else over.

I fell over... (CROSSTALK)

BROWN: Is it bad that I do that anyway?

QUEST: I tripped over....

(LAUGHTER)

QUEST: I tripped over a paving stone that was in perfect vision in front of me.

It's as if the hand-eye coordination -- now, funnily enough, I was talking to a doctor this morning. I went to see a doctor this morning. He told me not to worry, these things will get better. They are as a result of inflammation, blood clots and inflammation.

But they will have to be tested. And I will have to watch it. The other point to make, Pam, quickly is that, at the end of the day, I was not laid up. I was nowhere near as bad as some of the people.

And yet I still am in a position where I cannot say, I'm feeling well, I'm feeling right, it's gone away.

BROWN: That is such an important message, Richard Quest.

And to remind our viewers, you were first diagnosed in April. And we are now in July, and you are still battling this thing, even though you're testing negative for it. We're seeing the ripple effects.

QUEST: Yes.

BROWN: Richard Quest, thank you for coming on, sharing your story. I hope things get better for you soon.

QUEST: Thank you. Thank you.

BROWN: Well, the U.S. government is committing more than a billion dollars to a company working to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

How soon it may be ready -- up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:56:23]

BROWN: Turning to our health lead now: It is the biggest government contract yet awarded for Operation Warp Speed, $1.6 billion to Novavax for a phase three trial of its vaccine.

CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins me now.

So, Elizabeth, you spoke with the CEO of Novavax. Just how soon could we see a vaccine from them?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, Stanley Erck says that we could see a vaccine from them as soon as possibly by the first quarter of next year.

But, of course, before they do that, they have to study the vaccine. Right now, they're just doing preliminary trials of about 131 people. They still need to do the large-scale trials of 30,000 people.

I asked Mr. Erck, when do you think you will be doing those?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STANLEY ERCK, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NOVAVAX: I think in the fourth quarter. We don't have a date set yet, but hopefully as early in the fourth quarter as possible.

Maybe, if we're lucky, we could start phase three in late third quarter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: Now, Novavax is joining three other companies that have gotten federal funding for their phase three large-scale trials.

The first of those, by Moderna, is expected to start their phase three trials later this month -- Pamela.

BROWN: And then Regeneron was also awarded $450 million by the government for its combination antibodies treatments still in late- stage clinical trials.

How would that treatment work?

COHEN: So, this treatment is very interesting.

What they do is that, when you have COVID, you produce antibodies. And so what Regeneron and other companies are doing is, they take -- they look at those antibodies, they try to cull out the most powerful ones, and then put them into a drug.

Now, what's interesting is that Regeneron is going to be testing it out not just for treatment in hospitalized patients, but also treatment for patients who are well healthy enough to still be at home, as well as prevention for people who don't even have COVID yet.

It'll be interesting to see which of those three groups it works for, hopefully all three.

BROWN: All right, we will have to see.

And just really quickly, Dr. Fauci just said that he doesn't think the U.S. will ever mandate a federal vaccine. He said that he believed doing so would be too authoritarian. Is that not at all surprising hearing that from him?

COHEN: No, not surprising at all.

I don't think -- and then Dr. Fauci said the same thing. I don't think the U.S. has ever mandated a vaccine. That would be highly, highly unusual and extremely improbable. Now, your employer might say, hey, you want to keep your job and come into work every day? You have to get vaccinated or you don't have a job.

Your school may say, you want to send your child to school? Your child needs to be vaccinated. We already do that, of course, with vaccines in many places. So not surprising that the government's not going to require it. Other people might require it.

BROWN: And he also talked about this idea of, this is a false complacency people may feel right now.

COHEN: That's right.

The death numbers are going down. And so Dr. Fauci has said, look, just because we don't have as many deaths as we did, not nearly as many deaths as we did back in April, don't feel complacent about that. It takes a while for people to get infected, for people to suffer through an illness, they die. It takes a while for that death to get reported.

There may be a much higher death rate right now than what we know about.

BROWN: All right, Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much for breaking it all down for us. We appreciate it.

COHEN: Thanks.

BROWN: And I'm Pamela Brown, in for Jake Tapper.

Follow me on Twitter @PamelaBrownCNN or you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now.

[17:00:00]