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Fauci Says, Problematic States Need To Consider Pausing Now; Supreme Court Rejects Trump's Immunity Argument Over Taxes. Aired 1- 1:30p ET
Aired July 9, 2020 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper are hosting a new coronavirus town hall.
That is tonight at 8:00 Eastern only on CNN.
Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Kate Bolduan. Our coverage continues now with Brianna Keilar.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN: Hi there. I'm Brianna Keilar. Welcome to the viewers in the United States and around the world.
We begin with more dire details showing coronavirus is on the rise in the U.S., prompting the nation's leading infectious disease expert to call for some states to pause on reopening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: California, Texas, Florida, Arizona are now experiencing surges of infections that have gone up to 30,000, 40,000, 50,000 and most recently a total of 60,000 new cases per day.
We need to get our arms around that, Steve, and we need to do something about it quickly because, if we don't, there's a possibility we may be seeing surges in other areas.
So we're in a very difficult, challenging period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: The United States reported at least 58,601 new cases just yesterday, which is not the highest tally this week. 35 states are experiencing a rise in infections when you look here at the seven-day averages. And the hotspot states are, again, facing numbers that should sound alarms, too many patients and not enough equipment as well. 42 hospitals in Florida have run out of ICU space. Texas reported the most deaths from coronavirus in a single day. Fatalities of California are reaching levels of April, all more proof how fast the virus can work. Here is how Dr. Fauci put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FAUCI: Not to be hyperbolic about it, it really is a perfect storm and infectious disease and public health person's worst nightmare.
It's a spectacularly transmissible virus. The efficiency with which this transmit is really striking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Now to details on the state now considered the U.S. epicenter, that is Florida. It just reported its highest single-day death count, as well as another troubling figure that indicates the spread is on the rise there.
That is where we begin our coverage. We have CNN Correspondent Rosa Flores for us live in Miami.
Rosa, those numbers mark a grim milestone. What are officials saying about it, and more importantly, what are they doing about it?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, right now, there is so much frustration from local mayors here in Miami-Dade County. They wrapped up a press conference today and they slammed the Florida Department of Health, saying that the Florida Department of Health has failed to contact trace and they are demanding that at least 500 contact tracers be hired immediately.
Like you said, the numbers are staggering. Today's, numbers according to the Florida Department of Health, nearly 9,000 cases, 120 Floridians have died. That's just in the past 24 hours.
Here in Miami-Dade County where I am, the epicenter of this crisis, the positivity rate is 28 percent. Think about that for a moment. That's about a third, that is about a third.
And so here is why these mayors are so frustrated, because they say that they lack the information from the Florida Department of Health to make decisions to save lives.
Now, to make the point the City of Miami mayor, Francis Suarez, shared the following information. He says that the information that he obtained from the Florida Department of Health showed June 15th, 92 percent of contact tracing was happening. On June 22nd, that number dropped to 86 percent. On June 29th, that number dropped to 78 percent. And on June 8th, that number dropped to 17 percent. That is why these mayors are so frustrated and they're calling out both the county and the state here because they want to get more contact tracers here to stop the spread.
I should add that Miami-Dade just announced today that they hired about 250 contact tracers. But, Brianna, these mayors say that it's not enough, that the state needs to get it together in order for them to continue making the decisions that they need in order for them to save lives here in Miami-Dade County.
I should add that we have reached out to the Florida Department of Health and to the governor's office about the demands from the mayors and we have not heard back. Brianna?
KEILAR: All right. We'll be waiting with you, Rosa.
And just to put it in context, earlier this week, CNN was in touch with 27 positive COVID patients, only five of them, this is in Florida, had been contacted by a tracer.
And today, the president, once again, pushing his false and nonsensical argument about testing for coronavirus.
President Trump seems exasperated, complaining that he has to explain for the 100th time that since the U.S. is testing more people, that is why the numbers are so high. So he's arguing that if you don't do the tests, you wouldn't have the cases.
At first, one might think that this ruse was political spin on a dire situation but it is getting clearer that he apparently doesn't understand how the virus works.
And I've used this analogy before, but I'm going to do it again. I have a two-year-old son. If I hadn't taken a pregnancy test almost three years ago, I would still have a two-year-old son.
But let's take this a little step further here. The Americans who died this week, they would still be gone right now with fewer tests. In fact, if you have fewer tests, the number of Americans who died this week would likely be higher.
And let's illustrate this. The U.S. positivity rate of tests is going up and up and up. You see it there on the screen. This is the percentage of tests that are positive, the percentage among all of the tests taken. So whether that number of test taken is small or large, this is the number that allows us to compare apples to apples whether more tests are being done or not.
Right now it is at 8 percent to 9 percent this positivity rate and that is compared to 5 percent a month ago. So this is signaling significant spread here. If you don't test people, they walk around spreading the virus without knowing it. Expert after expert tells us that. This is happening right now in your neighborhood, maybe in the household. Because up to half of people with coronavirus don't show symptoms but they will pass it on to people who will show symptoms and maybe even die. And you can't contact trace without testing.
The keys to what the president wants so desperately to do here, reopening the economy, are the very things that he has politicized, testing, masks, social distancing, the safe reopening of schools and, overall, science. He is standing right now in the way of his own objective.
There are mixed messages over the guidelines for reopening schools. Administration officials now claim Vice President Pence never said guidelines would be revised, but you be the judge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: The president said today we just don't want the guidance to be too tough, and that's the reason why next week, CDC is going to be issuing a new set of tools.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Now, the CDC director clarified what his agency is doing with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: I want to clarify. Really, what we are providing is different reference documents. So our guidelines are our guidelines.
It's not a revision of the guidelines. It's just to provide additional information to help the schools be able to use the guidance that we put forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: All right. Let's bring in CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen to help us work our way out of this semantic cloud that we are in. What's going on, Elizabeth?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, I'm not sure I can help you because this is so confusing. They're talking about guidelines, reference documents, no, that's not a reference document, it's a guideline. I mean, look, who cares at this point?
What the American public is looking for, what schools are looking for is some clarity and in an almost -- it is almost -- if it weren't so sad, it would be funny and almost funny way they're providing such a lack of clarity by using all of these ridiculous bureaucratic words.
What schools need are guidance. What do we do about the student who has asthma? And many kids do have asthma, unfortunately, these days. What do we do about the teacher who has diabetes? How in the world do you keep children six feet apart? Even if you can keep the desks six feet apart, what do you do when they leave school or when they're coming in school, or when they're in the hallways?
I mean, when my daughter has a play date, I couldn't keep those two girls six feet apart. If I tried, how do you keep an entire classroom of children six feet apart? These are the kinds of answers we need, not sort of some kind a debate about reference documents versus guidelines versus revisions.
KEILAR: Yes. There are so many questions that, quite frankly, school districts are figuring out, trying to figure out on their own but they don't have enough information.
And we heard, Elizabeth, from Dr. Fauci, who is, of course, the nation's top infectious disease expert. He said that we should, quote, try to get the schools open but he emphasized that there could be different approaches among grade schools. They compared with universities. Tell us why that is and what that might look like.
COHEN: Right. Brianna, I think that everyone agrees that we should try to get schools open in some way, shape or form but that it's going to be different in different locations, what you're going to do in Miami where they're having this incredibly horrible surge versus in Montana where they don't have much COVID are going to be very different. And then also you want to be smart and think about ages, do different things for different ages and different settings.
So he talked about universities, there's often residential students. So let's think about the dorms. What do we need to do to keep students apart in dorms? What happens if a student is living in a dorm is far from home and comes down with COVID? What do you do with that student? Where do you put them? Those are things that need to be figured out in a university. Obviously, you don't need to figure that out for a grade school student.
Also, you need think about social causes. Dr. Fauci didn't talk about this, but this is something that's important. Children, young children need to go to school so their parents can go to work. That's not the case for university students, so you might want to have different strategies of how to do in-school versus virtual school.
KEILAR: All right. Elizabeth, thank you, as always.
New revelations of possible long-term brain damage from the coronavirus.
Also, I'll be speaking with an overwhelmed E.R. doctor in a place where they're running out of ICU beds.
And breaking news from the Supreme Court, the justices unanimously rejecting the president's argument of immunity when it comes to his tax returns. It's not all bad for him though, not all bad news.
This is CNN special live coverage.
KEILAR: Breaking news now. The Supreme Court has rejected President Trump's claim that he is completely immune from all criminal prosecution while in office. But today's monumental court rulings do keep the president's financial records private, at least for now, which is one of his big objectives.
The justices were looking at two separate cases here. They voted in favor of a New York prosecutor's effort to subpoena Trump's tax returns and other financial materials as part of a wider investigation into whether the president or his business violated state laws. So that investigation can move forward. But records will be shielded from the public under grand jury secrecy rules. Then in a separate ruling, the court determined that Congress could not see the president's financial records right away and they sent this matter down to the lower courts to assess separation of powers concerns.
The vote in both cases was 7-2.
Chief Justice Roberts wrote both majority opinions. President Trump is blasting those decisions.
CNN's Sara Murray is outside of the Supreme Court for us. And, Sara, the president has waged an intense legal battle to keep his financial records secret. Today's ruling seemed to kick that can down the road and at least today, he's going to see that remain secret.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's true. I think in the short-term, this is actually a victory for President Trump because it makes it exceedingly unlikely that we are going to see any of his financial records before the next presidential election.
I mean, even in this (INAUDIBLE) New York where the Supreme Court essentially did rule against the president, it still has to go back to a lower court and that could take some time.
In a statement today, the president's attorney, Jay Sekulow, noted that they're going to continue to fight this. He said, we will now proceed to raise additional constitutional and legal issues in the lower courts. So that gives you a signal that even in the New York subpoena case, it may not be wrapped up expeditiously.
I also think the thing that's really going to stick in the president's craw is that the Supreme Court came down very thoroughly and saying, look, this idea that you have some kind of blanket presidential immunity, that is not a thing. You are not able to just do whatever you want and not be held accountable because you are the president of the United States.
I think that's part of the reason that we are seeing this Twitter temper tantrum coming from the president talking about how this is harassment, talking about this is a political witch hunt.
The other thing though I think is important to remember is just the overall political climate of where we are right now. We are just a couple of months to the election and there are huge things going on with the pandemic, with racial justice. So the notion that there were a lot of swing voters hinging on Trump's taxes, I think, is probably not the case. Bri?
KEILAR: Very good point. Sara Murray live for us outside the Supreme Court.
All right, let's talk more about of this, these rulings and the president's reaction to it with Joshua Geltzer, Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, and Tony Schwartz, Trump's co-author on The Art of the Deal. He also recently wrote the Sociopath in Chief on Medium. Josh, what are your big takeaways here, because, look, the tax return information is going to remain secret as of today still?
JOSHUA GELTZER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GEORGETOWN INSTITUTE CONSTITUTIONAL ADVOCACY AND PROTECTION: That's true. But I think it's worth stepping back here.
Today, the Supreme Court fundamentally rejected Trump's anti- democratic vision of a presidency. In all of the cases, the court said no to Trump's fundamental argument, which is that he is shielded so long as he sits in the Oval Office even from investigation, whether that's by state prosecutors or whether that's by Congress. And today was a resounding no to that notion. The court said, you are not wholly immune, fully shielded from this sort of scrutiny.
KEILAR: Okay. Tony, I wonder what is going to happen in terms of how the president will receive this. You have spent a lot of time with him. What do you think?
TONY SCHWARTZ, DONALD TRUMP'S CO-AUTHOR, THE ART OF THE DEAL: Well, I think Trump, at this point, is like first-time poker player who has put his entire cash into the pot with a terrible hand. He is not bluffing because he thinks he has a better hand. But he is so ignorant about what a hand should be that he doesn't realize that this ruling is just one more wall coming closing in around him.
And, you know, it is the Supreme Court that he has made into a majority Republican Supreme Court, once again, ruling in a way that he would find distasteful, as he has in this Twitter torrent he put out since the ruling.
KEILAR: You've seen, Tony, how he has operated as a businessman over the years. I mean, his enterprises are no strangers to court, right, to being in the court process and just gumming up the works and playing out the clock. Is that what you see happening here? And in that regard, is that something that is -- can be seen as a win from his perspective?
SCHWARTZ: Well, it is definitely a win for him not to have to release his taxes because we already know from The New York Times what they're going to show, which is that he's cheated in multiple ways on his taxes. And, by the way, that piece I wrote, is called the Psychopath in Chief on Medium, not the Sociopath in Chief, and this is why the psychopath is why he does what he does. He has no conscience and so breaking the law for him is no big deal.
It is a win not to have to reveal his taxes before the election assuming that's what happens but it is not a win to have the attorney general in New York or the Southern District look at his tax returns and be able to consider them as part of a criminal indictment which, of course, won't happen before the election. And assuming he loses, which is what I'm certainly hoping for, and I am sort of assuming at the moment, if he loses, he's criminally liable. And here is the thing that I think could happen there. I think it gives the -- I think it provides a mechanism for Trump to feel compelled if it reaches a certain point or at least interested in resigning because he is liable for crimes that happened during this period of time once he leaves office. And he'd love to have a way out of that. And one potential way is to get pardoned in some way as a deal to get rid of him, as Gerald Ford did for Nixon and that, to me, could happen.
KEILAR: Okay. I have not seen the reporting on that, I will say, but certainly we are all entitled to our theories, I guess. Tony, I will say.
SCHWARTZ: What (INAUDIBLE) disagreeing with?
KEILAR: I don't know. I mean, look, it's a possibility. But I guess anything is possible, right?
Josh, this is the expectation. Tony just said it. Nothing is going to be seen in the way of tax returns before the election. Is that your expectation?
GELTZER: I think it's possible but I don't think we should accept that it has to be that way. Cy Vance, the prosecutor from New York, had the best day he could possibly have had at the Supreme Court today. He got everything he asked for on the issue that went up to the Supreme Court, a wholesale rejection of Trump's immunity defense.
So now, yes, it does go back to a lower court. And in that lower court, Trump's lawyers can raise narrower objections and complaints. Indeed, the chief justice in his majority opinion helpfully spells out what those are. But I take that to be a guide that lower courts should resolve those quickly. I think that should be our expectation as the American people. The lower courts move quickly here.
The big issue, the big question has been answered by the nation's highest court. The smaller stuff should be resolved but it should be resolved quickly. And I don't think we should accept that courts need to move so slowly that the American people and even just the state prosecutors don't get the answers that they long have been waiting for.
KEILAR: Tony, how do you think he views two of the -- the two justices that he nominated to the Supreme Court that voting against him?
SCHWARTZ: Anybody who says anything that is contradictory to Trump is an enemy. He sees the world entirely in terms of black and white. He demands loyalty but doesn't give loyalty. And the moment you break out of the pack, you're gone.
But, look, this is why -- I don't know how you'll feel about me saying this, but he is at a point where all around him, previous allies are beginning to fall. Look how many Republican senators are not going to the Republican convention. That's a pretty big statement. Essentially, Trump is a person who has been friendless all his life and will allow or prompt these relationships to die because of his anger at their failure to follow his every order.
KEILAR: Yes. You know, it is interesting to see that a lot of Republicans are not going to the convention. So we will see how all of this plays out from the president's perspective.
Tony, thank you. Josh, thank you for your perspective as well.
And we have some more breaking news from Dr. Anthony Fauci, show says the transmission of this virus is, quote, really striking. I'm going to speak live with someone who has been feeling symptoms now for months.
Plus, hospital workers in Texas join me on how overwhelmed they are as the number of patients keeps climbing.