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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Claims He "Aced" Cognitive Test But Offers No Proof; Schools Battle With Reopening Plans As New Cases Surge; Never-Trump Republicans Are Back, And They Are Using Trump's Own Words Against Him. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 10, 2020 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00]

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MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We literally have hundreds of millions of supplies of personal protective equipment, 59,000 ventilators in the Strategic National Stockpile.

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KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Look, Mike Pence doesn't want nurses to be infected, doesn't want nurses to be sick. So what do you say to that? What is he missing?

DEBORAH BURGER, CO-PRESIDENT, NATIONAL NURSES UNITED: I'm at a loss because I don't understand how he can say that in the face of the stories that I'm hearing every day that every reporter in the media hears every single day.

I think there's a total disconnect from what the Trump administration is seeing and what nurses are actually experiencing on the ground. And I think that they need to look at their lines of communication, or actually look and see whether they're telling the truth or not. Because it can't be that there's plenty of supplies and then on the ground, nurses are having to reuse masks on a daily basis, on a weekly basis.

And it's really beyond infuriating at this point that the richest country in the world isn't protecting life, isn't valuing the work that nurses and other health care workers do by not giving us the resources we need to take care of our patients safely, and make sure that we protect them because if we get infected, we're out and we can't help in this pandemic.

And if we get infected, we can pass it on to our patients and to our family and our community. And we need to pass the HEROES Act that's part of the issue of mandating use of the Defense Production Act. And it has yet to be passed in any stimulus program that has been passed so far.

And it's extremely frustrating because nurses know how to deal with a pandemic, if they're given the resources they need. And the proof of that is to only look globally and see how well every other country is doing.

BOLDUAN: Deborah, thank you for coming in. I really appreciate your time.

BURGER: Thank you for really highlighting our plea. We appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Up next, President Trump is bragging that he quote, aced a cognitive exam. What was this test and why would he be taking it?

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[12:37:17]

BOLDUAN: President Trump now with a curious boast about his mental health claiming during an interview with Sean Hannity last night that he both and quote, took and aced a cognitive exam. Listen to this.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I actually took one when I -- very recently when I was, you know, the radical left who was saying, is he all there, is he all there? And I proved I was all there because I aced it, I aced the test. And he should take the same exact test. A very standard test, I took it at Walter Reed Medical Center in front of doctors, and they were very surprised. They said, that's an unbelievable thing. Rarely does anybody do what you just did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: He was talking about with Joe Biden saying he should take a test. But that is not where we're going to be focusing right now. Let me bring in Dr. Bandy Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at Yale School of Medicine. Thank you so much, Doctor, for coming here.

You've been outspoken for some time about your concerns as a physician about the President's mental health and wellness. We don't know when he took this test. He said that he took it very recently. But I just want to work through what this means. Why would a doctor order a cognitive exam on someone?

DR. BANDY LEE, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST, YALE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: I don't know what the reasons are for his physicians to think that they needed a test, or why this test and not another. Cognition which is the ability to process knowledge and thoughts, alone does not determine whether someone is able to do a job.

What we as independent medical professionals, mental health professionals have been concerned about is whether the public is safe. That involves a different test. What we would like to know about is whether the President is fit for duty and not dangerous. Those are the questions that would be of concern, not just cognition.

BOLDUAN: What would a patient -- what is the range of what a patient could be exhibiting that would warrant needing to be at Walter Reed for an exam, like an exam like this?

LEE: I couldn't comment on that because I don't know about the personal medical history of the President. But what we can say from as mental health professionals who have a public health duty is, is the President showing signs of dangerousness? Is he showing signs of unfitness?

[12:39:59]

And we have outlined on a number of occasions, which have been actually only confirmed over time with the more information that becomes available. What we would recommend is actually a mental capacity evaluation. Without mental capacity, there is no fitness.

So a mental capacity evaluation involves elements such as this. Does the person have comprehension? Is the person able to take in information and advice without undue influence from delusions or excessive emotional needs? Can the person process information or appreciate and make flexible use of information that they're given? And is their sound decision making or the ability to weigh different options and consider consequences before making rational reality based sound decisions that don't -- that are not interfered with by impulsivity, magical thinking, conspiracy theories, fluctuating consistency, or self contradiction. These are the kinds of things that we test in a mental capacity evaluation.

BOLDUAN: What does it say then that the doctors according to President Trump, were quote unquote, surprised that he did so well, surprised that he aced the test.

LEE: I hope it's not the Montreal cognitive assessment, which is what former White House Dr. Ronny Jackson administered, which is a 10 minute screen that actually has been recommended not to be used to screen out, to rule out cognitive problems because full blown Alzheimer patients and hospitalized schizophrenic patients have been known to ace the test.

And so I believe the creator of that test recently put out guidelines in order not to misuse it for what the President has exhibited, which you know, include cognitive fight obvious cognitive defects, but also psychological and psychiatric defects, we would recommend a full general psychiatric evaluation.

But at minimum, what concerns public health and us as independent health professionals who have a public health duty is that he is fit for duty and mental capacity is the minimal evaluation that would -- that is relevant and that would be needed to determine that.

BOLDUAN: Dr. Bandy Lee, thank you very much for coming in.

LEE: Thank you so much for having me.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, it's been the question every parent, child, and teacher has been asking since March, when will schools reopen, months later, why we still aren't any closer to an answer.

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[12:47:01]

DR. SALLY GOZA, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: I think to be able to reopen schools, we're going to need to look to our educators to really decide what it's going to take to make those schools safe.

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BOLDUAN: That was the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics joining us just last hour as educators across the country are trying to find a way to get students back in classes, in classrooms safely. How to do that and what it will look like, are the key questions and they remained unanswered in large part.

CNN's Bianna Golodryga has more.

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DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: I think there's commonality in the schools and the school leadership and the teachers and the administrators that we all want to protect the safety of the children that are in schools.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST (voice-over): The CDC director on CNN's Coronavirus Town Hall, attempting to clear up the mass confusion caused by the President shocking threat to withhold federal funding for schools that do not fully reopen, something he does not have the legal authority to do on his own, as well as his rebuke of the CDC guidelines.

REDFIELD: We stand by our guidance. We think it's an important strategy for helping these schools reopened.

(voice-over): For months, school districts nationwide have been scrambling, trying to figure out just how to reopen safely, as the acting superintendent of the Houston Independent School District showed CNN back in May.

GRENITA LATHAN, INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT, HOUSTON INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: So we think about student per table, possibly two students per table or it might even turn into one student per table as we think about having just about 11 students in a classroom at a time.

(voice-over): Since then, more districts have announced similar plans, most recently Mayor Bill de Blasio telling New York City's more than 1 million public school students they should plan to only spend one to three days a week inside a classroom. The other school days will be held online.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY): Some points in the week you're learning in person in the classroom. At other points in a week, you're learning remotely. (voice-over): Local officials have relied on guidelines issued by state and federal health authorities as well as the CDC. One of its top recommendations has been to maintain social distancing among students. The hybrid model where children would be divided into smaller groups, rotating hours and days in class, seems to be among the most feasible.

But after months of inaction, the Trump administration is now pushing hard for schools to reopen full time in the fall. An endeavor made even more challenging as numerous states continue to see spikes in cases.

In Florida, the education commissioner issued an emergency order this week requiring all schools to open at least five days per week for all students.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): If you can do Home Depot, if you can do Walmart, if you can do these things, we absolutely can do the schools.

(voice-over): But some educators in the state are now saying they won't follow the order if cases don't start to go down.

ALBERTO CARVALHO, SUPERINTENDENT, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: I think it would be counterintuitive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

CARVALHO: With positivity cases increasing, with restaurants just this week being shut down again for us to pack up schools.

(voice-over): in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott said schools would have to offer more flexibility. In Arizona, Governor Doug Ducey announced that in person, classes will be delayed until at least August 17th.

[12:50:13]

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom, saying that schools will reopen when the data says it's safe to do so. Experts say it didn't have to be this frustrating. But there still is time to get it right.

JOSEPH ALLEN, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, HARVARD T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: The time to plan is absolutely right now. In particular, when we think about healthy building strategies, schools have to be paying attention to and looking at their mechanical and ventilation systems right now. This is not something that could be started in early August.

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GOLODRYGA: So Kate, parents may be wondering, where do the administration and the CDC disagree? The CDC has recommended that students remain six feet apart. The administration now is now looking to the guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggesting that they just have to be three feet apart. And that that will keep children safe for the most part as long as they wear masks. And Kate, you know how difficult it is as a mother of two young ones, to make sure that your children are going to be wearing masks throughout the day in class.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, don't even get me started about those conversations that I've been had. Don't even get me started about that. But important, this is also important and it shows just how complex it is. Bianna, it's great to see you. Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Me too.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next for us, the Never Trump movement failed four years ago. Now they're back with a new plan.

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[12:56:10]

BOLDUAN: Never Trump Republicans are back for round two, the movement to stop Donald Trump from winning the White House failed four years ago but the small group inside the President's own party say they have a new game plan.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny joins me now. He has fresh reporting on this. Jeff, so what is the game plan?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, there's no question. Two of the biggest differences this time around are President Trump's own words and his record. And they are both being used against him in blistering T.V. ads that are trying to drive some Republican voters to Joe Biden.

Of course, it's an open question how possible this is because the Republican Party is now the party of Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY (voice-over): When President Trump said this about spiking cases of coronavirus --

TRUMP: So, I said to my people, slow the testing down, please.

(voice-over): A new television ad quickly sprang to life.

TRUMP: Slow the testing down, please.

NARRATOR: Slow the testing down? Slow down our chance to save tens of thousands of lives.

(voice-over): It's not the work of Democrats, but, rather, the Never Trump movement, a small slice of Republicans trying to make Trump a one-term president.

After failing four years ago, the movement is back and multiplying, with the Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump, along with new groups, like Bush Alumni for Biden, whose slogan is: "We Worked For W. We Support Joe."

TRUMP: Within a couple of days, it's going to be down to close to zero.

(voice-over): This time, they're using the President's words against him, hoping to get into his head. At least, that's the goal of the Lincoln Project, whose videos made by former aides to George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney are designed to relentlessly mock and needle the president.

George Conway, whose wife, Kellyanne Conway, is a top Trump adviser, is a co-founder.

GEORGE CONWAY, HUSBAND OF KELLYANNE CONWAY: He's thoroughly unfit for office.

(voice-over): The President has long mocked Never Trumpers, taking delight in taking over the Republican Party.

TRUMP: Some of these people don't get it. Never Trump. By the way, Never Trump is disappearing rapidly.

(voice-over): While polls show as many as nine out of 10 Republicans say they support the president, the second act of the movement may be different than 2016. Two reasons why, the Trump record and Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton.

SARAH LONGWELL, STRATEGIC DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN VOTERS AGAINST TRUMP: Joe Biden just simply isn't it as scary to them. I think women are going to lose this election for Donald Trump. I think that is going to be the decisive and defining group of people.

(voice-over): Sarah Longwell calls herself a proud Never Trumper. She founded Republican Voters Against Trump where she's been studying Trump voters since 2016. She's watched them stand by the President, but she senses a different moment.

LONGWELL: The health crisis, the economic crisis, the racial crisis. People are tired. They feel like Trump isn't fit for the moment. They feel like the stakes are higher.

(voice-over): But it's an open question how many voters that Never Trumpers can actually persuade in an electorate more polarized than ever. Her group is collecting testimonials, believing the power of individual stories will make other Republicans comfortable saying it out loud.

JACK SPIELMAN, MICHIGAN VOTER: And I'll vote for a tuna fish sandwich before I vote for Donald Trump again.

(voice-over): That's Jack Spielman, a 33-year Army veteran and Michigan Republican. He voted for Trump in 2016, but believes he's failed the country on foreign policy and handling the pandemic.

SPIELMAN: Just as what happened with the Reagan Democrats now as the Republicans turned to become Republican Democrats, the Biden Republicans to kind of return the favor to say, you know, the nation needs us right now to get on a corrective course.

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ZELENY: And talking to Jack Spielman, he's from Macomb County, Michigan, of course, that is a critical County. President Trump won it by only 10,000 votes the whole state last time. So Kate, on the margins here, this can be so important. The Trump campaign dismisses all of this as irrelevant and sad. But we'll certainly let the voters decide here, an interest project, no doubt, Kate.

[13:00:01]

BOLDUAN: We should look at it. Good to see you, Jeff. Thank you so much. And thank you all so much for joining us today and this week. I'm Kate Bolduan.