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White House Press Briefing; Houston Rockets Guard Russell Westbrook Tests Positive for Coronavirus; Coronavirus's Impact Across the Country. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 13, 2020 - 13:30   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The president has gone off on anonymous sources in the past. Why not have the guts to trash Dr. Fauci with your own names?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So President Trump -- I'll refer you back. There's no opposition research dumped to reporters. We were asked a specific question by the "New York Post" and that question was, President Trump noted that Dr. Fauci made some mistakes and we provided a direct answer to what was a direct question.


QUESTION: Hasn't the president made mistakes? He suggested at one point that Americans inject themselves with disinfectants, that sort of thing. Why not send out these notes to reporters about what Dr. Fauci said in the past with your names on it? They were sent out by a White House official. President has said he doesn't trust anonymous sources and yet you were sending out these notes to reporters anonymously.

MCENANY: Look, I would note that in terms of the president and his record on coronavirus, he stands by the actions and the steps he's taken in this historic response. You have Dr. Fauci, who said that the record of this president is "impressive. I can't imagine that under any circumstance that anybody could be doing more" and those are the words of Dr. Fauci.

We provided a direct response to a direct question and that's about it. And to the notion that there's opposition research and that there's Fauci versus the president, it couldn't be further from the truth. Dr. Fauci and the president have always had a very good working relationship.

QUESTION: And on a -- just a separate subject very quickly, does the president or the administration plan to make it very clear to the Russian Federation that there should not be bounties placed on the heads of American soldiers serving in Afghanistan?

MCENANY: We make that clear each and every day to every country around the world, that this president will always stand by our law enforcement... QUESTION: No, I (ph)...


MCENANY: ... no one's been tougher on Russia.

QUESTION: Not law enforcement...

MCENANY: What you're...

QUESTION: ... I'm talking about military soldiers...

MCENANY: What you're talking -- yes, our...

QUESTION: ... U.S. forces overseas.

MCENANY: ... of course, that's what I'm saying. Our U.S. forces.

QUESTION: Not just any country, the Russians. Will you tell the Kremlin and President Putin...


MCENANY: Each and every country, but what you're getting at...

QUESTION: ... not to put bounties on the heads of American soldiers?

MCENANY: What you're getting at -- of course, we tell each and every country that. But what you're getting at is uncorroborated intelligence, and you're treating it as if it were true. To this day, there are varying views on the Russian bounty intelligence. DOD, NSC and the ODNI all pointing that out.

You know, I'm not going to answer a question based on unverified intelligence. But rest assured, every country in this world is put on notice that bounties on the heads of U.S. troops is unacceptable. And this president will stand for U.S. troops...

QUESTION: Including the Kremlin, including Russia?

MCENANY: ... at home and abroad.


QUESTION: Thank you, Kayleigh.

Another -- you (ph) mentioned a quote from Dr. Fauci. Another quote from him: "When you compare it to other countries, I don't think you can say we're doing great." Is there any reaction to that from the White House?

MCENANY: You compare us to other countries, we have the most testing in the world. When you compare us to other countries on case fatality rate, other industrialized nations, we're very low and beating most countries, if not all in Europe. So we're doing a lot on the world stage and a lot right. Noted, that we were supposed to have a ventilator shortage. And as it turned out, the U.S. actually sent ventilators all around the world, so the U.S. response has been historic. And by several metrics, including the three I just mentioned, we're beating the rest of the world.




QUESTION: Thank you, Kayleigh.

Could you -- could just clarify the scope of Roger Stone's clemency? A federal judge is asking for this. Does it only apply to prison time or does it also include the two-year period of supervised release?

MCENANY: I don't have the exact details for you on that, but I can follow up. What I will say is that the Roger Stone clemency was a very important moment for justice in this country. You had a completely bogus Russia witch hunt that found nothing. And in order to justify the waste of taxpayer dollars, you had Robert Mueller charging people with process crimes.

And it's really curious to me that with Roger Stone, you know, he's charged of false statements but McCabe was charged with false statements, lying to federal investigators. Brennan, false statements to Congress. Clapper, false statements to Congress.

But last time I checked, they didn't have 29 FBI agents wearing tactical gear, showing up at their house in a pre-dawn raid, wielding M4 rifles, sweeping across their lawn, as happened to Roger Stone. they didn't have four agents using battering rams, breaking down their front door over false statements. And they didn't have helicopters hovering over their houses and two police boats that roared up.

Instead, McCabe and Clapper and Brennan and these guys are given lucrative contracts, books, contributorships. So there're really two standards of justice in this country, as Adam Schiff noted. Fortunately, he doesn't have the facts to back up the way he meant that term.



QUESTION: One more question, if I could.


QUESTION: The president retweeted something this morning, implying that he believes that -- he retweeted something saying that the CDC is lying about the coronavirus in order to hurt his chances of getting re-elected. Does the president believe that the CDC is lying about COVID-19? MCENANY: The president, with his intent in that retweet, expresses displeasure with the CDC, some rogue individuals leaking guidelines prematurely. You (ph) had a 63-page plan that was leaked prematurely. He believes that that misleads the American public, when there are planning materials released that are not in their fullest form, in their best form. So that's what he was getting at.

But overall, the notion of the tweet was to point out the fact that when we use science, we have to use it in a way that is not political.

MCENANY: When you had 1,300 health experts sign a letter not to condemn large crowds of protesters, but some same health experts say churches need to stay shut down or lockdown protests somehow don't get the same First Amendment rights as the protests that we saw in our streets, we need to use science, lean into science but not use it and cherry-pick it to fit whatever our particular political persuasion is.


MCENANY: Yes, Martha (ph)?

QUESTION: So he has confidence in the CDC?

MCENANY: He does.

Mario (ph)?

QUESTION: Thank you, Kayleigh.

Given what we're saying in Florida with the cases rising, is the president anticipating a scaled-down version of the -- the convention next month? And if so, is that something that he would be content with?

MCENANY: That would be a question for the campaign, but we still plan to move forward with the convention here at the White House. But for particularities, I would point you to the RNC and to the campaign.


QUESTION: This week (inaudible) on Dr. Fauci, does the president still appreciate the advice that he gets from him?

MCENANY: Certainly. Dr. Fauci is one of many on the task force who provides advice. And I would note, you know, Dr. Fauci is an epidemiologist and infectious disease expert, and he provides his -- his opinion there. You also have other experts like Dr. McCance-Katz, who are behavioral -- behavioral health experts who provide opinions about the holistic health of the child, and she's been a voice for reopening schools and the damage long -- long-term lockdowns can do.

You have Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who's working on the vaccine. So there are a number of scientists who are experts in various issues and various specialties, but the president takes the full opinions of the task force and the varying opinions, sometimes, and moves forward in a way he thinks is best for this country like he did with the China travel ban.

QUESTION: And secondly, Kayleigh, the travel ban with Canada expires in about a week. Is that going to be extended or are you talking about -- talking with Canada about that?

MCENANY: So no announcements now for our plans with Canada.


QUESTION: Yes. Arizona has more new cases of coronavirus than any country in the world, more than the European Union as a whole. So isn't by that metric, the United States not doing as well as other countries in handling this?

MCENANY: No, because when you lead the world in testing, that means that you identify more cases. When you...

QUESTION: But hospitalizations are up. Deaths are starting to rise.

MCENANY: And I would note -- well, you talk about deaths. I can give you that particular information, which Dr. Birx gave to me before running out here, which is in Arizona, you know, 17 cases per 1,000 population, and .3 deaths per population, which means our therapeutics are working, and we're in a better place today than we were before.


QUESTION: (Inaudible) a schoolteacher in Arizona died, however, when she was following all the rules. She wore a mask. She wore gloves. She was teaching summer school. She got it -- died. Two other teachers got it and are ill. Her family, her husband, her daughter -- I mean, how do you tell parents of schoolchildren that it's safe to send their kids back to school when something like that happens?

MCENANY: Well, I would point you to the words of the CDC director, who said children are not very affected by this, and typically are not spreaders in this.

But I would also point to the consequences of staying closed. We have to look at the holistic health of the child, and when you have, according to HHS, one-fifth of all child abuse cases being reported by teachers and educational staff, we cannot stay closed. When you have D.C. Family Child Agency talking about a 62 percent decrease in abuse cases being reported, you cannot stay closed.

When even the AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics, talked about morbidity and mortality if schools stay shut down, and 70 to 80 percent of mental -- children with mental health diagnoses receive their care in schools, the consequences are grave if we stay shut down.

And there's a way for essential workers to go back to work, just as our meat-packing facilities did, just as you all in the media are essential workers, we believe our teachers are, as well.

Katherine (ph)? QUESTION: Thanks. Thanks, Kayleigh.

The administration has said that the goal of maximum pressure is to force Iran back to the negotiating table so we can get a better deal. Is that still the goal of maximum pressure? And in light of the reported new trade and military partnership between Iran and China, what evidence is there that the policy is succeeding?

MCENANY: I have no information today to update you on our Iran relationship, which stays the same today as it has been.

Yes, Daniel (ph)?

QUESTION: Thanks, Kayleigh. I have two quick questions.

QUESTION: President Trump's former chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who still has a role in this administration, he said in an op-ed today that we still have a testing problem in this country, and that he and his son had to wait for five to seven days for results.

If even President Trump's former chief of staff levels this criticism, doesn't that negate -- do you have a problem with testing? Do you have a reaction to his op-ed?

MCENANY: Yeah, our reaction is that we've tested -- we lead the world in testing, we've done more than 40 million tests. That's an extraordinary number. Admiral Giroir gave us an update yesterday that on Friday, we did over 800,000 tests, "We tripled, quadrupled the number of tests" -- this is his exact quote.

We have -- and we also have 12,000 retail test sites that are there and we're surging testing in basically every specific county that's having a problem and Dr. Birx was just walking me through pooled testing, which will be a way to process tests at an even faster rate.

So leading the world on testing I would say means we're doing a pretty good job.

Deborah (ph)?

QUESTION: Does the president have any reaction to the Washington Redskins dropping their name today?

MCENANY: Yeah, that's a good question.

You know, he made -- I haven't talked to him since this specific announcement's been made -- I have talked to him but not specifically on that -- but last week, his tweet made it clear that these teams -- these teams name their teams out of strength, not weakness, and he talked about the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians looking at changing their names and he says that he believes that the Native American community would be very angry at this.

And he does have polling to back him up. There was a Washington Post poll from a few years ago that 90 percent of Native Americans say they are not offended by the name -- it -- it is reflective of a 2004 poll. [13:41:59]

MCENANY: And the "Washington Post" notes that many of these Native Americans voiced admiration for the team name, like Barbara Bruce, who said, "I'm proud to be Native American and of the Redskins. I'm not ashamed of that at all. I like that name."

Gabriel Naz (ph), a 29-year-old from the Navajo community: "I really don't mind it, I like it.

There are several other comments like this in the "Washington Post."



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: All right. We're jumping out of the White House briefing here to bring in CNN Chief Political Analyst, Gloria Borger, and Dr. Hotez, who is back with us to fact-check the medical side of this.

Just a couple of headlines that I want to highlight here. She repeated the president's total crap claim that when you lead the world in testing, you find more cases.

We can look, right, at the statistics of the 20 worst-hit countries in the world. There are 13 doing better than the U.S. That is the worst- hit countries. OK?

America is a coronavirus disaster right now. Maybe there's some communities where you're not seeing the hotspots. But where you are the hotspots and they're leading this, overall, this is very troublesome.

The United States is not doing a good job no matter what Kayleigh McEnany says as she tries to also peddle this idea of rogue individuals, she said, at the CDC. So now trying to create this idea of the Deep State and it is in the CDC undermining the president.

That aside, let's talk about the science, Dr. Hotez, where she said, "where you lead the world in testing, you find there's more cases." She's trying to make a case that the U.S. is doing well to get the economy to reopen.

What do you say about this argument she is making?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Before we get to the science, look at the presentation. Totally devoid of humanity, compassion.

Totally devoid of the recognition that we are experiencing a massive resurgence across the southern half of the United States. Record numbers, 70,000 cases a day. Going to 80,000 cases a day very soon.

It's not the testing. Steep rise in hospitalizations and ICU admissions. Why else did she point out the fact that they're sending human numbers of hospital personnel to the south to help out with this horrible epidemic?

And to dismiss the deaths that are now climbing and will continue to accelerate to unprecedented levels in the next few days and weeks and to only cherry pick certain rates, this was obfuscation.

Again, a lack of a recognition of the low-income neighborhoods are def stated, Latino populations, African-American populations. It's only all about cherry picking facts and factoids to string together a false narrative, which is ludicrous.

KEILAR: Because, Gloria, the big issue is reopening schools. I do really think, as we listen to the experts, even the medical experts saying where you can't reopen, as soon as you can reopen you need to, right? This is important for children.

You had Kayleigh McEnany there saying the children are not spreaders and she did it in response to a question about a teacher in Arizona who died.

We just interviewed her principal minutes ago. A teacher wearing a mask, using hand sanitizer, doing social distancing, following the guidelines. But with a two-week summer school virtual program with her in a room with two other teachers. And this community in Arizona, in rural Arizona is now mourning her.

And Kayleigh's reaction is to say kids are not effective spreaders but the World Health Organization said today there's a lack of data on this.


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, what we heard today, and let me echo what the doctor is saying, is a world-is-flat recitation to every question that was asked, whether it was about reopening schools. The president wants to reopen schools, no matter what. That's what Kayleigh McEnany was talking about.

They're not dumping opposition research on Tony Fauci, which, of course, they are. We know that, as journalists. They have sent this out to journalists so we know that they are dumping opposition research.

And of course, the greatest lie of all today was the notion that we have the best testing in the world.

Even their former acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, wrote a piece on CNBC today saying that, you know what, we have to deal with the testing problem, after he dealt with it personally, because he had people in his family who had to wait five to seven days for test results. And that is no way to conduct contact tracing or testing. So even he acknowledged that the United States has a huge testing problem.

But if you're Kayleigh and work for Donald Trump, you cannot acknowledge any problem. You only have to parrot what the president wants you to say. KEILAR: Yes. She is going to have to live with that.

But she defends, Peter Hotez, the White House's record on this. When you have 135,000 Americans who are dead, far past the upper end of what President Trump fathomed or discussed.

There's no testing strategy. We're in July. Schools are supposed to reopen next month. She is casting people who are raising any kinds of concerns about schools reopening as people who don't want to reopen schools.

There are many compelling reasons to reopen schools, right? So many health issues for children. And yet, they don't seem to be addressing this way of keeping students, their families, their teachers healthy.

HOTEZ: The way she does it is very clever and sort of a nefarious way. She points out the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a document recommending that kids should go back to school. They need the infrastructure, the socialization.

They're also practical reasons, food security. Many kids can only get fed in schools. There's the adolescent mental health counseling.

But the point that she takes out is the fact it's unsustainable to do it in areas of high-virus transmission. You cannot open schools in Houston or Miami or Phoenix when, within two weeks, teachers will start to get very sick and bus drivers will start to get very sick and cafeteria workers will get very sick.

And the minute that starts to open it's lights out. They'll close up the schools and simply be unsustainable.

So the problem is the White House is simply unwilling to undertake the hard work that needs to be done to open up the schools and colleges and the rest of the country by the fall. They don't want to take ownership. They don't want to roll up the sleeves.

We can do this. But we have to have a national roadmap and strategy looking at each state, what they need to do to get back to containment mode. And by October 1st, we should be able to do that. They don't want to do that.

It's lack of intellectual curiosity, commitment, and work ethic, and it's ruining our country.

BORGER: Let me just add --


HOTEZ: We shouldn't stand for it.

BORGER: Let me just add, it is also going to take money. And Larry Kudlow suggested today that, in fact, the administration is considering some kind of package of funds, a stimulus package, for schools. That makes a lot of sense because in order to undertake what needs to

be undertaken, distancing in the classrooms, all that retrofitting, it takes a lot of money for the school systems, which generally don't have a lot of money and so it will have to come from the federal government.

So I think that was actually a good sign hearing Ludlow hint about that, because if schools are ever going to get open, they need to spend money to do it.

KEILAR: I wonder, Gloria, these aides around the president, you know, a lot of them are parents. Kayleigh is a new parent. How do you think this is politically winning to -- her response to the reporter who asked about the teacher that died in Arizona was essentially saying it's worth the risk.

They're asking parents to roll the dice with their most precious possession. How can they possibly think that that is a winning political



BORGER: I don't know. I mean, they're asking parents to make kind of a Sophie's Choice.

KEILAR: Correct.

BORGER: And they don't know how they're going to do that, Brianna.

You're a parent. I'm a parent. My kids are grown. But how do you decide what's healthy for your children, healthy for their teachers and what's healthy for you, quite frankly, and how to handle this without constant scientific guidance from a task force, a plan, a national strategy?

We haven't had a national strategy on testing. We haven't had a national strategy on much of anything. How can you do any of this without seeing it laid out before you and without saying, OK, my school system, working in concert with the federal government, has decided that this is the best way to do it until it changes.

And I think parents need to have that. They're not making a decision whether to go out to dinner. They're making a decision about the health of their family.

KEILAR: Yes. It's a very good point.

Gloria, thank you so much.

Dr. Hotez.

Dr. Fauci is speaking right now. We'll hear what he said about the future of the pandemic.


KEILAR: Breaking news. Houston Rockets guard, Russell Westbrook, announces he tested positive for coronavirus. He made this announcement on Twitter.

I want to get to CNN's Andy Scholes.

Andy, this is as players are arriving at the bubble for the restart of the season.

ANDY SHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: That's right, Brianna. So, all the teams, they made the trip to Orlando last week. The Rockets went on Thursday. Everyone got tested before they left.

And when the Rockets got to Orlando to enter the bubble, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, their two superstar guards, were not there, raising eyebrows. And it turns out Russell Westbrook did test positive before making the trip to enter the NBA bubble.

And Westbrook confirmed the news a little while ago on social media. I'll read what he said. "I tested positive for COVID-19 prior to my team's departure. I'm currently feeling well, quarantined, and looking forward to rejoining my teammates when I'm cleared. Please take this virus seriously. Be safe, mask up, #why not."

And we reached out to the Rockets B.P. They said they had no more information to add other than what Westbrook already said.

The head coach was asked, why wasn't Westbrook and harden in the bubble already, and he said they are dealing with some things, Brianna, and that he hopes to have them at camp there in Orlando in the next three or four days.

Now, when players arrive in the bubble in Orlando, they have to stay in their room for 48 hours and have two negative tests before they're allowed to venture out and start practicing with the team.

That's what Westbrook had ahead of him, and James Harden, whenever he eventually makes his way to Orlando.

KEILAR: All right. Just shows what they're up against here. We wish them the best in their recovery and getting on to this.

Andy, thank you.

A positive sign in the fight against the coronavirus in New York City. Mayor De Blasio saying today , for the first time, there was a 24-hour period with zero coronavirus deaths. Did pointed out in the rise in infections among 20- to 29-year-olds. He'll says the city will double down on its outreach to young adults by offer more mobile testing and mask giveaways.

More on the virus's impact from my CNN colleagues all across the country.


JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: I'm Jacqueline Howard, in Atlanta. People who attended a Fourth of July party in Rapid City, Michigan, are being urged to get tested for COVID-19 right away and to monitor for symptoMs.

The health department of northwest Michigan issued the advisory after some party goers tested positive for the virus and were unable to remember who they came into contact with.

Photos from the party at the Torch Lake Sandbar showed huge crowds with lots of boats. Police reported a 26 percent higher call volume in contrast to previous gatherings on the 4th.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Evan McMorris-Santoro, outside a hospital in Phoenix. The story of the pandemic here is a story of stress on the medical system. And 89 percent of all ICU beds are in use. And 86 percent of all hospital beds are in use. Ventilator capacity is steadily declining.

Doctors tell us this system is under stress and, for now, there's no end in sight.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dianne Gallagher, in Atlanta, where Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has reactivated a COVID-19 overflow hospital inside the Georgia World Conference Center here behind me.

He made the decision on Friday, which is when the state hit a record number of new cases, nearly 4500. Georgia has seen an increase in hospitalizations, deaths and new cases of COVID-19.