Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

California's Two Largest School Districts Will Offer Online Only Instruction in The Fall; DeVos Won't Say If Schools Should Follow CDC Guidelines; White House Denies Opposition Research on Fauci Despite Memos Against Him; NFL's Washington Reskins Changing Team Name and Logo. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 13, 2020 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: The largest school districts in California, some of the largest in the country, will begin their new school year next month, but will be exclusively online.

That announcement came just a short time ago. 825,000 students attend the public schools in Los Angeles and San Diego that we're talking about here. And with the start of school, less than a month away, and so many other states, confusion abounds over how to open schools safely? When to do it? And whose guidance to follow if any.

Now the President's Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow has chimed in, telling Fox News that the President is not only demanding schools reopen for in-person learning, but now considering offering an economic incentive, money to local governments if they do.

But to be clear, the administration still isn't offering any plans to schools, educators or parents to do any of this safely. Look no further than Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for the administration's lack of a plan. She couldn't answer the basic question about whether schools should follow CDC guidelines. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Should they follow CDC guidelines?

BETSY DEVOS, EDUCATION SECRETARY: -- and my team. The CDC guidelines are just that, meant to be flexible and meant to be applied as appropriate for the situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Faced with all of this, one school nurse in New Jersey just told "The New York Times" this --

I'm just going to say it, it feels like we're playing Russian roulette with our kids and our staff. Joining me right now is that school nurse, Robin Cogan. She's a school

nurse in the Camden City Public Schools. Thank you for being here. When you put it this way, you put it in a way that I have not heard from a lot of people quite yet. That sending kids back is pure and simply a gamble. Why is it such a gamble, Robin? What are you seeing?

ROBIN COGAN, SCHOOL NURSE, CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY SCHOOL DISTRICT, NEW JERSEY: So first of all, thank you so much for having me, for giving the voice to school nurses. There's 95,000 of us that are grappling with this across the country and we are about to become the front line, the next front line of care in COVID-19 at school.

And the reason I said that and I'm glad that I said it, is because this is what's happening. We are building plans on sand. It is a constantly shifting environment. And we are also truthfully witnessing the death of expertise. What's happened over the last few days of degrading Dr. Fauci, of saying that the CDC guidelines were too cumbersome and too costly, and that the White House was planning to issue its own guidelines.

To me the only thing that I could think of is, this is the death of expertise happening right before our eyes. So how can we balance student and staff safety based on CDC guidelines that are being denigrated by the federal government but at the same time, you know, we're told that the White House is now planning on releasing their own guidelines.

[15:35:00]

What is it? Who are we to listen to? And I just want to say this, the CDC guidelines are very specific. The lowest risk, the lowest risk is students and teachers engaging in virtual-only classes. The more risk are small in-person classes and the higher risk is full size in-person classes.

So where do we value our children and our staff? Where do we fall in that risk assessment? As a nurse, as a public health person, who wants to be back in school, like my colleagues, we have to be realistic, because we're being tasked with keeping students and staff safe in an environment that feels incredibly unsafe.

BOLDUAN: And I think your perspective is important in this because as a school nurse, you see every -- you see every illness, you see every potential illness, you see everything. That is where a student goes to first. We all know this, and every parent is thankful for it. And that's why I wonder what you think you could see to make you comfortable enough to go back to school and face risk? Is there something that is clear?

Because I'll tell you what we just heard from the President a short time ago and he said this before, was that it's Democrats are the only ones that want schools to stay closed right now because it is bad for the country and then would be good for their politics.

COGAN: Yes, he has really politicized it. But there's no national leadership on this case. This is a public health crisis. So that would -- what would make us really comfortable is following the tried and true guidelines of public health principles which are completely absent at the moment. And that includes testing and that includes contact tracing and isolation.

Right now the CDC guidelines are actually telling us that if we see students with a myriad of symptoms which we see every day as school nurses, anything from congestion to a headache to a sore throat to a cough, there's a whole list of them now and they keep growing. That could possibly be an infection. So, what they're telling us is that we have to isolate those children. And so now every school in this country has to have an isolation room in the school.

Who is manning that? What is supposed to be in that room? Who is paying for that? You know, we can't create these things out of nowhere, right. I mean, if your school needs an isolation room, are we really ready to go back to school? An isolation room with its own HEPA filter. I'm sorry.

BOLDUAN: Your concerns, I think, why I think it was important to have you on, is your concerns really crystallize how complex this is but how simple it actually comes down to because you need to -- you need to look at every step of the day and ensure that you've got it right and you've had these conversations.

And having a school nurse be part of the conversation I think is as we can see right from this conversation a critical piece of it. Robin, thank you for coming in. I appreciate your time.

COGAN: Thank you so much for having us.

BOLDUAN: No problem.

Up next for us, a White House in the midst of a crisis. Attacking its own experts. What that says about the administration's priorities right now.

[15:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The notion that there's opposition research and there's Fauci versus the President couldn't be further from the truth. Dr. Fauci and the President have always had a very good working relationship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: That was the White House Press Secretary just today responding to the reporting that a White House official distributed what does amounts to opposition researchers to reporters about Dr. Anthony Fauci. The unnamed official sending memos to reporters citing examples of what they viewed as Fauci mistakes even though some were taken completely out of context. What does this say about the White House's priorities right now?

Joining me right now is David Axelrod former Senior Adviser in the Obama White House. It's good to see you David, under really remarkable circumstances but they are all at this point. I mean what did you think when you saw this coming out this weekend?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLTICAL COMMENTATOR: I thought it was predictable and appalling. You could see that the President was on a collision course with Dr. Fauci because Dr. Fauci keeps trying to sound the alarm about this raging inferno of a pandemic and the President keeps wanting to ignore it and Dr. Fauci has become inconvenient for the President.

So, you know, it didn't surprise me. But -- and it's crazy for Kayleigh McEnany to say they've always had a good relationship. Imagine how you get treated if you have a bad relationship. Meaning if you have a good relationship and they sent out oppo research on you.

And the thing about the research was that it was misleading. Because they excised portions of what Dr. Fauci said that were inconvenient to their argument. So, you know, it's really -- and then this morning to read him or to see him re-tweeting that noted public health expert Chuck Woolery, the creator of the Love Connection, the game show host, attacking the CDC, attacking doctors. This is so, so destructive at a time when we need to pull together as a country and deal with what is a major crisis.

BOLDUAN: Wouldn't you just kind of think of a statement of priorities. Because this doesn't happen in a vacuum. Tell me what you think. As someone who has been in part of many a campaign in the White House, does opposition research just happen by one person who decides to put it out. I mean there is a conversation and a strategic choice when you go at someone like this.

[15:45:00]

AXELROD: Yes. My guess is this came from the top. And I don't think this was generated by middle management. And, you know, they were defending the President who said the night before, I guess it was the night, before on Fox that Dr. Fauci had made a lot of mistakes. And so, they were trying to back up that ridiculous claim.

And that's how this thing unfolded. But you know, in terms of what is their priority, their priority is one which is to try and win reelection, that was why the President was so eager to deny the fact of the virus in the first instance that cost us six weeks at the beginning. And that's why for the last several weeks he's been ignoring the obvious upsurge of the virus.

BOLDUAN: But David, just take the last 72 hours. Honestly, if you're working to discredit Anthony Fauci, retweeting Chuck Woolery saying that the CDC is lying.

But then you also have him commuting Roger Stone's sentence and Michael Cohen is sent back to prison because his attorneys say he wouldn't agree to stop writing a book. Do you see a through line here?

AXELROD: Well, if you are looking at it objectively, you'd say this isn't a guy who seems like he's working hard to get re-elected. I'd say that. I mean these aren't strategies calculated to get re-elected. I've said from the beginning if the President had handled the virus straight up.

If he had done what so many governors have done, and taken the advice of public health experts, and given the facts to the public, and talked about the sacrifices that were necessary, and why, he may well have put this election away. And instead he couldn't, and he went in a different direction and I think he's dug himself into a deep hole.

On the Roger Stone piece, look, that too was appalling but not surprising. The President's been signaling that from the beginning. It was an act of abject corruption. But probably not as damaging to his chances because that sort of baked in the cake by now as the way he's handling these issues that are touching people's lives on a daily basis.

You know, you can't spin a pandemic. People are living the reality of it. And when you deny it and when you say it's just going to go away, when the intensive care units are filling up, you know, you're going to run into a wall on this and the President has.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you David, thank you for coming in.

AXELROD: Good to see you, always.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next, Washington's NFL team owner bends to the pressure and is retiring the Redskins name, a former player reacts to today's historic announcement.

[15:50:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: After years of controversy and protest, and very recently new pressure from sponsors, the Washington Redskins announced today that they are officially dropping the team's name and logo. So, what happens now? Joining me right now is someone Washington fans know quite well, former Redskins tight end, Rick "Doc" Walker. He's currently hosting a sports talk radio show in D.C. It's great to see you, Doc. What's your reaction to this announcement?

RICK "DOC" WALKER, FORMER REDSKINS TIGHT END: Thanks for having me. Well, it has happened throughout the 40 years that I've been in the nation's Capitol where we've had uprising about the name. It has been a topic. And if I went a decade on air never referencing the name. After meeting with a Native American gentleman that was part of Congress and he told me it was a racial slur.

Dan Snyder sent a contingency of people to go to various reservations. And so about four years ago, Bobby Beathard, my general manager when I played, he said that there were several reservations that had the nickname of their junior highs and high schools being Redskins. So I figured then well there must be a bit of a split. But after since deemed as being derogatory to 1 percent of the people in that, it's enough for me to respect it.

BOLDUAN: Do you have any ideas now about what the name should be?

WALKER: No, and, you know, I've tried to take -- I'm so just wrapped around burgundy and gold. Our fan base is fantastic and it's worldwide. We've been to London and I felt like I was a member of the Beatles when I was there at a rally.

And so, it is such an affectionate term, and the colors. I just wanted the colors to remain. And thank goodness, they're intact. So it's burgundy and gold. And whether they call them the warriors, whether they call them the red wolves or red tails, I'm going to be about supporting the team as I was supported, you know, back in the '80s.

BOLDUAN: I know you've heard it. What do you say to the criticism that, you know, that Dan Snyder, the owner of the Redskins, he pushed back on this and kind of fought this for years and is now making this reality only after sponsors and big money were demanding it.

WALKER: Well, it's economics. I mean the world travels off that green machine. And so, look at the partners, part of the ownership. They all knew it. Everyone knew it. But what we were telling ourselves is that the fraction of the people that said it was OK, then we rode with that.

Well, if they called them the spooks or something derogatory to my culture, I would never have accepted it. But, yet, as an African- American, this was laid upon us my whole life we were called negro, colored, black, all different type of things. That is happening by an empowered people that are privileged enough and have very little regard to your feelings. I don't ever want to be put in that category.

[15:55:00]

BOLDUAN: How do you think fans are going to react to all of this?

WALKER: No, I'm not thinking, Kate, I know. I'm getting killed -- I mean, bombarded throughout our three-hour broadcast, of course on Twitter, Facebook, all the social media. There's a fraction of people that say they will never come back. And all I say to that is that there's just as many people that have left us in the past because of it. And they will return.

And I think the bottom line to this, Kate, is that if we win again, and I think Ron Rivera is the guy to get that done. I think a lot of people will come back.

BOLDUAN: After all of your experience, what do you think is -- what is your lesson in this from all of your time with the Redskins?

WALKER: Well, the fact that we have to look at our owner who is a racist owner. The last team to have an African-American player, we honor and love Bobby Mitchell. And I like to throw that out. I hope that one day, whenever we do get a new place, that he will be honored, as he should be.

So, what did you think George Preston Marshall had on his mind? Nothing that was good for minorities. And so, I can see that even if it were a slang or a bad word, he didn't care. So we owe it to the next generation to fix a problem. And this thing has come up. It didn't just happen. But deep down inside --

BOLDUAN: Doc, it definitely didn't just happen. But it's good to have you on, it's great to have you on, and it's great to have us being able to talk about us. It's really good to see you. Thank you.

WALKER: Thank you. Keep up the good work.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)