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Los Angeles County Hits New Record; South Carolina Records 69 Deaths; Washington's NFL Team under Investigation; Mercedes Schlapp is Interviewed about the Trump Campaign. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired July 17, 2020 - 09:30   ET



STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: California's numbers for the day, above 8,500 new cases.

And we did see a slight decline in hospitalizations, in ICU admissions. But when you look at the positivity rate, which is at 7.2 percent over the last 14 days, it is trending upward.

And I -- I want to point out something to you, just about these numbers here of deaths for the totals in California. More than half of them are here in Los Angeles County. And that is important because, at this point, we saw another new record here in Los Angeles County at almost 4,600 cases in one day. And when you look at that number there, the LA County director of public health is saying that 4,600 cases, in just a matter of weeks, could become 18,000 cases. And this is why they really want us to work on social distancing and masks, Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Stephanie, thank you for that. We'll wait for his announcement in just a little bit.

Let's go to Greenville, South Carolina, now. Our Natasha Chen is on the ground reporting there.

Good morning, Natasha.

State health officials there also recording the highest single day of Covid deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, is that right?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. And they've reported 69 new confirmed deaths yesterday related to Covid-19. They did say, though, that it sometimes takes a while to confirm that a death is related to Covid, especially if someone had multiple medical issues. So these deaths that they reported did happen over the course of the last few weeks. It does put the state over 1,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

When you look at the seven-day moving average of new deaths, you see that a trend upward in the last couple of weeks, same thing with the seven day new average of new cases, it's also trended upward in the last week or so. So these are disturbing trends while the governor, Henry McMaster, is asking the school districts to all submit plans that include an in-classroom learning option. That's not an executive order. It did garner some criticism from educators.

Today is actually the deadline for districts to submit those plans to the state's superintendent for approval. We're hearing from the Department of Education that about a quarter of the districts have asked for extensions. Their school boards haven't voted on them yet.

But just as an example, Greenville here, where we are, this is the largest school district in the state, they told me that they would like to submit next Tuesday and their plans range from all virtual to all in class, to everything in between. So, so far the Department of Education tells me that no district has submitted any plan that is only virtual.

I want to read you a statement from the state's superintendent, Molly Spearman. She said, school leaders, in consultation with public health experts, are best positioned to determine how in-person operations should be carried out to fit the needs of their local communities. I remain committed to supporting them in their endeavor and will only approve those plans that offer high quality options and keep safety as the top priority.

And, Poppy, I was told just before we came on air here that they don't have an exact timeline for when to get those approved.


Natasha, we appreciate the reporting there. A very, very sad day and the situation on the ground there.

Ahead for us, well, the same week that Washington's NFL's team dropped its controversial name, the team now pledging an independent review after more than a dozen women are accusing two former top staffers of sexual harassment and verbal abuse. An update on that ahead.



HARLOW: Well, more than a dozen women are accusing staff members of Washington's NFL team of sexual harassment and verbal abuses. This, obviously, follows the controversy over the name and the now coming name change.

Andy Scholes is with me this morning for more.

Really serious accusations from 15 former employees.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they certainly are, Poppy.

Fifteen former female employees and then two journalists who also covered the team speaking with "The Washington Post," detailing allegations of sexual harassment and verbal abuse. And it took place over a span of 13 years. Now, some of the allegations are against team executives. And among those accused of misconduct are former director of pro personnel, Alex Santos, and former assistant of pro personnel Richard Mann II. Both of them were fired last week, according to "The Post."

Now, Santos declined to comment on the allegations according to "The Post." CNN was unable to reach Mann for comment.

Now, long-time radio play-by-play announcer and senior vice president of content, Larry Michael, he was caught on a hot mic in 2018 talking about the attractiveness of a college intern, he retired from his job on Wednesday. Team owner Daniel Snyder and former team president Bruce Allen were not directly implicated in the allegations, though Snyder is criticized for fostering a culture where the behavior was permitted.

Now, one of the accusers, Emily Applegate, who worked as a marketing coordinator for the team, explained why she came forward on the "Today" show this morning.


EMILY APPLEGATE, FORMER TEAM EMPLOYEE: Nobody deserves to be degraded and treated like that. Nobody deserves to be disrespected. And for any of us women that want to get into a career that is a male dominated force, we shouldn't be afraid that these are the things that are going to happen.


SCHOLES: Now, the team referred CNN to its comments to "The Post" saying they have hired Beth Wilkinson and her law firm to conduct a thorough, independent review of this entire matter and help the team set new employee standards for the future.

Now, the NFL releasing a statement on the matter this morning, saying in part, these matters, as reported, are serious, disturbing and contrary to the NFL's values. Everyone in the NFL has the right to work in an environment free from any and all forms of harassment. The league adding that they will meet with the attorneys on the conclusion of their investigation and take any action based on their findings.


And, Poppy, Ron Rivera is in his first season as head coach of the team in Washington and he told ESPN these kind of things are not going to happen on his watch, especially because his daughter now works for the organization.

HARLOW: I certainly hope -- hope not. They never should have happened in the first place.

Andy, we appreciate the reporting. We'll follow it closely.

All right, so you're going to want to watch this over the weekend. From the farms of Oklahoma to the beaches of Miami, W. Kamau Bell is taking on injustice and inequality across America in an all-new season of "United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell." It starts this Sunday night, 10:00 Eastern, only right here on CNN. Well, as the number of coronavirus cases goes up, the president's poll numbers are going down. This as the nation prepares to vote in just months. We're going to be joined next by a member of the president's campaign team.



HARLOW: Welcome back.

Well, this morning, the tragic facts. Across the United States, more than 77,000 new coronavirus cases reported just yesterday. That accounts for 31 percent of new cases around the world. It's also more than tripled the daily total from just a month ago.

Joining me now is the Trump campaign senior adviser, Mercedes Schlapp.

Thank you for your time this morning, Mercedes.


HARLOW: Let's begin on this and the news that Georgia's governor, Brian Kemp, is suing the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, who has issued a mask mandate in the city of Atlanta.

Does the president support the governor's move?

SCHLAPP: You know, you'd have to ask the White House on that. I have to say that I think it's obviously, when it comes to these mask mandates, you know, there's been so many mixed reviews.

I mean just alone we've seen, way back in the beginning, when Dr. Fauci and several outlets, media outlets out there basically saying that we didn't have to wear masks and now we need to wear a masks. So there's been a lot of confusion in the area. So I think, at the end of the day, the state and the local governments are the ones that need to make the best decision for their residents.

HARLOW: So just to be clear, Dr. Fauci said that because there was a shortage of masks and PPE and he didn't want them taken away from the first responders and the medical professionals, I guess let's just -- let's just -- hold on, Mercedes, I let you finish.

SCHLAPP: Yes, but you all spent a lot of time also saying that we -- that you all didn't need to --. HARLOW: I let you finish. Just -- the data now --

SCHLAPP: Go ahead.

HARLOW: Let's talk about the now. The data now is indisputable that masks save lives, masks lower transmission and even the IHME (ph) numbers out of the University of Washington this week, that you guys use, say if almost everyone used masks, then 40,000 fewer Americans would die, that's just a fact, by November. SCHLAPP: Well, let's just say this, you know, do we have to ask the

farmer in Iowa on his tractor whether he needs to wear a mask or not? I think you've got to take this from a local jurisdiction perspective.

HARLOW: That's not -- well, that's not what I'm talking about.

SCHLAPP: Obviously --

HARLOW: I'm from Minnesota. My family's from Iowa. I know -- you know, I understand what you're saying.

My point is, it's about being in public.

SCHLAPP: They're great Americans.

HARLOW: They are. I love my home state and I love Iowa.


HARLOW: I'm talking about -- I'm talking about people when -- when they're -- when they're in public.

And let me ask you, you know, pose this to you about why because the chief medical officer in Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, her name is Dr. Jane Applebee, she said in the last few days that a patient of theirs, in his 30s, died and that the nurse that treated him for Covid said that when he was dying, among his final words were this, I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax. But it's not.

For months and months, why did the president continue to downplay the severity of this?

SCHLAPP: That is so -- that is such -- so false what you're saying, Poppy.

HARLOW: What's false?

SCHLAPP: He never downplayed the --


SCHLAPP: Oh, that you're saying that he downplayed the severity of this. This president has taken decisive and bold actions from the begin. When his medical experts came to him and said, look, we need to put the travel restrictions on China, the president acted immediately. You know what Joe Biden said? He said that that was xenophobic.

HARLOW: Mercedes, let's stick on the president. We can -- I promise we can get back to Joe Biden in a moment.

SCHLAPP: Yes, well, no, we have to talk about Joe Biden because none of the press wants to ask questions to Joe Biden.

HARLOW: I really -- I really worry -- Mercedes -- oh, that's not true.

Mercedes, I really -- I fear it's not -- SCHLAPP: And he's a candidate. Shouldn't we know what Joe Biden stands for?

HARLOW: We should and we should absolutely know what the president leading in this pandemic stands for. It is the single most --

SCHLAPP: Right. Well, he let you guys ask questions. That's my question.

HARLOW: It is the single most relevant issue for Americans at this moment in time.

SCHLAPP: And we all agree.

HARLOW: And, Mercedes --

SCHLAPP: And for --

HARLOW: Mercedes, please, I think it does a disservice -- we've -- we've got time, so we don't have to talk over one another. I think it does a disservice to our viewer to do that.

Let's not fight. Let's talk about the facts.

Here are the facts. You say the president didn't downplay this. Exactly one month ago -- one month ago today, the president said it's fading away. January 22nd in Davos, Switzerland, it's totally under control. February 2nd, we pretty much shut it down. February 10th, it goes away in April with the heat a lot of people think. February 26th, the risk to the American people remains very low. February 28th, quote, this is their new hoax. May 8th, this is going to go away without a vaccine. That what's I'm talking about.

SCHLAPP: What the president has been able to accomplish with the -- working with our -- both Democrat and Republican governors is ensuring that they have the resources they need to combat the coronavirus. This president has pushed forward and insured that --

HARLOW: They don't have the resources they need.


HARLOW: Republican Governor Larry Hogan --

SCHLAPP: What are you talking about? You can ask --

HARLOW: I'm talking about Republican Governor Larry Hogan yesterday recounting that he didn't have enough --

SCHLAPP: Oh, Governor -- well, he didn't -- he praised the president. He praised the president beforehand.


HARLOW: Yes, he did. He did and he also had to fly in --

SCHLAPP: Look, he's playing a political game. We --

HARLOW: He had to fly in $9 million worth of masks from South Korea because he could not get enough. He said the president said it was clear that waiting around --

SCHLAPP: He -- Governor Hogan --

HARLOW: Just let me finish the question -- for the president to run the nation's response was hopeless, and this is what he said last night to my colleague Erin Burnett, a Republican governor.

SCHLAPP: Look, he has a personal --

HARLOW: Let's play the tape.


GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): I think he really ought to focus on the crisis, listen to the experts and communicate as directly and honestly as he can and stop worrying so much about the campaign and, you know, what he says on Twitter, because I think it's not helpful to the -- to the entire effort to fight this virus.


HARLOW: Do you think he's wrong?

SCHLAPP: I mean Governor Hogan has always been a critic of this president. This president, and the vice president, and the coronavirus team, have been actively working on getting a vaccine, have been actively working on ensuring that we are getting these dosages of Remdesivir to ensure that that helps across the board. We are deploying HHS teams in these hot spots. We are also ensuring that we're deploying thousands of doctors and nurses to these states.

HARLOW: Well, then why, Mercedes --

SCHLAPP: So I have to tell you, he -- he --

HARLOW: Why did they do --

SCHLAPP: The teams continue to work closely with the governors. They keep having these calls.

HARLOW: And we wish them so much luck. There is no one --

SCHLAPP: They're moving things along and --

HARLOW: Everyone wants him to -- everyone wants the administration to succeed. Everyone does.

SCHLAPP: But, no. But, see, you all spend a lot of times just wanting to criticize the president about his response, but the reality is --

HARLOW: But I have to ask you about the facts. I want to ask you about the facts because you have more than 130,000 Americans who died. This is a wartime president, self-proclaimed, who has now seen more deaths from the coronavirus than the Korean War, the Vietnam War and September 11th and the Obama administration left you guys a 69-page playbook on this about what to do with the pandemic.

And there's this --

SCHLAPP: The -- the -- President Obama? They're the ones -- let's be -- are you kidding me?

HARLOW: OK, Wait, Mercedes, I'm going to finish the question.

SCHLAPP: They ended up depleting our stockpile.

HARLOW: I'm going -- I'm going to finish the question.

SCHLAPP: No, no, no, no, because this is not a question that you're asking.

HARLOW: It is. It is. It's actually about your economic team.

SCHLAPP: This is about you all -- no, it's not. It's not.

HARLOW: It is, your economic --

SCHLAPP: No, you --

HARLOW: Can I show you -- please show you one thing from your White House. Look at -- I know we can see each other. So this study, have you seen it, it's from your Council of Economic Advisers last year. The headline, "Mitigating the Impact of a Pandemic Influenza Through Vaccine Innovation."

Have you read it?

SCHLAPP: I have not read it.

HARLOW: OK. So let me read you just from the first page. Quote, the Council of Economic Advisers finds that in a pandemic year -- this was last year they wrote this -- in a pandemic year, the economic damage would range from $413 billion to $3.79 trillion. Fatalities in it the most serious scenario would exceed half a million people in the United States.

Why was this warning from the White House itself last year not heeded by the president?

SCHLAPP: Well, first of all, I think the president has be listening to both his health experts, to his economic advisers.

Look, we know the severity of this pandemic.

HARLOW: These are his economic advisers. This are his economic advisers.

SCHLAPP: Exactly. And so he has taken bold and decisive steps in working with these governors, in working with these health experts to ensure that we deal with this problem. You know, I can take this back, and I know you don't want to talk about Joe Biden, but I can talk this back to Joe Biden.

HARLOW: Be happy to. But --

SCHLAPP: We're in the beginning of this pandemic where they basically said --

HARLOW: But you're working for the president.

SCHLAPP: Yes, but we -- we kind of need to know what Joe Biden's vision is. We have no idea except that he decided to attack the president in calling the decisive decisions that he's made in terms of coronavirus, calling the travel restrictions xenophobic, where you all also criticized the president for making these travel restrictions that we know saved lives.

HARLOW: No, I never -- I never criticized, never, the president's decision on -- on the travel restrictions from China.

SCHLAPP: But your network did. Plenty of your guests did.

HARLOW: But I will tell you that the CDC, the White House, the CDC came out this week and said the travel restrictions placed on China and Europe came too late to stop the spread, especially here in New York City.

So, I -- I -- I will note that.

SCHLAPP: Well, the president acted immediately when he heard from his healthcare experts.

HARLOW: You say --

SCHLAPP: Immediately acted. Actually, Governor Cuomo waited six or seven days after the travel restrictions were in place to -- to -- to close down the city. So, I mean, you know, I think in all of this we all have to --

HARLOW: Mercedes, let me ask you about -- we all -- we all have a lot of questions to answer. No one did it perfectly. But because you're working with the president and trying to get him re-elected, I think these are really important questions, especially for every single American who has lost a loved one to Covid.

SCHLAPP: Absolutely. I mean --

HARLOW: There is no question about that.

Goldman Sachs, let's talk about --

SCHLAPP: Absolutely. We all agree.

HARLOW: If we could just talk about the economy, because it's very important to everyone and the president, and he's been pushing for these reopenings. Goldman Sachs just came out and said that a federal mask mandate could prevent the need for lockdowns that would wipe out 5 percent of GDP. That's Goldman Sachs says you guys should do this to help the economy. Do you think they're right, federal mask mandate?

SCHLAPP: You know, again, I think the states are the ones that can best decide for the residents. It's very clear -- even the president says, you know, if you need to wear a mask, wear a mask.


But I'm going to say, and you know this coming from Iowa and coming -- having your family in Minnesota as well, it depends. It's a -- it's kind of a count -- a community county by county basis on what works.

HARLOW: Well --

SCHLAPP: You're seeing certain areas where you've seen spikes in the cases. Other areas where you don't. And so I think that it's really up to the states to determine these mandates.

HARLOW: The issue is people are traveling between the states.

Let me ask you about Dr. Fauci. Help me understand why the president, his chief of staff, his top trade advisers, social media director, why are they attacking Dr. Fauci, undermining him at the least?

SCHLAPP: They are not. I mean the president has a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci. He's one of many --

HARLOW: Mercedes, they wrote essentially oppo research on him.

SCHLAPP: There is --

HARLOW: I mean they -- they issued like 12 bullet points about all these things he got wrong, they say.

SCHLAPP: The -- look, I think Dr. Fauci, as we see with Dr. Birx, there's many of these health experts that the president is talking to, listening to. And, you know, I think, at the end of the day, we're all trying to figure out the best path forward. And what we've decided is we need to ensure that we're continuing to flatten the curve, keep mortality rates down, ensure that we fast track the vaccines development, the therapeutics development.


SCHLAPP: You know, we've been able to increase our testing capabilities. We're seeing results.

HARLOW: Well, Mercedes, we just had another record day --

SCHLAPP: This is in contrast to the Joe Biden option, which is keep the economies closed, keep the schools closed and create fearmongering. HARLOW: I don't know what results we're seeing -- I don't know what

results we're seeing when 77,000 new cases come up yesterday. And the reason I ask about Dr. Fauci --

SCHLAPP: Because we have more testing capability.

HARLOW: Is because the president has a serious credibility crisis here. All of the polling, every single one, including a brand-new "Washington Post"/ABC polling out today shows how much more Dr. Fauci is trusted on this than the president.

You have 38 percent only approve of the president's handling of the outbreak, according to "The Washington Post" today. If you look at other reporting out of Quinnipiac University, 67 percent of people do not trust the president on handling this crisis. Sixty-seven percent do not trust him on this. Sixty-five percent trust Dr. Fauci. That's -- that's an issue, no?

SCHLAPP: Well, first, let's -- let's just -- let's dissect the Quinnipiac poll. So that's a -- that's a perfect example. It skews towards Democrats and independents. What we have seen in terms of --

HARLOW: No, it doesn't. Fifty-two percent of rural voters --

SCHLAPP: Yes, it does. Yes, it does, because they have 24 percent --

HARLOW: Fifty-two percent of rural voters and 55 of whites without a college degree --

SCHLAPP: Just in general, when it comes -- let --

HARLOW: Do not trust him on Covid.

SCHLAPP: Let me tell you, when you look at exiting polling when it comes to 2016 and 2018, they usually have the 33 percent of Republicans.


SCHLAPP: Overall, Quinnipiac has been polling only about 24 percent of Republicans. It skews.

HARLOW: All right, well, the -- here are the six times that the president has tweeted applauding Quinnipiac polls. We have them over the last few years. Many, many times he has applauds Quinnipiac's polling.

So maybe you guys don't like it, but the president seems to be OK with it.

Here's my final question.

SCHLAPP: Look, there are a number of polls that have very skewed methodologies. I can tell you that for the president, what we've seen time and time again, I'll give you the case of Michigan, for example. When they did 61 polls in 2016, the president was never up in any of them. He ended up winning that state.

HARLOW: Yes, well --

SCHLAPP: You know, I think at the end of the day you see a lot of these people who don't pick up the phone to listen to these pollsters who are going to obviously want to make a headline.

HARLOW: OK. As you know, pollsters have done a lot of work in the last years to correct for things that were missed, and I agree that we missed in polling back then.


HARLOW: Final question --

SCHLAPP: Go ahead.

HARLOW: 138,360, that's the number of Americans who have died from Covid as of this morning. So in this moment, why did this self- proclaimed wartime president take a photo hawking Goya beans behind the Resolute Desk and it was posted on Instagram. Here it is for everyone to see it.

SCHLAPP: Well --

HARLOW: Why did he do this in this moment?

SCHLAPP: Well, as a -- as a Latina, as the daughter of a Cuban immigrant who fled communism, who understands the importance of the American dream, to watch these Democrats, these leftists be so intolerant that they go after this Goya --

HARLOW: Could we -- I'm sorry, Mercedes, I'd love to have you back --

SCHLAPP: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, let me finish.

HARLOW: I want to show people the picture.

SCHLAPP: Let -- let me finish.

HARLOW: Can we -- can we show it so people can see and understand --

SCHLAPP: Yes, because -- no, no, because --

HARLOW: I just want to know why he did it.

SCHLAPP: Poppy, let me finish, because this is about telling the craziness of the left, the intolerance of the left that they would want to boycott Goya. Goya, that this man, who has fed millions of Latinos, not only here in the United States but in Latin America, that they go after him --


SCHLAPP: Because he said one nice thing about this president.


SCHLAPP: This president, who has worked with both the Obama administration and the Trump administration, yet the left are so intolerant.

HARLOW: I want --

SCHLAPP: That is anti-American.

HARLOW: I want --

SCHLAPP: So, yes, I say, (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE), absolutely.

HARLOW: I hope every employee -- I hope -- your Spanish is so much better than mine. I hope every employee at Goya thrives. I sincerely, sincerely mean that.

SCHLAPP: I do. I do too. And it's fed all of our families. And if you need a recipe, let me know, I can give you really good Goya recipes.

HARLOW: I just don't understand why the president -- I don't understand why the president, in this crisis moment in the country --

SCHLAPP: Are you kidding me? You're talking about whether he took a picture with Goya products because -- because --


HARLOW: -- posted a picture of him hawking a product from the Resolute Desk. But I don't think you're going to answer.