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No White House Medical Experts Expected at Trump Briefing Today; Dr. Gustavo Ferrer Discusses Florida Needing Staff, Supplies as Cases Rise, Miami-Dade ICUs at 130% Capacity; Unidentified Federal Agents Fire Tear Gas at Portland Protesters as Trump Administration Plans to Send 150 Agents to Chicago; Source: NFL Offers Players Deal to Eliminate Preseason Games; Giants Players, Coaches Kneel During National Anthem. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired July 21, 2020 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00]

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And what is his message going to be? He tweeted this morning that we're doing very well on the virus. Repeating things that are at odds with the reality that the American people are living, is not going to help him political standing.

So I'm betting that at the end of the day, he is going to have some public health experts, Birx, Fauci, Redfield, maybe the surgeon general. He needs someone there to deliver a more realistic assessment of our situation and the predicament that we're in that he seemed capable of doing.

But he's the president. He can make that decision. And obviously, we know that Fauci and Birx and others have not been told whether they are going to participate or not.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Well, that part there just tells you a little bit haphazard putting it together. Tell us point blank they won't be there or invite them. The confusion just adds to the question, John, like do you guys have your act together?

HARWOOD: Exactly.

KING: John Harwood for us at the White House.

HARWOOD: Exactly.

KING: We'll watch this one play out. Exactly is right.

With me now to share their reporting and continue the conversation, their reporting and insight, our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, and Seung Min Kim, our political analyst here, and also a White House reporter at the "Washington Post."

Dana, the president is coming back.

Seung Min, you've watched these as well.

Dr. Fauci today -- listen to this -- this sounds like common sense. It's important to speak to the American people. Let's get it right. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES (voice-over): If they want me there, I'd be more than happy to be there. And if they do not, that's OK, too, as long as we get the message across.

If we, in those conferences, come out and have consistent, clear, non- contradictory messages, I believe it would be very helpful in getting people on track knowing the direction that we need to go to get this pandemic under control.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Consistent, clear, non-contradictory messages. He makes a very important point, admitting that the pandemic is not under control. That's what Dr. Fauci wants.

That's not -- let's go back in time -- this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going very substantially down.

We're testing everybody that we need to test, and we're finding very little problem. Very little problem.

Now, you treat this like a flu.

We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.

I hope we can do this by Easter.

Hydroxychloroquine. Try it.

I see that disinfectants that it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or -- or a form of cleaning?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Long windup, but consistent clear non-contradictory messages, as Dr. Fauci called it, that's not the president's strength or at least has not been. Can we get there today?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's going to be very, very difficult to see the answer to that question being last. I mean, that last part of the long clip you played was the last time we saw the president do a coronavirus briefing. It was almost three months ago to it the day. And it's because he couldn't control himself. And he -- what he said

was embarrassing. And it was not only embarrassing and not only the opposite of informative for the people who are watching, but when it comes to what he says the most about, which is his personal political poll numbers and viability for November, it hurt him very badly.

What he has been urged to do, according to sources that I'm speaking to, is to get out there, stop ignoring the coronavirus, stop pretending like it's going to go away, because it's not. Stop pretending that it's not the number-one dominant issue. Nothing else can break through it because that is the reality.

But the way he's approaching it is not the way these sources, who I'm talking to, have suggested that he deal with it.

Meaning, get yourself involved with first responders. Do a photo-op and go out and be among the people who are trying to fight it. Not have a press conference without the people who are the number-one experts at their side in order to explain what the real deal is.

KING: And, Seung Min, if you look at the map -- I mean, hopefully, some progress this week -- only 25 states heading up in the wrong direction as opposed to 38, so we all hope for progress.

But one of the problems for the president is he keeps saying things. This is personal to people. They are seeing it and living it in their community and town every day, whether they are Democrats or Republicans or in the middle. And the president keeps saying things that are simply not true.

This morning, he's tweeting that the United States is leading the world or is a coronavirus mitigation example to the world.

This is four months ago. On this very day four months ago, the United States and the European Union beginning -- this is March 21st -- beginning to head up the hill, right. The European Union much higher than the United States and in much worse shape than the United States, going up the hill sooner. That's four months ago.

Let's look at two months ago. The European Union starting to come down that hill, getting below 5,000 cases on a daily basis. And the United States maybe flattening we thought at that point. You see it up there between 25,000 and 25,000 cases.

And here is now. The now is stunning. The European Union down and flat for a long time. The United States still climbing and we hope plateauing at 60,000 there or so.

[11:35:04]

But the president seems to be saying things that people know are not true.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And we know that in some other instances throughout his presidency, President Trump has created this alternate universe of alternate facts, as some of his advisers would say, to make his record look better and prop up his agenda.

But when we're in a public health crisis, truth really matters. That's why it's important to have public health officials.

And Republican Senators were telling me, even as early as April, when those briefings were still going on that -- and in a gentle way, of course -- but they told me that they would really prefer Trump hand over microphone to the public health experts.

Yes, have the briefings and talk with reporters every day but let the experts talk. Let them give the clear and public information -- clear and correct public information to the public.

And now White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, who is briefing reporters as we speak, is telling reporters that you'll just have to wait and see if Dr. Fauci or Dr. Birx show up to the briefing.

So this is not necessarily, as you were talking, John, earlier, the clear and consistent message that the administration should be pushing at this time.

KING: The president likes to produce television. He has some experience at that. The question is, can he turn around these numbers. He's in a steep ditch at the moment.

Dana Bash, Seung Min Kim, appreciate your insights. We'll watch to see what we get from the president today.

Coming up, Florida hospitals are in desperate need of more staff and the number of supplies as the number of cases and hospitalizations continue to rise.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:41:27]

KING: South Florida is one of the hardest-hit areas of the country at the moment. Hospitals there overrun with coronavirus patients. In Miami-Dade County -- look at numbers here -- ICU capacity at is 130 percent, the highest it's been in the last five days.

With me now is cardiovascular and pulmonary specialist, Dr. Gustavo Ferrer.

Doctor, thank you so much for you time. I know you're busy in your community.

I want to go through this and what does it tell you in terms of what you're seeing. Hospitalizations in Miami-Dade, up 30 percent in July 7, ICU patients up 50 percent and ventilator use up 67 percent.

From your work, especially when you see the ventilator number, that was a warning sign when we were going through the early peak of this first wave. How deep is the problem?

DR. GUSTAVO FERRER, CARDIOVASCULAR & PULMONARY SPECIALIST: The problem is significant. Back three weeks ago, our ventilators in the ICUs where I work we were down to one or two patients with COVID-19 event. Today, we're reaching capacity, just as you said, about 100 percent in our ICUs.

This is a problem that, unfortunately, will be with us for a while. We know that the increasing cases is followed by prolonged stays in the ICU and increased mortality.

KING: If you look through -- you're trying to find some glimmer of hope -- six days in a row, Florida reported at least 10,000 cases. Today, it was in the 9,000. So down a little bit. Let's hope that that continues.

But one of the warning signs is if you look at the positivity rates. Arizona is above 20 percent right now. Florida right around 19 percent. Massachusetts, which had this problem earlier, is down 2.3 percent. That's where you want to be in single digits when it comes to positivity.

And a closer look at Florida, statewide, just shy of 19 percent. Miami-Dade, in southern Florida, 28 percent positivity.

If you have a 25 percent-plus positivity rate in your community, what does that tell you, sir?

FERRER: It tells me we'll still see a significant number of patients coming to our hospital, that we still need to do a lot of work together. We need to embrace the need of social distancing and embrace the need of use masks. And we need to work together as a community to help us lower the number of cases.

KING: And so, as we go through this right now, what -- what have you learned, if you will, from the lessons -- any lessons from the earlier states that dealt this or when you were dealing with a much smaller baseline of patients in tells of treatment?

Obviously, you're overwhelmed and you're trying to do the emergency care that these patients need. But are there things that you're finding work today that are not on the table, say, two, three months ago?

FERRER: Absolutely. We see the number of people staying in the ICU longer. This is a lesson that we have all learned with this pandemic. We also have learned that for some patients Remdesivir tends to work. We have seen blood thinners tend to our patients. And obviously, the use of steroids has helped.

But nonetheless, there's a lot of things that we can still do and the people that are out there in the community. And this is part of the research that I'm doing these days.

KING: Dr. Ferrer, thanks so much. Grateful for your time today. And when it comes to your research today, let's circle back as we go through this in the weeks ahead. Hopefully, we can have a day talking about lessons learned, not about numbers that simply alarm us.

But grateful for your time, sir.

FERRER: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

KING: Absolutely. You're most welcome. Thank you.

[11:44:43]

Coming up for us, unidentified federal agents shoots tear gas into a crowd of protesters in Portland, Oregon.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: More tensions between federal agents and protesters in Portland, Oregon. The president promising to send the feds to other cities, despite being told by local officials they're not needed or welcome.

This was the scene early this morning in Portland. See the tear gas used by unidentified federal agents who have been at the center of conflicts with protesters for several days now.

And CNN learning the Trump administration is preparing to send the same type of federal agents to Chicago. Sources telling CNN, 150 agents will be there to perform law enforcement duties for as many as 60 days.

Let's discuss with Carrie Cordero. She's senior fellow at the Center for New American Progress and a CNN national security analyst.

Carrie, number one, what jumps at you, the complaint from the mayors has been, number one, you're not coordinating with the police department.

[11:50:00]

Number two, these agents have been using unmarked vans, apparently, rental vans. And when they show up, it's unclear, looking at the badges, who are they. What agency are they from?

Unusual?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's obviously a problem that the federal agents are not identifying themselves.

But I think it's part of a bigger issue at the Department of Homeland Security, which is this is an agency that has sort of accidentally, over time, become the largest law enforcement force in the country with over 60,000 law enforcement personnel.

And then the agency itself, which is a large department, does not have sufficient internal oversight and control mechanisms in place.

And then when you layer on top of that the politicization that the president is placing on top of the department, what we have is we have agents who are not prepared or trained or even part of the mission to be doing police activity.

And they are being used by the president and the political leadership in the department to make these political points of law and order.

So it's a really toxic mix of politicization, inadequate training and oversight in this local dispute.

KING: It's a bit of a upside-down political argument, if you will, we have, at least on paper, a conservative Republican administration in power in Washington. Traditionally, they defer to the states.

The mayors and governors saying we don't want you. Yet, the feds are saying, sorry, we need to protect federal courthouses and other federal buildings.

Can you cite anything like this in your memory where this played out like this before?

CORDERO: I can't think of an instance where the Department of Homeland Security has been used in this way.

But it is a young department. It wasn't created until 2002. And it combined all these different law enforcement organizations together, which really were supposed to be focused on protecting the nation against terrorism.

What the Trump administration is doing is they're basically concocting this new threat that they are saying is a threat to monuments. And clearly, there's a problem with activity being conducted against the federal facilities in Portland.

But what they need to be doing is using the Federal Protective Service, part of the DHS, to protect the perimeter of that federal building. That, I think, is unobjectionable.

The problem is they're then overstepping the authority and their responsibilities and deploying throughout the city. That's when you run into civil liberties problems. That's where we see individuals, who are acting in a way that does not respect the Fourth Amendment rights, detaining individuals without probable cause.

And you're basically -- the administration has taken this department and tried to use it in a show of force.

And it is awfully ironic coming from a Republican administration because, from a constitutional perspective -- and we can look to the Tenth Amendment for this -- but from a constitutional perspective, there should not be federal policing power.

KING: We'll watch this play out. A court fight about this with the court in Oregon. The president now says he will do this in Chicago. The mayor says do not come.

Carrie Cordero, appreciate your insights today and I suspect we'll be back to this conversation in the days ahead.

Coming up for us, a shift and a move to sports. The NFL comes close to striking a deal with players that could, could salvage the upcoming season. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:58:05]

KING: The National Football League and the players do appear to be closer to a deal to address coronavirus safety issues and then salvage the season but it could mean cutting some games.

CNN's Carolyn Manno joins me now.

Cutting games, Carolyn? What are we talking about?

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: We are talking about the preseason, John. Based on the players' public feedback, that's one of the biggest issues along with frequency of testing.

The league and the players union having ongoing discussions. And a source close to CNN said the league is willing to cut all preseason games. There were down to two. It could be down to zero.

As it relates to testing, they have agreed to do daily testing for the first two weeks. And if the results are positive at 5 percent or less, they'll go to every other day. The players feel like they want to be tested every day to help ensure their safety.

But these are two key issues moving forward.

KING: And as we watch the NFL, if we have a season, we saw, last night, in Major League Baseball, a bit of NFL carryover, if you will. The Giants manager, Gabe Kapler, some his players taking a knee during the national anthem. Tell us about that.

MANNO: This is a poignant moment. Kapler met with the players in small groups and spoke to them and listened to them. Ultimately, decided that he was going to follow their lead and tell them it's OK however to observe the national anthem.

This may not be a popular opinion, given how polarized we are as a country, but I thought it was beautiful to see players taking a knee, some players standing next to them with their hands on those players' knees and some players deciding to observe the anthem standing up.

However you fall, whatever side you fall on this, John, what the Giants are making clear is that they're going to respect everybody's decision. And we'll see if other managers and players follow their lead moving forward and decide to take a knee, as well.

KING: It will be interesting to watch going forward. And the president of the United States tweeting this morning his displeasure, as he has with the NFL. But freedom of speech is one of our gifts.

Carolyn Manno, appreciate that very much. We'll watch this as it plays out. Thank you.

[12:00:01] Hello to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you so much for sharing this day with us.

America votes 15 weeks from today. And new shifts by President Trump shows us that he knows that he's in trouble.