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Biden Criticizes Trump's Pandemic Response & Lays Out Economic Recovery Plan In Wake Of Pandemic; Interview With Trump Campaign Communications Director, Tim Murtaugh; Dr. James Phillips Discusses Dangers Of Hydroxychloroquine, Slams Tim Murtaugh; New Study Shows How To Stop Large Virus Outbreaks. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 21, 2020 - 14:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I want to bring in --


KEILAR: Rana, go on.

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMICS ANALYST: We know Biden has empathy. This time around he connected policy and empathy, which he doesn't always do.


FOROOHAR: And so that's why this was a very smart speech.

KEILAR: Let's bring in M.J. Lee, who was there at the event.

M.J., first off, give us a sort of sense of this event in the age of COVID.

But also it's worth noting that Biden doesn't take questions. He didn't take questions today and generally doesn't take questions at speeches. He comes under fire from the Trump campaign for that.

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Right. First of all, Brianna, it's striking that when we've seen Joe Biden make these public speeches -- and he has probably been averaging one in-person campaign event a week -- every single one of those events has been about the economy the past few weeks.

But they are also always tied to the pandemic and explicit criticisms about President Trump and his handling of the pandemic.

He said the president has, "quit on you," has quit on the country. And as Gloria was saying, trying to capture the depth of the crisis that the country is in right now, say there is a care giving crisis within an economic crisis within a health care crisis.

And saying that the president right now doesn't understand that there's no way to separate out the economic crisis the country from the public health piece of this, that the two go hand in hand. All of this comes at a moment when President Trump has been widely

criticized for his handling of this pandemic. There are concerns even among Republicans that there isn't a national message coming from the White House.

And I think the empathy point you guys were talking about is a really important one. That is a big concern because, when a lot of people watch the president, they're not necessarily sure that he gets what sort of concerns and worries people who are taking care of children, not knowing when their kids can go back to school while juggling their jobs, or worrying about taking care of their elderly family members and relatives.

They're not necessarily sure all the time whether the president fully understands the depth of those concerns.

For Joe Biden, whose campaign has emphasized so often that he is a candidate with a lot of empathy, for him to talk about his own experience of having been a single parent, that they understand what it's like to see your parents in hospice care, and even bringing up his late son, Beau, and saying they understand what it's like to take care of a family member that sick.

All that have is intentional. All that have is a political message, even though it is wrapped up in an economic plan and unveiling of an economic plan.

But, yes, Brianna, you're right that today, former Vice President Joe Biden did not take questions. This is not something that the campaign is doing much, if at all. We saw him do it a couple of weeks ago. But since then, no campaign events where he has taken additional questions from reporters.

KEILAR: M.J., thank you so much.

Thank you to Rana and Gloria as well.

Just in, a new study shows what would happen if 90 percent of people did three simple things in the middle of this pandemic.

Plus, the Republican sheriff of Jacksonville is sounding the alarm over security concerns at the Republican convention. The Trump campaign will join us to respond.

And even as the president dismisses testing, the president said he is being tested, quote, "multiple times a day." We'll have a doctor weigh in next.



KEILAR: The Republican Party is now on notice that safety and security are not achievable at their national convention in Jacksonville, Florida, next month. That's the assessment coming from Jacksonville's Republican sheriff. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE WALLACE, SHERIFF, DUVAL COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT; With a growing list of challenges, be it financial, with communication, with the timeline, I cannot say with confidence that this event or our community will not be at risk. Every effort has been made to meet the mission to keep our city safe.

At this point, we're simply past the point of no return to execute the event safely, again with the safety and security that is our obligation for this community.

I'm not the RNC planner, so someone will have to come up with a plan, but this one is not going to work.


KEILAR: Now the party is planning to bring together thousands of people for President Trump's nomination acceptance speech. But the sheriff saying there that this plan, as he has it, is not going to work. He says they are past the point of no return.

I'm joined now by Trump campaign communications director, Tim Murtaugh.

Tim, welcome. Thank you for coming back on the show.


KEILAR: What's happening here? What is the party going to do about the convention? Are you considering another city? Are you tightening up plans here?

MURTAUGH: No, we're not considering another city. Jacksonville is where we're going to be. We have confidence it will be a great series of events over the course of four days and it will be safe and the security will be well maintained.

We continue to work with state and local authorities. And we have very much respect for them.

And we would point out that law enforcement in Jacksonville will have access to a big pile of federal money. Both the Republican and the Democratic National Conventions will be qualified as national security events. And so they'll have access to some $30 million of federal law enforcement funds to be able to use there.

So, we're looking forward to a great event to celebrate the re- nomination of President Trump and Vice President Pence. And we know that the local police will have the resources they need to see that everybody is safe.


KEILAR: It sounds from what Sheriff Williams is saying, the resource that he doesn't have is a good plan, right? He said we should be fine tuning this, and I don't have a solid plan, he said, from the RNC.

MURTAUGH: Well, I would point out that police are providing security for large-scale --


KEILAR: Do you disagree with him?

MURTAUGH: Hold on. I'm going to answer -- I'm going to answer your question.

The people, the law enforcement in the city of Jacksonville have a lot of experience with providing security for large-scale events.

On Sundays, in the fall, with the Jacksonville Jaguars, they pack 70,000 people into a football stadium. I'm sure they can handle security at an event like the Republican National Convention in their city.

We continue to work with the law enforcement and the sheriff's office --


KEILAR: Is that a national security event? As you pointed out, this one is.

MURTAUGH: It's a large crowd.


KEILAR: They're different. You know that.

MURTAUGH: These are different. These are different. That's why they'll have access to $30 million of a DOJ grant because it is designated as a national security event.


KEILAR: OK, but he said there's got to be -- he said, quote, "There's got to be some major reworking of what's happening." Is that going on?

MURTAUGH: Well, we have been working with local officials and the city of Jacksonville and the state of Jacksonville since the determination was made to move the main part from charlotte to Jacksonville.

So, absolutely. We've been in the planning process and working with those people on the ground have the very beginning.

Again, Jacksonville does have great experience with large-scale events, larger than this one. An NFL football game crowd is a lot larger than what will be packed into the RNC convention arenas.

And the $30 million of DOJ funds that Jacksonville will have access to will go an awful long way to easing the sheriff's mind, we believe.

We continue to work with them. And we are going to have a great event to re-nominate President Trump and Vice President Pence.

KEILAR: OK. I want to move on and talk about masks with you, because this is something that we've seen a shift with the president on.

He tweeted a photo of himself wearing a mask yesterday. He said -- essentially, he said it's patriotic. He said many people say it's patriotic to wear a mask.

Then he showed up last night at an indoor fundraiser not wearing a mask, not socially distancing appropriately.

Why are there mixed messages here?

MURTAUGH: I don't think it's ever been a mixed message. The president has always encouraged people to follow the guidelines, encouraged people to wear masks if they can't social distance.

Remember, the president is the most tested man in America. And so he posted a picture of himself, saying it was patriotic to wear a mask, encouraging people to do so.

In other settings, the president and the people around him know they're not at risk. People around the president are always tested. And so that's not a situation where social distancing would be required.

And since you're talking about a shift --


KEILAR: All those people at that fundraiser were tested?

MURTAUGH: In March -- hold on, Brianna. Hold on, Brianna.

In March, CNN --


KEILAR: You said they were all tested. Were they all tested around him?

MURTAUGH: The people around the president, yes.


KEILAR: In that video, in the video --


Hold on. Let me ask you --


KEILAR: You're saying people all the people around the president in that video were tested?

MURTAUGH: People who are around the president are routinely tested. I've answered that a few times now.

Let me talk about CNN for a second. In March, how come you had Dr. Ari Emmanuel and Elizabeth Cohen telling people not to wear masks because it won't do any good because you don't wear masks during flu season and it won't help. Also if you don't have symptoms, don't wear a mask.

And so you're going to hold the president to a different standard than you're holding your own programming. And I don't understand that. You want to talk about a shift, that is a shift.

KEILAR: You are aware that administration officials, at the beginning, were advising people not to wear masks, because they wanted them reserved for front line workers.

Look, Tim, there's a discussion to be had.


MURTAUGH: That's not what your doctor said, Brianna.


MURTAUGH: It's a moving target with you. That's not what your doctor said --

KEILAR: I don't have the quotes, Tim.

MURTAUGH: -- they don't help.

KEILAR: Tim, what I'm saying to you is there's a question, from the trickle down, what came from the administration on mask, and specifically coming from the president himself, as to the effect that that has had on people, and that is a conversation worth having.

But here we are, months later, with the president finally wearing a mask. You say you don't think he has been inconsistent.

But let's take a listen to what the president has said over time here when it comes to masks.


TRUMP: The masks, it's going to be really a voluntary thing. You can do it. You don't have to do it. I'm choosing not to do it. Some people may want to do it. But that's OK.


I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime minister, dictators, kings, queens, I don't know, somehow, I don't see it for myself.

I would wear one if it was -- if I thought it was important. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: And we should mention that Dr. Fauci, at the beginning, and other administration officials, were trying to keep people away from N-95 masks because there was a shortage of those masks with front line workers.

You're aware of that, certainly, because there was a big issue with the administration when it came to trying to bring those supplies.

These are cloth coverings that we're talking about, like the president was wearing, just to be clear.

So, why is he being inconsistent? He seems to have made a shift that experts say, look, that's the right thing. He's tweeting out a picture of himself wearing a mask and then he reverses it last night going to this fundraiser indoors.

You didn't answer my question. You can't tell me everyone around him was tested. And also testing doesn't stop people from getting the coronavirus. You're aware of that?

MURTAUGH: Let's go back to the masks here, Brianna. Because when the president took office and we looked at the N-95 national stockpile. It was almost empty. That was because the Obama/Biden administration failed to replenish it following the pandemics that they faced during their administration.

So, if people were saying, don't wear masks because medical professionals will need them and there might be a shortage, it's because the national stockpile had been depleted.

That's when the president enlisted the role of the private sector and got the whole of America into the production of masks and other PPE.

And I would point out ventilators. You remember at the beginning of this entire process, we heard an awful lot out of New York, California and other states about what they perceived to be a looming shortage of ventilators.

That shortage never materialized because the president strategically --


KEILAR: Obama left 19,000 ventilators in the plan.


KEILAR: You know, Tim, Obama left 19,000 ventilators in the plan.


KEILAR: So you're lying.

MURTAUGH: Hold on. Hold on a second. KEILAR: And you're talking like it's 2017. It's 2020, sir. It is 2020. It has been almost four years.

MURTAUGH: Hold on a second. Let's talk about this for a second.

The testing program that the president has instituted here in this country, we tested --


KEILAR: What testing program?

MURTAUGH: -- 46 million Americans. And the reason -- what testing program? The reason why the testing program --

KEILAR: That the president has instituted.

MURTAUGH: -- is because this -- hold on a second. Hold on a second.

The reason why testing program for the coronavirus didn't exist --


KEILAR: It's not a federal program, Tim. He left it up to states.

MURTAUGH: Because there was no test. Listen to this. There was no test for the coronavirus because, prior to this, there was no coronavirus. The test had to be invented first before it could be mass produced and spread around the country. And that's what the president has achieved.

And 46 million tests have been conducted in this country. We're now testing 800,000 people a day. And that is widespread for --


KEILAR: Yes, and they take two weeks and sometimes longer. And you know that --


MURTAUGH: You are acting as if -- hold on a second.

KEILAR: -- that if you don't test, get the results back within five days, those tests are pointless. This is a testing failure, Tim.

MURTAUGH: And the president -- hold on a second. And the president -- no, it is not. It's a tremendous success story. We're leading the world in testing. And 46 million tests of Americans and 800,000 tests a day.


KEILAR: Not per capita, Tim.

MURTAUGH: -- improvements going on. Hold on a second. They're allowing people to now be pool tested -- (CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: I can't hold on a second when you're not being honest.

MURTAUGH: -- at a time. You -- we're now allowing people with pool testing to test four and five people at a time and have those analyses. It cuts the time for getting your test results by two- thirds.

These are remarkable advances for a test, a disease that did not previously exist.

It wasn't as though there was a coronavirus test was sitting on the shelf somewhere that had to be simply be mass produced. No. This test had to be invented in the first place.

That's why it's called a novel coronavirus. It's because no one had ever seen it before.

KEILAR: Tim, I can't even --


MURTAUGH: All of this was created from nonexistence.

KEILAR: Tim, there was a lot of stuff swabs for the nose that didn't have to be like a wheel that had to be reinvented. You know that. And there were major problems getting those tests out. And you know that.

MURTAUGH: But you're talking about -- to determine if somebody -- but a swab is one thing, but to determine whether or not somebody actually has the virus is a test that had to be created where none existed before.

This is not like --


MURTAUGH: It was actually done pretty --


MURTAUGH: This is a brand-new disease.

KEILAR: Tim, that's just not true. There were a lot of these that got out very early. And it turned out they were messed up tests. And you're aware of that.

The president is having these briefings. We're eagerly awaiting this coronavirus briefing the president is going to have. As far as we can tell, there won't be any experts there. So, what's the point of this?

MURTAUGH: I don't know who is going to be at the briefing or not. I would note when the president was having the briefing, largely the media was arguing that he should stop doing them.

Then there was a period of time where he wasn't doing them and the media began to complain about that.

KEILAR: OK, well, that's because --


MURTAUGH: And then having even held the next one, you are already complaining about it and it hasn't even happened yet.


KEILAR: OK, let's look at the president's contribution on April 23rd to the coronavirus briefing.


TRUMP: I see the disinfectant knocks that out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we could do something like that, by injection, inside, or almost a cleaning?


KEILAR: Wouldn't it be more helpful if he had some experts there?

MURTAUGH: Listen, he always listens to the advice of Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci. And --


KEILAR: But that wasn't their advice.

MURTAUGH: And on my occasions, said the president -- the president -- Dr. Fauci has said, on many occasions, that the president listened to his advice and never overrules him.

But let's remember, when you talk about things like this, you remember the Hydroxychloroquine fiasco where the entirety of the media was dead-set against anyone ever talking about this simply because the president expressed optimism in --

KEILAR: That is not why. It is because it kills people.

MURTAUGH: Yes, and everybody embraced the study that showed that it was a failure. And then that study had to be withdrawn.

And now there's another study that shows that it could cut deaths by as much as 50 percent.


KEILAR: Are you talking about the study that also using -- the study that also includes corticosteroids, which are helpful in coronavirus? It is not Hydroxychloroquine that helps patients. I mean, you're not a doctor, clearly.


MURTAUGH: You're cherry picking. Again, you're cherry picking.

KEILAR: I'm not cherry picking. I talk to scientists and doctors.

MURTAUGH: Yes, you are. You're cherry picking.


KEILAR: Clearly, you don't.


MURTAUGH: So why haven't you been bringing this up?


KEILAR: Tim, we have covered this on our show --

MURTAUGH: -- the national news media because a couple drank fish tank cleaner, for goodness sakes.

KEILAR: There's a study -- there's a study that included corticosteroids, which are helpful. Steroids have been a helpful treatment. Hydroxychloroquine, studies have been withdrawn. Studies have been -- scientists were studying Hydroxychloroquine --


KEILAR: and they stopped because it was unethical because it is dangerous to people, Tim.

MURTAUGH: Your network and other networks practically -- your network and other networks practically accused the president of murder --


MURTAUGH: -- because he encouraged to people --


KEILAR: If you're on here talking about Hydroxychloroquine, I think you're doing a real disservice to the health of Americans. I mean, if you're going to come on here and talk about how this is a good treatment, when doctors have said, no, it is not, and studies has been canceled because --


MURTAUGH: Dr. Fauci himself, Dr. Fauci himself has said he would prescribe it.


MURTAUGH: Do you consider Dr. Fauci a danger to the American people?

KEILAR: I don't hear Dr. Fauci telling, saying that people should be taking Hydroxychloroquine. MURTAUGH: He had been asked a direct question -


MURTAUGH: -- would you prescribe it? And he said yes. Go back and check your news archives.

KEILAR: I think we're pretty --

MURTAUGH: I think you'll find that to be the case.

KEILAR: I think -- Tim, I think you're doing a real disservice to Americans.

I just want to be clear to everyone out there, we've talked to a number of doctors and experts, including federal experts. This is not something that you want to be playing with. All right: Studies have been canceled because this stuff is so dangerous.

Tim Murtaugh, thank you for coming on. It's good to see you again.

MURTAUGH: It is been used for 65 years. How dangerous could it possibly be? It is a known -- it is a known --


KEILAR: It is an anti-malarial drug.

MURTAUGH: -- that's been used for six and a half decades.


MURTAUGH: So how dangerous could it be?


MURTAUGH: You just said it is a dangerous drug but, yet, you admit it was used for 65 years. How dangerous could it be?

KEILAR: To prevent -- to prevent malaria, not for people who potentially dying.-


MURTAUGH: Well, is it dangerous or not? Will it kill you or not? You just said it was dangerous, yet, you admit that people take it for malaria. So is it dangerous or is it not?

KEILAR: I don't think people that are on their deathbed are giving an anti-malarial medication to prevent them getting -- you know what, Tim, no, we're done with this part --


MURTAUGH: So it's only used by people on their deathbed?

KEILAR: Tim --

MURTAUGH: Is that what you're saying?

KEILAR: We're done with this conversation. I think that you're just really confusing the situation. And it does no service to anyone's health especially.

Tim Murtaugh, with the Trump campaign.

MURTAUGH: There's a lot to be said for this interview, you're right.

KEILAR: Actually stand by.

I want to bring in Dr. James Phillips to talk to us about this. We have him standing by, and maybe he can shed a little light when it comes to Hydroxychloroquine.

Dr. Phillips, you're the expert. I feel like I'm talking about this until I'm blue in my face. And I've spoken to doctors like you. And just react when it comes to Hydroxychloroquine. I want to be clear because this is a health issue.


I prepared to talk about recent studies and other things. But this most recent interview is just unbelievable.

So, we've got to get all of the politics and the craziness out of there. Hydroxychloroquine has not been proven safe in this disease to any degree that doctors should be prescribing this to patients outside of a clinical trial.

The clinical trials performed so far, for the most part, do not show any efficacy of Hydroxychloroquine.

In addition, it can cause serious illness and heart problems. It can cause dysrhythmia.

So to say it is not dangerous is not necessarily true. It has been studied in the setting of patients with malaria. Those are patients with a particular type of symptoms and disease. Different drugs respondent and they work in different ways depending on the situation of the patient.


And the studies that have been done in patients with COVID-19 are not conclusive enough to be able to say this is safe. Studies have shown that patients have died because of the dysrhythmias that occur.

So I agree what was just recently said. It was irresponsible and it's being said for political reasons. And I completely disagree with it.

KEILAR: Is Tim Murtaugh still with us? Can he -- can we bring him into the conversation? He's no longer with us. So I can't have him respond to that.

Can you speak to his logic, I guess, you could say, of this idea of a drug that has been used for decades so it must be somehow healthy to give to people who are suffering from COVID?

To be clear, this is an anti-malarial drug. And I think it is pretty -- I think it is pretty basic and understanding that you can't even -- even drugs given for decades for a number of things, you don't just give them. So somebody who is incredibly ill that that is not a guarantee it is not a risk to them.

PHILLIPS: That is absolutely right. That is why, in our country, we have the FDA that is very strict about medications that are approved for use in a particular situation or illness and off-label requires a pretty significant look at safety and protocols on when they use them.

You know, take a look at something simple like aspirin. Aspirin is an over-the-counter medication used for more than -- almost a hundred years, for various number of things from headaches to backaches. But it is also a blood thinner. People die daily because of the use of aspirin.

Say someone on a daily aspirin falls and hits their head. They could have bleeding that could cause them to die and they wouldn't have died if they weren't on that aspirin. So aspirin is not as safe as we think it is. So we try to limit its use, even in heart disease.

So the idea that just because a medication was approved 65 years ago for a treatment of malaria does not mean it is safe for everybody to take and that is exactly what, I think, your point is. Is that we can't -- it is why we don't let people prescribe their own medications and like where you could get real medications without a prescription in other countries. It requires an expert's guidance.

And I think your points were valid. And what he was saying was irresponsible.

KEILAR: And I want to note, Doctor, that when Murtaugh said Fauci recommended Hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus, that wasn't true. He sort of threw that out there. It can be hard to fact-check on the moment.

Fauci never said it was effective. In fact, in our most recent reporting, Fauci told Peter Navarro that the drug he was hyping was unproven.

Dr. Phillips, thank you so much. I'm sorry you had to talk about Hydroxychloroquine. It is always important that we knock these things down because everyone's health is at stake.

So thank you so much. We appreciate you coming on.

PHILLIPS: Thanks a lot for having me on.

KEILAR: Unproven, it is. Breaking, we have a new study revealing how to stop a large outbreak

of coronavirus. If 90 percent of people wash their hands, if they wore a mask and social distance, consistently, it would reduce the spread significantly.

I want to bring in CNN health reporter, Jacqueline Howard, to join me now.

So the study was released moments ago. And I think it is good news because these are things that all of us can do. So give us the specifics.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Right. This study was a modeling study. The researchers took data looking at how our behaviors, like preventative measures like mask wearing, social distancing, washing our hands, how all of the behaviors would influence the path of a pandemic.

And what they found -- I'll quote the study here -- it says, "SARS- Cov-2 will not cause a large outbreak in a country where 90 percent of the population adopts hand washing and social distancing."

So this study shows how we're not defenseless against the pandemic. And that is something that health officials have been saying for some time now. If we just social distance and wash our hands and wear a mask, that could help curb the pandemic.

Now the modeling study was based on data from the Netherlands. But the study said that the findings do apply to other Western countries, too. So that is what was found.

KEILAR: Well I think it is good news, Jacqueline. It is pretty basic. Easy stuff we can all do.

So thank you so much for breaking it down for us and letting us know it is effective, what so many people have been adding to their daily routines.


Jacqueline Howard, thank you.

CNN's special coverage continues with Brooke Baldwin.