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Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) in Car Accident, Barr Hearing Delayed; Twitter Restricts Donald Trump Jr.'s Account After he Shared Coronavirus Misinformation Video; Attorney General Barr Arrives for House Judiciary Hearing. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired July 28, 2020 - 10:00   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.


We begin this morning with breaking news. The start of Attorney General Bill Barr's hearing before the judiciary committee is now being delayed 45 minutes, this after the chairman of that committee, Jerry Nadler, was involved in a car accident. We should note he was not injured in that accident.

HARLOW: That's right. We're glad he's okay. Our Senior Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju, joins us on the Hill with more. What can you tell us to update us as we wait for the hearing begin?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know it's going to be delayed at least 45 minutes. Jerry Nadler was involved in the car accident. He was not injured, according to his spokesman. We don't know other details about the accident, if anyone else was injured or not.

But we do know essentially that this is going to delay the start of this hearing, much anticipated hearing that the Democrats will have are the first time in the House Judiciary Committee to question Bill Barr after previous appearances that had been scrapped.

Bill Barr at one point last year did not show up despite the Democratic push to try to get him to appear. And they have a long list of grievances that the Democrats plan to air about Bill Barr about their concerns that he mischaracterized the Mueller report, about what they believe is him using the Justice Department to protect the president, his firing of a U.S. attorney who was investigating some Trump associates. Those are the range of issues that the Democrats will press Bill Barr on.

Bill Barr himself has released his own opening statement and contended the Democrats in the committee are simply trying to discredit him for investigating the Russia investigation that involved the president. Nevertheless, we expect this combative hearing to take place over the course of the day. We do expect it now to be delayed to start later in this hour because of that accident that Jerry Nadler was involved in, but it is something that we should -- we'll expect both sides to go at it all day long for this first time appearance by the attorney general before this Democratic-led committee. Guys?

SCIUTTO: It will be worth watching, no question. Manu Raju on the Hill, thank you.

The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Fauci, has now had to respond to the sitting president of the United States spreading once again false claims, disinformation about the coronavirus. Overnight, the president re-tweeted claims that masks don't work and that hydroxychloroquine is a cure though the FDA says otherwise. Here is Dr. Fauci.



GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: How about hydroxychloroquine, and the president promoting the effects of hydroxychloroquine? We know the FDA has recommended against emergency use.

FAUCI: Right, exactly, and I go along with the FDA. The overwhelming, prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease.


HARLOW: That is the clearest possible statement on that. Believe Dr. Fauci. The president is erasing any indications that he is following the science as he seem to be pivoting towards perhaps, even just a few weeks ago, even his health experts warned something needs to change now or the deaths will go much higher.

Let's go to Joe Johns. He joins us again at the White House this morning. Good morning, Joe. Do we know why? I mean, what was the impetus for these multiple re-tweets from the president?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, one possible explanation is that despite what the president has been told by the coronavirus task force, despite the thing that he has been advised by White House staffers, the president apparently still believes some of these things that he was saying before his big turnaround last week when he decided to wear a mask, decided to try to project, if you will, seriousness in the approach to coronavirus.

But there's also the matter of Dr. Fauci's credibility, and there was that re-tweet suggesting Fauci was misleading the public last night.


That, of course, was something that Fauci himself responded to in that very same interview. Listen.


FAUCI: I don't tweet. I don't even read them. So I don't really want to go there. I just will continue to do my job no matter what comes out because I think it's very important. We're in the middle of a crisis with regard to an epidemic, a pandemic. This is what I do. This is what I've been trained for my entire professional life, and I'll continue to do it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: To the charge you've been misleading the American public?

FAUCI: I have not been misleading the American public under any circumstances.


JOHNS: So it's just incoherent and a real problem for the messaging coming out of the White House about coronavirus, and it leads people down a dark hole about what to do and what not to do in general. It's just a problem also for the president even politically because, frankly, it affects his credibility, which has been a problem all along. Back to you.

SCIUTTO: You might expect it when he spreads deliberate disinformation about a deadly virus. So the president spreading that disinformation and even finding the need to lie about whether he was invited to throw out an opening pitch according to the New York Times at Yankee Stadium. What do we know?

JOHNS: Right. That obviously is another story. This is something that The New York Times reported on essentially saying that the president was upset about all of the publicity that Dr. Fauci was getting when he threw out that pitch last week in the game between the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees. The president then indicating publicly that he too had been invited to throw out the first pitch at a Yankees game. Apparently, that was not true. While there was an open invitation for him to throw out a first pitch, they hadn't settled on a date at all.

So there was surprise among the Yankees organization, also surprise here as the White House staffers tell us they didn't know anything about it. And then to make matters worse, the president later essentially canceled the invitation that he had given himself by saying he's going to be too busy dealing with the coronavirus. Jim?

HARLOW: Okay. Joe Johns, thank you very much for both of those updates.

Let's go to Florida now where intensive care units at 49 hospitals have reached capacity. Rosa Flores is in Miami Beach with more.

And, Rosa, let's begin though with the numbers. What's happening in the state right now? ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Poppy, hospitals are really not getting a break, especially right here in Miami-Dade County where I am. This is the epicenter of the crisis in this state accounting for 25 percent of the now more than 420,000 cases. ICUs right now are operating at 142 percent. Just a week ago, they were operating at 130 percent. What that means is that there are more patients than there are ICU beds.

Now, the county says that they have more than 400 beds that they can convert into ICUs. When it comes to ventilator-use, that is up 50 percent in the past two weeks.

The positivity rate in this county is ranging between 18 percent and 19 percent. The goal is not to exceed 10 percent. As we look statewide, there are 49 ICU hospitals that are at capacity. That means zero ICU beds and the positivity rate has been ranging from 13 percent to 18 percent.

City of Miami Mayor Suarez right now is holding a press conference. He is, again, updating the public on the enforcement of wearing masks in his city. Again, he has mentioned that this is something that is working. It's a remediation measure that's helping. He says, so far, they have issued 177 tickets.

And, Jim and Poppy, you and I have been reporting on this ongoing battle whether or not to reopen schools in this state, and we've also learned that now there's an increase in the number of children infected with COVID-19.

What we're learning this morning from the City of Miami and the University of Miami, they are going to be providing free testing for children very soon by appointment only, but, again, going to the point of schools could be reopening in just a few weeks, they are giving options to parents about testing their children. Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: The experts say it can be safe if you have the outbreak under control. It can be dangerous if you don't. That's the key measure. Rosa Flores in Florida, thanks very much.

Now to California where coronavirus deaths sadly rising there. The governor telling residents to wake up. CNN's Stephanie Elam joins us now from Los Angeles.

So this has been going for a couple of weeks now since California attempted reopening. Are the measures it took since then having an effect now in keeping this under wraps?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've definitely been holding steady, Jim, but we're holding steady at a higher rate than what the state would like to see. Our positivity rate in the state is at 7.5 percent. The number of new cases announced yesterday shot just high of 6,900. Obviously, we've had much higher numbers than that. So, things are stabilizing but not where we would like to see them.

On top of it, there's a part of the state, the Central Valley, which is really the major farming region of this state where they are seeing positive rates at about 18 percent.


They are saying the transmission rates there are so high that the governor announcing yesterday that there are going to be three strike teams that go into three regions in eight counties there to help drive down the numbers there. These strike teams will basically bring in emergency services from the state. They will bring in emergency personnel and also aide for healthcare workers, more personnel in that arena as well, making sure that they can isolate and quarantine, that there are the resources there for the people to do this.

They are saying that this is really because these are essential workers, they have been working non-stop. A lot of them live in multi- generational homes, so they are seeing a lot of community spread. He says this is why it needs to be targeted. This has been done in the state already. They did it in Imperial County in the far southern region where they saw the numbers spiking, so trying to drive those numbers down.

Now, here in Los Angeles County, something new that is going to be happening here as they are trying to fight it back, for one thing, they're saying we don't need to go into a stricter at-home order here, but what we do need to do is have people participate in contact tracing. So what they are going to do is start offering $20 gift cards next week so that people will hopefully start playing their part, answering those calls and answering questions. Jim and Poppy?

HARLOW: That's a way to incentivize them to do it. Let's hope it works. Stephanie, thank you very much.

Well, it did not take very long. Just when it appeared the president was starting to follow the science more on COVID, he derailed hopes with a string of new false tweets overnight. Why?



SCIUTTO: This just in to CNN. Twitter has now restricted the Twitter account of Donald Trump Jr., president's son, after he shared video of medical doctors spreading misinformation about the virus, coronavirus. We should note that the president himself shared many same videos.

HARLOW: With us now is CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash and Dr. Carlos del Rio, Associate Dean of Emory School of Medicine and Grady Health System in Atlanta. Good morning to you guys. Dana, from my understanding in terms of this Twitter restriction of tweeting for Don Jr., it's like 12 hours, and the question is how many people saw this and believe this before -- before action was taken.

Talk about, if you understand, the politics behind the president's son tweeting falsehoods and then the president re-tweeting it and the why when the science is just so clear.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, we could probably talk about this for your two hours and then some and maybe this -- this psychiatry or the psychology beyond it that's beyond all of us. But just from my perspective on the raw politics which is, you know, really what matters here, it is this is a president who started out as a candidate, who did well stoking culture wars. And this is another version of a culture war in President Trump's mind.

Despite what he said last week, despite what was very carefully scripted for him, despite the fact that he was given data point after data point on his own polling about how bad he is doing and how poorly he is seen in the eyes of so many voters. He needs to be re-elected because of tweets like this, because of his gut instinct, which is not to the follow science but to try to convince people otherwise. He continues to do that.

And it's not just him. It is obviously his son. And you're right, despite Twitter suspending his account and restricting his account, it's -- the cat is out of the bag. You can't change it.


SCIUTTO: Listen, it's disturbing it, it makes a difference. You can argue it costs lives. Dr. del Rio, you're a public health expert. Explain the impact of a sitting president of the United States repeatedly sharing disinformation that impacts people's health. What is the impact to people at home but also in the population because you need to get an outbreak under control across the population to protect individuals?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: Jim, I think it's very sad. It also makes me very mad because the reality is the United States has so many of the best scientists in the world. And the fact that science is not being respected is exactly the reason why we're not responding well to this epidemic.

The response to an epidemic, the U.S. wrote the book on how to respond to pandemics and how to respond epidemics. We know how to do this. The reality is we've not implemented what's necessary. And because we haven't done so, we are in the mess we are in right now.

So, follow the science. we need to do what science tells us to do. And the reality is that until we do that, we're going to be in a mess for as long as we want to.

HARLOW: Dr. del Rio, to that point, I mean, you're a part of the team, one of the investigators on the team in this Moderna phase three trial. And this is looking, even Dr. Fauci said he was optimistic about it yesterday. It's looking promising, got 30,000 humans volunteering to be a part of it right now. My question is about when disinformation is spread by the president and the president's son, how do people know to believe the real information when it's spread once it's proven out if this vaccine proves to be effective?

DEL RIO: Well, you're absolutely right. That is a challenge, right, distinguishing what's true and what's false. And, unfortunately, the president has a bully pulpit that is very important. You've got to remember that when the results of the remdesivir study was first released, they were at least at the Oval Office, in the White House, because it was such an important finding.

So I think, you know, trust in science needs to be restored. And if we're going to get out of this mess, we need science to be driving the response.

SCIUTTO: Dana, is it perhaps time -- not time, really, beyond time, because this is not new -- to acknowledge that this is a feature, not a bug of the president's approach to government but also to this election, right? The denial of the virus, attacking the science behind shutdowns or mask-wearing or other restrictions is a deliberate strategy rather than a mistake or, you know, him going off the path here and there, right? Is that where the evidence points?

BSAH: Yes. I mean, there's a deliberate strategy by him, the person, the candidate, the president, which should and does matter most, and then there is the attempted strategy at those around him who have a broader and maybe more reasonable approach and understanding to how to get re-elected. And -- and to -- how to treat these matters as just a basic show of leadership, never mind an assault on science.

And so you have those two things which are constantly at odds. I'm not saying that there aren't people around the president who don't agree with him. There are. But it is -- it is the issue that people who have been hired by him and fired by him in this sort of, you know, movement that we've seen the president's staff or his entire -- never mind his first campaign but his entire first term.

And that is largely because there are people who tried to put him on the right path, and his instinct -- I was just talking to somebody who is very familiar with the president's thinking. The answer is this is just who he is. He can't help himself. So combine that with the fact that he still goes back to 2016 and believing that this is how he can win, that's how you get to the tweets overnight.


HARLOW: Dr. del Rio, we had our Correspondent, Fred Pleitgen, on from Berlin last hour who talked about Germany, on Monday, they're going to start implementing testing for everyone who comes in from a hotspot or from the United States, for example. And when Fred took a test, he got the results back in a day. Help us how he can get the results back in a day and major sports leagues across the United States can get results back in a day and normal folks can't in this country.

DEL RIO: Well, I think we have -- unfortunately, we've always had the ones at the front of the line and the ones at the back of the line and everybody is not the same. The reality is though --

HARLOW: But that's crazy. I mean, that's crazy that in America, if you're poor and you have a lack of access, you're at the back of the line for a test in a health crisis, in a pandemic, and no one is changing that.

DEL RIO: I agree with you. I think they are trying to change this, but it's not easy. And the problem we have right now is we have too many infected individuals and too many needs for tests. We're doing a lot of testing in this country, more than anybody, and it's still not enough. We simply have a throughput problem.

And I think what we need to do to improve the testing capabilities is actually to decrease the number of infected individuals.


SCIUTTO: Well, the president we know can get tested as often as he wants them and does often, as does his staff. Is the this, Dr. del Rio, a case of not having used the prior shutdowns for their purpose or at least part of their purpose, right, which was not only to control the outbreak but to buy time to build up capacity to test and contact trace, which is not new advise, it's been the advice from the beginning?

DEL RIO: I think you're absolutely right. But I think the problem is that we built the capacity for what we thought was going to happen. Don't forget, you know, the first wave, so to speak, has never gone away. And if that was a first wave, now what we're having is a tsunami.

We're having 70,000 new infections per day. Wuhan throughout the entire pandemic had 70,000 infections. We're having one wuhan a day in the United States. We have an epidemic out of control in this country.

HARLOW: Wow. That's such a way to put it. Thank you very much, Dr. del Rio. And, Dana, thanks so much for the politics of it all.

SCIUTTO: It's a disturbing reality today. That's a fact.

Well, the GOP version of the stimulus plan would dramatically cut unemployment benefits for those hardest hit by the pandemic, perhaps some of you, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls it pathetic. There are other -- you see parts in there that Republicans have put in. Is there any room for negotiation? We're live from Capitol Hill, next.



SCIUTTO: These are pictures just a moment ago of the attorney general, Bill Barr, walking in for his appearance before the House Judiciary Committee. Note, he and his staff all wearing masks there, a step that the president himself has often avoided.


We're going to bring you that hearing when it happens live. Expect hard questions from Democrats.