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Trump Abandons New Approach As Covid Reality Hits; Three MLB Games Postponed After Miami Marlins COVID Outbreak; Attorney General Barr Calls Russia Scandal Bogus. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 28, 2020 - 05:30   ET




LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump touting an unproven drug and pushing states to open even as America gets a big dose of coronavirus reality.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And the attorney general going on the defensive, attacking Democrats and defending his decision-making. He will testify before lawmakers today. We have a preview of his scathing remarks.

JARRETT: It's going to be an interesting hearing.

Good morning, this is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

SANCHEZ: And I'm Boris Sanchez in for Christine Romans. We are 31 minutes past the hour. Great to see you this morning, Laura.

JARRETT: Great to have you, Boris, as always.

Well, President Trump often says the rise in COVID cases is from more testing -- that theory has always been flawed. But one indicator of how serious this crisis is is a number he cannot deny -- how many people have died.

Twenty-seven states seeing an increase in deaths. The death toll now eclipsing 1,000 on Monday for the fifth time in a week, partly because Texas changed how it reports the numbers. Hospitalizations nationwide remain near the April peak.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: Unless we get our arms around this and get it suppressed, we are going to have further suffering and further death. And that's the reason why, as I've often said many, many times, there are things that we can do right now in the absence of a vaccine that can turn us around.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: Now, there are some positive signs. New cases are up in just 22 states if you can see that as a good thing. It's because that's far fewer than just two weeks ago. But every time the country tries to return to some sense of normalcy the virus rears its head.

SANCHEZ: And there's one big question out there this morning. Can Major League Baseball survive a shortened season? Games in several cities having to be postponed after an outbreak in the Miami Marlins' clubhouse.

And there are other ominous signs about a return to normalcy and a return to work. Google has told employees they can now work from home until next July, about a year from now. That's a choice millions in the workforce simply will not have if they work in retail or restaurants or just about any service job.

JARRETT: COVID troubles also reaching the White House again. National security adviser Robert O'Brien now the highest-ranking official we know of to test positive. The White House will not say when he and the president were last together but O'Brien was last seen at the White House on Thursday, just back from meeting with leaders in Europe -- not wearing a mask and not at a distance there.

SANCHEZ: Yes. The president was wearing a mask yesterday in North Carolina. He was visiting a lab where they're required.

But that didn't stop him overnight from tweeting out video clips claiming that masks are unnecessary. Clips that also attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci and touted misinformation on coronavirus. Those clips have actually been scrubbed by Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Speaking in North Carolina, the president also reverted to a theme that got many states in trouble -- listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I really do believe a lot of the governors should be opening up states that they're not opening, and we'll see what happens with them.


JARRETT: Those states have been left to clean up the mess.

In Kentucky, the governor is closing bars for two weeks and limiting indoor restaurant seating to 25 percent of capacity.

But in Tennessee, where hospitalizations are rising, the governor has refused to take action, even with a direct appeal from the White House COVID response coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx.



DR. DEBORAH BIRX, COORDINATOR, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: And we have found that if you all wear a mask -- all Tennesseans -- in every public area, and you protect the individuals with comorbidities, if you stop going to bars and, indeed, close the bars it can have as big an impact on decreasing new cases.

GOV. BILL LEE (R), TENNESSEE: That's not a plan for us now. We will -- I've said from the very beginning of this pandemic that there's nothing off the table. I've also said we're not going to close the economy back down, and we're not going to.


JARRETT: Now, anticipating lower foot traffic, Target and Dick's Sporting Goods have announced they will join Walmart and close for Thanksgiving.

SANCHEZ: Three Major League Baseball games have now been postponed after an outbreak of COVID-19 cases on the Miami Marlins team.

Andy Scholes has more. Andy, thank you so much for joining us this morning. Rob Manfred, the commissioner of baseball, saying that this isn't a nightmare scenario, right?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, Boris, he says he doesn't think that this situation has approached the nightmare territory yet. But, I mean, it's certainly close considering that this happened during baseball's first weekend back.

Eleven players and two coaches for the Marlins reportedly testing positive. I mean, really, just raising questions about whether it's possible to continue the baseball season.

The Marlins' two games against the Orioles in Miami have been postponed. Last night's Yankees-Phillies game also postponed. The Marlins just left the clubhouse the Yankees were to use.

Now, all teams have a taxi squad of players ready to go to fill in for these types of situations. But, Commissioner Manfred says the team being hampered by COVID cases for a long period of time is something they're going to need to address.


ROBERT MANFRED, COMMISSIONER, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: I think that a team losing a number of players that rendered it completely non- competitive would be an issue that we would have to address and have to think about making a change. Whether that was shutting down a part of the season, the whole season, that depends on the circumstances.


SCHOLES: Now, something else that seems to need to be addressed is what is the threshold to postpone a game? The Marlins went ahead and played Sunday knowing they already had a number of positive tests among the team, and it turns out the players made the call on a group text chat.


MIGUEL ROJAS, SHORTSTOP, MIAMI MARLINS: We made the decision that we want to continue to do this and we're going to continue to be responsible and just play the game as hard as we can. We knew this could happen at some point and we came to the ballpark and ready to play. It was never our thought that we wasn't (sic) going to play.


SCHOLES: And Dodgers pitcher David Price, meanwhile, challenging Commissioner Manfred on Twitter yesterday, saying part of the reason he decided to sit out the season was that the league wasn't putting players' safety first -- and Price says that has not changed.

All right -- unlike baseball, the NFL is not planning on going with a bubble. Players are going to have to live at home and travel to play.

And, Commissioner Roger Goodell writing a letter to fans saying this season is going to look a lot different. No preseason games, socially- distanced sidelines, and rigorous testing protocols. He says adaptability and flexibility will be needed as the season moves forward.

And Eagles coach Doug Pederson says he's comfortable with the way the league has handled things so far.


DOUG PEDERSON, HEAD COACH, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: I feel extremely safe. You know, obviously, coming into it there might have been some skepticism about the testing and the -- you know, the screening that goes on, but it's very thorough. And when you're here and you get tested in the morning -- you've got a screening process that you have to go through to get into the building, wearing masks in the building everywhere we go, I feel extremely safe.


SCHOLES: They're expected to report to camp today. They're going to be tested for COVID-19 three out of the next four days.

And, you know, Boris, if baseball is struggling right out of the gate -- and, you know, just as a football fan -- you know, you can't socially distance in football --


SCHOLES: -- like you can in baseball. I'm just worried that the sports going to be able to play like we're used to seeing it.


SCHOLES: Well, we know it's not going to be like we're used to seeing it but I'm just hoping --

SANCHEZ: Hopefully. SCHOLES: -- they're able to have a season at all.

SANCHEZ: Right, yes. And sports just encapsulates the difficulties that we're going to see across the nation in reopening. It's going to be a rough road back to normal.

Andy Scholes, great to see you this morning, my friend.

SCHOLES: All right.

SANCHEZ: The president's decision to back out of a first pitch at Yankee Stadium was easy for him because it turns out he wasn't invited in the first place. "The New York Times" reports the president was annoyed by the attention surrounding Dr. Anthony Fauci's first pitch at the Washington Nationals season opener.

So he directed his staff to call the Yankees to schedule a day for his first pitch. None was ever finalized. So it was a surprise to his staff and the Yankees last week when Trump announced the date that he would be throwing out the first pitch at a Yankees game, which he ultimately wound up canceling, though it had never actually been scheduled.


Trump saying it's because he has to focus on the pandemic.

JARRETT: You can just imagine the scramble that had to happen behind the scenes there.

Well, travel CEOs urging President Trump and Congress for faster and more effective COVID-19 testing. In a letter to the president and lawmakers, the chief executives of Hilton, Marriott International, Hyatt, and 11 other major companies saying more efficient testing is crucial to assisting economic recovery.

Testing across the country has slowed in recent weeks, though, as we have been talking about all morning, with results taking two weeks or more.

The travel industry has also taken a big financial hit during this pandemic. Hotel stays have fallen nearly 40 percent from this time last year, and it was even worse a few months ago.

SANCHEZ: Officials in New York State are investigating a drive-in concert in the Hamptons that appeared to violate social distancing guidelines.

The "Safe & Sound" benefit concert took place in Southampton over the weekend. It was advertised as a socially-distanced drive-in concert that would allow 600 vehicles but look at these pictures. Posts on social media show crowds of fans leaving their cars and gathering in the front of the stage, many of them not wearing masks.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted about the event on Monday saying, quote, "I am appalled." JARRETT: Well, Attorney General Bill Barr is planning a blistering attack for House Democrats when he testifies later this morning. Democrats accuse Barr of various abuses, including intervening in the prosecution of two Trump allies.

But in his pre-released opening statement, Barr says he has acted independently of President Trump. And he calls the Russia scandal bogus and says Democrats just want to discredit him for investigating the origins of the Russia probe.

SANCHEZ: Yes, Barr almost certainly will also face questions on his role in the federal crackdown on racial justice protests. That includes the decision to forcibly break up a peaceful demonstration in Lafayette Square so the president could hold up a bible in front of a church, posing for cameras.

At the same time Barr is testifying, a National Guard official will tell Congress at a different hearing the protesters were acting peacefully that day. That view conflicts with public statements by top administration officials, including the attorney general.

JARRETT: The latest battleground in the escalating standoff between the U.S. and China, your garden. States are issuing warnings after people across the country say they received unsolicited packages of seeds, apparently originating in China.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture is warning that the seeds may be invasive plant species that would wreak havoc on the environment. Similar warnings have come from Texas, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina, and Washington State. It's unclear who exactly is sending the packages and why or whether the seeds are actually harmful.

We'll be right back.



SANCHEZ: Taking a global look at the pandemic, Germany is expanding coronavirus testing requirements, and parts of the Middle East are reimposing lockdowns ahead of a major holiday.

CNN reporters are covering the pandemic around the world. Here's a look.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Fred Pleitgen in Berlin, where the German government says it's extremely concerned about a new spike in coronavirus infections.

Now, Germany had about 800 infections on two subsequent days late last week and the German government simply says that that is too much because they say they don't want the situation to spiral out of control like, for instance, in the United States with tens of thousands of infections every day. And so, what the German government is going to do starting next week is it's going to make it mandatory for people coming back from high- risk countries -- like, for instance, the United States -- to get coronavirus tests. And also, offering free tests for people who are coming back from non-high-risk countries like, for instance, countries of the European Union.

NICK PATON WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: I'm Nick Paton Walsh in Brasilia, Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro went back to work yesterday, saying that he had now to fix the things that other people have broken, essentially referring to damage done to the economy by the lockdowns across the country.

At the same time, the nation, after seeing its president recover from the disease, found 23,000 new cases in that recent 24-hour period. It continues to be bad here.

The glimmer of hope, vaccine trials for seemingly three possible vaccines from Oxford University in the U.K., from China, and from Pfizer, backed by the United States, are underway here. The governor of Sao Paulo, where these trials are happening, says he hopes the Chinese vaccine will be successful by January and can be rolled out nationwide.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ben Wedeman in Beirut, where the Lebanese national government has imposed lockdown measures to stop a second wave of coronavirus infections.

As of today, bars, cinemas, playgrounds, and beaches, among other things, will be closed until the 10th of August. Also banned are weddings, wakes, baptisms, and sports tournaments.

This comes as Lebanon grapples with an unprecedented economic crisis, which economists have likened to a Venezuela-style collapse.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I'm Cyril Vanier in Paris, where the government is warning that the country is sliding back to where it was more than two months ago when it started lifting confinement restrictions.

Coronavirus indicators have been trending in the wrong direction recently and the virus is now spreading faster with more than 1,000 new cases a day. With life gradually returning to normal, it seems that the French started to let their guard down and become more lax with social distancing and health rules.


The government has imposed mandatory masks indoors and has called on everyone to be more disciplined to contain the spread of the virus.


JARRETT: All right. Thanks to all of our correspondents for those reports. Turning back to the U.S. now, attendees at the Democratic National Convention next month will face strict coronavirus protocols. Organizers announced people entering the safe zone in Milwaukee's Wisconsin Center will have to agree to daily COVID testing, wear a mask, and avoid bars and restaurants. They're also being asked to self-isolate for 72 hours before traveling to Milwaukee.

Much of the programming will be held virtually this year and pared back to just two hours a night from 9:00 to 11:00 eastern.

SANCHEZ: Sinclair Broadcasting has pulled a segment highlighting a discredited conspiracy theory that Dr. Anthony Fauci was behind the creation of COVID-19. The segment featuring Plandemic conspiracist Judy Mikovits was originally set to air on the show "AMERICA THIS WEEK WITH ERIC BOLLING." After CNN reported on plans to air the segments, Sinclair said it would rework it, yesterday deciding to cancel it altogether.


REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): You must find a way to get in the way. You must find a way to get in trouble -- good trouble, necessary trouble.


JARRETT: The voice of John Lewis echoes on. The late congressman and civil rights icon is the first black lawmaker to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda. Today is the second day visitors can pay their respects before his body is flown to Georgia for his burial.

Before arriving at the Capitol, Lewis' motorcade stopped at several sites in D.C., including Black Lives Matter Plaza where Lewis made his last public appearance in June.

SANCHEZ: Democrat Jon Ossoff denouncing a now-deleted Facebook ad by his opponent's campaign that appeared to make Ossoff's nose look bigger. The ad was first reported by Jewish news site "The Forward."

Critics say that Sen. David Perdue's campaign employed imagery historically used against Jews as more anti-Semitism seeps into politics. Perdue's campaign blames an outside vendor, claiming that it was an unintentional error.

Ossoff called the photo the oldest, most obvious, least original anti- Semitic trope in history.

JARRETT: When Minnesota mandated masks this is not what it had in mind.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't be American and wear that mask.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've literally had a war about this.


JARRETT: Walmart says it's banning this couple for wearing the Nazi swastika masks at one of its stores. The shoppers were apparently protesting the mask requirements as being Nazi-like demands, or at least they say. Walmart says they cannot come back for a least a year or they'll be arrested.

SANCHEZ: A woman swimming off the coast of Maine was killed in an apparent shark attack. Officials say the victim was swimming off of Bailey Island on Monday when she was attacked. Kayakers nearby brought her to shore but first responders could not save her life.

Shark attacks are incredibly rare in Maine. A global database lists just one in the state back in 2010.

JARRETT: Well, "JEOPARDY!" is going back to the vault to honor a T.V. legend.


ALEX TREBEK, HOST, "JEOPARDY!" Hi, everyone, and welcome to "JEOPARDY!" Welcome, stars. How do you feel today?




JARRETT: The game show kicked off a week of celebrity episodes with a tribute to the late Regis Philbin. The legendary host passed away over the weekend. "JEOPARDY!" producers say they chose the episode weeks ago but it now serves as the shows in-memoriam to Regis. Original episodes are on hold during the pandemic.

SANCHEZ: A reprieve for a rare blue lobster thanks to employees at an Ohio Red Lobster who recognized the rarity of this creature's blue shell. It was included in a delivery to the restaurant. They ended up sending it to a zoo in nearby Akron for conservation instead of consumption. About one in every two million lobsters is blue due to a genetic anomaly.

JARRETT: NASA will send a balloon the size of a football field into the stratosphere to study how stars and planets are formed. The mission will cradle a special infrared telescope to study star formation. It will spend three weeks at an altitude of 130,000 feet. It's said to depart from Antarctica in December of 2023.

SANCHEZ: Dr. Anthony Fauci's first pitch last week was memorable for all the wrong reasons. But it turns out a baseball card featuring that lopsided throw smashed sales records for the Topps Company. More than 51,000 cards were sold in the first 24 hours it was available.


FAUCI: I feel a little embarrassed and humbled. I hope that Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle are not looking up at me saying what the heck is going on here.



SANCHEZ: Quite the high release on that toss. Fifty-one thousand cards more than doubles the previous record from Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

I bet if President Trump is watching he's going to want his own baseball card soon.

JARRETT: Well, you know, Fauci -- he says he actually had been practicing for so long he threw his arm out. He had really made an effort for this. So, you know, sometimes things happen, I guess.

SANCHEZ: Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Boris Sanchez in for Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next.



FAUCI: Unless we get our arms around this we are going to have further suffering and further death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twenty-nine states are reporting more deaths last week than the previous week.

TRUMP: I really do believe a lot of the governors should be opening up states.