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Trump Again Pushes Misinformation as Pandemic Worsens; Attorney General Barr to Testify Before House Panel; Trump Pressures States to reopen, Downplays Masks Again. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 28, 2020 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is New Day.

And this morning, there was never a new tone. There was only the pandemic, and actions from the president overnight that are unserious at best, dangerous at worst. To his 84 million followers on social media, the president promoted a message that you don't need to wear masks. To his 84 million followers on social media, he promoted a message bashing Dr. Anthony Fauci.

To everyone in the world with a television, the president told governors to open up states, despite the fact that deaths are rising in 27 states, topping 1,000 nationwide yesterday. Nearly 150,000 Americans have lost their lives so far.

Dr. Anthony Fauci issued this warning.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Unless we get our arms around this and get it suppressed, we are going to have further suffering and further death.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, pushing their latest economic plan, which would cut the weekly $600 unemployment plus benefit down to $200 a week. Republicans admit, they are still weeks away from a final plan.

The pandemic affecting every sector of life, including our leisure activities, the NFL preseason called off, Major League Baseball canceling games after a new virus outbreak. And President Trump, meanwhile, making up a story about being invited to throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium.

Joining us now, we have CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner. He's a Professor of Medicine at George Washington University. Also with us, William Haseltine, he's the Chair and President of ACCESS Health International. Great to have both of you. Dr. Reiner, I just want to start with what I see as an illustration, a great illustration of the polar opposite ends that some governors are approaching this versus Dr. Deborah Birx. So, Dr. Deborah Birx tried to sound the alarm about what is about to happen in Tennessee. She believes we are on the cusp of seeing exploding exponential growth there, whereby numbers would double every day.

So, here is the warning that she sounded yesterday.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE RESPONSE COORDINATOR: It is this very moment where we can change the trajectory of the epidemic, before it goes into full what we call logarithmic spread, as we have seen across the south.

And we have found that if you all wear masks, all Tennesseans, in every public area, and you protect the individuals with co- morbidities, if you stop going to bars, and indeed, close the bars, we can have as big an impact on decreasing new cases.


CAMEROTA: And I'll just quote to you what the governor said in the interest of time. He said, we are not going to close the economy back down. We are not going to. But I appreciate the recommendations, and I take them seriously.

And so, there you have it. I mean, where does that leave Tennessee and the rest of the country?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: It leaves us without a national leadership. We should have a national policy for dealing with this pandemic. It's shocking that this country has not had a national policy. We haven't had a national policy on testing. We haven't had a national policy on masks. And we had a national policy on how to open states, but the president urged states to open quickly. So, now we're seeing what happens when the ship is rudderless.

Look, the formula for putting this pandemic down is not complex. The formula is massive testing, much more than we're doing now, universal mask-wearing, social distancing, contact tracing, once we start to decrease the number of new cases, and, you know, shutting states down where the virus is getting out of control. It's a relatively simple pathway, but we don't have a national leadership structure that gives these governors in some of these states the cover to do that. That's what we're missing now.

We could turn this around in short order if we had that kind of very direct, very firm leadership, but the country is lacking it right now.

BERMAN: Dr. Reiner said the president urged states to open up early in the past tense. The fact of the matter is, he is still urging states to open up earlier than they perhaps should.

[07:05:02] This is what the president said about that less than 24 hours ago.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: 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.


BERMAN: We'll see what happens. We saw what happened in Arizona, in Texas, in Florida, in California, yet, the president is still saying it.

Professor Haseltine, I want to ask you about baseball, not as a sports fan but as a microcosm of society and something you talk about often is how this virus spreads. So, how does what we are seeing in baseball, where 14 players and coaches on the Marlins have tested positive and are waiting for test results on more? What does that tell us about how the virus spreads and what we are doing to contain it?

WILLIAM HASELTINE, CHAIR AND PRESIDENT, ACCESS HEALTH INTERNATIONAL: I think what you're seeing is what's about to happen in our high schools. There is very little difference between the way the virus spreads and young baseball players, many who are just barely into their 20s, and how it's going to spread in high schools with anybody who's an adolescent or a teenager.

Even when you're putting major efforts into creating a bubble, trying to test people as much as possible, even in the White House, I might point out, you can't contain the virus that way. The only way to contain the virus is to do it in a very broad program, as you were just hearing, shutting down states, having systematic public health measures. You can't do it institution by institution. It's just not possible. That's what Major League Baseball is showing to us. And I'm afraid -- I'm actually terrified that that's about to happen to our school systems.

All of this emphasis on young children not being so infected, they do get infected. Just look at what's happening in Florida right now. They may not get infected at the same rate, but the moment they're all in school together, they're going to get infected. They will infect their families. Their families will infect others. And we're about to have a disaster on top of a disaster.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Reiner, your thoughts on that?

REINER: Yes, I agree completely. One wonders what would have happened, where we'd be now if in the early months of this pandemic those simple things would have been done. Look, we did start to contain this pandemic in April and May. The tragic failure was opening states before they triggered the CDC guidelines, in other words, two weeks of continuous downward trajectory of cases. If we had just held the line for a few more weeks in several states, we'd be in a much different place now. Now, we can still do this, but we need the will to do it. We just can't wait for the vaccine. If we wait for the vaccine, tens of thousands of people are going to die who don't need to die. It's time to do this now.

BERMAN: I have to say, I was discouraged by baseball, but now I'm full on depressed by what I'm hearing from both of you gentlemen and what it might represent, Professor Haseltine. I guess I wasn't expecting quite such a dire view of it.

Do you take anything positive from what we've seen in maybe Texas and Arizona, where the positivity rates may be starting to level off or drop a little bit? Does that give us any sense that maybe with partial measures, mask-wearing, closing bars, that that might be enough to stop exponential growth and contain things?

HASETLINE: It is maybe enough to stop exponential growth. It's not going to be enough to stop growth itself, and it's not going to be enough to stop a very high level of transmission. You know, you cannot be in exponential growth and still have in the United States about one person a minute dying of this disease.

And the way we're going about opening new institutions -- and I say, again, colleges, high schools, and elementary schools -- we're putting a whole new group, something like 50 million more people, in close contact with one another. That is not a wise thing to do in the middle of an epidemic.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Reiner, you know how it works in the White House. Let's talk about the close contact that people have there with each other, because the national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, has just tested positive. And so, what does that mean for everybody else there, including the president?

REINER: Well, first of all, I wish Mr. O'Brien well. I'm not surprised tested positive, because there's a lot of virus in the community. The White House has been relying on massive testing to try and protect the president.


And it's kind of ironic, actually, because the White House is using a strategy which he has doubted for the rest of the country, which is massive testing of asymptomatic people, but that's the strategy they are actually using at the White House.

But what they're not using at the White House is a strategy of massive mask-wearing for everyone. And in photo ops and, you know, apparently in the hallways, it's not common to see staff, senior staff members, wearing masks. I would do that immediately. You need concentric rings of protection around the president and vice president. And if they continue to doubt the benefits of masks, both in terms of preventing transmission and also the protection one gets actually from wearing a mask, eventually, a very senior member, even higher in the government than the national security adviser, will contract this virus. I want to remind people that Herman Cain, who's exactly the same age as the president of the United States, has been in the hospital for a month after contracting the virus. This president is 74 years old. He is at great risk of a tragic outcome, should he acquire this. To me, I just don't think the White House staff is providing enough protection for the president.

If he continues with this behavior, he will get the virus. It's not a joke. The White House must do a better job. I want to see everyone on staff there, everywhere they go, wearing a mask. The president's visitors have to be reduced in number. The photo ops with, you know, random groups coming to the White House need to be reduced. He's at great risk. Testing is not a bubble that can be relied upon.

CAMEROTA: I'm so glad you brought up Herman Cain. I think about him a lot, because we don't get regular updates, and it is very concerning. He went to the Tulsa rally, and now he has been in the hospital. And we will bring everybody updates as soon as we get them on his condition.

Dr. Reiner, Professor Haseltine, thank you both very much.

REINER: My pleasure.

HASELTINE: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: Just hours from now, Bill Barr will testify for the first time as attorney general before the house Judiciary Committee. CNN has obtained Barr's opening statement, so let's say that this will be a highly anticipated hearing.

CNN's Evan Perez is live in Washington with more. So, what's the plan today for what he's going to say?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, we're the expecting attorney general, Bill Barr to be combative, to be fiery in his opening remarks with Democrats. We're expecting a lot of fireworks at this hearing today.

Let me read you just a part of his opening statement. It says, quote, ever since I made it clear that I was going to do everything I could to get to the bottom of the grave abuses involved in the bogus Russia gate scandal, many of the Democrats on this committee have attempted to discredit me by conjuring up a narrative that I am simply the president's factotum, who disposes of criminal cases according to his instructions. Judging from the letter inviting me to this hearing, that appears to be your agenda today.

Now, a factotum is one of those $50 words that John Berman uses. But you can expect the Democrats are going to call the attorney general a bagman for the president simply because he has intervened in the Roger Stone case, in the Michael Flynn cases, cases that are close to the president's heart. A lot of fireworks we're expecting there today.

CAMEROTA: I have heard Attorney General Barr called other things, other than factotums. We'll see what happens today. So, we are expecting lawmakers, of course, to ask about a lot of issues.

PEREZ: Right, exactly. We expect that the crackdown on protesters outside of Lafayette Square last month is among the things that the Democrats are going to be very interested in finding out a lot more about, because the attorney general has said that he didn't know that the president was going out for a photo-op, that he had asked for the square to be cleared ahead of time, and when he got there, he saw that it hadn't been done.

Now, we've heard from one of the National Guard's senior members who was at the scene there, Adam DeMarco. He's testifying today also, Alisyn. And he says that these protesters were peaceful and that there was no reason for the movement against them to be used, for tear gas to be used against them. And that's one of the things that I think you're going to see the attorney general challenged on today, John.

BERMAN: All right, Evan. Your vocabulary, multiple, multiple times richer than mine, so lay off, pal. Thank you very much for that report. I appreciate it.

PEREZ: Sure.

BERMAN: All right. Here is a story that you just have to hear. The New York Times reports this morning that President Trump made up this statement that he issued from the White House podium.


TRUMP: Randy Levine is a great friend of mine from the Yankees. He asked me to throw out the first pitch, and I think I'm doing that on August 15th at the Yankee Stadium.



BERMAN: So, it turns out, that was a surprise to the White House staff and to The New York Yankees. The New York Times reports the team did not invite him on that day. The Times report, quote, Mr. Trump had been so annoyed by Dr. Fauci's turn in the limelight. Remember, Fauci threw out the first pitch in Washington, D.C.

An official familiar with his reaction said that he had directed his aides to call Yankees officials and made good on a longtime standing offer from Mr. Levine to throw out an opening pitch. No date was ever finalized. Again, remember, Dr. Anthony Fauci threw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals season opener. He didn't do great, right, in fact, quite badly.

But now he's getting a lot more attention even then, there's a baseball card coming out from tops that has set new records. In the first 24 hours it was available, it sold more cards, I think, than any other card ever. Fauci talked about this and his performance on the mound with Wolf overnight. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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


BERMAN: So, Alisyn Camerota, you're a student of the president, a student of history. How will he react when he learns that more baseball cards have sold of Anthony Fauci than of anyone else?

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, predict he will immediately announce at the coronavirus briefing that a new baseball card is coming out of himself.

But, first of all, I never make fun of anybody's throwing skills. That's my first rule of thumb on television or anywhere. But I also think it was interesting that the president concocted the invitation for August 15th, and his staff had to then say, I'm sorry, Mr. President, you're actually not available, you have other president things to do on that day, so he had to cancel.

BERMAN: Also, just think about what it tells us about how his mind works in the midst of the pandemic, in the midst of that week, where he seemed to be trying so hard to use different words on the pandemic. He makes up a lie about throwing out the first pitch, according to The New York Times.

All right, President Trump pressuring states to reopen. This just happened, tweeting out misleading, dangerous statements about masks. We're going to be joined by one Republican governor who has been critical of the president's response to the pandemic, next.




TRUMP: 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.


CAMEROTA: President Trump, again, ramping up pressure on governors to reopen. Maryland is seeing a rise in new infections over the past month and is currently in a holding pattern when it comes to loosening restrictions.

Joining us now to talk about this and so much more, Maryland's Republican governor, Larry Hogan. He is the Chair of the National Governors Association and the author of the new book, Still Standing, Surviving Cancer, Riots, a Global Pandemic, and the Toxic Politics that Divide America. Governor Hogan, thank you very much for being here.

REP. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Good morning.

CAMEROTA: Where's Maryland at this moment? Are you paused? Can you reopen? Are you going to take the president's advice to speed up reopening?

HOGAN: Well, we're not going to take the president's advice. We're going to take the advice of our public health doctors and our epidemiologists that we've been following the advice of from the very beginning of this crisis.

We're in pretty good shape, as compared to other states, because we took early and aggressive action. We've been ramping up our testing capabilities, so our number of cases is slightly rising because we've done about three and a half or four times more testing than we did last month.

However, you know, our positivity rate continues to decline, which is something we're not seeing in other states, but we're going about it very cautiously. We've paused with further re-openings because we've seen a slight uptick in our hospitalizations, and we're just going to go about making sure we have a safe, gradual and effective reopening.

And, you know, 22 states have now taken steps to reclose things. We're not in that position either, but the messaging seems to be wrong by the president at this point in time. It's sort of like the messaging we had earlier in the crisis. But many of the states that opened too fast are now re-shutting down. We don't want to be in that position.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that messaging from the president, because it's hard to get a handle on where he really stands. Last night, he re-tweeted a contrarian doctor, basically, saying, you don't need a mask, you don't need lockdowns. She suggested putting all teachers on hydroxychloroquine. How do you square that messaging in the re-tweet from what he has been saying while scripted at the podium?

HOGAN: Well, one of the things that I've talked about is I'm concerned -- I think one of the biggest mistakes that the president has made from the beginning was not taking it seriously and the messaging that was counterproductive, because he was saying the opposite of what most of his entire administration was saying.

If you remember, the administration was saying we had to take some of these aggressive actions in the states, and then the president was tweeting, liberate and telling everybody that they couldn't do what his task force told us to do.

And now, he started to improve that messaging over the past week or so. The president was wearing a mask and saying it was patriotic to wear a mask. The president was saying we had to take it seriously, that this very likely could get worse, and I was pleased with the change in direction. But then he seems to step on his own message by falling back into those old habits of just saying things that are counterproductive.

CAMEROTA: So, which one is the real President Trump?

HOGAN: That's a great question. I mean, you know, I just wish he would follow -- we have another meeting today with all of the nation's governors and the vice president, the coronavirus task force. Those are very productive meetings. We hear from all of the experts in the administration. We have really great advice from the CDC and from HHS and FDA and all of the leaders on the task force.


And then we'll find, you know, that's very productive, and then the president will say almost the exact opposite later that afternoon.

So, I just wish he would listen to the experts in his own administration and stick to a message.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about baseball. The Baltimore Orioles are supposed to host the Marlins tomorrow night, but the Marlins have an outbreak of coronavirus in more than a dozen players and coaches. So, is this going to happen tomorrow night?

HOGAN: It's a great question. I'm not sure whether it will or not. I expect to be talking with the folks at our Maryland Stadium Authority and the Orioles, and perhaps with Major League Baseball. But it's looking less and less likely that that's going to happen. I don't have all the details.

But my understanding is 12 players and staff at the Marlins have tested positive. I know they canceled their games at home, and we'll have to see whether there's any possibility of playing games in Baltimore.

CAMEROTA: And on a larger note, what does it mean for baseball season?

HOGAN: It's -- I saw that the commissioner of Major League Baseball said they're going to take a close look, they're going to do another round of testing of everybody and come out with some kind of a statement, but I don't have any inside track as to what those decisions are.

You know, it's frustrating. I think a lot of people would love to see some baseball games played, if they can play safely without fans, and people would love to have a distraction right now and with everything that everybody's going through, but I'm not sure whether they're going to be able to pull it off safely or not.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about federal aid for states. You have been candid in saying that Maryland could really use some, but there isn't any in the latest Senate GOP bill. So, what does that mean for your state and the workers?

HOGAN: Well, it's just not -- not just concern about my state. As chair of the NGA, we've been pushing for this $500 billion that the states need. There was a commitment from the White House months ago, repeatedly, that they were going to support this, and now it's not on the table. We're continuing to push for that. We will again today.

But what it means is we've already lost 1.6 million state and local government workers with the potential of losing 4 million more. And the problem is that we're on the frontlines providing very much-needed services to more and more people are less revenues, and it's going to have a major impact. It's going to be somewhat disastrous if we can't get this funding back in.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about your book. It's called, Still Standing. I'll read a portion of it. You say, instead of listening to his own public health experts, the president was talking and tweeting like a man more concerned with boosting the stock market or his own re- election plans. Thank goodness we had governors who were willing to step up and be counted.

Basically, I think one of the premises of your book is that so-called Trumpism will banish with President Trump, whenever that is, but then the Republicans will kind of go back to being the old-school, traditional Republicans that we used to know. And I'm just wondering what your evidence is of that and if you are seeing Republicans splitting from the president?

HOGAN: Well, I'm not sure. I said it was going to vanish from the party, but I am pushing for having that discussion. Regardless of what happens in November, I think it's really important for the Republican Party, if we expect to win elections in the future, for us to take a look at what direction we head in. I think we've got to return to some of our more traditional roots.

I come from the Ronald Reagan wing of the party. Reagan had a hopeful, positive vision of the future and talked about a big tent, reached out and attracted a lot of independents and swing Democrats and did a great job of working with Tip O'Neill and the Democrats in Congress to get a lot of things done. You know, I think there's a lot of people in the party maybe who aren't speaking out but who will have that discussion. And I'm not sure that's what's going to win out.

But I think the Republican Party's going to have that debate. And there's no question I'm going to be pushing to be part of that discussion and to try to convince them that we might want to reconsider the direction we're heading.

CAMEROTA: The book again is called Still Standing, Surviving Cancer, Riots, a Global Pandemic, and the Toxic Politics that Divide America. Governor Larry Hogan, thanks so much for being on and sharing your thoughts on all of this.

HOGAN: Thank you.


BERMAN: Georgia's Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff is slamming a Facebook ad by Republican Senator David Perdue as anti-Semitic. The now-deleted ad seemed to enlarge Ossoff's nose while leaving the rest of his face unchanged. In response, Ossoff tweeted, quote, I'm Jewish. This is the oldest, most obvious, least original anti-Semitic troupe in history. In a statement to The Washington Post, the Perdue campaign blamed, quote, an outside vendor who applied a filter that distorted the image.


Now, it's also notable that on that image, he appeared with Chuck Schumer, Senate majority leader, who also, just coincidentally, happens to be Jewish.