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THE SITUATION ROOM

U.S. Cases Top 4.3 Million As Infection Rate Rises In 22 States; Russia Claims It Will Approve First Coronavirus Vaccine Within Two Weeks Despite Safety & Effectiveness Concerns; Trump Holds Briefing After Promoting Virus Misinformation And As U.S. Death Toll Nears 150,000; Trump Continues To Promote Unproven Drug Hydroxychloroquine. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 28, 2020 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Erica Hill thank you so much for that coverage.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now. I will see you here tomorrow. Thanks for watching.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUTAION ROOM.

We're following breaking news. President Trump is about to hold another briefing at the White House momentarily after promoting more misinformation about the pandemic over the last 24 hours. You're looking at live pictures coming in from the briefing room.

Among that missing information that includes a video he retweeted of a group of doctors making false claims about the virus, one of them saying and I'm quoting now, "you don't need masks" and other retweets slamming Dr. Anthony Fauci.

This is the U.S. death toll in the pandemic is nearing 150,000 people just in the United States, following more than 1,000 deaths in the U.S. just yesterday, and the number of known U.S. cases has now topped 4.3 million.

Start off our coverage this hour over at the White House for President Trump's coronavirus briefing is about to start that we're told momentarily. Our White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond is with us.

Jeremy, the President resume these briefings to show he's in charge of the pandemic response, going to be spreading more misinformation when he's not reading from a teleprompter or when he's simply tweeting. What's the latest?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Amid plummeting poll numbers in surging cases of coronavirus, the President last week trying to shift his message, try to stick to a script prepared for him by White House aides that was designed to show Americans that he is taking this pandemic seriously and he has largely tried to do so but that effort has really faded over the last 24 hours, Wolf, as we have seen the President's amplifying misinformation once again about the coronavirus and pressuring governors to reopen their states.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIAMOND (voice-over): After trying to stick to the script and show Americans he is taking coronavirus seriously, President Trump is back to amplifying dangerous misinformation about the virus, attacking Dr. Fauci and pushing states to reopen.

In a series of late night retweets, Trump promoted a viral video that included bogus claims touting hydroxychloroquine as a cure for coronavirus in calling masks unnecessary. Multiple studies have found hydroxychloroquine is not an effective coronavirus treatment and Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have all removed the video, including three of Trump's retweets.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know what I find? It's not the tweets, it's the retweets that get you in trouble.

DIAMOND: And the President's son, Don Jr. saw his tweeting privileges revoked for 12 hours for spreading misleading and potentially harmful information by sharing the same video.

And with at least 27 states pausing or rolling back their reopening plans, Trump is once again rowing against the tide.

TRUMP: I really do believe a lot of the governors should be opening up states that they're not opening.

DIAMOND: The governor of Florida who followed Trump's advice from the beginning --

GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) FLORIDA: Well, hell, we're Eight weeks away from that, and it hasn't happened. So we've succeeded. And I think that people just don't want to recognize it.

DIAMOND: -- now experiencing one of the worst outbreaks anywhere in the world, with an average of 10,000 cases per day, even as cases begin to decline.

JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: There's no clear message there's a federal responsibility to lay out really clear guidelines.

DIAMOND: Tonight, former Vice President Joe Biden slamming Trump's response.

BIDEN: From the beginning in my view, the President's had given us a false choice. He said that we have to get back to work and also deal with COVID. You can't get this country going again unless you get COVID under control.

DIAMOND: Echoing Dr. Fauci. DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Unless we get our arms around this and get it suppressed, we will going to have further suffering and further death.

DIAMOND: Amid the conflicting messages, Trump is back to undermining Dr. Fauci's credibility. Retweeting a claim that Fauci has misled the American public on many issues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you continue to do your job when the President of United States is publicly questioning your credibility in this way?

FAUCI: You know, George, I don't know how to address that. 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.

DIAMOND: Just last week, Trump tried to undercut Fauci again, announcing he would throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium, just an hour before Fauci did the same in Washington.

A senior administration official now telling CNN Trump's announcement caught White House officials by surprise, because there was no agreement with the Yankees.

[17:05:02]

According to "The New York Times," Trump was so annoyed with foundries turn in the limelight that he told aides to call the Yankees and make good on a long standing offer from the team's owner. Days later Trump, canceled citing his strong focus on coronavirus.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DIAMOND: And Wolf you heard Vice President Joe Biden criticizing President Trump's response to the pandemic just a little while ago during a speech in Delaware in responding to questions from reporters.

One of the things he was talking about was the lack of a coherent message from the President and he was arguing that the President's long track record of misinformation and false statements makes Americans less likely to trust the President. Now we are expecting to see the President once again during one of his coronavirus briefings at the White House in a few moments.

The question Wolf, is which Trump will we get? Well, we get the President we saw on Twitter or will we get teleprompter Trump? Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll find out very, very soon. All right. Jeremy Diamond reporting from the White House, thanks very much.

While we wait to hear directly from the President, CNN's Nick Watt has been looking at all the late breaking developments involving the pandemic. The virus has forced Major League Baseball For example, to postpone more games. Here's Nick's report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The day Florida started to reopen May 4, there were 819 new cases confirmed in the state, today 11 times that, 9,210. And the state's highest death toll to date.

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: We've got to get the virus down. We've got to get our contact tracing in place, we've learned that we didn't have enough people at all to sort of even call people up and say you need to quarantine. Who else were you with?

WATT: The city of Miami now offering free tests for kids across the state. Cases and children and teens have climbed. But across the country, many test results are still taking so long that they're basically worthless.

FAUCI: We just can't afford yet again another surge.

If you are trying to open up please, do it in a way that's in accordance with the guidelines.

WATT: Along with that Sun Belt surge concern now moving a little north, average daily case counts now higher. Along with that Sun Belt surge concern they're moving a little north, average daily case counts now higher than ever.

In Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee where despite this plea from Dr. Deborah Birx --

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Stop going to bars and indeed close the bars.

WATT: The governor just won't. Many places this now also a major concern, crowds of unmasked concert goers in Colorado, driving Chainsmokers gig in swanky South Hampton, New York, but people got out of their cars and mingled unmasked. Videos like this have sparked an investigation.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D) NEW YORK: It was a gross violation of common sense.

WATT: New Jersey cops say they spent hours breaking up a 700 strong Mansion Party at an Airbnb rental.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY, (D) NEW JERSEY: You're looking for trouble. You're absolutely looking for trouble.

WATT: Meanwhile, for more Miami Marlins have tested positive according to ESPN. All their games this week now postponed, the Yankees Phillies series also postponed.

ROB MANFRED, MLB COMMISSIONER: A team losing a number of players that rendered a completely noncompetitive would be an issue that we would have to address whether that was shutting down a part of the season, the whole season. WATT: And football preseason games have been cancelled. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced in an open letter, the regular season still on but every player and coach currently subject to daily tests. According to Goodell, this process has not been easy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT: And will some very strange news out of Russia, CNN has learned that Russia plans to approve a COVID-19 vaccine within the next couple of weeks. We are told that soldiers were used as the human volunteers in the trial. And this is what the head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund said. He said this is a sputnik moment. Russia will have got their first.

Now, we have seen no data regarding their trials. And some critics are saying that perhaps this was just pushed political pressure from the crowd. And we really know very little about this right now. We will keep an eye on it. Wolf.

BLITZER: We certainly will. We'll stand by for more information coming out of Moscow.

All right, Nick, thanks very much for that report.

Let's get some more analysis. Right now. Dr. Leana Wen is joining us, the former Health Commissioner of Baltimore.

Dr. Wen, thanks so much for joining us.

New cases might be leveling off in parts of the South in the West a bit. But those states are still suffering from widespread infection and a rising death toll. Do you see any encouraging signs right now for example, in the Sun Belt?

[17:10:04]

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: Well, what we're seeing is a reflection of the hard work that was done two to three weeks ago in the states. And so It does appear that it's going in a better direction that we are able to suppress the escalating spread that's been happening in some of these states like Arizona, Texas, et cetera.

The problem though, is even if we level off, it's still at a really unsustainable rate. And I think we as a country need to be deciding where we want to go. Are we OK with over 1000 deaths per day and 30,000 deaths a month? Is that something that we would accept? Or are there really hard decisions that we can be making now?

For example, really restricting indoor gatherings, dialing back many of these opening, these reopening measures and doing our part so that we're not just playing whack a mole and suppressing spread here and there, only to have a blossom out of control in other parts of the country.

BLITZER: Yes. Yesterday -- only yesterday 1,076 Americans died from coronavirus getting closer and closer to 150,000 Americans dying over the past five months from coronavirus.

The outbreak Dr. Wen might be leveling off, at least in some parts of the South. But Dr. Deborah Birx is warning that other states including Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, they're seeing some early, very serious warning signs. Without a clear national strategy coming in from the top. Are we going to see the pandemic move in waves across the country some days good, but then all of a sudden turning very, very bad?

WEN: You know, Dr. Fauci and others have emphasized all along that it's important for us to be humble about the pandemic, that there's a lot that we cannot predict. But there is something that we're seeing, which is this trend of what's already been happening.

I think that Tennessee, Missouri, these other states in the Midwest can look at what's already happened in the south and the west and see that they could very well be next. That when you see escalating numbers of infections, there's almost certain to be community spread, that is very difficult to contain with just testing contact tracing alone. That at this point, you have to put in these other stricter mitigation methods, and nobody wants to shut down again.

But at this point, we are going to look at some states doing better only to do worse. Other states doing better, only to do worse. And we do need a national strategy, because this piecemeal approach is not working for us versus you look at other countries that have had a coordinated strategy, that have had consistent messaging, they've been able to contain the virus. We can too, it's not inevitable.

BLITZER: Yes. So sad that so many people are simply getting numb to these horrible, horrible numbers as far as cases, hospitalizations, deaths here in the United States are concerned.

Let me get your reaction to what we heard from Nick Watt and his report that Russia is planning to approve the world's first actual vaccine within a matter of two weeks or so. What's your reaction when you hear that?

WEN: I don't know what to make of it, Wolf, because we don't have any data. And with something around vaccines, we really need to make sure that the data are crystal clear, that the vaccine is something that's safe because we are administering it to otherwise healthy people. So we need to make sure that it doesn't cause untoward side effects.

And we also have to make sure that it's effective, because the last thing that we would want is for people to get the false reassurance that they're now protected against coronavirus and then go out only to be infected. And so I mean, I wish that there is such a vaccine that's available, but I would want to see the data and the research, and we critically need for safety and efficacy to be there or else that will further fuel the anti-science vaccine skeptics movement too.

BLITZER: As you know, Moderna, just this week announced, they're launching what's called phase three trials for about 30,000 Americans, we're going to be involved as potential vaccine, vaccine candidates these trials. Today, Pfizer announced the beginning of a combined phase two, phase

three trial in the U.S., given all the recent developments, what's the likelihood that at least one of these vaccines that are about six or seven that are seriously under consideration right now will eventually be safe and effective?

WEN: I really hope, Wolf, that one of these well worker, ideally even more than one is going to be shown to be safe and effective. This is why we need to wait for the phase three trials because this is where the rubber meets the road.

This is where you administered the vaccine and the placebo to different groups of people and then see, does the vaccine actually prevent you from getting coronavirus? Does it actually reduce your likelihood of getting it compared to the others who are expose just the same?

And so, I really hope that we'll have multiple vaccines even. But we also have to remember that vaccines may not be the panacea that we're all hoping for. It may not be 100 percent effective. You may also have to get it several times year after year even and we still may have to keep up many of these other measures of social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing in the meantime too.

[17:15:07]

BLITZER: Yes. Let's see what these phase three trials show 15,000 getting the actual vaccine, 15,000 getting a placebo, then we'll have a better understanding if the vaccine works and is safe or not.

Dr. Leana Wen, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.

WEN: Thank you.

BLITZER: And we're standing by for President Trump's coronavirus media briefing looking at live pictures coming in from the White House briefing room we're told it's set to start momentarily. We'll of course have coverage.

And we'll also have more on Russia's claim of a vaccine breakthrough. We'll go live to Moscow for the very latest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:20:00]

BLITZER: So we're following the breaking news. You're looking at live pictures coming in from the White House briefing room. We're told the President momentarily will be walking out there making a statement and then answering reporters' questions. We'll, of course, have coverage of that, all this following as 22 states right now are seeing the number of cases, coronavirus cases, rising.

Let's discuss the late breaking developments with the Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Ron Nirenberg.

Mayor Nirenberg, in case we have to interrupt you, I hope you can stick around. We want to hear what the President has to announce.

But based on the data you've seen so far has the -- well, actually we're told now the President is walking out. So standby, let's listen in and then we'll discuss.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.

Today my administration has taken a momentous step toward achieving American pharmaceutical independence. Very, very big, big step.

A focus of our campaign to bring America's critical supply chains and medical manufacturing back to the USA. We've been working on this for a long time. This is a core of our strategy to protect our people from the horrible China virus should have never happened, should had never been here, they should have stopped it.

In the decades before I took office, foreign nations were allowed to freely plunder our factories and loot our industries, take our business out of the United States. Millions of jobs were vacuumed out, it is taken out so easily. Our politicians let that happen. And our communities were stripped and chipped in many cases to China and all over the world, countries all over the world.

Nearly four years ago, we launched a bold effort to revitalize American manufacturing, enact fair trade deals and bring our industries back home where they belong. When the China virus landed on our shores, it became clearer than ever before that restoring American manufacturing is a core matter of national security.

We must never be reliant on a foreign nation for America's medical or other needs, that includes many other needs. I just want to say that Pfizer just announced that a while ago, that they're combining phase two and phase three trials. And the vaccine looks like it's really heading in a very rapid direction and very positive direction.

First time that's happened and many months ahead of any other trial. There's never been anything like it. So it's the fastest ever and, to me, it's very exciting.

Today, I'm proud to announce one of the most important deals in the history of U.S. pharmaceutical industries.

My administration has reached a historic agreement with a great American company, you remember this company, it's called from the good old camera age, the old days to begin producing critical pharmaceutical ingredients. It's called Kodak. And it's going to be right here in America. So I want to congratulate the people in Kodak, they've been working very hard.

Members of my administration are present in Rochester right now. Rochester, New York, good place. And they're trying to finalize this groundbreaking deal and they will be announcing this deal.

I want to thank Governor Andrew Cuomo and his representatives, we've worked really well together on this deal. It's a big deal. It's going to be a great deal and a great deal for New York and a great deal for Kodak.

Ninety percent of all prescriptions written in the United States are for generic drugs. We have been approved more generic drugs than any other administration by far. Generic drugs can be just as good as the brand names, but cost much less.

Yet in less than 10 percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients needed to make these drugs they currently manufactured. In America, more than 50 percent, however, are made in India and China. And you'll be seeing a lot of things have happened. It's been happening, but it's happening at a more rapid pace right now.

With this new agreement, my administration is using the Defense Production Act to provide a $765 million loan to support the launch of Kodak pharmaceuticals. It's a great name, when you think of it. Such a great name. It was one of the great brands in the world.

Then people went digital and Kodak didn't follow. But now under very extraordinary leadership, they are following. And they're doing something that's a different field. And it's a field that they've really hired some of the best people in the world to be taking care of that company and watching that company, watching over it. But it's a breakthrough in bringing pharmaceutical manufacturing back to the United States.

[17:25:00]

Under this contract, our 33rd use of the Defense Production Act, remember when you were saying I didn't use it enough, I didn't use it enough. Then now you heard it's the 33rd use, we don't talk about it all the time, we used it. And we used it as a little bit of a threat, frankly, with certain companies that weren't doing as we were asking them to do and it came through as both a threat and a usage, but there's a 33rd use of the Defense Production Act.

Kodak will now produce generic active pharmaceutical ingredients. This is a big deal.

Using advanced manufacturing techniques, Kodak will also make the key starting materials that are the building blocks for many drugs in a manner that is both cost competitive and environmentally safe. It will be competitive with almost all countries and soon with all countries.

Once this new division is fully operational, in addition to all of the other plants that we've opened with other companies throughout the United States recently, it will produce as much as 25 percent of all active ingredients needed to make generic drugs in the USA. It's a big number, 25 percent.

This agreement will directly create 360 new jobs in Kodak's factory in Rochester. That's just in the initial phase. And in Minneapolis, a place I have gotten to know very well, and it's a great place. And I'm very happy that we're able to help them with the problems that they've had recently.

The National Guard, I want to thank the National Guard, both state and beyond. I want to thank them for the incredible job. They went in and they did some beautiful job. They cleaned it up, didn't hear about the problems anymore.

And indirectly I want to create -- we created thousands more jobs all across our pharmaceutical supply chains. We have now been building a very big pharmaceutical supply chain, not only coming out of China coming out of other countries also.

I want to thank Peter Navarro, Adam Boehler and Admiral Polowczyk, for their tremendous work to make this deal possible.

Today's action is our latest step to build the greatest Medical Arsenal in history, we'll be able to do that.

Through the Defense Production Act and other authorities, we have invested more than $3 billion in our nation's industrial base.

We've contracted with companies such as Ford, General Motors, Philips and General Electric to produce more than 200,000 ventilators. By the end of this year, nearly seven times more than we would ever do in a typical year.

We've contracted with Honeywell, 3M, O&M, Halyard, Moldex and LiDAR to increase U.S. production of N95 masks and we've brought it from less than 40 million a month to over 100 million a month by August, and we'll have 160 million in a very short while.

One hundred and sixty million a month, that's many times what we used to do if you go back two years ago, many times. We're increasing domestic production of gloves by 1,000 percent, 1,000 percent. We're manufacturing 450 million gloves annually by next year. We're finalizing contracts with our textile industry to make gowns in America with American Fabric, which makes a lot of our businesses happy that produced the fabric.

We have 13 million reusable gowns in the stockpile. And we'll continue to grow that number to 72 million this fall, which is a rapid escalation indeed.

We made major investments in new rapid point of care tests. So we have -- there's nothing like the rapid point where you get your answer in five minutes to 15 minutes to maybe 20, 25 minutes at the max. And we're already at about a 50 percent level. And we're bringing it up very substantially.

From there, we're growing domestic production from less than 250,000 test kits per month in May to 8 million test kits per month. There is nothing like this that has ever taken place anywhere in the world or close.

Through our partnership with Puritan Manufacturing in the state of Maine, great state, we've increased production of test swabs from 30 million per month in June to 56 million per month now.

As you remember, I went to Maine, I went to the plant where they do this, it was incredible. It's a great experience. And we'll produce over 100 million swabs per month by January.

We've dramatically ramped up production of materials needed for a vaccine and earn track to rapidly produce 100 million doses as soon as a vaccine is approved, which could be very, very soon. And 500 million doses shortly thereafter.

[17:30:01]

So we'll have 500 million doses.

And, logistically, we're using our military, our great military -- a group of people. Their whole life is based around logistics and bringing things to and from locations. And they'll be able to take care of this locationally and bringing it where it has to go very, very quickly. They're all mobilized. It's been fully set up.

A very, very talented general is in charge. And when we have that vaccine, it will be discharged and taken care of. It'll be a very rapid process all over the country. And perhaps we'll be supplying a lot of the vaccine to other parts of the world, like we do with ventilators and other things that we, all of a sudden, have become very good at making.

When the China virus struck our nation, we mobilized the entire government and the private sector to acquire, source, and deliver lifesaving supplies. HHS, FEMA, and the private sector combined have coordinated the delivery of more than 196 million N95 respirators, 815 million surgical masks, 20 million gloves, 34 million face shields, and 354 million gowns. That's a lot of gowns.

Last week, FEMA completed a second shipment of personal protective equipment to over 15,000 nursing homes in the United States. Our big focus has been on nursing homes and senior citizens.

As you know, that's where we want to take care -- we have to take care of the most vulnerable, especially if they have a medical difficulty, a medical problem, in particular, heart or diabetes. Which provided a total of 1.2 million pairs of protective eyewear, 14 million mask -- masks, 66 million pairs of gloves, and 13 million gowns.

We have replenished the long-neglected National Stockpile. In January, the stockpile had 17.9 million N95 masks. Today, the stockpile has over 50 million N95 masks, and we'll be doubling that in a very short period of time and then doubling that number.

We've shipped more than 14,000 ventilators to areas of need across the country, and we've more than 75,000 available to deploy. Not a single American who has needed a ventilator has been denied a ventilator. And if you remember, early on when we were first hit with the virus, ventilators were very hard to come by, and now we're the largest maker anywhere in the world, by far. And not only are we fully supplied and stocked, but we're helping other nations, because ventilators are hard to build and hard to get.

This is just the beginning. In the coming months, we will continue the largest onshoring campaign in American history. We will bring back our jobs, and we will make America the world's premier medical manufacturer and supplier. That's what's happening already. It's been happening now for quite some time.

We're seeing improvements across the major metro areas and most hotspots. You can look at large portions of our country, it's corona- free. But we are watching very carefully California, Arizona, Texas, and most of Florida. It's starting to head down in the right direction, and I think you'll see it rapidly head down very soon. But if you look, California, Arizona, Texas, and, for the most part, most of Florida, it's starting to head down.

In the wake of the recent mass gatherings, Americans have witnessed in the streets of Portland and Seattle. We are also tracking a significant rise in cases in both metropolitan areas because of what's been going on.

And we, as you know, have done a excellent job of watching over Portland and watching our courthouse where they wanted to burn it down. They're anarchists. Nothing short of anarchists, agitators.

And we have protected it very powerfully. And if we didn't go there, I will tell you, you wouldn't have a courthouse. You'd have a billion- dollar burned-out building.

We're also working aggressively to combat the virus in Native American and Alaska Native communities. Under the CARES Act, we provided $8 billion to address the coronavirus in tribal communities, and we've worked very hard with tribal communities. They're very vulnerable to this horrible plague. It's the largest investment in Indian Country, in U.S. history. There's never been an investment that big in Indian Country.

We need every American to help protect our fellow citizens and prevent the spread of the disease. It's critical that younger Americans remember that even though they are at lower risk and, in fact, some are in -- some age groups are at an extraordinary low risk themselves, they can unknowingly spread the virus to others who are at higher risk.

[17:35:12]

I ask all Americans, regardless of background or age, to practice social distancing which people have gotten very used to. But we have to keep doing it. Remain vigilant about hygiene. Avoid indoor gatherings and large gatherings, but especially indoor, especially where you have crowded bars; and that you wear a mask whenever appropriate.

Through the genius of our scientists, the devotion of our doctors, the skill of our workers, and the dedication of our people, we will achieve victory over the virus and emerge stronger than ever before.

We're looking at a very powerful year next year, economically. The job numbers are looking outstanding, to put it mildly, set records. The numbers on retail sales came in two weeks ago at the highest number in the history of our country. So we look like we're heading to some very, very good economic times. That means jobs, that means stock markets.

Stock market is already doing very well. It's getting to a point very close to where it was when we had this -- when we were hit with the plague. So I just want to thank everybody for being here.

Steve, please. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Can you clarify your acceptance speech for the Republican nomination? Are you physically going to be in Charlotte or will you give the speech here or somewhere else?

TRUMP: We'll be doing a speech on Thursday, the main speech, the primary speech. Charlotte -- they will be doing -- nominating on Monday. That's a different period, a different thing happening, but they'll be doing nominations on Monday. I speak on Thursday. OK?

QUESTION: From where?

TRUMP: We'll go -- we'll be announcing it soon. We'll be announcing it soon.

QUESTION: So you could be going to Charlotte?

TRUMP: Anybody have any ideas? We'll be announcing it very soon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President?

TRUMP: Yes, please, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, the negotiations are ongoing right now for the next relief measures. Republicans -- Senate Republicans have put forth their plan. Do you support what Senate Republicans have put forward? And are there certain aspects that they've put forward that you don't support?

TRUMP: Yes, there are actually, and we'll be talking about it. There are, you know, also things that I very much support, but we'll be negotiating. It's sort of semi-irrelevant because the Democrats come with their needs and asks, and the Republicans go with theirs. So we'll be discussing it with Mitch and all of the other people involved.

Kevin has been very active, as you know. All of the people involved. Steve Mnuchin has done a great job, keeps everybody together, both Democrat and Republican. And we'll see.

We want to do what's best for the people. I want to do what's best for the people. I want to do what's best for the economy because that means jobs and lots of good things. All right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think of what Senate Republicans put forward, sir? What do you make of what Senate Republicans put forward?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, two questions quickly. First, can you clarify your position on the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine after you retweeted a video making claims that it is effective?

TRUMP: Well, that was -- I wasn't making claims. The -- it's recommendations of many other peoples and -- people, including doctors. Many doctors think it is extremely successful. The hydroxychloroquine, coupled with the zinc and perhaps the azithromycin. But many doctors think it's extremely good, and some people don't. Some people -- I think it's become very political.

I happen to believe in it. I would take it. As you know, I took it for a 14-day period, and I'm here, right? I'm here. I happen to think it's -- it works in the early stages. I think frontline medical people believe that too, some, many. And so we'll take a look at it.

But the one thing we know, it's been out for a long time, that particular formula, and that's what, essentially, what it is, the pill. And it's been for malaria, lupus, and other things.

It -- it's safe. It doesn't cause problems. I had no problem. I had absolutely no problem, felt no different. Didn't feel good, bad, or indifferent. I -- and I tested, as you know. It didn't get me, and it's not going to hopefully hurt anybody.

So, we know from that standpoint -- because it's been so many years, from a safety standpoint, it's safe. I happen to think, based on what I've read -- I've read a lot about hydroxy. I happen to think that it has an impact, especially at the early years. There were some very good tests at Ford, and the doctor from Yale came up with a very, very strong testament to it.

There was a group of doctors yesterday, a large group that were put on the Internet, and for some reason, the Internet wanted to take them down and took them off. I guess Twitter took them off and I think Facebook took them off. I don't know why. I think they're very respected doctors.

[17:40:06]

There was a woman who was spectacular in her statements about it, that she's had tremendous success with it. And they took her voice off. I don't know why they took her off, but they took her off. Maybe they had a good reason, maybe they didn't. I don't know.

I can only say that, from my standpoint, and based on a lot of reading and a lot of knowledge about it, I think it could have a very positive impact in the early stages. And I don't think you lose anything by doing it other than, politically, it doesn't seem to be too popular. You know why? Because I recommend it. When I recommend something, they like to say, don't use it.

John, please.

QUESTION: On that note, Mr. President, last night, in tweets that were deleted by Twitter, you said that Dr. Fauci misled the country about hydroxychloroquine. How so?

TRUMP: No, not at all. I think -- I don't even know what his stance is on it. I was just -- you know, he was at the task force meeting a little while ago.

I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci. You know, it's sort of interesting -- we've listened to Dr. Fauci. I haven't always agreed with him, and it's, I think, pretty standard. That's OK. He did not want us to ban our -- this put up the ban to China, when China was heavily infected very badly, Wuhan. He didn't want to do that, and I did and other things.

And he told me I was right, and he told me I saved tens of thousands of lives, which was generous, but it's -- you know, I think it's fact that I banned -- I did the ban on Europe. But I get along with him very well and I agree with a lot of what he's said.

So -- you know, it's interesting: He's got a very good approval rating, and I like that. It's good. Because remember, he's working for this administration. He's working with us, John.

We could have gotten other people. We could have gotten somebody else. It didn't have to be Dr. Fauci. He's working with our administration. And, for the most part, we've done pretty much what he and others -- Dr. Birx and others, who are terrific -- recommended.

And he's got this high approval rating, so why don't I have a high approval rating with respect -- and the administration, with respect to the virus? We should have a very high, because what we've done in terms of -- we're just reading off about the masks and the gowns and the ventilators and numbers that nobody has seen, and the testing at 55 million tests. We tested more than anybody in the world. I have a graph that I'd love to show you -- perhaps you've seen it -- where we're up here and the rest of the world is down at a level that's just a tiny fraction of what we've done in terms of testing.

So it sort of is curious: A man works for us -- with us, very closely, Dr. Fauci, and Dr. Birx also highly thought of. And yet, they're highly thought of, but nobody likes me. It can only be my personality. That's all.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Can I just ask you also, DHS announced today that it is going to undertake a thorough review of the DACA program to decide whether to continue it, and if not, how to disband it. You had mentioned, after the Supreme Court ruling about DACA, that you were thinking about a path to citizenship for DACA recipients. Are you still thinking about that?

TRUMP: We're going to work with a lot of people on DACA, and we're also working on an immigration bill, a merit-based system, which is what I've wanted for a long time. That decision was an interesting decision because it gave the president as a president, more power than many people thought the president had. So the president is now, which happens to be me, in a position where I can do an immigration bill and a healthcare bill and some other bills. And you've seen some of them come along.

We're going to do tremendous -- we just signed it three days ago -- we're doing tremendous prescription drug price reductions. Tremendous. It could be over 50 percent, whether it's favored nations, clauses or anything else. I mean, it's tremendous numbers we're talking about.

You know, you go to some countries and they'll sell like a pill for 10 cents, and in the United States, it costs $2. And it's the same basic factory. It's the same everything. The United States bears the cost of all of these low prices that you see all over the world where people go to Canada to buy a prescription drug from the United States. Not going to happen with me. It's not going to happen with me.

So, John, I think one of the exciting things -- got very little coverage, and that's OK, but the people understand it -- I think we will be reducing prescription drug prices by massive amounts, numbers that have never been done before.

Other thing, in 51 years, we got -- as you know, last year, drug prices came down. First time in 51 years that they came down. Now, with what I signed last week, I think that drug prices can come down by numbers like 50 percent and even greater, in certain instances.

QUESTION: But if I can come back to where I originally started, are you still considering a path to citizenship for current DACA recipients?

[17:45:03]

TRUMP: We are going to make DACA happy and the DACA people and representatives happy, and we're also going to end up with a fantastic merit-based immigration system.

Please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. On the drug pricing, you had said that pharmaceutical representatives would be here today for a meeting to talk about bringing drug prices down or to negotiate. That meeting was cancelled. Why?

TRUMP: I didn't know a meeting was cancel -- oh, a meeting with the drug --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said there would be a meeting today with drug companies.

TRUMP: Well, I said there would be a meeting -- yes, a meeting sometime this week. Yes. They want to meet. I mean, I don't know that it was cancelled. They want to meet. I thought the meeting was actually scheduled for tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will see, I guess.

TRUMP: I thought the meeting was scheduled tomorrow. Sorry about the dates. But, you know, I see how upset you are by it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the FBI headquarters, sir --

TRUMP: Go ahead. Please. Bloomberg. Bloomberg. Mr. Bloomberg. You look like Mr. Bloomberg. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President.

TRUMP: I think you look much better, actually.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you support a temporary extension of supplemental unemployment aid if the deal that they're hashing out in Congress isn't completed by the end of this week?

TRUMP: We'll do something. We're going to take care of the people. Yes. It's a good question. We're going to take care of the people.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Mr. President, the woman that you said is a great doctor in that video that you retweeted last night said masks don't work and there is a cure for COVID-19, both of which health experts say is not true. She's also made videos saying that doctors make medicine using DNA from aliens, and that they're trying to create a vaccine to make you immune from becoming religious.

TRUMP: Well, maybe it's a saying, maybe it's not.

COLLINS: So what's the logic in retweeting that?

TRUMP: But I can -- I can tell you this. She was on air, along with many other doctors. They were big fans of hydroxychloroquine, and I thought she was very impressive in the sense that, from where she came -- I don't know which country she comes from, but she said that she's had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients. And I thought her voice was an important voice, but I know nothing about her.

COLLINS: But she said masks don't work. And last week, you said masks --

TRUMP: Yes, go ahead. Paula.

COLLINS: Last week --

TRUMP: Go ahead. OK. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: All right. So there, an abrupt end. Our own Kaitlan Collins asking some serious questions to the President. He's had enough, he walks out. He's strongly, of course, defending what he's defended now for months. Hydroxychloroquine, a drug that even his own FDA has decided should not necessarily be used to treat even early stages of the coronavirus good for maybe for lupus, for other diseases, but not for that, because potentially it could cause some serious heart- related problems for various patients.

And as a result, the FDA has revised its earlier recommendation to maybe give it a shot. They don't want to do it. But the President very determined to support, very determined to make the case for hydroxychloroquine. Kaitlan Collins is there in the briefing room for us. Kaitlan, you were asking important questions, and even some of the President's retweets overnight. They were taken off Twitter, for example, because they were suggesting -- there's no need to wear a mask and they were suggesting hydroxychloroquine could potentially, quote, cure, cure coronavirus when there's absolutely no evidence of that.

COLLINS: Well, Wolf, not only that the video was removed from Twitter, it was removed from Facebook and it was removed from YouTube. Unfortunately, it had been viewed millions of times. And that's because they said there was misinformation in those videos that were elevated by the President. And the one he was citing, there's a woman in the video she identifies herself as a doctor, and Wolf, she says that mask do not work. And she says there is a cure for COVID-19, of course, two things that health experts have said is not true.

And so I was asking the President about that. She's also made a host of bizarre other claims, including saying that scientists are trying to come up with a vaccine to prevent you from being religious, things of that nature. And so I asked the President, what was the logic in elevating a post like that to 84 million followers of his on Twitter.

And he was defending it, he was saying that she didn't know where the doctor was from, but he was talking about how she was citing her personal experience with hydroxychloroquine and patients that, of course, we don't actually know how that was used or anything like that. That's why the video was removed.

But then also, Wolf, by the President retweeting that, it's contradicting what he has said in the last seven days, which is he was saying that people should be wearing masks that they do work and that they are helpful in stopping the spread of COVID-19. But as I was trying to ask that question, the President turned and left the briefing room.

It's not clear why he would retweet something if he wasn't going to defend tweeting that but it was just a question that many people have because, you know, is he going against the advice of his doctors and instead elevating the opinions of these other people that are not -- people who work in the administration are not working on the COVID-19 response?

And so that was the question that we had for the President. He was also asked about those retweets about Dr. Fauci overnight. One saying that he was a fraud, another accusing him of misleading the country, something that we saw Dr. Fauci responded to today. He was saying he had not read those tweets and seeing though where it said they felt you had misled the public, but he said that he wanted to talk about how Fauci's approval ratings are so high and he asked why his -- to the response of the coronavirus pandemic are not.

[17:50:07]

He said he was confused by that because they're both working in the administration, though, of course, that has been something that people have pointed out to the President saying that people trust Dr. Anthony Fauci more than they trust the President, and that's raised questions. And, of course, we had reporting that he had been watching Anthony Fauci's poll numbers, he was irritated by them. And he made that pretty clear in his answer here in the briefing room.

BLITZER: He certainly did. And let me -- stand by Kaitlan, I want to bring Dana Bash into this conversation on Dr. Fauci. Clearly, the President seems to be a bit jealous of Dr. Fauci said at one point, the President, he has a high approval rating, why don't I? And then he said nobody likes me.

He seems to be, as we all know, he's very interested in approval ratings. He's very interested in ratings in general. But to make that point about Dr. Fauci, he has a high approval rating. Why don't I?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That actually just happened in the White House briefing room. The President of the United States making abundantly clear that he is not happy with the fact that the top -- one of the top medical professionals during a pandemic has a high approval rating. The fact that that is not only front and center in his mind, but to the point where he actually feels that he has to utter it. Whether he thinks he's being cute or not, is remarkable.

And it really says so much, as Kaitlan said, it's not as if this is a newsflash to us because we understand that that is, in large part, driving the tension between them despite the fact that both men have insisted they have a good relationship. It seems to have driven the President to, last week, lie in the White House briefing room saying that he was invited to and would give the first pitch at Yankee Stadium next month, when he apparently did that because he didn't like the fact that Anthony Fauci was doing just that here in Washington at National Stadium.

So it really is such a window. You know, generally, we get the President's tweets as a window into what he is thinking. And Kaitlan did a remarkable job in calling him out on it. And obviously, he didn't want to be called out, which is why he walked out of the room.

But the fact that the President, you know, through the Q&A process today veered from what was scripted for him, and gave us his innermost thoughts is very, very telling never mind, you know, disturbing, because that is not where the focus should be. It should be on him allowing and wanting Anthony Fauci to be out there.

Yes, he said, Fauci represents the administration, therefore, it reflects well on him, but that's not what he meant.

BLITZER: Yes. I mean, when the ad libs and he's just answering questions, you get a very different tone from the President. Early in the briefing, he was making important steps about domestic production of pharmaceutical products, announcing a new agreement with Kodak to launch a new program, $765 million federal loan. All of that very important, and at the end, he repeated what is significant in terms of various steps to deal with the coronavirus.

But John Harwood, you're a White House Correspondent, then all of a sudden response the questioning, he gets very sensitive about the, quote, high approval rating for Dr. Fauci. Why don't I get that?

Why does nobody -- that he says, nobody likes me. That's a pretty extraordinary statement from the President of the United States, because as I said, he seems to be a bit jealous of the nation's top infectious disease expert.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, let's be honest. The President in the middle of the deadly pandemic with 4 million cases over 150,000 Americans dead is functioning at the level of a child and not even a child who's really connected to reality. He retweeted all that nonsense from this kooky person who has made all these claims about hydroxychloroquine.

All the medical experts have debunked the assertions that hydroxychloroquine is some kind of a cure. And even as the President is trying -- has been goaded by his aides into trying to strike a more realistic assessment of the situation, he cannot resist repeating his promotion of this completely unproven medication. Not to mention the absurd statements like much of the country is corona-free.

We -- cases are indeed coming down somewhat or -- the rise in cases has been tempered somewhat in some of the hottest spots, but we still have more than 55,000 cases a day, 1,000 people dying a day and the President's complaining that people don't like him? It is -- it's profoundly disturbing that this is the kind of leadership the country or lack of leadership that the country is getting from the White House in a crisis of this magnitude.

[17:55:02]

BLITZER: Yes, it was pretty stunning when you heard the President sounding a bit jealous of Dr. Fauci who spent 40, 50 years dealing with infectious diseases. And he does have an extraordinarily high rating, approval rating unlike the President right now whose approval rating on coronavirus is not very good, according to all of the recent public opinion polls.

Dr. Leana Wen is still with us, the former Baltimore City Health Commissioner. On this issue of the hydroxychloroquine, the President, when -- you know, he's repeated what he said before, he tried it he said for 14 days. Look at me, I'm fine. It's extremely successful. Then he said if you take it with zinc, azithromycin, it can really be helpful, especially in the early stages.

We know hydroxychloroquine is an effective drug in dealing with lupus, dealing with malaria, but the FDA itself says it's not effective at all in dealing with coronavirus. And I want you to listen to what Dr. Fauci said about hydroxychloroquine then we'll discuss.

Let me read to you what he said. This is what he told me. This is Dr. Anthony Fauci. The overwhelming prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease. All right, so that's Dr. Fauci. What is Dr. Leana Wen say?

Unfortunately, Dr. Wen, standby. I think we've lost your audio. We're going to try to reconnect with you. Standby for a moment. This is obviously a very important issue right now.

All right, I think we've reconnected. Let me start. I don't know if you could -- you could hear my question right, Dr. Wen?

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: I did. Yes, thank you.

BLITZER: All right. We're talking about hydroxychloroquine. Is it effective in dealing with coronavirus? We know it's effective with lupus, we know it's effective with malaria, is it effective in dealing with coronavirus pages -- patience, as the President says in the early stages?

WEN: It is not. We have done clinical trials, we have to follow the science and the evidence here. We have to follow what the FDA recommends and the FDA cautions against the use of hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19. Look, I really worry, Wolf, because there are so many millions of Americans for whom the President is their most trusted messenger.

And when he starts saying things that go against science that are actually dangerous, I worried that Americans are going to go out as they have before and take this unproven medication that has significant side effects. It causes heart rhythm disturbances, it could result in liver and kidney failure. This is not a harmless medication, as the President says.

And I wish that instead of touting these untested, unscientific remedies, the President would actually talk about what works which is wearing a mask, which is washing our hands, which is keeping physical distancing. He could do so much to bring down the rate of COVID-19 in this country and I wish he would use his platform to do so.

And you would think he would, you know, he would honor with the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration -- Dr. Stephen Hahn is the head of the Food and Drug -- they themselves came out with an analysis saying it is not effective in dealing with coronavirus.

The President says, you know, he took it, he's feeling fine. Look at me, he said at one point, and he said it's extremely, his words, extremely successful. And he said, take it with zinc and azithromycin. Does not really make a difference if you take it with zinc and azithromycin?

WEN: No. And, in fact, azithromycin combined with hydroxychloroquine can make the heart disturbances even worse. And so, I really just would urge everyone watching, please do not listen to President Trump when it comes to medical advice. This is when we listen to Dr. Fauci. This is when we listen to the top experts, the top scientists and doctors who are working for the Trump administration and we listen to the FDA.

This is a situation where there could be substantial harm that's caused. And, in fact, people have already died from taking hydroxychloroquine. This is not something to be taken preventively. This is not something to be taken just by someone decided that they should. If you're getting it in the context of a clinical trial, then that's approved for use, but otherwise, please do not take this medication.

BLITZER: Yes. And even, you know, those responsible for Facebook and Twitter, they deleted some of the President's retweets because he was suggesting, take this drug, it'll help you. And one of the tweets actually said it was a cure for coronavirus, clearly and it's not a cure. There is no cure. At least not yet.

All right, stand by. We have a lot more to report on. We're here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: All right, it's the top of the hour. We want to once again welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. And we're following all the breaking news.