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Trump Blames Democrats For Coronavirus Relief Hurdle; Miami Marlins On Pause Over Team's COVID Outbreak; GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert Tests Positive For Coronavirus; Dr. Arthur Caplan Discusses Danger Of Sports Amid COVID Pandemic; Soon, Fed Chair Powell Expected To Give Economic Update, Rate Decisions. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired July 29, 2020 - 11:30   ET



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Democrats want to maintain the $600 enhancement. Republicans want to take that down a little bit.

So I don't know what the president is talking about. I think this is actually an important point as these negotiations sputter along right now.

The White House, the president and Senate Republicans all seem to be in conflicting places to some degree. And Democrats have had their proposal out for a while. And they have remained unified.

And so far, they don't see any reason to budge until Republicans can get their act together. I'm not sure it will happen any time soon -- John?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Seung Min, part of that, Phil makes the point, fiscal conservatism has been missing in Washington for the first three and a half years of the Trump administration.

But suddenly, you're starting to hear largely from Senate Republicans -- and this is James Lankford, "We need to spend what we have to spend, not a dime more."

Josh Hawley, "It's a mess. I can't figure out what this bill is about."

Ted Cruz, "The answer to these challenges will not simply be shoveling cash out of Washington."

And Ben Sasse, Senator from Nebraska, "We have two big-government Democrats, Secretary Mnuchin, on behalf of the Trump administration, and Speaker Pelosi, on behalf of the binge-spending politicians everywhere, playing gross games with your kids' money."

If Secretary Mnuchin is a big-government Democrat, isn't Senator Sasse saying, so is his boss, the president of the United States?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It is one way of saying it. Also, Senator Sasse has been saying something that Senate Republicans

have been saying something for a while. They don't quite trust Secretary Mnuchin because he's been able relatively easily been able to cut these big spending deals with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

But the decisions you pointed out John just point to the problems that Mitch McConnell has right now. He does not have a unified conference. And that weakens his leveraging, which is why he's not even in the negotiations right now.

It is striking to me that, less than 48 hours after the Senate Republicans revealed their coronavirus plan, the top Republican leader is not in the room for these negotiations.

It has punted completely already to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi as Steve Mnuchin and Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, who the floor will be meeting again later this afternoon.

But you're going have a good chunk of the conference, anywhere from 10 to 15 Senate Republicans, to maybe even a half, who aren't going to support this because the trillion-dollar price tag, which is on the low end of what we're talking about, because that is the Republican starting position, that trillion dollars is too much for them.

KING: Too much for them and the Democrats want more.

So, Phil, we are left, as Seung Min notes, and Leader McConnell right now says you leave this up to the White House, leave this up to the Democrats, and you circle back to me. But he has to manage the family feud that both of you have been talking about.

And you two are both left to be supreme McConnell translators. Translate this from the Senate majority leader this morning.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): These are not the positions of people who are putting the common good above politics.

The American people cannot afford for Democrats in Congress to have decided in June that they're finished legislating until November. Not during a crisis like this.


KING: Democrats are happy to legislate. What's he talking about?

MATTINGLY: I'll take this one. SMK --


MATTINGLY: I'll let SMK -- SMK, I'll go first.

I'll say this. McConnell, as Seung Kim has pointed out, he has a weak hand right now. One of the ways you do this is you attack, if you don't feel Democrats are coming off the position. I do think there's on the periphery this idea that perhaps Democrats

want things to fail for electoral purposes. But to be honest, I've talked to a lot of Democrats about their proposals. They want more. They want bigger. And they want a deal now, particularly with the Friday deadline for the unemployment benefits.

I haven't heard that as something that they're considering publicly or privately, but it is an attack line.

KING: It will continue.

KIM: Also, I mean --


KING: Go ahead.

KIM: Yes. What McConnell is doing is deflecting that to Democrats and pointing out their faults and what he believes are their faults with their legislation. He's defending his decision to not do anything until July because what Mitch McConnell said several weeks ago that he wanted to put a pause on this to see, to assess what the situation was like in this month.

Because we know the situation with the pandemic is changing by the day and the needs in July will perhaps be different than the needs of May.

But what McConnell is not saying here is that Republicans wasted at least a week fighting amongst themselves. The goal last week was to have a deal released last Monday. That was about a week late, just fighting within the Republican conference. And that's what McConnell's not saying.

And there's a dispute even right now over that FBI bill that got President Trump reiterating this morning that he wants language and fighting for it. And McConnell does not want that in there.

KING: I think the FBI bill will go the way of the payroll tax. It's not going be in the final product, the final product.

Phil, Seung Min Kim, we appreciate it so much. We'll continue this conversation and we'll see how long it takes.


Up next for us, we shift to the sports world. The Miami Marlins have a coronavirus problem and it affects much more than Major League Baseball.


KING: Not even a week into the Major League Baseball season and games are being postponed because of a COVID problem. The Miami Marlins see an un-pause as they get a handle on an outbreak in their clubhouse.

Also, it has to be in the minds of NBA players and other sports stars as they get ready to restart. NBA restarts tomorrow in Florida. NHL getting ready to drop the puck in Canada.


Let's get the latest from CNN's Coy Wire. He joins us now.

Coy, this is a major problem.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: John, even on the minds of NFL teams. The training camp's now open. And 25 players have chosen to opt out due to COVID concerns. And six of them from the New England Patriots, as I'm sure you know, John, including the Tom Brady of their defense, Dante Hightower. And his first child born 13 days ago.

As for MLB, 11 games postponed after four more members of the Marlins test positive yesterday, according to multiple reports, bringing the total to 17 within the last week. That's roughly half the team's roster, John.

All of their games through Sunday postponed by the league. And that includes four against Baltimore and three against the defending champions, Nationals.

The Phillies hosted the Marlins last week. And now out of an abundance of caution, the Phillies won't be playing until Friday, all of their games with the Yankees postponed. MLB didn't want the Yankees in the same clubhouse that the Marlins had just used.

So New York, they went to Baltimore. Instead, they'll play the Orioles today or tomorrow.

Marlins officials say anyone who tested positive is currently in isolation and receiving care. And team owner, Derek Jeter, said the team moved to a daily testing schedule.

So is this on the minds of other players? Absolutely, John. And listen to what Brewers' all-star, Ryan Braun, had to say about it.


RYAN BRAUN, BREWERS PLAYER: There's real fear and anxiety for me and all my teammates. I think we found it very difficult to focus on baseball at all the last couple of days.

I know for me, personally, I don't feel comfortable with where we're at. There's -- there's real fear and anxiety for all of us.

And at the same time, I think we're grateful we've been able to play as many games as we have. And it's a reminder of how precarious this situation is.


WIRE: So far, this is strictly a Miami Marlins problem. MLB says over 6,400 tests conducted since Friday, there were no new positive personnel from the other 29 clubs. How do you know sports are back? When we've had a good old-fashioned

baseball brawl. And in Houston last night, the Astros and dodgers getting into a spat there.

This is meeting for the first time since the 2017 World Series when the Astros won. But later the MLB investigation determined the Astros were stealing signs. Dodgers' Joe Kelly there, and then Carlos Correa, and ended up running into some looking like this, that bench-clearing brawl, sort of.

KING: I've got a Fight Club T-shirt at home. I just might have to put it on. My Joe Kelly Fight Club T-shirt. I might have to wear that one tonight.

Coy Wire --


WIRE: You shave your head like me and you're good to go.

KING: I don't know about that. But we'll keep the conversation going.

Coy Wire, appreciate the update.

From COVID in sports to COVID in Congress. Yesterday, Congressman Louie Gohmert was at that combative House hearing with the attorney general, William Barr.

Today, we learned he's tested positive for the coronavirus. The diagnosis coming at a prescreening at the White House this morning. Gohmert had planned schedule to fly to Texas with the president.

Let's get right to CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're learning from a person familiar with the situation that Louie Gohmert did, indeed, test positive for the coronavirus this morning during a pre-flight screening as he planned to fly with President Trump down to Texas. Now because of that, he's not flying with the president anymore.

But this is a significant situation because Louie Gohmert has refused to wear a mask in the House of Representatives. I've spent a lot of time watching Louie Gohmert around the House floor. He sits with his members -- sits next to them. Stands next to them and interacts at length without wearing a mask.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I asked Louie Gohmert, why does he not wear a mask. He said, I don't have the coronavirus. Turns out, as of yesterday, I've never had it. And if I get it, you'll never see me without a mask.

And I mentioned to him that health experts have said that asymptomatic people, people not showing signs or symptoms, could spread it to other people, which is why they recommend people wearing a mask, particularly when they can't social distance.

And he told me, but I keep getting tested and I don't have it. So I'm not afraid of you. But if I get it, I'll wear a mask.

So he, yesterday, was at the House Judiciary Committee hearing with Bill Barr, the attorney general. And he was spotted outside of the hearing room interacting with the attorney general not wearing a mask also.

Now we are told separately that Bill Barr is expected to get tested today as well.

But clearly, a significant concern, I am told, from people up on Capitol Hill because of that, the fact that Louie Gohmert, someone who frequently interacts with members, generally refuses to wear a mask and rarely wears one, has now tested positive for the virus -- John?

KING: Maybe he'll become a convert to masks. No inconvenience at all. The evidence says they help. But we shall see.


Manu Raju, appreciate the breaking news. We'll stay on top of the story.

Let's return to the sports conversation.

Joining me now, Dr. Arthur Caplan, director or medical ethics at NYU's Health. He's also a consultant with Major League Baseball players about the dangers of COVID.

Dr. Caplan, I've read your earlier writings. And when you see these problems, it's a moment of "I told you so" for people like yourself who thought Major League Baseball could not pull off this plan to have the teams travel.

The question is: What now? Do you think the season is in jeopardy? Is there any way to do something like Governor Cuomo suggested in New York and create a bubble in one state? What are your thoughts?

DR. ARTHUR CAPLAN, DIRECTOR OF MEDICAL ETHICS, NYU & MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL MEDICAL CONSULTANT: Anything that involves travel, particularly in or out of these COVID hot spots, is doomed. If they continue to do that, they'll never finish the season. They're going to get more outbreaks.

Remember, they're watching precautions when they're playing, although we have to say that little brawl, some of them were unmasked as they were getting up in each other's faces.

Generally speaking, the danger is outside the stadium and not so much inside the stadium. And you have to wonder, why aren't you bubbling up like the NHL and other sites to travel to empty stadiums. Pointless.

I think they have to do something like the NHL model, pick up a few locations and pick a place and isolate and watch players and staff between games.

KING: A, I don't know, can they pull that off? I know you're only a week into the season. Can you now pull that off? And it's supposed to be a 60-game season and can you salvage that?

I assume you'll be watching closely that the NBA is in a quasi-bubble and they're in Orlando. And listen to the Commissioner Adam Silver who thinks they have the best possible plan.


ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: We have confidence in this protocol that we designed, as you refer to it, as a bubble. It's not actually a sealed bubble. But everyone who is on that campus is tested on a daily basis. They're taking extraordinary precautions.

The only time they're not wearing masks is when they're actually playing basketball. To the extent that somebody tests positive, we'll obviously track them closely.

We quarantine people when they first come down so we think we have a plan in place.


KING: It's that last part, "We think." Nobody knows. This is a brave, new world. Baseball experiment is out to a rocky start. Basketball and hockey experiment about to begin.

What are you watching most closely?

CAPLAN: I'm watching to see what will be the trigger to say we have to shut down and quarantine. The Marlins with 17 players and a couple of staff are postponing until Sunday. I don't think that's safe enough.

It's been said that the Marlins decided, knowing they had positive results, they continue to play. That's not acceptable. So you have to have policies in place to suspend or temporarily suspend play.

By the way, John, lessons here for two other things. College sports, we're still talking about trying to bring them back. I think the Marlins experience shows that's hopeless. Kids in dorms, they're not going to be able to isolate.

And there's a message here for schools, right? If you can't keep millionaires safe with a quarantine-type operation and giving them instruction, what chance do you have with high school kids?

KING: An excellent point.

Dr. Arthur Caplan, we'll continue the conversation. We'll bring you back as we watch. We'll see, A, what baseball decides and, B, how basketball and hockey get under way. You're right. This impacts everything.

CAPLAN: Thank you.

KING: It's not just sports and it impacts everything from schools and getting back to work and everything else.

Dr. Caplan, we appreciate your insights.

Up next for us, amid extraordinary times for the American economy, the Federal Reserve chairman will speak this afternoon. What to expect, that's next.



KING: We're hear from the Fed chairman later today. This, in a moment of major uncertainty for the U.S. economy. Layoffs rising again because of the coronavirus summer surge. Congress debating how to help with new stimulus.

We know the Fed is extending its extraordinary pandemic lending programs until end of the year. But Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's remarks later today will make clear if he thinks even more needs to be done.

CNN's Julia Chatterley joins us live from New York with more.

A big moment to wait for.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Absolutely, John. Three words for you -- "whatever it takes." The cash will keep coming if that's what is required. That's the consistent message we'll hear from Jay Powell again today.

He'll be pressed on how concerned he is about the economic outlook, the risk that we've seen a bit of recovery and then we take another tumble.

For two key reasons: One, because of riding COVID cases and, two, what happens if Congress can't get its act together and agree on a deal, and at least limited in some way.

He'll be honest. These are the big risks out there. And he has to closely watch the data.

And he's also going to be asked what his opinion is, I think, on whether or not now is the time for Congress to be reducing that $600 a week bump-up in unemployment benefits, particularly when we have more than 17 million people unemployed in the United States. He'll be careful how he answers.

As you and I discussed many times, he'll bring it back to the economy and say, look, this is a consumer-driven economy. We are in the midst of a pandemic. The evidence suggests people are spending this money and now is not the time to be reducing support in any material way. We'll see.

KING: We'll see. Will be fascinating to hear. See if Congress gets a nudge to try to reach a compromise.

CHATTERLEY: Hopefully.

KING: We shall see.


Julia Chatterley, appreciate that very much.

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