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As Americans Die, Trump Touts Unproven Drug & "Alien DNA" Doctor; Trump Dismisses Reported Russian Bounties On U.S. Troops; GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert Tests Positive For Coronavirus: Big Tech CEOs Face Lawmakers In Historic Hearing. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 29, 2020 - 13:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The latest prominent study out of Brazil says the same, but adds that patients experienced unusual heart rhythms more frequently than those not taking the drug.

When the White House or Trump campaign officials quote a study, it is always the Henry Ford Health System study. And in that study, patients who got Hydroxychloroquine were twice as likely to receive a steroid. And doctors accounted that is better survival rates. The study did not individualize Hydroxychloroquine as a variable.

But Trump's reliance on crap science is part of a pattern we've been seeing. He usual relies on doctors from media. Prefers them to his own task force of experts.

Remember this guy?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I watch you all the time and watch you almost like my guide to this because, frankly, you really have a good take on it and know how important it is.


KEILAR: A reminder, the president's guide on coronavirus, as he calls him, also said this.


DR. MARC SIEGEL, FOX NEWS MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: This virus should be compared to the flu, because, at worst, at worst, worst-case scenario, could be the flu.


KEILAR: CNN reported in the early months of the crisis the president also relied on, Dr. Oz, who apologized for telling millions of viewers this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. MEHMET OZ, HOST, "THE DOCTOR OZ SHOW": I tell you, schools are a very appetizing opportunity. I just saw a nice piece in "The Lancet" arguing the opening of schools may only cost us 2 percent to 3 percent in terms of total mortality.

Any life is a life lost. But to get every child back into a school where they are safely being educated, being fed, and making the most out of their lives, with the theoretical risks on the back side might be a trade off some folks would consider.


KEILAR: The president is rejecting science.

Science is there to protect us from the human tendency to believe what we want to believe. Which is, perhaps, President Trump's greatest affliction.

Science shows us that masks work. Social distancing works. Science shows us that this virus is nearly 20 times more transmissible inside, indoors, than outdoors.

Science also shows us Hydroxychloroquine does not benefit COVID patients and can exacerbate heart problems.

When you reject science, more people die. More Americans die. And the president says that his opponents don't want it to be right. They don't want it to be wrong because lives depend on it.

Joining me now is "Daily Beast" politics reporter, Will Sommer, who first broke the story about Dr. Stella Immanuel.

I have to tell you, Will, when you read the story, it's -- it's hard to believe that you're actually reading what someone believes. It is so out there. So tell us what you have learned about this doctor and her beliefs.

WILL SOMMER, POLITICS REPORTER, "THE DAILY BEAST": Sure. Absolutely. So Dr. Immanuel came to my attention as one of these doctors who gathered on Monday to push Hydroxychloroquine as kind of this miracle cure despite, as you mentioned, a total lack of science saying that.

And so I was looking at her Web site and realized she has pretty bizarre claims on her church's Web site she runs. Particularly about other medical issues.

So she says that alien DNA is used in medical treatments. Basically, various gynecological issues, impotence, can be caused by having sex in their dreams with witches or demons. She says the government is run, in part, by sort of reptilian lizard people.

So normally, she can believe what she wants. At the point where the president is relying on her for medical advice or taking that input and she's claiming Hydroxychloroquine works, she offers -- refuses to offer studies or evidence from her clinic supporting that.

You know, I think it's ominous stuff to find out about her other held in beliefs.

KEILAR: And she's a practicing physician?

SOMMER: That's right. She's a registered physician in Texas. She has a clinic in Houston.

You know, one thing I think is notable is that she said in her speech, masks are not necessary, because you can just take Hydroxychloroquine. But at her own clinic, she's wearing an N-95, And you can't come into the clinic without a mask. A situation she's not practicing what she preaches to the public.

KEILAR: And she's a critic of Anthony Fauci, of course, the White House Task Force's top infectious disease doctor. Called him a liar on Twitter, Yet the president touts her as an important voice.

I mean, I've heard allies of the president say there should be a second opinion, but that's of Dr. Fauci. But that's a far cry from someone saying that he's a liar.

How is the administration, how are they responding to this?

SOMMER: Sure. I mean, it's been bizarre, frankly. I think Donald Trump, I think we're used to him retweeting crazy stuff, conspiracy theorists.


But after it's brought to his attention, perhaps you would think he would distance himself. But we saw yesterday at the press briefing, he called Dr. Immanuel spectacular, an important voice in the nation's coronavirus response.

Basically, they're not backing away. And again, the president is sort of setting up these doctors as a foil to Dr. Fauci and the actual experts.

KEILAR: We have also seen some conservative media, for instance, Tucker Carlson on FOX News trashed your reporting, claiming you were out to destroy this doctor's reputation since it's an election year.

I guess, what is your response to that considering all you did was basically point out what she has tweeted and what she practices?

SOMMER: Yes. I mean, there are hours and hours of footage of Dr. Immanuel making these claims about lizard people and demon sex and aliens and their various uses in medicine.

So you know, after my story ran, she said it was completely accurate and she thanked me for warning everyone about demons.

So you know, this idea that this is kind of some scheme to bring her down I think it's not the case.

Conservative media, along with Trump, is very invested in Hydroxychloroquine as a way to sort of blame somebody else rather than the president for this terrible pandemic response.

KEILAR: Yes. I am filing this one under, "Is this real life?"

Will Sommer, it's wild. Thank you for sharing your report. Will, we appreciate it, with "The Daily Beast."

SOMMER: Thanks. Thanks for having me.

KEILAR: We have more on our breaking news. Republican Congressman who has been refusing to wear a mask on Capitol Hill has just tested positive. So why are lawmakers scrambling? We'll tell you.

Right now, the heads of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, all on Capitol Hill for a historic hearing. Lawmakers are about to get their chance to grill the CEO over their unprecedented power. We will bring that to you live.



KEILAR: President Trump has never confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin over intelligence reports that Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. This is according to the president.


UNIDENTIFIED NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You had a phone call with Vladimir Putin on July 23rd. Did you bring up this issue?

TRUMP: No. That was a phone call to discuss over things and frankly an issue many people said was fake news, who said --



TRUMP: I think a lot of people. Look at some of the wonderful folks from the Bush administration, some of them, not any friends of mine, were saying it's a fake issue. But a lot of people said it's a fake issue.



TRUMP: Talking about nuclear proliferation, a very big subject where they would like to do something and so would I. We discussed numerous things and not that.

UNIDENTIFIED NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You have never discussed that with him?

TRUMP: I would. I have no problem with it.


KEILAR: President Trump also said the intelligence didn't reach his desk. But CNN reporting found intelligence that assessed the bounty effort was included in one of the president's daily briefings back in the spring. President Trump and President Putin have spoken eight times since


I'm joined by former CIA chief of Russia and Ukraine operations and CNN National Security Analyst, Steve Hall with us.

First, I'd like your response to the president's comments.

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, you know, Brianna, it's really amazing. This is the commander-in-chief, the guy who is the "Art of the Deal," supposedly the great negotiator, who can't figure out a way in a telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin to include his concerns about troops and the fact that the Russians might be offering bounties in Afghanistan for our troops.

Yes, nuclear proliferation is an important thing. But last time I checked, there's no imminent threat of a nuclear war between the United States and Russia or anything else.

U.S. forces in Afghanistan, however, are under an imminent threat and it now appears they're under imminent threat by the Taliban, perhaps with the Russians paying bounties for them. That's a various thing.

And I can't figure how the president, in most every negotiation, missed an opportunity or chose not to do that.

I've been in a room with senior national officials who sit down with Russians and say whatever you just did is not acceptable and we're not going to tolerate it. The Russians listen to that very, very carefully and notice when it's not said.

When it's not said, take it as a green light to push forward with whatever it is they want to do until they get resistance from the United States. That resistance, by the president's own admission, has not come from him. That's a various matter, in my view.

KEILAR: Russia is always looking to see where the line is. Right? Does this signal to them that they can cross that line of putting bounties on the lives of U.S. troops and they will go unchallenged by the president? And if so, what does that mean for their future actions?

HALL: Yes. Absolutely, it does. The Russians have long understood. This goes back long before it was Russia.

When it was back in the Soviet Union and before. Stalin and others understood you basically continue to push until you run into some blockage, until you run into a red line and told there's going to be a significant price to pay unless you stop doing that.

[13:45:13] That has not come from the person they listen to most, the president of the United States. Again, he has essentially green-lighted what the Russians want to do in Afghanistan, and I argue, in other places because the Russians aren't just looking at this particular thing.

They will also expand it out to say, well, if he was weak on that, if we didn't get pushback on that, we should try other things and push forward on meddling in the elections in 2020. Push forward on a number of different other things as well.

Yes, until there's firm pushback by the president himself, Vladimir Putin's going to say, yes, I guess I can keep moving ahead.

KEILAR: And for what reason would he have to not push back? I mean, I'm not sure there's anything more important than American lives, the lives of U.S. troops.

What possible objective could the president have in not bringing this up?

HALL: You know, it's -- boggles the mind. I can't think of anything either. It's not an either/or thing. The self-proclaimed master of the deal should know it's not a zero-syn game with the Russians on our side of it.

He can say, yes, I want to talk to you about nuclear arms control. A good thing to talk to Russians about, yes. But it does not preclude him from doing what he must do as commander-in-chief and as president of the United States, which is, help to try to protect his troops, American troops, in Afghanistan who have been threatened, intelligence tells us, by the Russians.

It's difficult to imagine why it is he would choose not to raise this to the great detriment of our troops in the region.

KEILAR: They have a compact with their country when they put their lives on the line. And it's not for their commander-in-chief to further jeopardize that.

The president, asked during this interview about Russia supplying weapons to the Taliban, which he said, quote, "We supplied weapons when they were fighting Russia, too."

What do you say to that? Something we heard from Russia as a talking point.

HALL: Yes. This moral equivalency the president somehow likes to do with Russia is disgusting, in my view. He did it earlier in the election cycle, last time in 2016. Asked what about Russians murdering people and killing journalists inside of Russia. He said, well, you know, we kill a lot of people, too. It's nothing short of disgusting.

Look, the United States was, indeed, supportive of Afghans in the Soviet era when Afghanistan was trying to push the Soviets out.

So you know, you have to ask yourself: What is the motivation? That's the important part here. We were trying to rid Afghanistan of an authoritarian Soviet-style system. That's a worthy goal. Worthy of supporting the Afghanistan, of folks in Afghanistan, the government there.

But the idea that, for some reason, because we've supported a good goal in the past, that somehow the United States can't stand up to Russia and say, look, this will not be tolerated, talking about American troops, is unfathomable.

KEILAR: Steve, thanks for being with us. Steve Hall, joining us from Arizona. Appreciate it.

So we want to get back now to breaking news. Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert testing positive for coronavirus. The Texas Republican was seen walking right behind attorney general, William Barr, yesterday as he arrived on a hearing on Capitol Hill. Neither of them wearing a mask.

Earlier today, another committee meeting, again, no mask there.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House.

And this was only discovered, Kaitlin, because the congressman was actually supposed to travel to Texas with the president today. And folks who get close to the president are tested, and this is when they discovered that he was positive. Tell us what you've learned.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Before the president makes any kind of trip or anything like that, they test everyone before they get on Air Force One. And that's how we found out others who tested positive in the past because of that. That's when he was caught.

In a pre-flight test, Louie Gohmert was doing and it came very close to him being onboard with the president and traveling to Texas.

You saw the former presidential physician, Dr. Ronny Jackson, also on the plane. And that's how he found out.

Louie Gohmert went back to his Capitol Hill office and recorded a video about his diagnosis and trying to blame wearing the mask, the few times he did, on the reason he caught this. Of course, he was wearing it improperly. That's up to him.

Not, of course what you've heard from medical experts who say, if you wear a mask, wear it properly. It's important so you do not have any risk of something like that. So it's interesting seeing him now make that argument.

But it comes as he is just one of many people who has now tested positive. People often around the president.


When he was leaving the White House today to go to Texas, we talked about his national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, who the president now says he has spoken to but he hasn't seen him physically, which raises another question of why he hasn't seen his own national security advisor.

But that's someone else who has been on White House grounds, who tested positive this week, raising concerns inside the West Wing about possible exposure.

And, Brianna, this comes as we see person after person in the president's orbit test positive for COVID-19.

And that's why things like the president says about wearing a mask, social distancing are important because it's happening in the halls of the West Wing, on Capitol Hill where people are testing positive.

And it's having this effect on other cabinet officials. Of course, government was in the room with Attorney General Bill Barr as he was testifying. And we learned from the Justice Department that Barr is going to be tested because he was in the room. And as he was speaking and testifying, he wasn't wearing a mask.

And it's raising concern about whether he opened up a cabinet official to potentially being exposed to COVID-19.

KEILAR: Lots of questions about those around Gohmert in the close quarters in Capitol Hill.

Kaitlan, thank you so much for the report.

Still ahead, big tech CEOs being grilled by lawmaker who think they're too powerful. Republicans already setting a competitive tone by claiming tech is out to get conservatives. We'll take you there live.



KEILAR: Let's go straight to Capitol Hill where big tech CEOs are testifying before Congress. Let's listen.

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): -- the investigation.

But I'll move on to a new question.

Mr. Pichai, most Americans believe when they enter a search query, what Google shows are the most relevant results. But increasingly, Google shows whatever is most profitable from Google. Good ads for Google's own sites.

So, my question, Mr. Pichai, isn't there a fundamental conflict of interest between serving users who want to contact the best and most relevant information and Google's business model, which incentivizes Google to sell ads and keep users on Google's own sites?

SUNDAR PICHAI, CEO, GOOGLE: We've always focused on providing users the most relevant information. We rely on the trust for users to come back to Google every day. In fact, the vast majority of queries on Google, we don't show ads at

all. We show ads only for small substantive inquiries, where the end- time users is highly commercial. For example, they may be looking for something like TV sets or so on. So --

CICILLINE: But, Mr. Pichai, what is the value of the part that you do use the Google ads for? It's a substantial part of your business? What is it


CICILLINE: -- $200 billion, $300 billion?

PICHAI: You know, in terms of revenue, it's around $100-plus billion. But --


CICILLINE; That's a lot of money, Mr. Pichai.

Let me move on.

Really, Mr. Pichai, it's Google's business model that is the problem. Our documents show that Google evolved from a turnstile to arrest the web to a walled garden that increasingly keeps users within its sights.

Emails show, over a decade ago, Google started to fear competition from certain Web sites. Web sites that could divert traffic from Google.

These documents show that Google staff discussed the proliferating threat, which is how it was described, that these Web pages posed to Google. Any traffic lost to other sites was a loss in revenue.

One of Google's memos observed that certain Web sites were getting, and I quote, "too much traffic," so Google decided to put an end to that."

Mr. Pichai, you've been at Google since 2004. Were you involved in the threat from vertical search?

PICHAI: Congressman, without knowing the specifics, without being clear of the context, definitely. When we look at it, it validates the competition we see.

For example, when users come looking to shop online, our studies show that over 55 percent of product searchers originate with Amazon and over 70 percent originate at major E-commerce companies.

In the few categories which are commercial in nature, we see vigorous competition, be it travel, real estate. And we are working hard on --


CICILLINE: Let me ask specifically, Mr. Pichai. The evidence we collected shows Google pursued a multi-pronged attack. First, Google began to steal other web page's content. For example, in 2010, Google stole restaurant reviews from Yelp to bootstrap its own rival, Local Search Business.

Mr. Pichai, do you know how Google responded when Yelp asked you to stop stealing their reviews? Well, I'll tell you. Our investigation shows that Google's response was to threaten to de-list Yelp entirely. In other words, the choice Google gave Yelp was: Let us steal your content or effectively disappear from the web.

Mr. Pichai, isn't that anticompetitive?

PICHAI: Congressman, when I run the company, I'm really focused on giving users what they want. We conduct ourselves to the highest standards. Happy to engage on the specifics and answer your questions further.

CICILLINE: Thank you.

Just one final question, Mr. Pichai. Did Google ever use it's surveillance over Web traffic to identify competitive threats?

PICHAI: Congressman, just like other businesses, we try to understand trends from data, which we can see, and we use it to improve our products from our users. But we're really focused on improving our products. And that's how --


CICILLINE: I appreciate that, Mr. Pichai.