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Trump Admits Failing to Confront Putin Over Russian Bounties; Republican Congressman Tests Positive For Coronavirus; Trump Continues to Push Hydroxychloroquine. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired July 29, 2020 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:00]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Instead, the president has been meeting with supporters and a fund-raising committee. And, this hour, he will touring an oil rig.

The lack of focus on this pandemic is even more galling when you consider that the fact that the U.S. is coming off the deadliest day since late May. More than 1,200 deaths were reported yesterday. Nearly 150,000 Americans have now been killed by this virus.

And as just devastating as the situation is right now, a respected medical group is warning that it could get much worse. Listen to this. The Association of American Medical Colleges says that we risk seeing -- and this is a quote -- "multiple hundreds of thousands of deaths" in this country if we do not get this virus under control.

So, how is the president responding to this incredibly dire situation? He is once again pushing hydroxychloroquine, the drug that has been proven over and over not to treat coronavirus, and he is even promoting a doctor who says, you don't have to wear a mask, who says that there is a cure for COVID, and who once said that DNA from space aliens is being used in medicine. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just saw her on -- making a statement with very respected doctors. She was not alone. She was making a statement about hydroxychloroquine, with other doctors that swear by it. They think it's great.

I happen to be a believer in hydroxy. I used it. I had no problem. I happen to be a believer. Many, many people agree with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Again, study after study have disproven this, and the nation's leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, rejected these claims this afternoon, saying that we need to follow the science.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: I'm very explicit and unambiguous when we say we have got to follow the science.

If a study that is a good study comes out and shows efficacy and safety for hydroxychloroquine or any other drug that we do, if you do it in the right way, you accept the scientific data.

But, right now, today, the cumulative scientific data that has been put together and done over a number of different studies has shown no efficacy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: All of this is happening today as we have learned that Texas Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert was supposed to be on the plane to Texas with President Trump today, but was not because he tested positive for coronavirus in a pre-screening test at the White House just this morning.

We will get so much more on that in a moment.

But let's start with my colleague Kaitlan Collins at the White House.

And, Kaitlan, what is going on with the misinformation continuing to come out of this White House?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, and despite being confronted with those bizarre claims that the doctor he promoted had made yesterday, the president continued to defend her today, saying that he found her impressive, promoting and elevating the claims that she made in a video that the biggest social media sites, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, found so misleading that they removed it from their platforms after it had been viewed already millions of times.

And so the president said he had no regrets about retweeting that Dr. Stella Immanuel, the one who has said things in the past, like that doctors use alien DNA to make medicine. That's just touching the surface of claims that she's made in the past.

And instead of citing people like Dr. Anthony Fauci, and what he said about hydroxychloroquine, instead, the president is promoting what this misinformation-spreading doctor has said.

And so it raises concerns about, who is the president listening to as he's making these decisions and whose opinions is he elevating, sometimes, these opinions that he was retreating over in recent days that contradict even things he said about wearing a mask?

And so it is notable that he chose to do that as he's leaving for Texas today. He's going there, no COVID-19-related events on his schedule, even though, yesterday, Texas, I believe, reported 8,000 new cases of coronavirus. And, instead, he's just going to attend a fund- raiser, make remarks on energy.

But, right now, there is nothing COVID-related for him on the agenda. BALDWIN: None whatsoever, but, as we reported, he will be touring an

oil rig this hour instead.

Kaitlan, thank you. We will come back to all of that.

Also, another member of Congress has tested positive for coronavirus. This time, it is a Texas Republican who has refused to wear a mask. Congressman Louie Gohmert tested positive this morning at the White House.

He was supposed to accompany the president on his trip to Texas.

So, let's go straight to our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, on Capitol Hill with this news.

And so there's so many -- there are so many facets of this, because we also know that Congressman Gohmert was part of that huge House hearing with Attorney General Bill Barr just yesterday. And when you look at the video, as I know you have, you see Gohmert just feet from Bill Barr.

Is Bill Barr now getting tested?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're hearing that Bill Barr is going to get tested today.

In fact, Bill Barr was spotted outside of that hearing room yesterday interacting with a maskless Louie Gohmert. And they were walking next to each other. Bill Barr was also not wearing a mask.

[15:05:05]

But I can tell you that Bill -- that Louie Gohmert, the news of him testing positive has raised a lot of alarms on Capitol Hill. It's not like other situations where other members have tested positive. That's because Louie Gohmert frequently interacts with members, does not maintain a social distance, and does not wear a mask.

I have spent a lot of time in the House gallery watching him interact on the floor for weeks now, talking to members, sitting down next to them, talking to them, not wearing a mask. And I have asked him about that too. And he has said to me: "If I get the coronavirus, I will wear a mask."

And he also said to me -- I asked him, well, that doesn't make sense, because public health experts say, wear the mask now, because you might be asymptomatic and spread it unknowingly. And he said: "I'm not afraid. But I keep being tested. I don't have it. So I'm not afraid of you. But if I get it, I will wear a mask."

And he didn't answer to me when the last time he was got tested was.

Now, after he got tested this morning on his way to Texas, or he hoped to fly with the president -- he had a pre-screening before that flight. He turned out positive. He returned, it appears, back to his office on Capitol Hill, and did an interview with a Texas radio station, where he falsely blamed the wearing of a mask for getting the virus.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): I can't help but wonder if, by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place, that if I might have put some germs, some virus -- some of the virus onto the mask and breathed it in. I don't know.

But I got it. We will see what happens from here. But the reports of my demise are very premature.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So, a lot to unpack there, but public health experts, the CDC, et cetera, they don't say that wearing a mask causes getting the disease. In fact, they say the opposite, that it is essential to preventing the spread and also -- it's also helpful to protect yourself, so contradicting the science there.

And he also talked about wearing a mask. While he might have been wearing a mask from time to time in committee proceedings, because the rules require him to do that, on the floor of the House, not what he does. He does not wear a mask, certainly not in the halls, something that he has not done.

And now a lot of members are concerned they may have gotten exposed -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Let me unpack this with an M.D.

Manu, thank you very much on Capitol Hill.

With me now, Dr. Celine Gounder, CNN medical analyst and former New York City assistant commissioner of health. Also joining us, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

So, welcome to both of you.

And, Dr. Gounder, let's dive in on Louie Gohmert.

So, he finds out he has coronavirus, reportedly, with coronavirus, tells his staff in person, and, as you just heard in that sound bite, speculates that they may have gotten the virus from wearing a mask.

This is a sitting member of Congress, Dr. Gounder. Your response?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I have to say, Brooke, I'm a little confused about how that would work.

Unless he had virus on his hands and he was putting his hands under the mask to infect himself, I really don't see how this could have happened. If he's wearing a mask, that should really have been protective, not the cause of infection.

BALDWIN: Isn't this just irresponsible, extraordinarily irresponsible, to say this?

GOUNDER: I think it's extraordinarily irresponsible. I think he has endangered the health of his fellow members of Congress, as well as his staff.

And I really do hope that this starts to change some of those minds, if not his, about wearing a mask.

BALDWIN: How is it, Gloria, that lawmakers, who the public has entrusted to make major decisions, right, to keep their own health and well-being in check, can't even be trusted to follow simple health guidelines?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look at the president of the United States, who's still talking about hydroxychloroquine and who only recently decided that perhaps he ought to wear a mask.

There are people in the Congress who now see the mask as some kind of a cultural wedge issue and don't wear it as a result of that. It's almost a badge of honor not to wear a mask. And I think that's what Louie Gohmert was before this.

At this point -- and listening to him is kind of laughable. I mean, he's trying to spin his way--

BALDWIN: Total spin.

BORGER: -- of how he got this virus. And you can't do that.

BALDWIN: Do you think members of Congress, as they head out to their constituents, head home, head back to Capitol Hill, just quickly, do you think they should be tested before entering the Capitol?

GOUNDER: I do. I think--

BORGER: Yes, I think they should be tested.

BALDWIN: You both agree. You both agree.

GOUNDER: Oh, sorry. Go ahead. Sorry.

BALDWIN: No, no, I just heard overwhelming yeses from both of you.

Let me move on. Dr. Gounder, I want to move on to something else, that we have this respected group of medical experts warning that we could have -- quote, unquote -- "hundreds of thousands of deaths" in this country if we do not get this virus under control.

You have Dr. Deborah Birx sounding the alarm about these yellow zone states, right? She says that these states have a similar profile to where the red states are currently.

[15:10:00]

My question to you is, do you think the U.S. is now in a worse place than where we were back in March? And, Dr. Gounder, how do we get out of it?

GOUNDER: Well, when she talks about yellow states, what she's saying is, these are states that are experiencing initial infection among the 20-somethings.

And so a lot of that goes undetected and unnoticed, because they may not end up in the hospital the way older Americans do. And so by the time this infiltrates the rest of the population to older Americans, and you see those hospital rates go up, which is what you have in the red states, it's too late, the cat's out of the bag, it's spread, the virus has spread throughout the community.

And so if you really want to contain this, now is the time to really clamp down, focus on the mask wearing, the hand hygiene, and, where necessary, shelter-in-place orders.

BALDWIN: There's also a lot of hindsight is 2020, but there was this pretty revealing interview with the head of the CDC, Gloria, with regard to China and especially Europe.

So, we all know that, when the president of the United States defends his response to the pandemic, he's constantly touting his decision to some time ago limit the travel from China.

But when you hear this interview with CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, he admitted that the administration was slow to recognize the threat from Europe. And he said specifically that -- quote -- "That is where the large seeding came into the United States."

Gloria, how big of is an admission was this from the CDC?

BORGER: Well, it is a very large admission. And I think that Dr. Redfield, in admitting this, is taking responsibility, to a degree, saying that perhaps they should have been faster in understanding that the spread wasn't only from China, but it was from other places.

I don't know whether he said that he -- that the CDC made a mistake, that it was the entire health community worldwide. But that is something that gets in the way of the president's narrative about blaming China. The president calls us the China virus. Is he going to call it the China-European virus?

And I would have to say that, in the end, we are the ones who now can no longer travel to Europe because we have not gotten this virus under control, not vice versa.

BALDWIN: That's right. That's right. That's right. We can't go.

We know that the Trump administration banned travelers, Dr. Gounder, from Europe on March 13. But, by March 15, community transmission of the virus was already widespread. That's according to this report with Dr. Redfield.

How much better and a position would the U.S. be had the administration recognized the threat from Europe earlier? GOUNDER: So, Brooke, the travel bans, travel shutdowns have not been

shown to make a significant difference, beyond delaying spread of an epidemic, pandemic like this more than maybe a month or two. So you're basically talking about delay, not really preventing this.

So, yes, we had a missed opportunity there, but, at the same time, I think where we are now is, we really need to focus on the testing, contact tracing, isolation, and shelter-in-place orders to get ourselves out of the current situation.

BALDWIN: Dr. Celine Gounder, Gloria Borger, thank you both so much for all of that.

BORGER: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: President Trump admitting that he still has not confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin over the intelligence that Russia may have paid the Taliban militants to target U.S. and U.K. troops in Afghanistan. Why is the commander in chief refusing to address this?

Plus, the return of Major League Baseball is just a mess, after a coronavirus outbreak hits the Miami Marlins hard. Now another player has just tested positive. We're asking today, can sports really restart outside of a protective bubble?

And she quit her job to take care of her three grandkids after losing her 29-year-old daughter to coronavirus. She will join me live. Please don't miss this conversation.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:18:14]

BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

The president of the United States, the commander in chief, the head of all of the armed forces in this nation, still has not confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin over intelligence reports that Russia may have paid Taliban fighters to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Not only does the president admit that he has not confronted Putin, but he also tries to claim that the intelligence is -- quote, unquote -- "fake news," because, as he says, some people say so.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

TRUMP: No, that was a phone call to discuss other things. And, frankly, that's an issue that many people said was fake news, that it was a--

(CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Who said it was fake news?

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

But a lot of people said it's a fake issue.

QUESTION: There was dispute in the intelligence--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Well, we had a call. We had a call talking about nuclear proliferation, which is a very big subject--

QUESTION: Right.

TRUMP: -- where they would like to do something, and so would I. We discussed numerous things. We did not discuss that, no.

QUESTION: And you have never discussed it with him?

TRUMP: I have never discussed it with him, no.

I would. I'd have no problem with it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: President Trump later claimed that the intelligence about the bounty effort never reached this desk, despite reports that it was in fact in the president's daily briefings in the spring.

And then, when asked about it again this morning, he said this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If it were true, I would very angry about it. I don't know why they would be doing it. But if you tell me they're doing it, I will certainly take that under consideration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Let's talk this all over with Sam Vinograd, CNN national security analyst and a former member of the National Security Council under President Obama.

So, Sam, good to have you.

[15:20:02]

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Hi.

BALDWIN: So, here are the numbers.

We know that Trump and Putin have spoken over the phone at least seven times in the past five months. All right? So this is all since the intelligence about the alleged bounties was reportedly including -- included in the president's daily brief, but, again, Trump never mentioned any of this to Putin.

Why do you think the president is so afraid to confront about Vladimir Putin, at the end of the day?

VINOGRAD: Well, Brooke, stop is one four-letter word that President Trump has a very hard time saying, especially when on the phone with Vladimir Putin.

The only reasonable explanation for his failure to confront Putin about attacks on American soldiers, attacks on our elections, cyberattacks against COVID-19 research and development facilities is because he doesn't want to risk ostracizing Vladimir Putin and potentially risk putting Vladimir Putin's election interference efforts in jeopardy.

It appears that part of his campaign strategy is keeping Vladimir Putin happy. And that's very worrisome to me. In the first case, if he does not confront Vladimir Putin over these Russian bounty payments, Putin has no reason to stop. That puts American lives at direct risk.

And, Brooke, any entry-level intelligence analysts would tell you that if President Trump doesn't stand up to Putin when it comes to keeping Americans safe, Putin has no reason to take President Trump seriously on any other issue.

The playing field is so uneven.

BALDWIN: Right? The leverage is just -- it's lost.

As I mentioned, you worked for the Obama -- you had worked for the Obama administration. You have handled intelligence. Again, President Trump insisted in his interview that he does read the PDB and that the intelligence never reached his desk, because U.S. intelligence, he said -- quote, unquote -- "didn't think it was real."

What is more essential, Sam, for the commander in chief than protecting the lives of U.S. service members? That's my question.

VINOGRAD: Well, I can't think of any bigger priority then keeping Americans safe.

But we have seen President Trump consistently disregard or fail to digest intelligence on exactly that issue. When it comes to Russian bounties, we have reporting that this was in the presidential daily briefing, not to mention the fact that we took defensive measures for our troops overseas to protect them in light of this intelligence.

Or look at something like COVID-19, Brooke. COVID-19 was reportedly consistently in the presidential daily briefing, and President Trump disregarded that intelligence. And now 150,000-plus Americans are dead.

He has failed to integrate lifesaving intelligence into his policy decisions and into his foreign leader calls. I prepped more POTUS calls than I can count. Intelligence was provided to the president before every single foreign leader call. It was integrated into his talking points. And it was key to his approach on a call.

He disregards intelligence in the PDB, in foreign leader call prep, and in every single policy decision that he makes.

BALDWIN: And just to put a button on this, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger responded on Twitter -- quote -- "This is indeed disturbing. This, at a minimum, needs exposed and should lead to real consequences for Russia."

Sam Vinograd, thank you very much.

VINOGRAD: Good to see you.

BALDWIN: Here's the question: Can pro sports really return outside of a protected bubble?

Major League Baseball and the NFL both facing that very question, after more than two dozen players test positive across both leagues. I will talk to a doctor who's advising pro sports on how to safely return.

And I will talk to a mother who just lost her 29-year-old daughter to COVID.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:28:31]

BALDWIN: Breaking news.

Yet another Republican who was supposed to join the president in Texas today has tested positive for coronavirus. This time, it is Wesley Hunt. He's a Republican running for Congress in Texas.

In a tweet, Hunt wrote -- quote -- "This morning, on the way to Midland, I tested positive for COVID-19. I immediately rented a car and am driving back to Houston. I remain asymptomatic and feel in perfect health."

This, as we were reporting up top of the show, Congressman Louie Gohmert tested positive. He was supposed to be on that plane with Trump to Texas today. And he oftentimes is not seen wearing a mask.

Only days into the baseball season, and it is already upended from the coronavirus outbreak on the Miami Marlins. And just moments ago, we learned that another Miami Marlin player reportedly tested positive, amounting to 16 players. That's more than half the team's roster. And two coaches are currently infected.

The rapid spread forced the league to postpone a number of games and pause all Marlins games for now.

So, both the MLB and the NFL opted not to play inside of a protective bubble, like basketball and soccer leagues have done. And even football -- before the football season officially starts, I should say, 21 players already tested positive in the days since training camp, a little over one week ago, and now more than two dozen football players are opting out of the season entirely.

Joining me now, Dr. Isaac Bogoch. He is the investigator -- clinician investigator at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute. And he has also been advising NHL and MLS players' unions on COVID.

And, so, Dr. Bogoch, thank you so much for -- for being on with me.