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Trump Floats Delaying Election Despite Lack of Authority To Do So; FDA Says, We Will Not Cut Corners on Approving a Vaccine; California Records 197 Deaths, New Single-Day High. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired July 30, 2020 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A very good Thursday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.


While this nation faces the devastating reality of more than 150,000 deaths from coronavirus, there is more tragic news for the U.S. economy. And today, while we all honor and remember civil rights icon, the late congressman, John Lewis, the president is talking about none of the above.

SCIUTTO: Once again he's pushing more false claims. We'll call them that, they're false, including mail-in voting leads to widespread fraud, there's no evidence of that. And in junction with that, he has now delayed, he has now floated the idea of something that's never happened in this country's history, and that is delaying the presidential election.

HARLOW: It is stunning. It needs to be fact-checked. We can only assume the president is serious tweeting this.

With us now Joe Johns and Constitutional Attorney Gloria Browne- Marshall. We're glad we're here.

Joe, let me just begin with you. To remind people, what does the Constitution say about this?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: The Constitution is pretty clear, and I'll defer to your expert, but my reading of it is that the Constitution leaves the time, place and manner setting on federal elections to the United States Congress, and that means the legislature, both the House and the Senate would have to agree. And one is, of course, as you know, controlled by Republicans, another controlled by Democrats, therefore, unlikely.

Nonetheless, just because the president can't do it doesn't mean you should ignore this tweet. Because at the end of the day, the president is de-legitimatizing, undermining an election yet to be held set for November in which he's badly trailing in the polls and essentially setting himself up to say the results of the November election are bogus, and that, of course, is a problem for American democracy.

Back to you.

SCIUTTO: Okay. Part of a broader attack on the legitimacy of the election as his poll numbers sag and also we should note on a day that we saw that the U.S. economy shrunk by a third in the third quarter. The president has often been guilty of trying distract from bad news like that with outrageous tweets.

Gloria Browne-Marshall, you're a constitutional expert here. There is no precedent for this even during the civil war, World War I, World War II.

GLORIA BROWNE-MARSHALL, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Well, I want to add another, and that is the Spanish flu of 1918, where we had presidential elections in the worst pandemic in modern history. And this was globally, millions upon millions of lives lost around the world, worse than what we have right now, and there was still a presidential election. So there's nothing here that would have Trump bemoaning the fact that there's going to be an election except for the fact as it was pointed out that he may lose it.

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, just in your book there, The Voting Rights War, another challenge, of course, the election is access vote, voter suppression, a challenge to keep in mind as we head towards November 3rd. Sorry, Poppy.

HARLOW: No, not at all. I just think it's a great point that you brought up, Gloria, that also when we saw a pandemic before.

Joe Johns, to you. Look, there are things, believe it or not, that are above politics, right? And this is one of them, right, the sanctity of our democracy and the electoral process. And Mitch McConnell was just asked several times by CNN to react to the president, you know, proposing delaying the election, and he didn't say anything. He was silent about it.

JOHNS: Yes. Those reactions are going to come out very slowly. I can tell you that I reached out to folks up on Capitol Hill and the instant reaction, the very instant reaction from a staffer was on the Democratic side was, look, it's not going to happen, so why pay attention to it. But there may be something else to be said about this.

And from what I can tell a lot of the people who might have something to say about this right now, including the speaker of the House, are down in Atlanta for the funeral of John Lewis.


So there might be a while before we hear from some of the people who want to weigh in, especially on the Democratic side. And the other point that I think needs to be made is there's obviously a lot of intellectual hypocrisy involved in raising this issue. Joe Biden himself has suggested it might come. And, Jim and Poppy, the other thing is, on the one hand, you argue school's got to be open, on the other hand, you question whether there should be a delay in the election. It just doesn't make sense.

SCIUTTO: Gloria Brown Marshall, Joe Johns, thanks to both of you.

Our team up on the Hill has been asking Republican lawmakers about this suggestion of delaying the elections. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, he told Manu Raju this morning, I don't think that's a particularly good idea, didn't say anything more. Senator Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican facing a tough battle here, she refused to comment, not answering any questions even on the president suggesting the delay of an election. We'll continue to challenge Republican lawmakers and Democrats on the Hill as well.

This morning, the other story we're following, and it's one that really affects, I'm sure, many of you, and that is devastating news on the American economy. The stock market reacting to it there, although the stock market has been detached from what's happening in the real economy for the last several months. The economic numbers are the key here.

The worst quarter in this country's history on record going back to the 1940s, plunging the country officially into recession for the first time in 11 years.

HARLOW: Julia Chatterley is with us. And, Julia, this is your expertise. This is your wheelhouse. You know, we heard Larry Kudlow, you know, a top economist at the White House over the weekend, say, basically, it's all going to be fine in the third and fourth quarter. You're going to have 20 percent plus growth, that is not a sure thing on top of these devastating numbers, especially given all of the unemployment aid that ends tomorrow.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: I couldn't agree more. Nothing, quite frankly, should distract from the economic devastation that we can see in these numbers for the second quarter. And to your point exactly, the lack of clarity on the future is another point entirely

What we're seeing here is a 33 percent near collapse in growth for the second quarter, and that, of course, would have been far worse if we hadn't had seen the early reopenings in the months of May and June. One can only imagine how bad this would have been.

I have to go back to give you any sense of history in terms of this to 1958 when growth collapsed some 10 percent. We've got nothing in the record books that look anything like this.

The other point you'll remember is, guys, this is backward-looking. This does not reflect the reality today. And the data is suggesting that the recovery is stalling. Initial jobless claims, people claiming benefits today for 1.4 million people, huge questions to be asked today about recovery, Poppy.

HARLOW: Absolutely. And it's incumbent on Congress to get answers and aid to people. Thank you, Julia.

SCIUTTO: In less than an hour, civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis will be laid to rest in Atlanta, Georgia. These are live pictures from the iconic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where shortly former President Barack Obama will deliver the eulogy.

HARLOW: Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will also be at the service and participate.

Let's go to our colleague, Martin Savidge, who joins us in Atlanta with more. What a day, and I just think punctuated by the poignant words left for all of us by Congressman Lewis.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. His very last words and they are so important to be read, but I know you're going to get to that. I was just looking over the final, I guess, what you could say is the schedule of what events are going to take place. It's just remarkable as to who is going to participate and how.

This is an accommodation of many people who not even knew Congressman Lewis but whose lives were impacted. But, of course, you're going to have family members that will be speaking. You're going to have Bernice King. That's the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. You're going to be having the president speak, of course, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Barack Obama will deliver the eulogy. Nancy Pelosi will also pay tribute there.

And, remember, this is a celebration of the life. So, yes, there's going to be moments where it's somber and perhaps even bordering on sad, but you can also bet that it's going to be a celebration, especially as we get to the end, a home-going celebration.

Ebenezer Baptist Church, this sanctuary that's being used today, is the horizon sanctuary. Normally, that would seat about 2,000 people. That is not going to be the case due to COVID, of course, social distancing, and safe practices. So there will only be 240 people that will be inside for the service, and half of those will be family members of the congressman.


So you can understand that for the public, if they wanted to participate, it's a private ceremony. So instead outside a large screen and speakers will have to suffice for such a remarkable life. Jim and Poppy?

SCIUTTO: Well, there are still heroes out there, and there's one that's being honored today. Martin Savidge, thanks so much for being there.

HARLOW: Well, on the day of his funeral, Congressman John Lewis had one final and powerful message. He writes this morning, quote, answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe, the final words that he wrote shortly before his death just published this morning.

SCIUTTO: Plus, the Fda says an emergency use authorization, as it's known, for a coronavirus vaccine could come within weeks, a vaccine that just days ago started phase three testing, that is broad-based testing, that it may get to the point of declaring it safe.

And as the U.S. economy its worst quarter ever, I'm going to speak to the hotel CEO who questions how does the economy get back on track without Americans traveling.



HARLOW: Welcome back.

New this morning, the FDA commissioner says the agency will not cut corners when approving a COVID-19 vaccine, this is after they announced yesterday that they could issue an emergency use authorization for a vaccine in just a matter of weeks once it proves to be safe and effective. Listen to this.


DR. STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: We will use our very high standards of safety and effectiveness. We'll look at those data and we'll make a determination based upon those high standards. We have terrific scientists and people at FDA and I know and I'm confident that we'll do that job on behalf of the American people.

Things have been moving very quickly. I know our team is looking at data in real-time from these trials and that should help us expedite this.


SCIUTTO: All this as the nation is grappling with more than 150,000 deaths from the coronavirus, warnings about that figure rising and quickly.

Joining us now to discuss, Dr. Leana Wen, she is an Emergency Room Physician, former Baltimore City Health Commissioner, a powerful and important voice on this outbreak. Good morning, Dr. Wen.

I want to ask you about that timeline being suggested there for a vaccine, because Dr. Fauci, for instance, has consistently said end of this year, early next year at the earliest. is it a realistic possibility given the early stage we are in broad trials of a vaccine that it could come within weeks, or is that false hope?

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: It doesn't make sense, Jim. I mean, this already is at such an expedited rate. The quickest that a vaccine was developed in the past was four years. So if we get it developed within a year, this will be breaking every record.

We just started these phase three trials, and I guess I can't really understand how within weeks we can figure out that this vaccine is safe which is really important because we're giving it to otherwise healthy people and we have to critically make sure that it's effective. Because the last thing we want is to have people take the vaccine, think that they have immunity and protection but actually it doesn't work.

And I fear that this entire process is being politicized. We need to let the science speak and we cannot have the FDA or others be pressured into approving something too soon taking shortcuts.

HARLOW: Dr. Wen, I had, you know, a similar response when I first read that headline. But just reading a little bit deeper just to be really clear for our viewers, what it appears that he was saying is that after it's proven to be safe and effective, then rolling it out for emergency use authorization would be in a matter of weeks. Is that, in your view, still too fast?

WEN: No. Emergency use authorization makes sense because you have a public health emergency and you should be able to approve something quickly, but I also want to set the expectation that that doesn't mean that everyone in America is going to be able to get that vaccine within weeks of approval. It still will only be rolled out to, let's say, healthcare workers and those most at risk and then it's going to take time.

And we need to very urgently figure out a way to produce hundreds of millions of doses and not have the same problem that we've been experiencing with the lack of PPE and lack testing because of supply chain issues.

SCIUTTO: I want to talk about where the country stands in terms of the overall response to the outbreak. I think we have a graphic here showing the progression of deaths. And after, of course, the case numbers have been going up, they came down a bit in some states, but the death rate had also, for a moment, the number of deaths, the rate of the number of deaths have come down but it's turning -- it's going back up again.

What does it tell us about the state of the outbreak in this country and what needs to be done now?

WEN: It tells us that we are at an unsustainable place. I mean, we are seeing some of those very hard-hit states begin to plateau in some ways with the number of infections, but that's not really a good thing because they are plateauing at a very high level that's unsustainable, where much of their healthcare system continues to be overwhelmed.

And then we're seeing other states in the Midwest that are really trending up, and we know that the test positivity rates in many other parts of the country are well above 5 percent, which means that we're not picking up on a lot of outbreaks that are under way already.

And so I think it is time for us to reset. It's time for us to examine our strategy and to ask ourselves, do we want to continue on this path or do we want to do something different, not just have a piecemeal approach but to actually suppress COVID-19 the way that other countries have.



HARLOW: Dr. Wen, I like all parents are waiting to hear what's going on with our kids' school. I'm supposed to hear something tomorrow. It's different in every city and state, I get that. But you say, quote, we're facing a dystopian scenario if schools open now. Everywhere or just in those hotspots?

WEN: In the hotspots. So there are certainly parts of the country, Poppy, is where schools can reopen safely if they put into the proper safeguards and also have mechanisms for containing an outbreak. But if you have areas that are actively undergoing a surge in infection, I mean, you could have 1 in 100 people in the community who are infected, which means that a school of 1,000 would have ten people walking in on day one who are actively infecting other people.

And if we have the backlog of people, as we currently do now, what are we going to do? Make parents wait 14 days to get testing? Make parents also stay at home for 14 days while awaiting for these? And so there is a lot of that we need sort through before schools can safely reopen in a lot of parts of the country, and we cannot be taking shortcuts here.

SCIUTTO: The testing regimen is failing in this country. It's in the numbers. Dr. Leanna Wen, thanks very much.

Well, tonight, a new CNN global town hall on the signs of hope out, there are some out there, for a vaccine as COVID-19 case numbers rise, as do deaths. Join Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta with what you need to know now, Coronavirus, Facts and Fear live, starts at 8:00 Eastern Time right here on CNN.

HARLOW: Well, another record-setting and dark day in California. The state reported 197 COVID-related deaths yesterday. That is the single highest day marked yet.

But the state is not just bearing a physical devastation of this health crisis. Our next guest says he fears the economic fallout could impact the Bay Area for the next decade. I'm happy to have with us this morning Sta. Clara County Executive Officer, Dr. Jeff Smith.

So you have both the business expertise, you're the C.O. of the county, but then also the medical expertise as an M.D. ten years. Explain the case you're making because they're pushing for a national stay-at-home, essentially, for four to six weeks. What tells you if we don't have that, the devastating impact economically will be a decade long?

DR. JEFF SMITH, COUNTY EXECUTIVE OFFICER FOR SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Hello, Poppy, thank you for having me. First of all, I think we're nowhere near getting this virus under control, although there's some optimism about a vaccine, it's not going to help us in the short term. Right now, the only tool we have to stop the virus is shelter-in-place and physical distancing. That's the only thing that's been proven to work.

And right now, the virus is totally out of control in the United States and in particular in certain states, California, Texas, Florida, as we see today that does major damage to our economy. So we're in a really difficult place between a force of nature that we don't have under control on one side and on the other side, the construction (ph) of man, which is falling apart.

The recovery from the economic damage, if we get the virus under control, will be a long-term recovery. And right now, the virus is not under control. So I think ten years is a good estimate because we have at least another two to three years of viral challenges and damage that will be done to the economy will be immense.

HARLOW: So immense damage to the economy even if we get this under control, which it's not looking like right now.

If you could talk about the impact on the lowest income parts of your county and what they will be because the Mercury News did some really important reporting that in San Jose, more than a third of the county's first 100 deaths occurred in just four zip codes on the east side, largely low-income minority neighborhoods.

We know that the health fallout has been uneven and the disparity has been greater for low-income minority individuals. Is the same going to be true for the economic fallout?

SMITH: Absolutely. We know that this virus has a predilection for poverty because of closeness and absence of ability to do physical distancing, but it also seems to have some medical connection with people of color. And, typically, in our nation, people of color have had economic challenges, so they will feel the worst.

In a sense, I think, we're sort of fight being a civil war again. Right now, we've had a virus that killed 150-plus people in the last few months.


And if the projections are correct by November 1st, it will have killed 200,000. Even in the civil war, the death toll was only about 180,000 a year. And at the same time, we're having the challenge of Black Lives Matter and the challenge of realizing that there's major disparity in the economy. So we have fights going on that will fundamentally change our society in many, many different ways.

HARLOW: And the Black Lives Matter movement bringing those issues that have been existent for so long in terms of racism and economic disparities, as you point out, to the fore. Jeff Smith, thank you very much for being here with us this morning.

SMITH: My pleasure.

SCIUTTO: Well, as the U.S. economy experiences its worst quarter in recorded history, 13 CEOs from some of the biggest names in travel say they know how President Trump can get the economy back on track. One of those CEOs joins me next.