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Trump Keeps Pushing Drug Despite Warnings, Task Force Disputing Claims; Trump Task Force Doctors, Scientists Keep Contradicting Him; Rural Areas in U.S. Rising Number of Cases; NYC Sheriff Makes Arrests in Illegal Boat Party Amid Pandemic; Mom Warns After 2-Year-Old Son Infected, Showing All Symptoms; NY Prosecutors Suggest Probe of Trump for Possible Fraud. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 3, 2020 - 14:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Is -- so he's saying this incentivizes people not to work, is he right?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS COMMENTATOR: In normal times, this would be a totally valid thing to worry about, right? You don't want to be paying people more money to stay home and to take a job. These are not normal times. We have 30 million unemployed people, we have many fewer jobs that available.

The primary reason people aren't working is that they can't get hired. And in fact, there have now been five different studies from economists at places like Yale, Berkeley, the New York Fed, et cetera, that have all looked at this question of whether these generous unemployment benefits are disincentivizing work and none of them have found that to be the case under current conditions.

KEILAR: Under current extraordinary conditions, as you so aptly point out. Catherine, thank you so much, Catherine Rampell. And I don't know maybe we'll see you in two, maybe three weeks.

RAMPELL: Who knows.

KEILAR: It is the top of the hour. I'm Brianna Keilar.

Negotiations are underway right now on Capitol Hill over additional money to help Americans who are struggling through the coronavirus. One big part of the talks is the individual payments to millions of Americans who lost their jobs during this pandemic.

Moments ago, we heard the President rail against those negotiations saying that states are just looking for bailouts.

Here's what the map is looking like right now. There are 11 states that are dealing with increasing numbers of cases versus last week. Most of the country is hanging in there. They're holding steady on the number of cases. But one of the other trends that we are seeing is actually a rise in cases in rural areas. And that fact is what led Dr. Deborah Birx to declare that the U.S. is entering a new phase of the pandemic.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE RESPONSE COORDINATOR: I want to be very clear, what we're seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily raw spread. It's into the rural as equal urban areas.


KEILAR: Those comments from Dr. Birx elicited a response from her boss, President Trump, who in a tweet called her take, "pathetic."

The President was responding to Speaker Pelosi saying that she lacks confidence in Birx. Here was Pelosi this morning explaining why on CNN.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I don't have confidence on anyone who stands there while the President says swallow Lysol is going to cure your virus. You know, it will kill you and you won't have the virus anymore.


KEILAR: This is the same White House who said it was deeply irresponsible for Pelosi to attack Birx, and now President Trump is attacking Birx.

Meanwhile, President Trump is once again pushing hydroxychloroquine.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hydroxy has tremendous support, but politically it's toxic because I supported it. If they would have said, do not use hydroxychloroquine under any circumstances, they would have come out and they would have said it's a great, it's a great thing.

Many doctors have come out strongly in favor of it. They wanted very bad. It's a great malaria drug.

So for many years -- so -- let me finish my answer.

So for many years, it's I guess, 60 years has been a malaria drug very successful as you know. And it's been also a drug for lupus. And it cause no trouble virtually nothing in terms of causing people to get sick or having problems with anything. You add the zinc --


KEILAR: With me now is Dr. Peter Hotez from Baylor.

OK, let's start with this. And I should mention we have fact checked this so many times. The top line on this is that hydroxychloroquine, no, it is not shown to be helpful in treating coronavirus. But it's really beyond the point of absurd that we are still fact checking this it's actually dangerous. Tell us your thoughts on hearing the President yet again talk about this drug as an off label use for coronavirus patients.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Yes, no, I mean clearly the clinical trials are overwhelmingly show that hydroxychloroquine does not work either alone or with zinc or with azithromycin Zithromax. This is done.

The problem is this, the President and the White House are seem to be looking for excuses not to contain this virus. Things are have spiraled -- have been spiraling out of control now for a few weeks.

We're going to be advancing towards 230,000 deaths by the end of October, 300,000 deaths by the end of the year and there's nothing holding that train back. Even though we can do this. We can now bring all the states to containment mode less than one new case per million residents per day or something along those lines and agreed upon metric by October if there was the political will in the White House if the federal government would lead the plan, and they refuse to do so.


And so what they do is they, they pick fights, whether it's with Congresswoman Pelosi, the speaker or with -- or over hydroxychloroquine. They used to nitpick around the edges while refusing to take on the big task at hand.

He refuses to be a commander in chief, refuses to be a president. Our Homeland Security is under threat, our teachers are terrified appropriately so of having to go back to work and communities where there's lots of transmission because they will get sick. There's this complete disengagement.

And there's two things that are going along those lines. One is the clear threat of this virus to causing permanent injury, illness and death among our population. But second, there's now a new homeland security issue because people are worried the federal government is not looking out for them.

And this is terrifying to the American population. We don't have to live like this, and we've got to take steps.

KEILAR: Yes. He says that the media and his opponents don't want him to be right. From what I've observed, they actually on hydroxychloroquine don't want him to be wrong, because lives are really at stake here. And that's why people are speaking now. That's why you're speaking out.

And we're increasingly hearing members of his task force contradicting him. When you hear that when you hear the tone that Deborah Birx has taken lately, do you see this as an inflection point, or no?

HOTEZ: Yes, I would hope so. They're starting to come around to at least acknowledging that we are in this spiral downward. And it was good that Dr. Birx made that statement and we heard similar statements from Dr. Gerard (ph) and others. We've been hearing it from Tony, from Dr. Fauci.

But now OK, let's get to that next step. How do we fix this right now in the southern states, where things may have plateaued, but 100 miles an hour you've got -- we've got 12,000 new cases every day in Houston, confirmed cases. That means -- I'm sorry 1,200, that means probably five or 6000 new cases every day.

You can't open schools, you can't do anything meaningful and this is happening across the metro areas in the south and now it's moving up the Mississippi. Tennessee is looking terrible when you look at the heat map of COVID-19. Now it's moving into Indiana. It's moving into the Ohio River Valley. This is absolutely terrible.

And we're continuing to see the death climb but we've got to see federal action. We have to see it right now to implement that plan.

I've put forward a plan to bring every state to containment by October 1 that may not be the only plan, Johns Hopkins has put one out. The American Association of medical colleges has offered something.

So, what you have is in this vacuum, where the federal government cannot command, cannot lead, you see private, you see medical school professors, medical schools, you see organizations putting forward plans in this vacuum, and that's on satisfactory to say the least.

KEILAR: Peter, it's always great to see you, Dr. Peter Hotez. Thank you.

HOYEZ: Thank you.

KEILAR: A new phase of the pandemic. That is what Dr. Deborah Birx is calling the spread of coronavirus into rural areas.

Up to this point bigger cities had been grabbing headlines, New York Los Angeles, Miami Houston.

CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining us now. And tell us about this, this rural rise that Dr. Birx is focusing on.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. We just heard Dr. Hotez talk about how Tennessee is now having high case numbers. How these case numbers are rising in Mississippi.

You're absolutely right. This isn't just Houston or New York City and or others places like that anymore, but I will say this has been going on for a bit of time. She's right that things aren't like they were in March or April but this is not brand new. It's a little bit unclear why it's taking her so long to realize this or at least to speak out about it.

But we can't think about this as sort of an urban problem anymore. This is a virus, the virus doesn't care where you live. Viruses are going to do what they like to do, which is spread from person to person.

KEILAR: And there's some progress on antibody treatments, which you know, that's very exciting to hear. What can you tell us about that?

COHEN: It is, it definitely makes you feel like maybe there is a light at the end of this tunnel. So antibody drugs, what they do is they take antibodies from people who've recovered from coronavirus, and they call out the most powerful ones, and they replicate them and turned it into a medicine.

And so Eli Lilly has announced that they're now in phase three with their antibody trials. And let's take a look at some of those details. They plan to involve 2,400 study subjects, these will be folks who are in nursing homes and assisted living facilities where there have been such high numbers of COVID-19 cases and they'll be looking for weeks out in eight weeks out to see did this drug prevent or treat, either one, coronavirus.


Now, I spoke with a woman who's involved in another phase three clinical trial, this one for a drug made by Regeneron, which is another company making these drugs are. Her name is Jennifer Bernt. She's a nurse and she said she joined the study well, partly because she was sick and she had coronavirus. She wanted to see if this drug would help, but she also joined the trial for her patients.


JENNIFER BERNT, NURSE: I've seen people sick from this virus. I've had a friend struggle for his life with this virus. I've had patients in the hospital who are scared because their family can't be there at an awful time in their life.

COHEN: It sounds like you're doing this for your patients.

BERNT: It seemed like an easy decision to me.


COHEN: Now, you'll note the Jennifer actually was sick. She had COVID- 19. These antibody drugs there's a hope and enthusiasm that they could treat people like her but that it also might be that these drugs might be able to prevent coronavirus infection in people who are not yet infected, Brianna.

KEILAR: Oh, wouldn't that be something? All right, Elizabeth, thank you so much for bringing that to us, Elizabeth Cohen.

COHEN: Thanks.

KEILAR: And now to New York state where more than 32,000 people have died of COVID complications. You would think that that number alone would scare people into wearing masks and socially distancing. But actually it hasn't. Over the weekend, New York City Sheriff intercepted a party boat at Pier 36 and made numerous arrests. CNN Correspondent Polo Sandoval is covering this story.

Polo, what do you know about the boat and its owners?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For starters, Briana, we know that the owners were arrested over the weekend in New York City Sheriff's Department saying that their deputies intercepted this four-deck riverboat over the weekend and appear in Manhattan's Laurie side. According to the department and a tweet that they posted over the weekend, that Liberty Belle's, not only owners but also its captain arrested for holding an illegal party and also for operating an unlicensed bar and authorities saying that they were violating social distancing provisions that are still in place, Brianna, even after the reopening has been in place here in New York.

The company that charters the NY party cruise company, which is actually the one that manages it, saying on its website that the boat can seat up to 300 people comfortably, could transport to 600, though we don't know exactly how many people wanted at the time. We every set to the company for comment.

And finally, Briana, this certainly coming after the governor has been very vocal about local municipalities enforcing these measures and saying this latest incident that was not only reckless, it was rude, it was irresponsible. And according to the governor, illegal too.

KEILAR: Polo, thank you so much, Polo Sandoval.

And there are some more big name American brands filing for bankruptcy as CEOs warn of a catastrophe coming for small businesses in America.

And as the debate rages over how and when to send children back to school, one mother is raising the flag that young kids are not immune from the coronavirus after she helplessly watches her own two-year-old son struggled to breathe. We'll speak to that mom, next.



KEILAR: The misconception that children are immune to coronavirus is something my next guest is fighting to change. Bridget Botts-Kastern and is a mom of two boys, 12 year old Bryce and two-year-old Jack. And jack was infected with COVID in July and exhibited all of the common symptoms including a high fever and heavy cough.

The family actually took all the precautions that they could. They rarely left their house. They rarely did that since March. Sanitizing everything, wearing masks, but Jack still got sick.

Bridget Botts-Kastern is joining me now. Bridget, thankfully jack is now down to just a cough. We are so glad for that. Tell us what it has been like for him these past weeks. BRIDGET BOTTS-KASTERN, MOM OF 2-YEAR-OLD WITH COVID-19: It's been pretty difficult. The first week especially was scary. He was struggling to breathe, his cough was pretty horrible keeping him up at night. The congestion was pretty severe. There wasn't much to do about it.

Pretty lethargic, not eating. So our main goals were just controlling his fever and keeping him hydrated. But it was a pretty tough week, those first few days.

KEILAR: And that was because those few days you were -- he was struggling to breathe?


KEILAR: And so what could you do to help him?

BOTTS-KASTERN: We're running humidifier in his room and pretty much just made sure that it didn't get to there. Like if he started, you know, not coming out of the coughing spells, you know, they wanted us to go back to the emergency room. Thankfully, it never got that bad, but it was pretty scary.

KEILAR: Yes, that's incredibly scary. And you actually posted about Jack's case on social media. Tell us what kind of responses you got.

BOTTS-KASTERN: Oh, so it started with just a public post because I know there's this myth that children don't get sick. So I wanted to draw awareness to my son. And I got a lot of support from people. I also got some negative feedback from people who either don't believe the virus is real or children can't get it or even criticizing the precautions that we had taken. So, it's kind of been 50-50. And I've had to learn to let some of those comments go and move on and focus on the positive impact that we're going to have.

KEILAR: Yes. I mean, it's pretty stunning in the face of you just posting a fact about your child's suffering, that some people would even raise questions about whether that's accurate. So, I understand your desire just to move on with the positive on that.

So, you have a two-year-old you have a 12-year-old, right? Are you planning on sending your older son back to school this fall?

BOTTS-KASTERN: No. He is going to be doing virtual learning from home.


KEILAR: Do you think that if Jack had not gotten sick and you hadn't been through this two weeks with him that you might say you might be more open to your older son going into some hybrid format? Has Jack's illness informed you on how you're approaching your elder son's health?

BOTTS-KASTERN: Unfortunately, our district did not give us the option of a hybrid learning environment. It's either 100 percent in person or 100 percent virtual. If we have been given a hybrid option, I would have done that, but I'm not comfortable with phrase going back to school full time.

KEILAR: And does the fact that you watch Jack be sick inform that at all? Does that make you worry more for your older son?

BOTTS-KASTERN: It does, because we don't know, you know, if my son even contracted the virus, he never got sick, but we don't know. So, I don't know if there's going to be a second shoe that drops or if we're going to be good, you know?

KEILAR: Yes. Now there's so much uncertainty. That's what we're hearing from so many parents as they're just trying to muddle their way through this.

But Bridget, I am so glad to have you here. I'm so glad that jack is doing well. And you guys hang in there.


KEILAR: Thank you.

We have some breaking news, prosecutors in New York say their investigation of the president extends beyond hush money payments, and even suggests they're looking at a possible fraud by his company, standby.



KEILAR: We have some breaking news prosecutors in New York suggesting today that the investigation into the President goes beyond those hush money payments made to an adult film star and into potential fraud by his company.

I want to bring in Kara Scannell for the reporting on this and Elie Honig for some legal expertise on this.

Kara, first just tell us what we know.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: So, Brianna, this is in the -- this came out today in a new legal filing in this ongoing battle to enforce the subpoena to Donald Trump's longtime accounting Mazars USA.

In this new filing, prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney's office said that the reason why this subpoena was appropriate and not overly broad as the Trump organ -- as Donald Trump has argued in court. They're saying it's appropriate because what they note today is that they issued a subpoena in which they say in light of public reports of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.

So they're saying that this could all fall within the scope of their investigation. Now, some of these reports, you remember Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney testified before Congress, and said that the Trump Organization had inflated assets when dealing with banks and insurance companies. There's also been reporting from reporters, ProPublica issued reports that suggested the Trump Organization may have inflated or deflated the value of certain assets when dealing with tax authorities and others.

You know, the D.A. subpoena now, ultimately saying that, you know, the reason why it is -- it is not so broad is because it does encompass some of these things, and they're pointing to some of these public reports.

And I should also note that last year in a court filing, there were redactions over three pages in the D.A.'s filing in which they were describing the scope of that investigation. And that was separate from the hush money payments made to the two women that Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to, that's one aspect of the investigation, that is publicly address. But the D.A.'s office had already signaled that this investigation went far beyond that. We're having redactions over three pages in the court filing.

KEILAR: OK, Ellie, walk us through what this means from a prosecutor's perspective.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, so Brianna, anyway, you cut it, this is bad news for the President.

I take two big things away from this. First of all, this shows me that the D.A., the Manhattan D.A. and his prosecutors are focused and they're serious here. They're not just sort of poking around seeing what they can find in terms of financial records, they're looking at specific crimes.

Second of all, it's important that they're looking at more than just the hush money payments because those hush money charges are complex, they're difficult to make. And it sounds like based on Kara's reporting, what the Manhattan D.A. is looking at here is potential fraud relating to the value of assets, overstating the value of your assets to get loans, understating the value of your assets when it comes tax time. That kind of thing is straightforward textbook fraud, it's much easier for prosecutors to prove those kind of charges.

KEILAR: And explain this to us, Kara, prosecutors got some information from media reports, is that right?

SCANNELL: Yes. So they're noting in this filing that, you know, part of the reason why there are subpoenas seeking eight years of records is because at the time that they issued it, there were public reports relating to the Trump Organization and accusations publicly like those made by Michael Cohen that suggests the Trump Organization was inflating or deflating the value of its assets, that would fall within the scope of the subpoena and why they would seek years of records both for personally and from the Trump Organization on the business side to see if any state laws were violated in the actions that they made. Whether it was, you know, coming up with a valuation for a bank or coming up with a valuation in, you know, for a tax reason.

KEILAR: Elie tell -- if you have anything of note on that, tell us. But also just tell us where this goes next with this case.

HONIG: Yes. So first of all, I can confirm as a former prosecutor we do look at the media. Look good leads are good lead. And I did cases that were started off of good journalism, good reporting.